Rail Safety in Canada
With nearly 41,711 route-kilometers of track, Canada has the third-largest rail network in the world. Railways played a key role in shaping our country. They continue to be important for our economy as a primary mode of freight transportation.
The Canadian rail system has both federal and provincial railways. Railways that cross provincial or international boundaries are governed federally. Railways that only operate within a province are governed provincially.
Transport Canada’s Rail Safety Program
Transport Canada develops and implements policies and regulations, and administers the Railway Safety Act. The department conducts approximately 33,000 railway safety inspections every year.
We inspect companies and road authorities to ensure they comply with the Act, and with regulations, rules, and engineering standards made under the Act. Rail safety inspectors conduct inspections (including audits) to determine whether a railway’s operations, equipment, signals and infrastructure support safety.
We also review and update the legislation on rail safety. The Act has been reviewed 4 times since coming into force in 1989. The most recent review was done in 2017 to 2018 by an independent panel.
Safety Management Systems:
an additional layer of safety
The Railway Safety Management System Regulations, 2015, which came into effect on April 1, 2015, provide a framework for companies to integrate safety into their day-to-day railway operations. They build on 12 years of lessons learned in providing regulatory oversight of safety management systems in the rail industry.
Grade crossings map
Compliance and enforcement
Rail safety inspectors determine whether a railway’s operations, equipment, signals and infrastructure support safety. Approximately 150 inspectors carry out around 33,000 inspections across the country every year.
Improvements to Rail Safety and the Safe Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Rail
Since July 2013, Transport Canada has taken a number of concrete steps to strengthen rail safety and the safety of transporting dangerous goods.
Rail safety overview - Safety in action
Services and information
- Grade Crossings
- Operating a federal railway
- Railway lines
- Requirements for locomotives and railway cars
- Rail safety actions and enforcement
- Shipping grain by rail
- Transportation of dangerous goods by rail
- Railway accidents and investigations
- Rail security
- Apply for rail safety improvement funding (infrastructure, technology)