Transport Canada approved changes to the Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes, under the Railway Safety Act, on Feb. 22.
The changes are the result of Ministerial Orders that were implemented in 2020 to address risk factors for derailments caused by rail infrastructure, especially during winter operations.
The revised rules will require railroads to:
• “Develop a winter operation plan that is specific to each subdivision where higher-risk key trains operate, which must be approved by a professional engineer.”
• Use “new technology to detect a broken rail in areas where it is not currently present.”
• “Strengthen track inspection (increased frequency and improved quality) and track maintenance requirements (i.e., ultrasonically testing replacement rail and improved record-keeping).”
• “Define a ‘higher-risk key train’ as a train carrying large quantities of crude oil or liquid petroleum gases and prescribe speed restrictions for these trains.”
In 2020, a number of Ministerial Orders, under the Railway Safety Act, were issued, setting speed restrictions for key trains and higher-risk key trains. Railroads were also required “to propose changes to the Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes that would make these speed restrictions permanent and to propose additional changes to further strengthen track maintenance and inspection practices.”
Transport Canada provides more details on its website:
Transport Canada approved the Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes in 2016, under the Railway Safety Act, in response to a series of derailments of trains carrying crude oil: Lac Mégantic, 2013; Gladwick, 2015; and Gogama, 2015.