LOCATION: LAC MÉGANTIC, QUÉBEC
Issue/Source: Status input of Central Maine and Quebec Railway’s Sherbrooke Subdivision following publication of TSB Watchlist and CESD audit report on TDG
Date: JANUARY 12, 2021
- The safety of Canada’s railway sector is of the utmost importance to me. I am committed to ensuring that appropriate levels of safety are maintained.
- Since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, numerous measures have been taken by Transport Canada (TC) to further improve rail safety, and the transportation of dangerous goods by rail, through regulatory and legislative reform.
- Transport Canada is aware that the acquisition of Central Maine and Quebec railway by Canadian Pacific was concluded, and that the company plans to enhance the rail infrastructure condition through a three-year capital investment that started in the spring of 2020.
- As part of the audit of Transport Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods Program, the Commissioner for the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD) issued five recommendations. As the department responsible for overseeing the safe transportation of dangerous goods, we take the findings and recommendations of the 2019 CESD audit very seriously and have begun aggressively implementing these recommendations.
- Transport Canada continues to monitor the rail network, and will not hesitate to take measures as necessary to ensure rail safety.
- On July 6, 2013, a Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway train carrying crude oil derailed causing 47 fatalities in downtown Lac-Mégantic (Québec). The population remains deeply concerned about rail safety.
- In 2014, Central Maine and Quebec Railway (CMQ) purchased the assets of the bankrupt Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway, and began its rail operations after making significant investments to improve the rail infrastructure.
- CMQ does not currently transport crude oil, and made a commitment that they would not resume transportation of crude oil without first informing the affected communities.
- Since the Lac-Mégantic tragedy, numerous measures have been taken by Transport Canada (TC) to further improve rail safety, and the transportation of dangerous goods by rail, through regulatory and legislative reform. For instance, implementation of enhanced securement requirements of unattended locomotives, equipment and trains; enhanced tank car standards; and application of speed restrictions for trains carrying dangerous goods through Census Metropolitan Areas
- On September 6, 2019, a Ministerial Order was issued under section 32.01 of the Railway Safety Act, ordering the company to take actions to improve the safety of its rail operations on the Sherbrooke Subdivision. These actions included conducting an internal review of their certification and training program of track supervisors and repairing the defects at the locations identified in the order, no later than October 15, 2019. The company was also ordered to increase the frequency of Ultrasonic Rail Inspections.
- Since September 9, 2019, TC inspectors conducted follow-up inspections on the entirety of the Sherbrooke Subdivision to ensure that the repairs done by CMQ are in compliance with the Railway Safety Act and the Ministerial Order.
- On November 6, 2019, CMQ submitted to TC the results of their fall 2019 ultrasonic inspection, as per the Ministerial Order. The results have been analyzed by the department, and a field inspection was conducted on November 18, and 19, 2019. TC inspectors confirmed that each of the required repairs had been carried out by CMQ.
- On December 12, 2019, TC identified a rail car operated by CMQR that had left unattended near mile 86.8 on the Sherbrooke subdivision (in Magog, QC) without having sufficient methods of securement. An administrative montery penalty in the amount of $33,000 was issued for a violation of section 17.2 of the Railway Safety Act.
- During the week of February 3, 2020, CMQ undertook their ultrasonic testing as per the Ministerial Order. After analyzing the results, TC conducted a review of the actions taken, which showed that all identified defects were repaired and in compliance.
- During the week of February 18, 2020, TC conducted an audit of CMQ’s Safety Management System with a focus on track management. The final audit report was forwarded by TC to CMQ on July 22, 2020. TC received the corrective action plan on August 21 and is following-up to ensure that all the required actions are taken.
- Between May 25, and June 18, 2020 CMQ undertook the last ultrasonic testing required in the Ministerial Order. After analyzing the results, TC conducted a review of the actions taken, which showed that all identified defects were repaired and in compliance.
- Since Canadian Pacific acquired CMQ, they committed to restoring the track on the Sherbrooke Subdivision to a condition aligned with its anticipated future operations.
- The last track inspection on the Sherbrooke Subdivision was conducted between November 24-27, 2020No threat to safe rail operations were identified.
- Since April 1, 2020 there have been 11 operations inspections, and five (5) equipment inspections. For both Operations and Equipment, no threats to safe rail operations were identified.
- Inspectors have noted considerable work being undertaken by CP/CMQ forces (ties, rail, ballast) including the repair and replacement of culverts in the Sherbrooke area that were the subject of concerns expressed by the city in the fall of 2019.
- In accordance with Order No. 36, Transport Canada strongly encouraged communities to register with the Canadian Transport Emergency Centre (CANUTEC). The order railways to provide more detailed information regarding the main dangerous goods transported within their communities. All communities along the CMQ railway line that requested information on dangerous goods have received it.
- Between April 1, 2020 and October 31, 2020, Transport Canada has conducted 16 dangerous goods inspections in the Sherbrooke area, and is planning on conducting seven (7) more inspections in that area within the next few months.