Introducing Railway Operating Certificates

Monitoring railways to ensure they meet basic safety requirements

Transport Canada has a robust railway safety program in place and continuously looks for ways to make the railway system safer. Based on recommendations from the 2007 Railway Safety Act review, the Act was amended to include new regulation-making powers that would enable the department to further enhance its oversight of railway safety. The new Railway Operating Certificate Regulations will enhance oversight of railway safety.

Railway Safety Oversight

Transport Canada’s oversight program includes monitoring companies through audits and inspections to ensure they follow the rules, regulations and engineering standards in place, as well as the overall safety of railway operations.

Oversight under the new Railway Operating Certificate Regulations

When these regulations come into effect on January 1, 2015, all federally regulated railway companies and provincially regulated railway companies operating on federally regulated track will be required to hold a valid Railway Operating Certificate in order to operate in Canada. Railway companies must also obtain a Certificate of Fitness from the Canadian Transportation Agency ensuring that the company holds adequate insurance to operate.

Before a Railway Operating Certificate can be issued, companies must complete an application form and submit it to Transport Canada for approval. To obtain a Railway Operating Certificate, companies need to meet baseline safety requirements. These requirements are different for federally regulated railway companies and provincially regulated railway companies operating on federally regulated track , and differ based on operations that involve the transport of passengers or freight.

The conditions of issuance include essential railway safety rules that a company must submit to Transport Canada for approval prior to obtaining a Railway Operating Certificate.

The general requirements for railway companies to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate include:

  • Canadian Rail Operating Rules;
  • Rules respecting the management of fatigue for operating employees, medical fitness for duty of employees who hold positions that are critical to safe railway operations and employee qualifications;
  • Rules for the Operation and Maintenance of Line Works by Railway Companies;
  • Rules for Companies that Transport Passengers (if applicable); and
  • Rules for Companies that Transport Freight (if applicable).

The general requirements for local railway companies to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate include:

  • Canadian Rail Operating Rules;
  • Rules for Companies that Transport Passengers (if applicable);
  • Rules for Companies that Transport Freight (if applicable);

These new regulations empower the Minister of Transport to put an immediate stop to a company’s operations by suspending or revoking a company’s certificate when a serious violation is identified.

Existing companies have a two-year grace period, until January 1, 2017, to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate.

November 2014

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