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Transport Canada amends order on train speeds


Ottawa, ON — Canada’s Transport Minister announced amendments to the Ministerial Order issued on February 7, 2020 that restricted the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods.

Following the derailment of a key train on February 6, in Guernsey Saskatchewan, a Ministerial Order was issued for the immediate slowdown of key trains. A key train is one carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods; or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas.

Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau said the new measures are being implemented effective immediately to reduce the speed of the higher risk key trains traveling through areas of greatest concern.

“The series of derailments like the one that occurred in Guernsey, Saskatchewan, and the impacts of these accidents are concerning. It is for this reason that I put immediate speed restrictions to reduce the risk of derailments until more permanent measures are put into place to address this situation. A safe and efficient railway system is critical to the well-being of our country and its citizens,” stated Garneau.

The Ministerial Order has been updated to provide a more targeted risk-based approach.

Key trains

  • The speed limit for key trains is now limited to 35 mph in metropolitan areas. Outside of metropolitan areas where there are no track signals, the speed is limited to 40 mph.

New measures for high risk key trains.

Higher risk key trains are unit trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods.

  • The speed limit for higher risk key trains is now limited to 25 mph where there are no track signals. For metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 30 mph unless the metropolitan area is in a non-signal territory where the speed limit will be maintain at a maximum 25 mph.

CN says it is supportive of the decision, despite the fact, the company says, it resulted in a reduction in at least a third of CN’s overall network capacity for all trains, even those not carrying dangerous goods.

By revising the order to take into account substantial investments made to equip mainline tracks with automated signaling technology, which represents the vast majority of CN’s network, it says it will be able to recover more efficiently from the illegal blockades.

Today’s ruling will allow us to use our capacity to recover in the Western region as we resume the delivery of our customers’ goods that are important to the everyday lives of Canadians and the Canadian economy,” said JJ Ruest, president and CEO at CN. “We will implement a similar recovery plan across our Eastern region when all the blockades are fully ended, including the one in Belleville Ontario which is into its tenth day. We wish to thank our customers, employees, supply chain partners and all who continue to support CN during this very unfortunate time. We are working very hard to recover our North American network upon the lifting of any and all illegal blockades,” concluded Ruest.