What we heard report- Let’s Talk: Fatigue in the rail industry

The purpose of Transport Canada’s recent consultation on fatigue in the rail industry was to get feedback from the public and stakeholders on a consultation document that outlined the proposed Fatigue Management System Regulations. This document outlines ways to manage the fatigue of all railway employees who have duties essential to safe railway operations. This was first initiated in 2017 when TC published its Notice of Intent to develop a regulatory framework for fatigue management. This work was further advanced with the approval of the new Duty and Rest Period Rules for Railway Operating Employees (Duty/Rest Rules) in November 2020.

The consultation was held between March 11 and April 11, 2022, and focused on two questions:

  1. Will implementing Fatigue Management Systems have a positive impact on the safety of railway operations in Canada?
  2. Could the regulatory proposal also have unintended negative impacts on the railway industry?

We received 78 responses through the Let’s Talk Transportation website and two submissions from stakeholders.

Summary of stakeholder comments

Stakeholders expressed views on the following items:

Strategic approach:

  • There is support for including mechanical employees and rail traffic controllers in the new regulation.
  • There were questions about the need for a new regulation on fatigue and concerns about the financial impact on employees, railway companies and their customers.
  • Adding requirements for a modeling tool and fatigue thresholds to the new regulation could help reduce fatigue in employees.
  • There will be a need for guidance to help companies comply.

Current practices:

  • There are challenges with railway company scheduling practices and their impact on an employee’s ability to get quality rest.
  • A new regulation could improve training and awareness programs and support better sleep and fatigue management.
  • There is a need for better work/life balance in the railway industry.

Employee/Employer responsibilities:

  • The responsibility of employees to manage their level of fatigue should be clear.
  • Employees should be able to declare themselves unfit without worrying that their employer would take reprisal actions.

Existing rules and regulations:

  • There appears to be an overlap with requirements in other rules and regulations (i.e., Safety Management System Regulations, 2015, Duty/Rest Period Rules for Railway Operating Employees (Duty/Rest Rules), Canada Labour Code).
  • There were questions on how to manage exemptions.


  • The language needs to be clear and consistent with the Duty/Rest Rules.


  • It will be difficult to implement a new regulation in a year.

Next steps

We reviewed the comments from this consultation and will adjust the proposal, as needed.

The next round of consultations will take place once the updated regulation are pre-published in the Canada Gazette Part I.

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