New rules to prevent runaway rail equipment

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

The Minister of Transport has issued two orders under the Railway Safety Act to reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of rail equipment. The changes were prompted by the uncontrolled movement of a Goderich-Exeter Railway train, which led to a derailment in Goderich, Ontario, on February 1, 2021.

The incident took place at the Parrish and Heimbecker grain terminal in Goderich. There were no injuries in the incident, but up to 10 rail cars derailed, according to news reports at the time, and caused significant damage, destroying a transport truck and small building.

The first order requires railway companies to implement specific procedures that must be followed by their locomotive engineers to prevent the uncontrolled movement of railway equipment due to an unintended release of the train’s air brakes.

The second order proposes amendments to the Railway Locomotive Inspection and Safety Rules and the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR).

The amendments will include:

  • improving performance standards for locomotives equipped with roll-away protection, a feature designed to apply the air brakes when movement is detected; and,
  • clarifying the definition of an ‘unattended train’ under the CROR, for more consistent application of the rule.

These orders build on work that is already being undertaken by the railway industry to develop and implement performance standards for locomotive roll-away protection.

In October 2020, the Minister of Transport put measures in place for railways to adopt new practices for their employees to follow, designed to prevent uncontrolled movement while conducting switching operations and to ensure that equipment is properly secured in this process.

In April 2020, Transport Canada approved a new Rule 66 of the CROR, to help ensure that effective safety procedures are applied to all trains that come to emergency stops on steep grades. This change to the Rules puts into place additional permanent layers of defence to secure attended trains and prevent an uncontrolled movement on both heavy grades and mountain grades.