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RAC Honors Safety, Environmental Leaders (Updated 12/5)

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
CN earned a safety award and an environmental award from Railway Association of Canada in 2023. (CN Photograph)

CN earned a safety award and an environmental award from Railway Association of Canada in 2023. (CN Photograph)

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) on Nov. 29 announced the recipients of its 2023 Safety and Environmental Awards that recognize “excellence and innovation.”

“Safety is job one for all railroaders and it’s a key component of sustainability,” said Marc Brazeau, President and CEO of RAC, which represents close to 60 railway companies and more than 60 associate members, including suppliers and consultants. “This year’s award recipients are living proof of an industry-wide commitment to continuously investing, innovating, and improving as they pull for Canada. And because of that commitment, we all win.”

“Safety and environmental leadership are indicative of railways’ commitment to our customers and the communities we serve,” added Bruno Riendeau, Chair of RAC’s Safety and Environment Awards Committee and Director of Safety and Environment at VIA Rail Canada. “The efforts we are recognizing this year showcase the vital contributions railways make as part of their daily operations to Canada as a whole.”

This year’s Safety Award honorees are:

RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau presented CN’s 2023 Safety Award to the railroad’s Senior Manager, Safety Systems, Carolyn David. (RAC Photograph)
  • CN. This Canadian Class I railroad received the award for its Enablon Go system, which RAC said, “provides real-time data on near-misses and hazards, ensuring swift action to prevent incidents.” Said CN Senior Manager, Safety Systems Carolyn David: The system “allows employees to proactively identify issues across the network. It not only gives us a boost forward in our goal of reaching zero injuries, but also demonstrates the culture of collaboration and trust that is evolving within CN.”
    CN on Dec. 4 described how the system works: “The technology application captures GPS coordinates when employees report near misses or hazards into their mobile devices, and they can upload photo, video and audio files to provide additional information. Near misses can also be reported anonymously, if chosen. Once a near miss or hazard is reported in the app, CN managers of all Operations functions in the affected area are notified. Employees who reported a hazard also receive feedback on the status of the issue once it has been corrected. At Walker Yard in Edmonton, AB, and surrounding terminals, locomotive engineers Dave Gillis and Matt Pfeiffer provided hands-on training to hundreds of employees, including discussing why, how and when to use the app.
    “‘We challenged everyone to try it and see the results for themselves,’ said Gillis, who also serves with Pfeiffer on the local CN Health & Safety Committee. ’They find it only takes two minutes of their day to report an issue, and then they have seen it be addressed. The results have made believers in the app, and they’ve really embraced it.’ Reported situations in and around Walker Yard that have been resolved include replacing missing signage, improving walking conditions, and upgrading lighting in yards.”
Receiving Cando Rail & Terminals’ 2023 Safety Award from RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau (right) was the company’s Conductor and Locomotive Engineer Travis Worth. (RAC Photograph)
  • Cando Rail & Terminals. According to RAC, Cando “transforms safety reporting” with its Good Catch campaign. This employee-driven campaign recognizes and rewards “exceptional” safety hazard identification and action. “At Cando Rail & Terminals, we strive for a spirit of consultation and cooperation,” Cando President and CEO Brian Cornick said. “We recognize that when employees participate directly by providing their ideas, experience, and effort, we all benefit. Identifying and reporting safety hazards has always been a part of working safely. What our Good Catch campaign adds is a systematic process, which was developed by our employees in the field, that not only engages our people to proactively identify risks but also acknowledges them for their role in preventing incidents.”
  • Rocky Mountaineer. The “non-punitive” Incident Reporting System from Rocky Mountaineer “fosters a culture of open communication and continuous improvement in safety,” according to RAC. Noted Court Edeburn, Vice President and Chief Safety Officer at the railroad: “[W]e have an unwavering commitment to the health and safety of our team members, guests, partners, and the communities and natural spaces where we travel. With this enhanced Incident Reporting System, we capture all incidents, no matter how minor, so they can be investigated, catalogued, and addressed in a quick, holistic manner. The new system keeps safety at the forefront of our team’s actions every day.”
Toronto Terminals Railway Company’s George Huggins, Director of Operations (left), and Daniel Goodfellow, Manager of Safety (right), accepted the 2023 Safety Award for the railway from RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau. (RAC Photograph)
  • Toronto Terminals Railway Company. This railway “empowers employees with its Front-Line Safety Program, integrating ownership into common functions and promoting a culture of contribution,” according to RAC. “Our RAC Safety Culture Survey in 2022 revealed that our staff were seeking ways to collaborate on safety improvements,” Toronto Terminals Railway Manager of Safety Daniel Goodfellow said. “From this, our Front-Line Safety Program was created with a focus on having safe practices designed, implemented and endorsed by the workers who use them. We thank the RAC for their support and look forward to sharing our success with the industry.”
RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau presented the 2023 Safety Award for Metrolinx to Kristen Ibrahim, Manager, Customer Protective Services Communications, Metrolinx. (RAC Photograph)
  • Metrolinx. The Text-for-Help initiative at Metrolinx provides riders with “a discreet communication method for incident reporting, enhancing safety on the network,” according to RAC. “I am very pleased to accept this award on behalf of Metrolinx,” said Martin Gallagher, Chief Operating and Safety Officer for GO Transit and UP Express. “As an organization, safety is our top priority, and we are committed to implementing innovative solutions to support customers, staff and industry partners. Our new Text-for-Help Program, a collaborative and staff-driven initiative, enables us to provide real-time, 24/7 support to customers in need of assistance. The system is responsive to messages in more than 150 languages, provides immediate responses, receives clear descriptions and locations, and reaches a greater number of customers. This has resulted in increased crime prevention, apprehension of individuals, location of missing persons, and service outreach to vulnerable persons on our network. The Text-for-Help Program has also helped Metrolinx reduce incidents of threats and violence against Metrolinx employees and customers by 36% in 2023 and will continue to be a vital tool in our efforts to keep our network safe.”

The Environment Award honorees for 2023 are:

CN Environmental Impact Assessment Manager France Moreau accepted the Environmental Award on behalf of CN from RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau. (RAC Photograph)
  • CN. The Class I’s Lac Huit Mille Fish Pass Initiative, RAC said, “showcases commitment to community and environmental stewardship” through bank stabilization work along the Matapédia River. Noted Luanne Patterson, Director, Environment at CN: “CN is proud of the work done by France [Moreau, Environmental Impact Manager] to create biodiversity and enhancement initiatives, support local communities, their economy and the environment we all share.”
    CN on Dec. 4 described the initiative: “The Lac Huit Milles project in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region of Quebec involved the restoration of the fish passage and reconstruction of a dam. The work was done to restore the movement of brook trout, an important native species, between the lake and adjacent spawning grounds. The multi-year project presented an opportunity for CN teams to collaborate and innovate during the planning, permitting, design and construction phases.
    “‘We played a leadership role in not just how we approached the project but in bringing about positive change that would benefit both the environment and the local economy,’ says France Moreau, … who led the project. Today, stakeholders are extremely pleased by the outcome of the project, which addressed safety, access, biodiversity and environmental requirements. The initial monitoring results indicate successful migration and spawning. The return of brook trout is also expected to help improve the tourism industry in the area, which had been negatively impacted due to declining fish stocks.”
Jacques Coulombe, Senior Director, Operations at exo (right), accepted the 2023 Environment Award for the public transit agency from RAC President and CEO Marc Brazeau. (RAC Photograph)
  • Exo. According to RAC, exo’s Sound Energy Management Program achieved a 7.3% reduction in annual diesel consumption and prevented 2,900 tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2022 alone. Through the program’s implementation, “exo has thought outside the box and completely rethought practices in the railway sector,” said Jacques Coulombe, Senior Director, Train Operations and Infrastructure at exo. “Exo continues to intensify its efforts and is also tackling the energy consumed in the operation of its maintenance centers. Our goal: to continue to improve our services in order to make them even more environmentally responsible and to strengthen the position of the train as an intelligent choice for getting around. A 10-car passenger train means 200 fewer vehicles on the roads. As the sole commuter train operator in Québec, exo plays an important role in the public transportation ecosystem.”
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