Extreme weather fund to address rail infrastructure

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by Emily Atkins

Transport Canada has called for proposals to improve and rehabilitate rail lines affected by extreme weather.

The first call for proposals for the Climate Change and Adaptation to Extreme Weather Infrastructure initiative under Transport Canada’s Rail Safety Improvement Program was made on November 24.

The initiative will provide up to $10.5 million in funding this year. This initiative specifically targets rail infrastructure projects meant to increase resilience to extreme weather events and advance measures to address climate change measures. It will also support rehabilitation projects that repair damage from significant weather events.

The Supply Chain Task Force recognized climate change as a driver of instability in transportation supply chains. Wildfires in July 2021 reduced railway operations by 30 percent, representing around $163 million per day in terms of blocked shipment value.

Flooding in November 2021 hindered the movement of goods estimated to be more than $170 million per day due to lost train capacity and increased congestion at the Port of Vancouver.

“We must take immediate action to protect our planet from climate change. Our Government will continue to invest in measures which address the impacts of climate change,” said transport minister Omar Alghabra.

“This is why we are providing funding under the Climate Change and Adaptation to Extreme Weather Infrastructure initiative: to address severe weather impacts on railway operations.”

The Rail Safety Improvement Program has an annual budget of $21.3 million in support of rail safety infrastructure, technology and research, and education and awareness projects across Canada.

Since the program’s inception, 774 projects have been funded across Canada which contribute to increasing safety at grade crossings and along rail lines, and to increase public confidence in Canada’s rail transportation system.

Transport Canada will be accepting applications for the Climate Change and Adaptation to Extreme Weather Infrastructure initiative through an open, competitive call for proposals from now until January 6, 2023.

Environment and Climate Change Canada also launched a similar program for communities. This strategy includes $1.6 billion in new federal funding commitments to help protect communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast.

On July 5, 2022, the Minister of Transport also announced the Rail Climate Change Adaptation Program, which will provide up to $2.2 million in contribution funding to Canadian railways to cost-share research. Its objective is to support research, development, and implementation of innovative technologies, tools, and approaches to better understand and address the increasing risks and impacts of climate change on Canada’s rail sector.