Rail Safety - FAQs

Table of contents

Rules Respecting Key Routes and Key Trains

What are the objectives of this Rule?

The Rule Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes is one of the rules governing the transportation of dangerous goods by rail in Canada. The objective of this rule is to further strengthen railway safety. The requirements in the rule seek to reduce the risks and the consequences of rail accidents involving dangerous goods. As such, in addition to imposing speed limitations, the rule puts emphasis on track maintenance; risk assessments and mitigation; and allows for the incorporation of safety and security concerns of municipalities and other levels of local government in risk assessments to be conducted by railway companies.

For a complete list of measures taken by the department to enhance the safe transportation of dangerous goods by rail, please visit http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/infosheets-menu-7564.html.

What is a Key Train?

A Key Train means a train carrying one or more loaded tank cars of dangerous goods that are toxic by inhalation or 20 or more loaded tank cars are carried containing dangerous goods.

What is a Key Route?

A Key Route means any track on which, over a period of one year, is carried 10,000 or more loaded tank cars containing dangerous goods.

What are the key requirements of the Rule?

The key requirements of the rule include:

  • Reduced Speed – Railway companies must limit the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods to a maximum of 50 miles per hour (80km/h) in all areas, and to a maximum of 40 miles per hour (64 km/h) in the most densely populated areas and where dangerous good are being transported in older tank cars in higher risk areas.
  • Increased Track Inspections – The rule prescribes requirements for increased track inspection on Key Routes.
  • More Robust Key Route Risk Assessments – Railway companies must conduct risk assessments of key routes over which key trains are operated by the company. These risks assessments must consider, at a minimum, 28 safety and security factors including environmental and emergency response capacity considerations.
  • Municipal/Local Government Input in Key Route Risk Assessments – The rule provides a process for railway companies to incorporate input from municipal/and other levels of local government into Key Route risk assessments.
How did Transport Canada determine the speed restrictions?

The rule requires companies to limit the speed of trains carrying certain quantities of dangerous goods to 50 MPH (80 km/h) everywhere and to 40 MPH (64 km/hr) in the most densely populated areas and where dangerous goods are being transported in older tank cars in higher risk areas.

The speed restrictions were established to reduce the risks of transporting dangerous good sby rail and are similar to U.S. requirements.

Why do the speed restrictions only apply to core and secondary cores of Census Metropolitan Areas?

Transport Canada is dedicated in ensuring a rigorous and robust rail safety regime in Canada. For Transport Canada, one victim of a train accident is one victim too many.

The rule requires companies to limit the speed of key trains to 50 MPH (80 km/h) everywhere in Canada. As a further risk reduction measure, the speed limit of key trains is further reduced to 40 MPH (64 km/h) in the most densely populated areas.

How does Transport Canada monitor railways to ensure they comply with the speed restrictions?

There are several ways in which Transport Canada monitors compliance with speed restrictions under the Railway Safety Act and applicable rules. Mechanisms include radar speed gun technology, analyzing locomotive data downloads and conducting on-board train monitoring where the inspector accompanies the conductor on-site (on-board the train). In addition, Transport Canada periodically reviews railway operating instructions to their employees regarding train speed.

Are railway companies required to consider alternate routes?

Yes. The rule requires railway companies to identify, evaluate and compare alternative routes in conducting their risk assessment when they are able to do so. Transport Canada recognizes that companies may be limited in their ability to evaluate and compare alternative routes they do not operate on.

What is a risk assessment and why does the new rule require companies to complete one?

A risk assessment is a systematic, proactive approach to identifying, analyzing and addressing safety risks associated with a railway company’s operations. Railway companies complete risk assessments on a regular basis to address areas of operational risk.

The rule requires railway companies to conduct a risk assessment to determine the level of risk associated with each Key Route over which Key Trains are operated. Companies must consider, at a minimum, 28 factors when conducting risk assessments.

How can municipalities contribute to risk assessments?

The rule provides a process for railway companies to incorporate input from municipalities and other levels of local government into Key Route risk assessments.

Contact information for the railway company will be made available through a publicly-accessible website for municipalities and other levels of local government to submit safety and security concerns for railway companies to consider in their Key Route risk assessments.

Railway companies will respond to municipalities and other levels of local government regarding, for example, how risks in their areas are being mitigated.

Are risk assessments public?

No. While Transport Canada reviews railway company risk assessments, the risk assessments belong to the railway companies. The rule does require railway companies to respond to municipalities and other levels of local government regarding how risks in their areas are being mitigated.

How does Transport Canada ensure risks are being assessed and mitigated?

Transport Canada carries out a program of risk-based inspections to oversee railway companies’ compliance with regulatory requirements. This program is informed by data from numerous sources including the department’s previous inspections and data from past accidents.

How does Transport Canada verify that companies are in compliance with the rule?

Transport Canada has a robust railway safety oversight program in place. Transport Canada monitors railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations, and standards through audits and inspections. Monitoring activities are planned annually, reviewed regularly and revised as required using evidence-based risk indicators.

Should an issue of non-compliance be identified, there is a range of enforcement tools available based on the severity of the non-compliance. Transport Canada does not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action. For more information on the types of actions the department can take can be found at: http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/railsafety-569.htm.

For a complete list of measures taken by the department to enhance railway safety and the transportation of dangerous goods, please visit http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/mediaroom/infosheets-menu-7564.html.

What are the differences between the Emergency Directive on the Rail Transportation of Dangerous Goods and the new Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes?

Please refer to the comparison table at the following link: https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/railsafety-997.html

Railway Safety Management Systems

What is a safety management system?

A safety management system is a documented framework for integrating safety into day-to-day company operations. A safety management system generally includes several elements such as a safety policy, safety targets, a risk assessment process and monitoring procedures.

Once fully integrated in an organization, a safety management system becomes part of the culture and the way people do their jobs.

Why is it important for railways to have a safety management system?

A safety management system provides a proactive approach to identifying safety risks and to taking action to eliminate or mitigate those risks in order to prevent accidents and other dangerous situations.

Are safety management systems self regulation?

No, safety management systems are not self-regulation. Railway safety management system regulations do not eliminate or replace any other regulatory requirements. Transport Canada conducts inspections to verify industry compliance with the Railway Safety Act and rules, regulations and engineering standards made under the Railway Safety Act, in addition to conducting audits to verify compliance with the railway safety management system regulatory requirements.

Safety management systems increase safety by having companies put formal processes in place to proactively identify and address safety concerns before Transport Canada's intervention, and before concerns become major safety issues.

Can I get a copy of a company's safety management system from Transport Canada?

Transport Canada cannot provide a copy of a company's safety management system or documents from their safety management system to the public without permission from the company. While Transport Canada audits a company's safety management system, it belongs to the company. Under the Access to Information Act, the Government of Canada cannot disclose records that contain financial, commercial, scientific or technical information that is confidential information supplied to a government institution by a third party. Please contact the company directly for information about their safety management system.

Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015

Who do the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 apply to?

The Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 apply to all companies that fall under the authority of the Railway Safety Act. This includes federal railway companies and local railway companies.

Local railway companies are provincial short lines, light rail transit, and tourist trains that operate equipment on federally-regulated tracks.

When do the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 come into force?

The Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 are in force as of April 1, 2015.

Are the 2001 Railway Safety Management System Regulations still in force?

No, the 2001 Railway Safety Management System Regulations are repealed and replaced by the new Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

Why did Transport Canada develop new Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 to replace the 2001 version?

Transport Canada developed the new Railway Safety Management Systems Regulations, 2015 following legislative changes to the Railway Safety Act and more than 10 years of lessons learned in providing regulatory oversight of safety management systems.

Amendments to the Railway Safety Act, which came into force in May 2013, respond to recommendations from the 2007 Railway Safety Act Review and the 2008 study on rail safety by the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (SCOTIC) related to improving the implementation and effectiveness of railway safety management systems.

What is new in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

The Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 apply to local railway companies as well as federal railway companies and provide greater clarity and details for enforcing the regulations.

Regulatory requirements include:

  • Identification of an accountable executive responsible for the company's safety management system;
  • A procedure for employees to report to the railway company, without fear of reprisal, a safety hazard or contravention; and
  • The use of fatigue science principles when scheduling work of certain railway employees.
Was the railway industry consulted during the development of the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

Transport Canada consulted the railway industry and other stakeholders during the development of the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015. The regulations were also pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on July 5, 2014 for a 90-day public comment period.

Are companies required to immediately comply with all requirements of the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

No. Transport Canada recognizes that companies need time to build or update their safety management systems (SMS) to meet the new requirements. Transport Canada is committed to assisting companies in developing and progressively implementing their systems, especially those who are new to SMS.

During the initial transition phase, Transport Canada’s oversight of company safety management systems will focus on education and awareness about the new requirements and the promotion of compliance with the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

While Transport Canada supports progressive implementation of company safety management systems to maintain safety and allow for a smooth transition from the 2001 Regulations to the new 2015 Regulations, the department expects and will enforce immediate compliance with the following requirements of the new Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015:

  • railway companies and local railway companies operating on main track to designate an accountable executive;
  • all companies to notify the Minister of Transport of certain changes to railway operations and, if requested, provide related risk assessment documents; and
  • all companies to conduct risk assessments to manage safety issues, using a risk assessment process.

Requirements of the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015

What do federal railway companies need to do to comply with the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

Federal railway companies need to develop and implement a safety management system, create an index of all required processes, keep records, notify the Minister of proposed changes to their operations, and file safety management system documentation with the Minister when requested.

More specifically, federal railway companies must develop and implement a safety management system that includes:

  • Accountability: Identification of an accountable executive who is responsible for the company's safety management system.
  • A safety policy: A written company commitment to promoting railway safety.
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations, rules and other instruments: Includes listing the regulations, rules and other instruments that apply to the railway company, monitoring changes to them and ensuring company compliance.
  • Managing railway occurrences: A communicated procedure for employees to report an occurrence, such as an unplanned and uncontrolled train movement, to management and reviewing the occurrence.
  • Identifying safety concerns: Analysis to identify trends and repetitive situations that may be a safety concern.
  • Risk assessments: Evaluation of the level of risk of an identified safety concern or of risks that may be posed by a potential change to railway operations;
  • Remedial action: Taking action to address identified safety risks and evaluating the effectiveness of the action taken.
  • Safety targets and initiatives: Establishing annual safety targets and developing related initiatives to achieve each target.
  • Reporting contraventions and safety hazards: Procedure for employees to report to the railway company, without fear of reprisal, a safety hazard or contravention.
  • Managing knowledge: Listing the essential duties for safe railway operations, the positions performing those duties, and ensuring that employees in those positions have the required qualifications for performing each duty.
  • Scheduling: Apply principles of fatigue science when scheduling work of certain railway employees.
  • Continual improvement: Continuous monitoring by the company of the implementation of its safety management system and the completion, by the company, of an internal audit of its system every three years.

The full requirements for federal railway companies are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

What do local railway companies that operate on main track need to do to comply with the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

Local railway companies that operate on main track need to develop and implement a safety management system, create an index of all required processes, keep records, notify the Minister of proposed changes to their operations, and file safety management system documentation with the Minister when requested.

More specifically, local railway companies that operate on main track must develop and implement a safety management system that includes processes for:

  • Accountability;
  • A safety policy;
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations, rules and other instruments;
  • Identifying safety concerns;
  • Risk assessment;
  • Implementing and evaluating remedial action;
  • Establishing targets and developing initiatives; and
  • Continual improvement of the Safety Management System.

The full requirements for local railway companies that operate on main track are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

What do local railway companies that operate on non-main track need to do to comply with the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

Local railway companies that operate on non-main track also need to develop and implement a safety management system, create an index of all required processes, keep records, notify the Minister of proposed changes to their operations, and file safety management system documentation with the Minister when requested.

More specifically, local railway companies that operate on non-main track must develop and implement a safety management system that includes processes for:

  • A safety policy;
  • Ensuring compliance with regulations, rules and other instruments;
  • Identifying safety concerns;
  • Risk assessment; and
  • Implementing and evaluating remedial action.

The full requirements for local railway companies that operate on non-main track are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

What is the difference between a local railway company that operates on main track and a local railway company that operates on non-main track?

Main track is a line of railway on which the movement of railway equipment, such as rail cars and locomotives, is authorized by a railway company.

Example: A freight train operated by a local railway company in British Columbia travelling from New Westminster to Chilliwack on track owned by a federal railway company, such as CP Rail, where the authority is conveyed by a method of control, such as Centralized Traffic Control (CTC), Occupation Control System (OCS), Cautionary Limits or Special Instructions.

Non-main track is a line of railway other than main track.

Example: A train operated by a local railway company in Ontario carrying freight to and from a pulp and paper mill on yard track owned by a federal railway company and considered by the host railway as other than main track.

Please see the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 for official definitions of main track and non-main track.

 

Are there any requirements for companies to keep their records under the new Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015?

Yes, there are requirements for companies to keep safety management system records under the new Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015. Federal railway companies and local railway companies that operate on main track must keep their records for six years, and local railway companies operating on non-main track must keep their records for three years.

The full requirements for company records are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

What information are railways required to file with Transport Canada?

Federal railway companies and local railway companies operating on main track company must file the following safety management system information with the Minister of Transport upon request:

  • Index of the company's safety management system;
  • Safety targets and initiatives;
  • Annual monitoring report;
  • Signed internal audit;
  • Risk assessments

A local railway company operating on non-main track must file an index of the company's safety management system and risk assessments with the Minister of Transport upon request.

The full requirements for filing and notification are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

How often does a company need to submit its safety management system information to Transport Canada?

A company must file its safety management system information with the Minister, or delegated authority, upon request. The Minister can request safety management system information from both federal and local railway companies at any time.

The full requirements for filing information with the Minister of Transport are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015

Does a railway company need to inform Transport Canada of a change to its operations?

Yes, a company must notify the Minister of Transport prior to making an operational change that may affect public or employee safety, property or the environment. Operational changes requiring notification include, but are not limited to:

  • Technology;
  • Transportation of dangerous goods;
  • Railway construction and works; and
  • Personnel changes, such as increasing or decreasing the number of employees or their duties.

Companies must conduct a risk assessment prior to making a proposed operational change and file their risk assessment documentation with the Minister of Transport upon request.

The full requirements for filing and notification are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

When are railway companies required to conduct safety management system risk assessments?

A company must conduct a risk assessment under the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 when the company:

  • Identifies a safety concern;
  • Intends to start transporting dangerous goods or a different type of dangerous goods; or
  • Proposes any operational change that may affect safety, property or the environment.

The full requirements for safety management system risk assessments are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

What do railway companies need to include in their safety management system risk assessments?

Risk assessments conducted under the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 must:

  • Describe why the risk assessment is required (intention to start transporting dangerous goods, for example);
  • Identify and describe the risks;
  • Identify factors (people, property and the environment, for example) that may be affected;
  • Indicate the likelihood that each risk will occur and the severity of its consequences;
  • Identify risks requiring remedial action; and
  • Identify remedial actions to reduce the likelihood or severity of the risks.

The full requirements for safety management system risk assessments are detailed in the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015.

Compliance and Enforcement

Does Transport Canada approve each railway company's safety management system?

Transport Canada does not approve a company's safety management system. Transport Canada conducts audits to verify industry compliance with the Regulations through its oversight program.

How does Transport Canada verify industry compliance with the Regulations?

Transport Canada conducts audits to verify industry compliance with Regulations through its oversight program. Transport Canada oversight activities include monitoring railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations and standards through audits and inspections and taking appropriate action as required.

Audits look at company safety policies, procedures and processes to determine whether or not the company is compliant with the Regulations. Transport Canada is committed to auditing every railway company under its jurisdiction on a three to five year cycle.

The Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 require railway companies to file safety management system information and risk assessments with the Minister, or delegated authority, upon request. Company safety management system information enables Transport Canada's assessment of the effectiveness and improvement of a company's system.

The department's oversight program also includes inspections to verify compliance with the Railway Safety Act, and rules, standards and regulations made under the Act. Inspections are examinations of railway operations, equipment and engineering, as well as emerging issues (i.e. bridge inspections during high flooding). Transport Canada conducts approximately 30,000 railway safety inspections every year.

If a company is found to be in non-compliance with the Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015 what can Transport Canada do?

If an audit reveals non-compliance with the Regulations, Transport Canada takes appropriate action, based on the severity of the non-compliance and involving one or more enforcement tools.

Grade Crossings Regulations

Why did Transport Canada develop the Grade Crossings Regulations?

Transport Canada developed the Grade Crossings Regulations to help reduce the frequency and severity of accidents at Canada's federally-regulated grade crossings, therefore saving lives and preventing injuries and derailments.

Who do the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to?

The Grade Crossings Regulations apply to railway companies, road authorities and private authorities, who share ownership of grade crossings across Canada.

Road authorities are organizations that manage public roads in Canada. Depending on location, road authorities may include federal departments and agencies, provinces, municipalities and band councils.

Private authorities are businesses or individuals that privately own paths, trails and roads that cross railway tracks. Private authorities may include residential, agricultural, industrial, commercial and recreational land owners.

Do the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to local railway companies?

Yes, they do. The Grade Crossings Regulations have provisions that apply to all companies governed by the Railway Safety Act, which ‎include local railway companies. The Regulations apply to all federally-regulated grade crossings, and to the operations of railway equipment over these locations. Therefore, local railway companies are also required to satisfy the requirements pertaining to the movement of their railway equipment at federally-regulated grade crossings. For example, local railway companies must not create obstructions to sightlines and they must comply with the provisions regarding obstruction of grade crossings and passage of emergency vehicles.

Local railway companies include provincially-regulated shortlines, light rail transit, and tourist trains that operate equipment on federally-regulated tracks and infrastructure.

Crossing infrastructure, such as signs, bells, lights and gates, are the shared responsibility of host railway companies and road authorities.

Do the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to both public crossings and private crossings?

Yes, the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to both public crossings and private crossings.

A public grade crossing is where railway tracks intersect with a road that is owned and maintained by a public authority, such as a province, municipality or band council, and used by the general public.

A private grade crossing is where railway tracks intersect with a road that is owned and used by private parties, such as farmers, commercial businesses or private individuals.

Do the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to both new crossings and existing crossings?

Yes, the Grade Crossings Regulations apply to both new crossings and existing crossings.

All new grade crossings built after the introduction of these Grade Crossings Regulations and any existing grade crossings where major modifications occur, such as a traffic lane addition or an increase in road or railway traffic speeds, must immediately comply with the Grade Crossings Regulations.

However, railway companies and road authorities have seven years to meet the requirements to upgrade existing grade crossings.

When did the Grade Crossings Regulations come into force?

The Grade Crossings Regulations came into force on November 27, 2014.

Are railway companies and road authorities required to immediately comply with all requirements in the Grade Crossings Regulations?

No. Transport Canada has developed a phased in approach to implementing the Grade Crossings Regulations.

Currently, railway companies and road authorities must meet the safety standards required for the construction of any new grade crossings and any existing grade crossings where major modifications occur, such as a traffic lane addition or an increase in road or railway traffic speeds.

Railway companies and road authorities must also immediately meet safety requirements for blocked crossings, temporary protection measures (when road construction, railway maintenance or crossing malfunctions are being addressed, for example) and keeping safety information (inspection and testing records for crossing failures or malfunctions, for example).

Two years after the Grade Crossings Regulations came into force, or by November 27, 2016, railway companies and road authorities must share safety information about their existing public grade crossings with each other.

Seven years after the Grade Crossings Regulations came into force, or by November 27, 2021, railway companies and road authorities must meet all requirements to upgrade existing grade crossings, including signage, crossing surface specifications, sightlines and warning systems.

This phased in approach requires immediate safety improvements at grade crossings across Canada, while allowing railway companies and road authorities sufficient time to comply with all of the requirements in the Grade Crossings Regulations.

Was industry consulted during the development of the Grade Crossings Regulations?

Yes, extensive consultations on the Grade Crossings Regulations have been carried out over many years with railway companies, road authorities, the public, associations, unions, municipalities, band councils and other government departments.

The Grade Crossings Regulations were also pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I on February 8, 2014 for a 90-day public comment period.

Can the Grade Crossing Improvement Program or the Grade Crossing Closure Program be used to cover costs related to implementing the Grade Crossings Regulations?

The Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP) and the Grade Crossing Closure Program (GCCP) precede the Grade Crossings Regulations (GCR) and have specific terms and conditions that must be met to qualify for funding. Failure to receive funding under these programs does not remove the obligations under the GCR. It is possible that projects funded under the GCIP could also serve to meet GCR requirements.

Are there any circumstances where a railway company or a road authority is not allowed to construct a grade crossing?

Yes. A grade crossing is not allowed to be built if the railway design speed is more than 110 mph or if the road is a freeway.

Grade Crossings Standards

What are the Grade Crossings Standards?

The Grade Crossings Standards are mandatory engineering standards that improve safety at crossings and are referenced in the Grade Crossings Regulations.

What do railway companies and road authorities need to do to comply with the Grade Crossings Standards?

Railway companies and road authorities are required to collaborate in finding the best option for making their crossings safe. Safety standards for crossing surface, road geometry, sightlines, signs and warning systems are detailed in the Grade Crossings Standards and include a variety of safety options available for road authorities and railway companies.

Can the 2002 version of the Road/Railway Grade Crossings-Technical Standards and Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Requirements (RTD 10) still be used?

The Grade Crossings Regulations and Grade Crossings Standards supersede the 2002 version of the Road/Railway Grade Crossings-Technical Standards and Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Requirements (RTD 10). However, the 2002 RTD-10 version may be used as supplemental reference material.

Train Whistling

What is train whistling?

Train whistling is the sounding of a whistle or horn when a train approaches a grade crossing. It is an important way to keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safe when using public grade crossings. The Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) require trains to sound their whistle when they approach a public grade crossing.

What is whistling cessation?

Whistling cessation is the act to stop the sounding of train whistles when a train approaches a public grade crossing. Train whistling can be bothersome for people living close to public grade crossings. As a result, some municipalities may wish to end train whistling to provide those residents with some relief from the noise. The Railway Safety Act allows municipalities to implement whistling cessation at a public grade crossing as long as the safety requirements are met.

What are the safety requirements that must be met for a municipality to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing?

The safety requirements that must be met for a municipality to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing are detailed in the Grade Crossings Regulations (section 104) and the Grade Crossings Standards (Appendix D). The requirements vary based on railway speed design, vehicle and pedestrian use, the number of railway tracks going through the crossing, and the history of trespassing and other incidents at the crossing, among other considerations. The safety requirements may include flashing lights, bells and gates at the crossing.

What is the process for municipalities to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing?

The process for municipalities to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing is detailed in the Procedure for Train Whistling at Public Grade Crossings. In summary, the municipality must:

  • Consult with the railway company to assess the whether or not whistling cessation at a public grade crossing would meet the safety requirements of the Grade Crossings Regulations and the Grade Crossing Standards;
  • Notify the public and other interested parties of the municipality’s intent to stop the whistling; and
  • Pass a council resolution to have the whistling stopped.
Should a municipality still use Transport Canada's Guideline No.1 for whistling cessation?

No. Guideline No.1 for whistling cessation has been replaced with the Procedure for Train Whistling at Public Grade Crossings [link to procedure]. This new procedure reflects the requirements of the Railway Safety Act, Grade Crossings Regulations and Grade Crossings Standards.

Once a resolution for whistling cessation is passed, what is the role of the municipality and the railway company?

After a resolution for whistling cessation is passed, both the municipality and the railway company are responsible for maintaining and monitoring the conditions supporting the whistling cessation. Recurring occurrences of trespassing and vehicle-train collisions, among other events, may trigger a re-evaluation of the conditions supporting the whistling cessation. In some instances, the railway company and municipality may decide to reinstate the whistling.

Can Transport Canada order that train whistling at a public crossing be reinstated after a resolution is passed?

Yes. Transport Canada can order a railway company to reinstate whistling at a public crossing after a resolution is passed if the railway company or the municipality fails to maintain the conditions supporting the cessation of train whistling.

Blocked Crossings

What is a blocked crossing?

A crossing is blocked when a train prevents drivers and pedestrians from passing at a public grade crossing.

What regulations do railway companies have to follow when trains are operating at a public grade crossing?

The Grade Crossings Regulations state that:

  • railway companies cannot conduct regular railway operations or leave railway equipment blocking a public grade crossing for more than five minutes when drivers and pedestrians are waiting to cross, unless the railway equipment is continually moving in one direction.
  • when emergency vehicles need to pass through, railway companies must take all measures to immediately clear the crossing.
What do I do if I have an issue with a blocked crossing?

Contact your Transport Canada regional office and give them this information:

  • location of the crossing (city and intersection/road);
  • date and time;
  • name of the railway company;
  • what the train was doing and for how long.
What is considered to be a safety concern at a blocked crossing?

A safety concern is created when railway equipment blocks a crossing on a regular basis and has the potential to cause physical harm, property loss and/or have environmental impacts regardless of the length of time that it blocks the passage.

For example, when a public grade crossing is on the primary access route of an emergency vehicle.

What should I do if I have a safety concern?

You should first contact your municipality if you think there is a safety concern about a blocked crossing.

How will my safety concern be resolved?

Safety concerns are assessed on a case by case basis and the process for road authorities and railway companies to resolve a safety concern is explained in the Grade Crossings Regulations. In summary:

  1. The municipality must pass a resolution stating that the blocked crossing is creating a safety concern;
  2. The municipality, provincial government or band council (road authority) writes to the Minister of Transport ‎and the railway company to inform them of the resolution;
  3. The railway company and the road authority must work together to resolve the safety concern within 90 days.
What happens if the safety concern cannot be resolved?

The road authority must notify the Minister of Transport if they can’t resolve the safety concern with the railway company within the 90 day period. The Minister of Transport may take further action to resolve the matter.

What should I do if there’s an emergency situation at a blocked crossing?

You should immediately call the railway company’s emergency telephone number if you:

  • become aware of an emergency situation at a railway crossing;
  • see an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance that is stopped at a blocked crossing that needs to pass immediately

You can find the railway company’s emergency telephone number and the crossing’s location information on railway crossing signs or on a nearby electrical housing compartment, also known as a signal bungalow.

Make sure to give the railway company the location of the blocked crossing and a description of the emergency situation so they can take immediate action to clear the crossing. In addition, it’s recommended that you contact your municipality.

Information Sharing

What are the information sharing requirements for railway companies?

Effective immediately, railway companies must provide road authorities with the following safety information about new public grade crossings:

  • location
  • number of railway tracks
  • average number of trains per day
  • track speed
  • crossing angle
  • warning system
  • signs
  • train whistling

This information must also be provided about existing public crossings within two years of the Grade Crossings Regulations coming into force (by November 27, 2016).

The full requirements for safe grade crossings, including information sharing, are detailed in the Grade Crossings Regulations.

There are no information sharing requirements for private crossings.

What are the information sharing requirements for road authorities?

Effective immediately, road authorities must provide railway companies with the following safety information about new public grade crossings:

  • location
  • number of road traffic lanes
  • average road traffic per day
  • road speed
  • geometric classification of road and approach
  • width of traffic lanes
  • design vehicle
  • stopping sight distance
  • grade of road approach
  • longest time required for a vehicle or pedestrian to pass through the crossing
  • advance activation time
  • pre-emption time
  • whether the crossing has a sidewalk, path or trail

This information must also be provided about existing public crossings within two years of the Grade Crossings Regulations coming into force (by November 27, 2016).

The full requirements for safe grade crossings, including information sharing, are detailed in the Grade Crossings Regulations.

What is a design vehicle?

A 'design vehicle' is the most restrictive vehicle that authorities expect to use the grade crossing on a regular basis. The design vehicle is used to determine the safety traits when building or upgrading a grade crossing.

The road authority chooses the design vehicle for a public grade crossing. The railway company chooses the design vehicle for a private grade crossing.

A design vehicle represents the typical user of a grade crossing (trucks, buses, etc) and is used to determine the safety traits when building or upgrading a grade crossing.

Types of design vehicles are shown in Figures 1.2.4.1 to 1.2.4.11 of the Geometric Design Guide for Canadian Roads (1999), published by the Transportation Association of Canada.

Who selects the design vehicle for a grade crossing?

The design vehicle for a public grade crossing is most often determined by the road authority. For private crossings, however, the railway company often selects the design vehicle.

How do road authorities and railway companies decide on the design vehicle?

The design vehicle should be selected based on the traffic the grade crossing is expected to see.

Considerations for selecting the design vehicle include:

  • what vehicles are expected to routinely use the crossing
  • local knowledge of the road network and land use
  • experience of the railway company and road authority
  • truck route, industrial park and farming use of the crossing

Sightlines

What are sightlines?

Safe and unobstructed sightlines, or lines of sight, allow road users and pedestrians enough time to see and react to an oncoming train at a grade crossing.

Who is responsible for maintaining sightlines?

Road authorities, private authorities and railway companies are responsible for maintaining safe and unobstructed sightlines at grade crossings.

What are the requirements for sightlines?

The requirements for sightlines vary depending on the safety design of the grade crossing, including railway and roadway speeds, stopping distance and the grade of the road, among others. Examples of sightline requirements include prohibiting the placement of buildings or objects, trees and brush and unattended railway equipment that may obstruct sightlines.

Effective immediately, all new grade crossings must comply with the requirements for safe sightlines detailed in the Grade Crossings Regulations and the Grade Crossings Standards. The sightline requirements must also be met for existing crossings within seven years of the Grade Crossings Regulations coming into force (by November 27, 2021).

A safe crossing is a visible crossing.

Can road authorities and railway companies still satisfy the sightline requirements by using the Minimum Railway/Road Crossing Sightline Requirements for All Grade Crossings without Automatic Warning Devices G4-A (G4-A guideline)?

The Grade Crossings Regulations and Grade Crossings Standards supersede the Minimum Railway/Road Crossing Sightline Requirements for All Grade Crossings without Automatic Warning Devices G4-A. While the G4-A guideline may still be used as a quick reference guide, the sightline requirements in the Grade Crossings Regulations and Grade Crossings Standards are more flexible and descriptive.

Crossings

What is a grade crossing?

A grade crossing is an intersection where a road or path crosses railway tracks at the same level. Grade crossings are also known as level crossings, railway crossings and train crossings.

Grade crossings are not intersections where a road goes over (such as a bridge or an overpass) or under (such as a tunnel or an underpass) railway tracks.

How many grade crossings are there in Canada?

There are approximately 23 000 federally-regulated grade crossings across Canada (14 000 public crossings and 9 000 private crossings) along more than 40 000 km of federally-regulated railway tracks.

What is a passive grade crossing?

A passive grade crossing is equipped with non-electric traffic control systems that notify motorists of the crossing and the likelihood of an approaching train. Examples of non-electric traffic control systems used include railway crossing signs, stop signs and railway crossing ahead signs. The majority of the grade crossings in Canada are passive.

An example of a railway crossing sign with a stop sign at a passive grade crossing.

What is an active grade crossing?

An active grade crossing is equipped with electronic traffic control systems. Electronic traffic control systems use a combination of railway crossing signs, flashing lights, bells, gates and traffic signal pre-emption to alert motorists of an approaching train.

An example of an electronic traffic control system using flashing lights, bells and gates at an active grade crossing

Crossing Closures

Can a railway company close a crossing without permission from the municipality?

No, a crossing cannot be closed without the permission from the municipality. The railway company and the municipality must both agree to the closure of a grade crossing.

If the two parties disagree, the Canadian Transportation Agency can help resolve disputes related to railway crossings.

What can be done if a railway company closes a private crossing without contacting the private authority?

If the private authority for the crossing was not contacted before a crossing was closed, there is a possibility that no agreement exists for that particular crossing. Transport Canada encourages railway companies to work with private authorities on reaching an agreement. You may wish to contact the Canadian Transportation Agency for more information.

Can an existing crossing be closed instead of upgraded to comply with the Grade Crossings Regulations?

Yes, an existing crossing may be closed instead of upgraded to comply with the Grade Crossings Regulations.

First, the railway company and road authority must both agree to close the crossing.

Next, an agreement to close the crossing in the interest of safe railway operations must be submitted to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The Grade Crossing Closure Program is available for crossing closures that may be eligible for funding contributions.

Disputes

Who can help if a railway company and a road authority disagree on safety measures at their grade crossings?

Transport Canada can help if a railway company and a road authority do not agree on safety measures at a grade crossing.

For example, if a lack of agreement between a railway company and road authority leads to the safety requirements not being met at a grade crossing, Transport Canada may use enforcement actions that may include ordering the closure of the crossing.

Contact us at railsafety@tc.gc.ca or 1-844-897-RAIL (7245).

Who can help if a railway company and a road authority disagree on who should cover the costs for improving their grade crossings?

If a railway company and a road authority disagree on who should pay for railway work at a crossing, either party can ask the Canadian Transportation Agency to apportion the costs of the project.

Transportation Information Regulations

Regulations

What are the Transportation Information Regulations?

The Transportation Information Regulations set out what information and data elements are required to be submitted to the Department of Transport.

The Transportation Information Regulations are available at http://laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-96-334/.

What does the Transportation Information Regulations cover?

The Transportation Information Regulations cover all modes of transport - air, marine, rail and road. More specifically: air carriers, rail carriers, motor carriers, air services undertakings, deep waterway undertakings, grain handling undertakings, port authorities and the Canada Border Services Agency.

Why did Transport Canada amend the Transportation Information Regulations to include safety data requirements from railways?

Transport Canada amended the Transportation Information Regulations to include railway safety data to help proactively identify areas of risk.

When do the railway safety data amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations come into force?

The railway safety data amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations came into force on April 1, 2015.

When is the railway companies’ first deadline to submit their safety data?

The railway companies must submit their first safety data collection through the secure portal to Transport Canada by January 15, 2016. This will cover the data collection period from April 1, 2015 to October 31, 2015.

Who do the safety data amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations apply to?

The safety data amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations apply to Class I and Class II railways.

Class I railways are companies with a gross revenue of at least $250,000,000 per year. Class II railways are companies with a gross revenue of less than $250,000,000 per year. For detailed definitions, please see the Transportation Information Regulations.

What are railways required to do in order to comply with the railway safety data requirements of the Transportation Information Regulations?

Railway companies are required to collect information on each of the 15 safety leading indicators under the Transportation Information Regulations and submit them to Transport Canada. Railway companies must respect the reporting timelines set out in the regulations.

How are the Transportation Information Regulations enforced?

The Transportation Information Regulations are made under the Canada Transportation Act. Any person who contravenes the Canada Transportation Act or a regulation made under the Act, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 for individuals and $25,000 for corporations.

Transport Canada will follow-up directly with any railway company found to be in non-compliance with the Transportation Information Regulations.

Was the railway industry consulted during the development of the safety data requirements of the Transportation Information Regulations?

Yes. Following the 2007 Railway Safety Act Review report, a working group was established, which included members of industry, unions and government. The working group identified leading indicators for railway safety as a response to recommendations from this review.

As well, amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations were pre-published in the Canada Gazette, Part I in summer of 2014, for a 30-day public comment period.

Data collection

What types of safety data do railway companies need to submit to Transport Canada?

Railway companies are required to submit data on 15 safety leading indicators under three overarching themes: Operations, Equipment and Engineering.

The 15 leading indicators are:

  • Information relevant to day-to-day railway staffing and training activities, including:
    1. Summary of personnel proficiency tests and results.
  • Information relevant to the condition and maintenance of locomotives and rolling stock, including:
    1. Number of locomotives set off en route for mechanical reasons;
    2. Number of cars set off en route for mechanical reasons;
    3. Number of train pull aparts caused by broken knuckle or broken drawbar; and
    4. Number of broken or cracked wheels found on a train in a yard or in a repair facility.
  • Information relevant to fixed railway infrastructure, including bridges, track, culverts, signalling and grade crossings, in particular:
    1. Deviations from the track geometry standards set out in the Rules Respecting Track Safety;
    2. Deviations from the defective rail standards set out in the Rules Respecting Track Safety detected using rail flaw testing activities;
    3. Number of in-service rail failures;
    4. Number of in-service joint pull aparts;
    5. Total tonnage per segment of track;
    6. Information related to any malfunction of an automated warning system (AWS) for which a trouble ticket was issued;
    7. Information related to any malfunction of a wayside inspection system (WIS) for which a trouble ticket was issued;
    8. Information related to any malfunction of a wayside signal system (WSS) for which a trouble ticket was issued;
    9. Number of culverts requiring continued monitoring at the end of the reporting period; and
    10. Number of bridges with temporary slow orders at the end of the reporting period.

For detailed description of each safety leading indicator, please see the Transportation Information Regulations.

What are leading indicators?

Leading indicators are measurable factors used proactively to identify and mitigate risks before accidents occur.

How will the railway companies submit their data on the 15 safety leading indicators to Transport Canada?

Railway companies will submit their safety-related data electronically to Transport Canada through a secure web portal.

Is railway company safety data submitted to Transport Canada under the Transportation Information Regulations also available to the public?

No. The safety data provided by the railway companies submitted to Transport Canada, under the Transportation Information Regulations are not available to the public. As per section 20 of the Access to Information Act, the Government of Canada cannot disclose third party information. As a railway company's data is third party information, it is up to them to decide whether or not they share their information with the public.

Additionally, the railway safety data amendments are made under the authority of the Canada Transportation Act, which contains provisions governing the security and accessibility of information obtained under its jurisdiction.

Railway Operating Certificate Regulations

What is a Railway Operating Certificate?

A Railway Operating Certificate is an official document issued by Transport Canada that authorizes a federal railway company or a local railway company to operate in Canada. A Railway Operating Certificate is required to operate a railway under the Railway Safety Act.

Who needs a Railway Operating Certificate?

All companies that fall under the authority of the Railway Safety Act are required to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate. This includes:

  • federal railway companies, who must also hold a Certificate of Fitness from the Canadian Transportation Agency; and
  • local railway companies, which include provincially-regulated shortlines, light rail transit, and tourist trains that operate equipment on federally-regulated tracks.
Do federal railway companies need both a Railway Operating Certificate and a Certificate of Fitness to operate in Canada?

Yes, federal railway companies need a Railway Operating Certificate as well as a Certificate of Fitness.

Federal railway companies are required to obtain a Certificate of Fitness from the Canadian Transportation Agency based on having adequate insurance to operate.

How long does a Railway Operating Certificate remain valid? Does the certificate need to be renewed?

A Railway Operating Certificate does not expire and does not need to be renewed. The certificate is valid until the company ceases operations, changes legal name or ownership, is acquired by another company (in whole or in part), or until the certificate is varied, suspended or cancelled by Transport Canada.

To maintain a valid Railway Operating Certificate, companies must continue to meet the requirements for the certificate and comply with any terms and conditions identified by Transport Canada. Companies must also continue to meet the requirements of the Railway Safety Act, and any regulations, rules, orders, standards, and emergency directives made under the Act.

Do companies need separate Railway Operating Certificates for their freight and passenger operations?

No. Companies are issued one Railway Operating Certificate that lists all types of railway operations the company is allowed to conduct, such as transporting passengers, freight, or operating and maintaining line works.

If a company is planning to change their type of railway operations (from freight to passenger, for example), do they need a new Railway Operating Certificate?

Yes. If a company is planning to change their type of railway operations they need a new Railway Operating Certificate. Requirements for a Railway Operating Certificate are different based on the type of operations a company conducts, including the transport of passengers, the transport of freight and maintenance of line works.

Could a Railway Operating Certificate include terms or conditions?

Yes. When authorizing a company to conduct operations, Transport Canada may place terms and conditions on a Railway Operating Certificate to limit or restrict operations where deemed necessary for safe railway operations. A company must comply with any terms and conditions on its certificate. For example, terms and conditions may restrict operating speeds due to track conditions, prohibit operations on segments of a company's network until improvements are made, or limit the geographical areas in which a company will be authorized to operate.

Furthermore, any current Transport Canada safety mitigating actions issued to existing companies may become terms and conditions on the company's Railway Operating Certificate unless the company fully resolves the safety issue prior to Transport Canada issuing their operating certificate.

Does Transport Canada publish a list of companies that have a valid Railway Operating Certificate?

Yes, the list of companies that have a valid Railway Operating Certificate is available at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/railsafety-974.html.

Applying for a Railway Operating Certificate

How do companies apply for a Railway Operating Certificate?

Starting January 1, 2015, companies can apply for a Railway Operating Certificate by completing an application form and submitting a scanned copy to Transport Canada by email at railsafety@tc.gc.ca or the original by registered mail to:

Rail Safety Regulatory Affairs
Transport Canada
Mailstop: ASRR
427 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5

For examples of completed applications, please see the sample Railway Operating Certificate application (PDF format (1.05 MB)) for railway companies and the sample application for local railway companies, (PDF format (1.07 MB).

When do new companies need to apply for and obtain a Railway Operating Certificate?

As of January 1, 2015, new companies must obtain a Railway Operating Certificate prior to commencing operations in Canada. Companies should submit their application to Transport Canada no later than 120 days before their desired start date.

When do existing companies need to apply for and obtain a Railway Operating Certificate?

As of January 1, 2015, existing companies have until January 1, 2017 to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate, giving them a two-year grace period. The grace period applies to companies that were operating on federally-regulated track when the regulations came into force and to companies that conducted regular seasonal operations in 2014. Applications must be submitted to Transport Canada no later than September 1, 2016 (120 days before January 1, 2017).

For companies that suspended their operations prior to January 1, 2015 or for any new operators since January 1, 2015, a ROC must be obtained before they can begin or resume operating.

What does a company need to do to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate?

A company needs to meet baseline safety requirements to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate. Requirements, also known as conditions of issuance, are different for railway companies and local railway companies 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 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 (if applicable);
  • Rules for companies that transport passengers (if applicable); and
  • Rules for companies that transport freight (if applicable).

The 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);

Local railway companies are also required to list agreements with host railway companies and/or provincial or territorial laws that contain any provisions that deal with railway safety. They will need to describe safety requirements in place for employee qualifications, medical fitness for duty, and fatigue management. While these safety-related requirements do not fall under federal jurisdiction for local railway companies, they help demonstrate that the company has the human and financial resources to operate at the highest level of safety.

The full conditions of issuance and the required contents of an application for a Railway Operating Certificate are detailed in the Railway Operating Certificate Regulations.

Can companies submit their application for a Railway Operating Certificate and their rules for approval at the same time?

Yes. Companies may submit an application for a Railway Operating Certificate at the same time as they submit their rules for Transport Canada's approval. Please note, however, that Transport Canada will only begin the 120-day assessment of the company's application for a Railway Operating Certificate once the company's rules have been approved.

For information about submitting railway safety rules for Transport Canada's approval, please see our Guideline on Submitting a Proposed Rule or a Revision to a Rule under the Railway Safety Act.

Companies should consult on their rules at least 240 days before the desired start date of operations and submit their rules to Transport Canada for approval at least 180 days before their desired start date.

How much does it cost to apply for a Railway Operating Certificate?

There is no fee to apply for a Railway Operating Certificate.

What does it mean that the company must have "the human and financial resources to operate at the highest level of safety"?

In addition to having railway safety rules approved by Transport Canada, applicants are required to have the human and financial resources to operate at the highest level of safety. This means that the company has, and will continue to have, sufficient (proportionate with the size, nature and complexity of its operations) financial resources, and human resources to not only comply with applicable regulatory requirements, but also to identify, assess and successfully mitigate threats to safe railway operations.

How long does it take to obtain a Railway Operating Certificate?

Transport Canada has 120 days, from when the complete application is received, to decide whether to issue, refuse to issue or place terms and conditions on a company's Railway Operating Certificate.

Variation

How can terms and conditions be removed from a company's Railway Operating Certificate?

Terms and conditions may be modified or removed from a company's Railway Operating Certificate by applying to Transport Canada for variation to the company's Railway Operating Certificate. For example, terms and conditions may no longer be necessary once a condition is met, a term is no longer applicable or remedial action has been taken by the company to mitigate risks to safe railway operations.

What is a variation of a Railway Operating Certificate?

A variation is the removal or modification of a term or condition placed on a company's Railway Operating Certificate. A variation may be granted by Transport Canada upon application by the company.

How does a company apply for a variation to its Railway operating Certificate?

Companies may apply for a variation to their Railway Operating Certificate by completing a variation application form and submitting a scanned copy to Transport Canada by email at railsafety@tc.gc.ca or the original by registered mail to:

Rail Safety Regulatory Affairs
Transport Canada
Mailstop: ASRR
427 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N5

How long does it take to obtain a variation to a Railway Operating Certificate?

Transport Canada has 120 days, from when the complete application is received, to asses and decide whether or not to modify or remove the terms and conditions on a company's Railway Operating Certificate.

Refusal, Suspension and Cancellation

Can Transport Canada refuse a company's application for a Railway Operating Certificate? Can Transport Canada refuse an application for a variation to a Railway Operating Certificate?

Yes. If the conditions of issuance are not met or cannot be verified, Transport Canada can refuse to issue a Railway Operating Certificate.

Similarly, Transport Canada can also refuse a company's application for a variation to their Railway Operating Certificate if the terms and conditions are considered necessary for safe railway operations.

Can a company appeal Transport Canada's decision to refuse to issue a Railway Operating Certificate?

Yes. Within 30 days after notice is sent by Transport Canada, a company has the right to appeal the department's decision to refuse to issue a Railway Operating Certificate by requesting a review by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada.

Similarly, a company has the right to appeal the department's decision to refuse to modify or remove terms and conditions on their Railway Operating Certificate by requesting a review by the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada within 30 days after notice is sent by Transport Canada.

Can Transport Canada cancel or suspend a company's Railway Operating Certificate?

Yes, Transport Canada can cancel or suspend a Railway Operating Certificate. The cancellation or suspension of a Railway Operating Certificate will put a stop to a company's railway operations in Canada.

Why would Transport Canada cancel or suspend a company's Railway Operating Certificate?

Transport Canada could cancel or suspend a company's Railway Operating Certificate if the company stops meeting the requirements of their certificate or if the company contravenes the Railway Safety Act, or any regulations, rules, standards, orders, or emergency directives made under the Act.

Transport Canada has a variety of tools to enforce compliance and respond to safety concerns in a manner that is proportionate to the risk that threat poses to safe railway operations.

Tools to mitigate safety threats and enforce compliance include:

  • Letters of Non-Compliance
  • Letters of Concern
  • Notices
  • Notices and Orders
  • Emergency Directives
  • Ministerial Orders
  • Administrative Monetary Penalties
  • Court Orders
  • Railway Operating Certificates
  • Prosecution

Transport Canada would cancel or suspend a company's Railway Operating Certificate in cases of chronic non-compliance or where their operations pose a serious risk to safety.

Can a company resume operations after Transport Canada has suspended its Railway Operating Certificate?

Yes, but only after Transport Canada has issued the company a new Railway Operating Certificate. A company can resume operations after Transport Canada has suspended its Railway Operating Certificate if the company no longer poses a threat to safe railway operations, has submitted a new application for a Railway Operating Certificate and Transport Canada has issued the company a new certificate to operate in Canada.

What is the difference between a suspension and cancelation of a Railway Operating Certificate?

If a company's Railway Operating Certificate is suspended, the company may be allowed resume operations after Transport Canada has issued the company a new certificate. However, if a company's Railway Operating Certificate is canceled, the company will never be allowed to operate a railway in Canada.

Regulations

When did the Railway Operating Certificate Regulations come into force?

The Railway Operating Certificate Regulations came into force on January 1, 2015.

How do the Railway Operating Certificate Regulations improve railway safety in Canada?

The Railway Operating Certificate Regulations increase railway safety in Canada by establishing baseline safety requirements that must be met before companies begin operations.

The Railway Safety Act requires companies to have a Railway Operating Certificate and to meet any terms and conditions on its certificate to operate in Canada.

Do you have additional questions? Are you completing an application form on behalf of a company and want to know more?

Please contact us at railsafety@tc.gc.ca or 1-844-897-RAIL (7245).

Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations

Penalties

What are administrative monetary penalties?

Administrative monetary penalties are penalties issued by government agencies. Under the authority of the Railway Safety Act, Transport Canada can issue a penalty to corporations or individuals for contraventions of the Act, or regulations and rules made under the Act.

How much are railway safety contraventions penalties?

Penalties are based on the severity of the violation. The maximum amount is $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a corporation. Examples of penalties are as follows:

Violation Individual
(Maximum
amount payable)
Corporation
(Maximum amount
payable)
Example of violation
Low-level risk $5,000 $25,000 Failing to consult with relevant associations and organizations prior to filing rules with the Minister for approval
Medium-level risk $25,000 $125,000 Failing to provide proper prior notice before conducting certain types of railway work
High-level risk $50,000 $250,000 Failing to have railway work approved by a professional engineer

The breakdown of violations, or list of provisions in the Railway Safety Act and regulations and rules made under the Act for which penalties can be issued, are detailed in the Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations.

Who can be penalized?

Any individual or corporation subject to the Railway Safety Act, regulations or rules made under the Act can receive a penalty.

Who has the authority to issue a penalty?

An Enforcement Officer designated by the Minister of Transport or delegated authority can issue a penalty.

When does Transport Canada issue penalties?

Penalties are issued for contraventions to the Railway Safety Act, regulations or rules made under the Act.

What types of railway safety contraventions does Transport Canada issue penalties for?

Transport Canada issues penalties for contraventions to the Railway Safety Act, regulations or rules made under the Act.

The Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations set out schedules that list the provisions in the Railway Safety Act and regulations and rules made under the Act for which penalties can be issued. The schedules also include the maximum amount payable for each contravention.

As regulations are developed, they will be reviewed to see if any provisions should be added to the Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations, which would be done through an amendment process.

Does Transport Canada allow an individual or company an opportunity to address the safety contravention before issuing a penalty?

Transport Canada may issue a Letter of Warning allowing the individual or company a specified period of time to address the contravention prior to Transport Canada issuing a penalty.

What is a Letter of Warning?

A Letter of Warning describes the railway safety contravention found by Transport Canada and allows the individual or company a specified period of time to respond to Transport Canada with what corrective actions have been taken to remedy the contravention or what actions they will take to remedy the contravention, within a specified timeframe.

What is a Notice of Violation?

A Notice of Violation describes the railway safety contravention found by Transport Canada and states the amount of the penalty issued to the individual or company.

Can an individual or company appeal their penalty?

Yes, any individual or corporation issued a penalty may request that the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada review the violation or the amount of the penalty.

How does an individual or company pay their penalties?

Payments are to be made to the Receiver General for Canada.

What happens if an individual or company refuses to pay their penalty?

An unpaid penalty is a debt due to the Crown and may be recovered by collection procedures stipulated in the Financial Administration Act.

How and for what is the money collected through railway safety administrative monetary penalties used?

Money collected through railway safety administrative monetary penalties is held in the Government of Canada's Consolidated Revenue Fund.

The Consolidated Revenue Fund is the account into which the government deposits taxes and other revenues, and from which the government withdraws money to cover its expenditures.

The Receiver General for Canada manages the operations of the federal treasury and ensures the integrity of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

How many railway safety penalties has Transport Canada issued?

The Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations came into force on April 1, 2015. Transport Canada intends to publish railway safety penalties on its website, including the name of the company and a summary of the contravention.

Regulations

What is the purpose of the Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations?

The Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations are designed to encourage regulatory compliance and deter safety contraventions by having a monetary cost for contraventions of the Railway Safety Act, and regulations and rules made under the Act.

When did the Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations come into force?

The Railway Safety Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations came into force on April 1, 2015.

Local Railway Companies

Definitions

What is a local railway company?

A "local railway company" is a provincially-regulated railway company or light-rail commuter service which operates on a federally-regulated railway. "Railway" includes tracks, branches, extensions, sidings, railway bridges, tunnels, stations, depots, wharfs, rolling stock, equipment, stores or other things connected with the railway. It also includes communications or signaling systems and related facilities and equipment used for railway purposes. It does not include an agent or mandatary of the host railway company.

What is meant by agent or mandatary?

A company that is hired by the host railway company to do maintenance on the track, for example, would be considered an agent or mandatary of that railway company and would be excluded from the definition of local railway company.

What is a host railway company?

A host railway company is a federal railway company that holds a certificate of fitness and that operates a federally-regulated railway.

What is a Notice?

A Notice is an official document, issued under section 31 of the Railway Safety Act, informing the railway company or local railway company that a threat to the safety of its operations was found and requiring the company to respond within a set timeframe with safety measures taken to mitigate the threat.

What is a Notice and Order?

A Notice and Order is a Notice that includes an Order. A Railway Safety Inspector may include such an Order when he or she believes that a threat is immediate. The inspector can either restrict the local railway company or railway company's operations or allow it to continue under certain terms and conditions.

What is considered a threat to safety and when is that threat immediate?

There is a definition in the Railway Safety Act that states, "A threat is a hazard or condition that could reasonably be expected to develop into a situation in which a person could be injured or made to be ill or damage could be caused to the environment or property, and a threat is immediate if such a situation already exists". The threat is determined by a Railway Safety Inspector based on his or her qualification and experience.

The Amendent

What does the amendment entail for local railway companies?

On May 1, 2013, local railway companies will become subject to the Railway Safety Act when operating on federally-regulated railway lines. This means that they will be directly responsible for complying with the federal railway safety regime when on federal track and will be able to submit rules that apply to their operations to Transport Canada for approval. Transport Canada will be responsible for monitoring their compliance to these rules by going directly to them instead of the host railway company.

Does this mean that local railway companies are now federal undertakings?

No. It simply means that local railway companies will be subject to the Railway Safety Act when operating on federally-regulated track.

What about when local railway companies operate on provincial track?

Nothing changes the way local railway companies are regulated while operating on provincially-regulated tracks. In cases where provincially-regulated railways have a long-term lease with a federally-regulated railway, the tracks are considered provincial and not federally-regulated track. Where Transport Canada has an inspection agreement with a province, the agreement will not be affected by the amendment.

Why was this amendment made to the Railway Safety Act?

The amendment was made to clarify Transport Canada's responsibility for regulating the safety of rail operations while on federally-regulated track. Any railway company that operates on federally-regulated track falls under Transport Canada to regulate, no matter the operation.

Does this amendment affect contracts between local railway companies and their host railway companies?

No, this does not have any effect on these contractual agreements as long as the approved rules do not conflict with them, in which case the rules would prevail.

Are local railway companies required to file a Safety Management System (SMS) with Transport Canada?

Until amendments are brought to the SMS Regulations, the SMS Regulations will not apply to local railway companies. Local railway companies are encouraged to continue their good safety practices.

Submitting Rules

How do local railway companies submit rules to Transport Canada?

Simply follow the Easy Steps to Submit Rules.

What is the deadline for submitting rules?
In order to help local railway companies transition to this new regime, they will have until November 1, 2013 to submit their rules for approval. However, Transport Canada encourages local railway companies to file their rules as early as possible, starting May 1, 2013.
What rules apply to a local railway company?

Local railway companies are encouraged to file the same rules as their host railway company's rules, unless there is a very specific reason to file different ones. In general, operating rules (Canadian Rail Operating Rules) would apply, and if the local railway company is responsible for equipment some equipment rules, or if it offers passenger service, rules related to passengers. Visit Transport Canada's website for a complete list of the rules.

Rules relating to training, hours of work and rest, and medical requirements do not apply to local railway companies as employee issues fall under provincial jurisdiction. Local railway companies may however still be obligated by contract with their host railway companies to abide by these particular rules.

Who can local railway companies contact for assistance?

If local railway companies are unsure which rules apply to their operations, they can either contact the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) for assistance if they are a member, or their host railway company. They could also communicate with their respective Transport Canada regional office or contact Transport Canada at railsafety@tc.gc.ca or at 613 998-2985.

How and where do local railway companies send the rules for Transport Canada's approval?

The package you send to Transport Canada should include:

  1. A letter (template #2) to Transport Canada containing the list of applicable rules;
  2. The letter (template #1) sent to your host railway company; and
  3. The host railway company's response to your letter.

The package can be sent:

Ms. Brigitte Diogo
Director General, Rail Safety
Transport Canada
Mailstop: ASR
427 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N5

What happens if local railway companies do not file rules by November 1, 2013?

The Railway Safety Act provides the Minister of Transport Canada with the authority to order a company to file rules, which is known as a Ministerial Order. Local railway companies that have not filed rules by November 1, 2013 will be assessed by Transport Canada to determine whether or not they will be ordered to do so.

Are local railway companies required to consult with their unions before submitting rules to Transport Canada for approval?

No, the local railway company is required to consult with the host railway company only.

How do local railway companies consult with their host railway company?

Simply follow the Easy Steps to Submit Rules.

What should local railway companies do while they wait for Transport Canada to approve the rules they have submitted?

Local railway companies should continue to follow their host railway company's rules until their own rules are approved.

Are local railway companies entitled to the exemption process?

Yes, once Transport Canada has approved rules for a local railway company, that local railway company can submit a request to Transport Canada to be exempted from provisions of these rules provided that the host railway company has been consulted, as required. Transport Canada will not object to an exemption if it is in the public's interest and if it does not compromise the safety of railway operations.

Monitoring and Enforcement

What is the role of a Railway Safety Inspector?

The Railway Safety Inspector holds a certificate which identifies the matter for which the inspector is qualified to act. He or she monitors the safety of the operations of all companies that operate on federally-regulated railways and verifies their compliance to the Railway Safety Act and rules that apply to their operations. He or she issues Notices or Notices and Orders to mitigate threats or immediate threats to safety, if threats are caused by a company's operations.

What will be different about Notices and Notices and Orders?

Starting May 1, 2013, Transport Canada's Railway Safety Inspectors will have the authority to issue a Notice or a Notice and Order directly to local railway companies.

If, while they are monitoring a local railway company's operations, a Railway Safety Inspector discovers a threat to safety, he or she has the power to issue an official Notice directly to the local railway company indicating the threat. The local railway company will be obligated to respond by a certain date explaining how it intends to eliminate that threat.

If the Railway Safety Inspector thinks that there is an immediate threat to safety, he or she may decide to include an Order in the Notice which would either restrict a local railway company's operation or allow it to continue under certain conditions. These restrictions or conditions will be lifted only after an action to eliminate the threat has been taken to the inspector's satisfaction.

How can a local railway company appeal an Order of a Railway Safety Inspector?

A local railway company that receives a Notice and Order can appeal the Order by sending a formal request to the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada (TATC). The address will be contained in the Order. The local railway company has 30 days from the receipt of the Order to appeal.

What happens if a local railway company does not comply with an Order?

The same thing as if a federally-regulated railway company did not comply with an Order. Non-compliance to an Order is a serious offence under the Railway Safety Act for which the company can be prosecuted. The Minister can also have this Order made an Order of a Court to be enforced as such. The local railway company representatives could be summoned to appear in Court or could ultimately be arrested.

What happens if a Railway Safety Inspector finds non-compliance to a rule?

The Railway Safety Inspector will issue a Letter of Non-Compliance to the local railway company requesting that it respond indicating what action it intends to take to comply. The company has 14 days to respond.

Can local railway companies be prosecuted by Transport Canada for an offence committed under the Railway Safety Act?

Yes, they can be prosecuted.

Will a "senior official", for the purpose of sending Notices or Notices and Orders, be identified for each local railway company?

Yes, a list of all local railway companies is currently being finalized. Transport Canada will be contacting each local railway company to find out who their "most senior official" is.

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