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Feds amend legislation to make freight rail system fair and safe


Ottawa, ON — The Government of Canada introduced legislation to provide a transparent, fair, efficient and safer freight rail system to facilitate trade and economic growth.

Key measures in Transportation Modernization Act include:

  • improving access, transparency, efficiency, and sustainable long-term investment in the freight rail sector; and
  • increasing the safety of transportation in Canada by requiring railways to install locomotive voice and video recorders (LVVRs).

“In a vast nation like Canada, Canadians rely on economically viable modes of transportation to travel and move commodities within the country, across the border, and to our ports for shipment overseas. The time has come to modernize our policies and practices to provide a safer, more competitive and respectful system that can respond to modern conditions and to Canadians’ expectations,” stated Minister of Transport Marc Garneau.

The legislation is the result of over a year of consultation and is informed by the feedback and guidance of stakeholders across the country.

Specific measures would include:

  • New data reporting requirements for railways on rates, service and performance, to enhance system transparency;
  • A new mechanism, Long-Haul Interswitching, to provide captive shippers across all sectors and regions of Canada with access to a competing railway, to ensure they have options;
  • A definition of “adequate and suitable” rail service that confirms railways should provide shippers with the highest level of service that can reasonably be provided in the circumstances;
  • The ability for shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties in their service agreements with railways, to enhance accountability; and
  • More accessible and timely remedies for shippers on both rates and service, to support fair negotiations.

The proposed amendments to the Railway Safety Act (RSA) call for the mandatory installation of LVVRs in locomotives, specify the type of uses that can be made of the recordings and provide authority for Transport Canada to make regulations governing LVVRs.

Transportation Safety Board Chair, Kathy Fox said “The Board is pleased that the Minister of Transport is finally moving forward with the implementation of LVVRs. This new tool will provide essential information to TSB investigators about crew member activities and interactions leading up to and during an occurrence.”

The proposed amendment to the CTAISB Act will remove the current legislative barrier that precludes anyone but the TSB from using on-board voice and video recordings and pave the way for the use of these recordings for proactive safety management purposes as specifically permitted by the RSA. On-board recordings will however continue to be privileged under the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board Act in order to protect worker privacy. “Expanding the use of voice and video recordings beyond TSB investigations could help prevent accidents in the future. This will provide railways with the means to get a better understanding of operational and human factors within the locomotive cab and enable them to improve operating practices and employee training,” said Fox.