2019-20 Summary of Intermodal Surface Security Oversight Inspections


The Intermodal Surface Security Oversight Branch works with stakeholders to help improve the security of Canada's intermodal and surface transportation system, and focuses on passenger and freight rail (including railways that handle or transport dangerous goods), urban transit and international bridges and tunnels. A large part of this work involves risk-based planning and oversight, and providing guidance to the companies that operate these transportation systems.

Inspection cycle

The branch uses a risk-based approach to oversee Canada's intermodal and surface transportation systems. The oversight programs assess the risks of all railway sites and facilities that fall under the regulatory or voluntary programs – around 1,200 sites in all.

Inspections of sites and facilities are prioritized based the result of these risk assessments. Higher risk sites are inspected first, followed by lower risk ones.

Inspection activities, results and statistics

The branch did 9 different types of inspections in 2019-20. The type of inspection used for each site is mostly determined by the information in the operator's security plan. The inspector's knowledge of the site and the site description can also influence this decision.

In 2019-20, the branch's 16 inspectors did more than 1,300 inspections, or about 95% of planned inspections. It's also important to note that some sites were inspected more than once.

When inspectors find a deficiency, they explain the issue to the site operator, and how to deal with it. An inspector will then follow-up to make sure that the issues raised during an inspection are dealt with. The Intermodal Surface Security Oversight Branch is also developing a program to enforce new regulations.


  • Oversight work was affected by a large increase in railway incidents, most notably railway blockades and protests in different parts of Canada. This led to more reactive inspections to address issues related to the blockades
  • Oversight work was also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic which began in the fourth quarter of 2019-20. As a result, the branch had to cancel or postpone a number oversight activities in that quarter


  • Inspections generally led to outreach and education, training, refining the inspection process, and stakeholder consultations
  • The branch successfully implemented the new Transportation of Dangerous Goods by Rail Security Regulations. This led to less oversight work done under the rail security Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This trend will continue as the regulations are meant to replace the MOU
  • The branch continued to develop and implement the new passenger rail security regulations, and develop standard operating procedures and other documents to support the new regulations

Contact information

Please email your questions or comments about this report to: TC.Railsecurity-sureteferroviaire.TC@tc.gc.ca.