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


LOCATION: Goderich, Ontario

ISSUE: A locomotive with cars rolled uncontrolled near Goderich, Ontario  

DATE: February 1, 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 an uncontrolled movement of a train near Goderich, Ontario on February 1, 2021, and will take all necessary actions to protect public safety.
  • Transport Canada has taken many steps to strengthen rail safety, including implementing strict rules to properly secure trains, such as:
    • Establishing requirements for physical defences, such as hand brakes, to secure unattended trains; and
    • Implementing safety procedures that are applied to all trains that come to emergency stops on mountain grades.
  • Building on this progress, on September 30, 2020, the Minister of Transport issued an Order to railway companies to mitigate safety risks when employees conduct switching operations.

If pressed:

  • Transport Canada is taking action to improve the safety of Canadians who live and work along rail lines. For example, Transport Canada conducts approximately 33,000 rail safety oversight activities each year, including inspections and audits.

Background information

  • On February 1, 2021 a Goderich and Exeter Railway locomotive and cars ran uncontrolled near Goderich Ontario. The train crew was conducting switching activities in a yard when a crew member left the locomotive unoccupied and it rolled away. There were no injuries. Dangerous goods were not involved.
  • Preliminary reports indicate the train travelled uncontrolled for approximately one mile into a customer’s private track and struck a truck before coming to rest.
  • Transport Canada has deployed an inspector to gather additional information and to conduct an inspection for compliance with the Railway Safety Act. The Transportation Safety Board is aware of this occurrence, but has determined that it will not deploy an investigator.

Goderich and Exeter Railway

  • Goderich and Exeter Railway is a federal railway, and a subsidiary of Genesee Wyoming Inc. with 15 employees and 3 locomotives. The railway operates on approximately 71 miles of track in the Goodrich-Stratford area in the Province of Ontario.
  • Goderich and Exeter Railway interchanges traffic with Canadian National Railway at Stratford, Ontario, and provides services to several communities including Stratford, Goderich, Clinton and Centralia. The railway transports commodities such as fertilizer, grain, machinery, salt, soy meal, and steel.

Uncontrolled movements

  • Transport Canada has taken many steps to strengthen rail safety, including implementing stricter rules to secure trains and reduce the risk of uncontrolled movement of rail equipment.
  • In September 2020, Transport Canada issued a Ministerial Order requiring companies to revise the Canadian Rail Operating Rules to provide employees with additional requirements when conducting switching operations and to ensure that equipment is properly secured.
  • The Department revised Rule 112 of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules on train securement requiring additional physical defences to secure unattended trains. Rule 112 provides uniformity in hand brake application by requiring handbrakes to be applied according to a chart that is based on train tonnage and grade. The Rule also requires an additional means of securement when equipment is left unattended on main track, sidings, subdivision track, and high risk locations.
  • In April 2020, Transport Canada approved a new Rule 66 of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, which will help ensure that effective safety procedures are applied to all trains that come to emergency stops on both heavy grades and mountain grades. This change to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules puts into place additional permanent layers of defence to secure attended trains and prevent an uncontrolled movement on both heavy grades and mountain grades.
  • Transport Canada continues to work on revisions to the Railway Employee Qualification Standards Regulations to strengthen oversight requirements and address gaps related to training and experience of employees to ensure that they can safely conduct their duties

Enforcement and compliance

  • Transport Canada takes its rail safety oversight role very seriously and does not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action when the rules are not followed.
  • Transport Canada 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:



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.