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The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that communities across the country are safe and secure. This is why we are putting in place measures to protect all Canadians who live and work along rail lines and reduce the risk of serious accidents.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, issued two Ministerial Orders, under the Railway Safety Act, to further reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of rail equipment. These orders are prompted by the uncontrolled movement of a Goderich-Exeter Railway train, which led to a derailment in Goderich, Ontario, on February 1, 2021.

The first Ministerial Order requires the 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 Ministerial Order requires that the railway industry add an additional layer of defence to prevent the uncontrolled movement of railway equipment by proposing amendments to the Railway Locomotive Inspection and Safety Rules and the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) for the Minister’s approval. The amendments will include:

improving performance standards for locomotives equipped with roll-away protection, which is 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 Ministerial Orders build on significant work that is already being undertaken by the railway industry to develop and implement performance standards for locomotive roll-away protection.

Railway company operations require hundreds of thousands of rail car movements every year as goods are transported from producers to market.

Both Transport Canada and the railway industry have been working together to implement measures to strengthen train securement requirements and reduce the risk of the uncontrolled movement of railway equipment.

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.

Maintaining a safe, efficient and reliable rail system is key to the continued success of Canada’s economy.

“Building safer communities and protecting Canadians who live and work along rail lines is a priority. The majority of uncontrolled train movements take place in rail yards where the risk to the public is lower, but they can still be serious, especially for railway employees. These Ministerial Orders improve rail safety by requiring that additional layers of defence be put in place to prevent these kinds of accidents.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport