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


LOCATION: National

ISSUE/SOURCE: In November 2020, Transport Canada approved new duty/rest rules for railway operating employees.

Date: JANUARY12, 2021
Suggested ResponseS
  • Transport Canada recognizes that addressing fatigue in all modes of transportation will help enhance safety, including for Canadians working or living near railways.
  • Taking action in this area, in November 2020, Transport Canada approved the new Duty/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees. These rules better align with the latest science on fatigue management, and represent a significant improvement over the old rules.
  • In particular, the new rules establish shorter limits on duty periods, longer minimum rest periods, and new limits on the number of hours that can be worked in a week and per month.
  • These new rules will be phased-in over the next two and a half years:
    • Fatgiue Management Plans must be submitted to Transport Canada by November 2022;
    • New Fitness for Duty provisions come into effect in November 2023; and
    • New limits regarding the length of work and rest periods will take effective in May 2023.
  • In the meantime, Transport Canada will continue to work with the industry and labour to identify measures to improve fatigue management and take action on this important safety issue.


  • Transport Canada does not hesitate to take enforcement action if non-compliances are found with the current Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees in response to complaints or as a result of its oversight activities. 


  • Fatigue is well recognized and well documented safety hazard in the transportation industry. In Fall 2016, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada added the issue of fatigue management in the rail industry to their Watchlist, as a key safety issue that needs to be addressed.
  • To address this issue, in December 2018, Transport Canada issued a Ministerial Order under paragraph 19(1)(a) of the Railway Safety Act instructing railway companies to revise the Work/Rest Rules for Railway Operating Employees to reflect the latest fatigue science and fatigue management practices.
  • The industry submitted a package of revisions to the rules on September 11, 2020, which were subsquently approved on November 25, 2020.
  • The new rules contain a number of significant improvements over the old rules including:
    • Reduction in the maximum length of a duty period from 16 hours to 12 hours;
    • New limits on total works hours: 60 hours per 7 day period; 192 hours per month and no more than 2500 hours per year;
    • Longer minimum rest periods when at a home terminal (12 hours versus 8 hours in the old rules) and at an away from home terminal (10 hours instead of 6) with a minimum 8 hours of undisturbed rest;
    • A reset break of 32 hours after every 7 days for operating employees in the freight rail industry; and
    • Fatigue Management Plans with an extensive set of prescriptive requirements for processes around scheduling, fitness for duty, deadheading, and other requirements of the new rules.
  • The department is also examining other options to improve fatigue management in the rail industry including the development of regulations for a Fatigue Risk Management System to address any remaining gaps. The department is aiming to launch consultations on potential regulations on this topic in 2021.