Emergency Directive Pursuant to Section 33 of the Railway Safety Act
Rail Transportation of Dangerous Goods

To: All Railway Companies and Local Railway Companies

Section 33 of the Railway Safety Act (RSA) gives the Minister of Transport the authority to issue an emergency directive to any company when the Minister is of the opinion that there is an immediate threat to safe railway operations or the security of railway transportation.

The July 2013 accident in Lac-Mégantic and recent rail incidents in Canada and the United States (US) have demonstrated that when accidents involving the transportation of dangerous goods occur, there is significant risk for loss of life and damage to communities and the environment.

Although these rail occurrences are under investigation and, for this reason, their exact causes remain unknown at this time, I remain confident in the strength of the regulatory regime applicable to railway transportation in Canada. However, I am of the opinion that, in the interest of ensuring the continued safety and security of railway transportation, there is an immediate need for railways to improve their operating practices for the safe and secure transportation of dangerous goods.

Pursuant to section 33 of the RSA, all companies are hereby ordered to:

  1. Not operate a Key Train at a speed that exceeds 50 miles per hour (MPH).
  2. Have Key Train hold the main track at meeting or passing points unless the siding track meets Transport Canada Class 2 requirements as per the Rules Respecting Track Safety. In situations where the siding does not meet Transport Canada Class 2 requirement as per the Rules Respecting Track Safety, the Key Train may operate on the siding at a speed not exceeding 15 MPH instead of holding the main track when it is operationally infeasible or the non-Key Train is a passenger train.
  3. Not operate a Key Train with any cars not equipped with roller bearings.
  4. Perform an inspection of any bearing on a Key Train reported defective by a Wayside Defective Bearing Detector. If any such inspection confirms that a bearing on a car of a Key Train is defective, companies are to set off that car from the Key Train or must only operate the Key Train at a safe speed not exceeding 15 MPH until the car with the defective bearing is set off. If the inspection performed on a bearing of a car of a Key Train reported by a Wayside Defective Bearing Detector fails to confirm a defect in a bearing, companies must not operate the Key train at a speed exceeding 30 MPH until the next Wayside Defective Bearing Detector. If a defect in a bearing of the same car of a Key Train is reported by two consecutive Wayside Defective Bearing Detectors, companies must set off that car from the Key Train or must only operate the Key Train at a safe speed not exceeding 15 MPH until the car with the defective bearing is set off.
  5. Before the expiration of this emergency directive, inspect any Key Route main track on which a Key Train is operated using a heavy track geometry vehicle and rail flaw detector. In situations where a heavy track geometry vehicle is unavailable, companies must, before the expiration of this emergency directive, inspect any Key Route main track on which a Key Train is operated at least once with a rail flaw detector and at least twice, with no more than 100 days between inspections, with light track geometry vehicle.
  6. Limit, where reasonable, speed to 4 MPH when coupling loaded tank cars of dangerous goods.
  7. Complete within six months from the date of this emergency directive, a risk assessment that will determine the level of risk associated with each Key Route over which a Key Train is operated by the company. The risk assessment must:
    • Identify safety and security risks associated with that route, including the volume of goods moved on that route, the class of track on that route, the maintenance schedule of the track on that route, the curvature of the track on that route, the environmentally sensitive or significant areas along that route, the population density along that route, emergency response capability along that route and the areas of high consequence along the route;
    • Identify and compare alternative routes for safety and security; and
    • Factor potential or future railway operational changes such as new customers moving good subject to an Emergency Response Assistance Plan under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act or municipal changes due to population growth, for routing restrictions.

For the purpose of this Emergency Directive,

“Key Train” means an engine with cars

  1. that includes one or more loaded tank cars of dangerous goods that are included in Class 2.3, Toxic Gases and of dangerous goods that are toxic by inhalation subject to Special Provision 23 of the Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations; or
  2. that includes 20 or more loaded tank cars or loaded intermodal portable tanks containing dangerous goods, as defined in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 or any combination thereof that includes 20 or more loaded tank cars and loaded intermodal portable tanks.

“Key Route” means any track on which, over a period of one year, is carried 10,000 or more loaded tank cars or loaded intermodal portable tanks containing dangerous goods, as defined in the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 or any combination thereof that includes 10,000 or more loaded tank cars and loaded intermodal portable tanks.

Pursuant to section 33 of the RSA, this emergency directive takes effect immediately and is to remain in effect until 2359hrs EST on October 23, 2014.

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Acting Assistant Deputy Minister
Safety and Security

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