What we heard: Implementing enhanced train control in Canada

In February 2022, Transport Canada published a Notice of Intent in the Canada Gazette, Part I, describing how it intends to implement enhanced train control technologies in Canada. Enhanced train control technologies are used to improve safety.

We published our Notice of Intent to gather feedback from stakeholders and the public. The feedback we received is summarized in this report.

On this page

Our consultation approach

We received comments from multiple stakeholders, including Canadian railways, technology suppliers, the public and academia. Their comments supported our enhanced train control goals and recognized the safety benefits of adopting these technologies.

Feedback from industry also noted that while enhanced train control technologies can improve safety, they can also have a negative impact on operations. Participants recommended that we remove, or allow exemptions for, any redundant existing rules. Introducing enhanced train control will make some operational rules unnecessary.

Some rail operators asked us to use a more flexible approach and not require specific train control technologies. They encouraged us to use our existing safety management systems framework for enhanced train control regulations, and to avoid rigid measures.

Feedback grouped by theme

Interoperability (Compatibility)

Multiple stakeholders stressed that any enhanced train control technologies installed on trains need to be interoperable (the technologies need to be able to connect, communicate and work well together). They also noted that this will likely be challenging given that not all technologies used in the United States positive train control systems are fully compatible with each other.

Stakeholders also noted that while Canada could base our interoperability standards on those from other countries, it’s also important to consider the unique challenges and conditions faced by Canada’s rail sector.

They also suggested we consider any existing work industry is doing to implement enhanced train controls in Canada to make sure any new policies are compatible. Stakeholders noted the European Train Control System defines a set of principles so systems can be interoperable.

System functionality

Some respondents pointed to the European Train Control System as a proven and established system that they believe could meet our goals. One respondent recommended that we ensure the enhanced train control regime allow for open, multi-vendor solutions, and encourage a variety of technology suppliers.

One participant recommended using the lessons the Canadian rail sector learned when they helped the United States develop their enhanced train control system and noted that the system has proven to be safe and economical.

Risk-based assessment

Participants agreed that our approach for corridor-specific risk assessments was reasonable and suggested that they should be completed according to the Canadian rail systems existing methods for assessing and evaluating risks. Participants also stressed that a broad range of stakeholders should help determine risks and set a framework. They also noted that the process must be balanced, not single out certain commodities, and must be used consistently across Canada.

Communication technologies

Stakeholders mentioned that developing enhanced train control technical standards in other jurisdictions was a long and challenging process. Based on this, they still recommended that enhanced train control’s technical interactions should be developed and specified. Industry welcomes direction and a process to request and assign communication spectrum for implementing enhanced train control technologies. They also noted that any policy should have flexible rules around products and technologies, to avoid any issues that could arise from limited vendor control.

Next steps

We’re committed to working with all stakeholders on implementing enhanced train control technologies in Canada. In the next phase of this project, we will develop a regulatory framework.

We will continue to work with railway companies and industry stakeholders to make sure enhanced train control is successfully implemented by 2030.


Email your comments or questions to: TC.RailSafetyConsultations-ConsultationSecuriteFerroviaire.TC@tc.gc.ca.

Or mail them to:

Rail Safety
Transport Canada
427 Laurier Ave W, 14th floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N5