Inside Logistics

Transport Canada introduces new rail safety measures

Follow 2017 fatality at CN yard in Saskatchewan

October 12, 2020

OTTAWA – The federal government has introduced new rail safety measures after the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s (TSB) investigation into a 2017 fatal accident at Canadian National Railways’ (CN) Melville Yard in Saskatchewan.

These measures include a Ministerial Order that requires the industry to adopt new practices for employees to follow when conducting switching operations to ensure that equipment is properly secured.

In addition, Transport Canada will continue revising the Railway Employee Qualification Standards Regulations to strengthen oversight requirements and address gaps related to training and experience of employees. The department will also pursue work with the railway industry and labour representatives to identify the underlying causes of uncontrolled movements that occur while switching without air (i.e., without using air brakes on individual rail cars), and develop strategies or regulatory requirements to reduce their frequency.

A CN foreman was killed occurred on December 22, 2017, as a result of an uncontrolled movement of rail cars while performing switching operations.

The investigation concluded that the crew’s limited experience likely contributed to a decision to switch three loaded cars at insufficient speed up an ascending grade. It also determined that there was a lack of communication between the two employees.

“I am deeply troubled every time there is a rail incident that results in a tragic death,” said transport minister Marc Garneau.

“Our Government is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system safer. I thank the Transportation Safety Board of Canada for its thorough work in investigating the uncontrolled movement at the Melville Yard in Saskatchewan.”