Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Transport Canada: No more one-person crews

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Transport Canada said late Tuesday, July 23, 2013 it would now ban one-person train crews, in response to the train derailment and explosion earlier this month in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. The death toll at present is 47.

Transport Canada also said trains with dangerous goods would not be allowed to be left unattended on any main line track, and that hand brakes must be applied to trains left for one hour or more.

“The disaster brought to light several industry practices that have caused some concern,” said Gerard McDonald, assistant deputy minister of safety and security at Transport Canada. “Given that and with an abundance of precaution, we thought it would be prudent to implement these measures now.”

Transport Canada says the cause of the Lac-Mégantic derailment remains unknown, though failure to supply sufficient hand brakes is still suspected. Canada’s Transport Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, had asked for changes in regulations governing rail traffic.

Transport Canada also is giving rail operators five days to ensure nobody without authorization can enter the cab of unattended locomotives on a main track or sidings.

“The safety of Canadians is Transport Canada’s top priority,” the agency said in an announcement posted on its website. “The department is committed to working with the rail industry to examining any other means of improving rail safety.”

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway had previously received permission from Canadian authorities to operate with one-person train crews. Lac-Mégantic, in response, is taking legal action against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, with Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche adding that the railroad has yet to reimburse the municipality for any of the cleanup costs involved in removing crude oil and explosion damage.