Appearance at TRAN: Supplemental Mandate Letter and on the pre-entry testing requirements


LOCATION: Chapleau, Ontario (Mile 19.20 of the White river Subdivision)

ISSUE: A Canadian Pacific train derailed (i.e. 10 cars derailed, 7 of which were empty dangerous goods cars)

DATE: February 3, 2021


  • Transport Canada is committed to protecting all Canadians who live and work along rail lines by putting in place the necessary measures to reduce the risk of serious accidents.
  • Transport Canada will review the accident involving a train derailment near Chapleau, Ontario, on February 3, 2021, and will take all necessary actions to protect public safety.
  • The department has recently taken many steps to strengthen rail safety, including measures to reduce the risks of derailment, such as:
    • Improved oversight measures, such as increasing the number of inspectors who verify compliance with safety requirements;
    • Lower operating speeds in metropolitan areas for trains carrying crude oil and petroleum gas;
    • Requirements to conduct risk assessments on routes carrying dangerous goods; and
    • Enhanced tank car safety standards, including requirements for thicker steel on cars carrying flammable material.


  • The department is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system even safer for Canadians. In particular, Transport Canada conducts approximately 33,000 safety inspections each year to verify compliance with regulatory requirements under the Railway Safety Act.
  • The department continues to take steps to strengthen rail safety, and has ordered companies to make speed restrictions permanent, and to strengthen track inspection and maintenance rules.

Background information

  • At 07:29 ET, 03 February 2021, 11 rail cars derailed at mile point 19.20, of the Canadian Pacific White River Subdivision, near Chapleau, Ontario. Of the 11 derailed railcars, seven contained Liquid Petroleum Gas residue. The non-dangerous good railcars include a boxcar, flatcar, and two hopper cars. There are no blocked crossings as a result of this incident.
  • Preliminary reports indicates no injuries, spills or leaks. The track is a main line and is closed. Delays to trains are expected. The site is isolated and not directly accessible by road.
  • Canadian Pacific is deploying a Special Commodity Officer. Two Emergency Response Assistance Plans are associated with the railcars involved. They have both been implemented for technical advice only.
  • At this time, VIA Rail trains are not affected as VIA 185/186 operates on weekends only, between Sudbury and White River. VIA 185 heads North to White River on Saturdays, and VIA 186 returns to Sudbury on Sundays. If the main track is not cleared by this Saturday, the train will only operate between Sudbury and Chapleau.
  • Transport Canada last inspected the track on July 18, 2018, which did not yield any non-compliances, nor any concerns with the track at the location of the derailment.
  • The Transportation Safety Board will not be deploying an investigator to this derailment.
  • Transport Canada does not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action when the rules are not followed. The department 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.
  • The department may apply one or more of several compliance and enforcement tools, including Letters of Non-Compliance, Notices, Notices and Orders, Administrative Monetary Penalties and prosecution.

Progress achieved toward strengthening rail safety:

Measures Description

Hiring of more Inspectors

  • The number of rail safety inspectors increased from 107 to 152.
  • The number of inspectors who inspect dangerous goods tripled from 30 to 90.

Enhanced Standards for Tank Cars

  • In May 2015, Transport Canada, along with the United States brought forward a new tank car specifically designed for the transport of all flammable liquids.
  • The Transport Canada/Department of Transport 117 tank car is a much more robust jacketed tank car. It is made with:
    • thicker steel (9/16 of an inch);
    • thermal protection;
    • full head shield protection;
    • top fitting protection; and
    • a new bottom outlet valve design.

Reduced Operating Speeds

  • Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes: In 2016, Transport Canada established these rules which require railway companies carrying large volumes of dangerous goods to reduce the speed of their trains:
  • Further speed restrictions imposed by Ministerial Order in early 2020 requiring railway companies to maintain lower speeds in metropolitan areas for trains carrying large quantities of crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas with further mandatory speed reductions everywhere during the winter months.
  • In addition to speed restrictions, the rules require railway companies to carry out additional and more frequent inspections of their tracks, and incentivizes the installation of broken rail detection technology.

Key Route Risk Assessments

  • Under the Rules Respecting Key Trains and Key Routes, railway companies must conduct risk assessments that consider, at a minimum, 28 factors to determine the level of risk associated with each key route.
  • Railway companies must also incorporate input from municipalities and other levels of local government into key route risk assessments through a publicly-accessible website.

Mandatory Use of Sufficient Hand Brakes

  • Securement of Unattended Trains: Rule 112 of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules has been amended to impose stricter requirements on the securement of unattended trains, including: rail companies must adhere to a chart on minimum handbrake requirements; before leaving any equipment in a given location, a railway employee must confirm with another employee the manner in which the equipment was secured; and, when railway equipment is left unattended in high risk locations, operators must take more measures to secure it.

More Stringent Regulations

  • Safety Management Systems Regulations, 2015: provides railway companies with a focused approach to building a “safety culture” throughout the company and includes the company’s safety goals and performance targets, risk assessments, responsibilities and authorities, procedures, and monitoring and evaluation processes.
  • Since 2015, Transport Canada has increased the frequency of Safety Management Systems audits to a three-to-five year cycle, or more frequently if required. We have also recruited specialized auditors to enhance the effectiveness of the Safety Management Systems audit program.
  • Railway Operating Certificate Regulations: 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 by meeting baseline safety requirements.
  • Railway Administrative Monetary Penalties Regulations: Since 2015, Transport Canada may now issue an Administrative Monetary Penalty to a company found to be in non-compliance with rules and regulations.  Maximum penalties are $250,000 for a corporation and $50,000 for an individual.  The penalties may be imposed for each day of the contravention.
  • Amendments to the Railway Transportation Information Regulations: Set out what information and data elements companies must submit to Transport Canada. They were amended to include railway safety data (known as “leading indicators”) to help proactively identify areas of risk.
  • Grade Crossings Regulations: Designed to help reduce the frequency and severity of accidents at Canada’s approximately 23,000 federally-regulated grade crossings, therefore saving lives and preventing injuries and derailments.
  • Locomotive voice and Video Recorder Regulations: Allow proactive risk management through the analysis of data that previously would not have been accessible.

More Information Shared with Municipalities

  • In April 2016, the Minister of Transport issued Protective Direction 36 which provides registered communities access to comprehensive dangerous goods information provided by railway companies, including the volume and nature of dangerous goods being transported by rail.
  • Communities with a railway operating through them can use this information to assess risks, plan for emergencies and guide first responder training.

Better Support for First Responders

  • The resources available to first responders in the community now include competency guidelines, a guidebook and an online training tool for first responders.
  • A Transport Canada publication, You’re Not Alone!, is a quick reference guide for first responders coping with a major rail accident.
  • First responders also have around-the-clock support from scientists at the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre operated by Transport Canada.

Stronger Liability and Compensation Rules

  • In 2016, stronger liability and compensation rules for federally regulated railways came into force. Federally regulated railways now must carry a minimum level of insurance, based on the type and volume of dangerous goods they carry. The amount ranges from $25 million to $1 billion. Railways need to show they have this coverage before the Canadian Transportation Agency issues the certificate of fitness they need to operate.
  • The new rules also created the Fund for Railway Accidents Involving Designated Goods financed by shippers of crude oil by rail. The fund covers any damages above the railways’ mandatory insurance levels for accidents involving crude oil.