Ottawa taking on rail safety projects

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

OTTAWA – The federal government will be spending more than $25 million over three years for the Rail Safety Improvement Program. This investment will support 165 new projects and initiatives to increase safety.

Transport Canada is taking action to implement recommendations from the 2018 Railway Safety Act Review report, including improving grade crossing safety and safer interactions of people and trains. Today’s investment complements efforts to bring together a broader range of partners to work with us to find ways to reduce largely preventable deaths and injuries at grade crossings due to trespassing.

The new projects focus on infrastructure, technology and research, including: safety improvements on rail property; the use of innovative technologies; research and studies; as well as the closures of grade crossings that present safety concerns. Four rail safety Education and Awareness initiatives will focus on reducing injuries and fatalities in communities across Canada.

Grade crossing and trespassing accidents still cause the most rail-related deaths and serious injuries in Canada.

According to the review, the current rail safety regime is not ready to address the following long-standing issues, along with evolving challenges and opportunities for safety in the near future:

  • The proportion of accidents caused by human factors/actions is increasing, especially in non-main track scenarios.
  • Grade crossing and trespassing accidents still cause the most deaths and serious injuries in Canada (759 deaths and 494 serious injuries since 2007).
  • Compliance with existing regulatory requirements will not be enough to adapt and adjust to the rapid pace of change in areas such as technology, business practices, urbanization, community involvement and human factors.

The report provided a total of 16 recommendations to address long-standing, difficult-to-resolve issues that would yield significant safety gains, and to position Canada’s rail safety regime to meet the challenges of the next decade.

The report concluded with an overarching recommendation that calling for a transformation of Transport Canada’s role and approach to rail safety.