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






  • Rail safety is a top priority. Consistent with this priority, Transport Canada is committed to protecting all Canadians who live and work along rail lines.
  • For example, Transport Canada conducts more than 35,000 rail safety oversight activities each year, including inspections and audits. These inspections are carried out by a highly qualified team of rail safety oversight personnel. Since 2013, the department increased the total number of rail safety oversight personnel by 42% (from 107 to 152).
  • As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, the department put in place several measures to help mitigate the spread of the virus. This included, for example:
    • Ministerial Order for VIA Rail to conduct health screening of passengers;
    • Guidance on the use of face masks and personal protective equipment on trains; and
    • Triaging oversight activities to focus on remote audits and inspections whenever possible.
  • These health and safety activities complement the progress Transport Canada is making on rules and regulations to improve safety including:
    • Mandatory use of locomotive voice and video recorders by September 2022;
    • Ordering the industry to improve its safety practices for switching activities;
    • Improving train securement on mountain grades;
    • Reducing the speeds of trains carrying large quantities of dangerous goods;
    • Conducting risk assessments on lines carrying dangerous goods;
    • Ordering industry to improve the rules for track safety and the movement of 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. This includes education and outreach activities, including:
    • Ongoing dialogue with municipal associations to seek feedback on measures to strengthen rail safety;
    • Collaborative approach to rule-making with the Railway Association of Canada, freight and passenger rail companies; and
    • Technical briefing to city councils and outreach activities with numerous partners and rail safety stakeholders.

Progress achieved toward strengthening rail safety:



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 U.S. brought forward a new tank car specifically designed for the transport of all flammable liquids. The TC/DOT 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

*all older rail cars (DOT 111 and unjacketed CPC 1232 tank cars) in the transport of crude oil have already been phased out.

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 (from November 15 to March 15).
  • 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 (SMS) Regulations, 2015An SMS 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 SMS 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 SMS audit program.
  • Railway Operating Certificate Regulations: A Railway Operating Certificate (ROC) 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 (AMPs) Regulations: Since 2015, Transport Canada may now issue an AMP 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. We may impose them 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

  • TC provides a 24 hour emergency line for first responders staffed with bilingual scientists with emergency response and chemical knowledge.
  • TC publishes the Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG) which is provided free of charge to first responders to enable them to begin the preparation for a response prior to the call to CANUTEC. The ERG is also available online, as a cellphone application and a downloadable format, all in both official languages.
  • TC has published free of charge for communities and First Responders the ‘You Are Not Alone’ guide which educates a person on the federal and industry support, available at no cost, during a dangerous goods incident
  • TC has developed a flammable liquid curriculum for first responders to help them respond to any flammable liquid incident on road or rail. The first of three courses is available on line. Face to face portions of the curriculum courses will be available following the pandemic.
  • First responders also have around-the-clock support at CANUTEC, Transport Canada’s emergency response centre.
  • Transport Canada’s TDG Program has strengthened regulatory oversight systems in response to a recent audit by the CESD, and will continue to make important improvements to its systems for monitoring regulated entities that handle, offer for transport and import dangerous goods.
    • For example, in 2020, Transport Canada implemented a process to notify Means of Containment facilities with expired certificates to either renew, or confirm they have ceased operations. Those that cannot be confirmed, or which do not respond, are now subject to an on-site visit to verify their status. This new process is now being automated in order to reduce the possibility of human error, save time, and improve consistency of service.
    • Transport Canada has developed detailed guidelines for assessing Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAPs), and to track investigations to ensure conditions for holding an ERAP are met, and that they are approved within established timelines.

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.