Order pursuant to Section 19 of the Railway Safety Act (MO 20-09)

427 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0N5

September 29, 2020

Dear Sir/Madam:

As you may be aware, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has issued Recommendation R20-01 following their investigation into the fatal injury of a railway employee which occurred while switching operations were taking place in a yard. The TSB recommended that Transport Canada develop and implement strategies and/or regulatory requirements to reduce the number of uncontrolled movements while switching without air.

In response to R20-01, Transport Canada is requiring railway companies and local railway companies to revise the Canadian Rail Operating Rules to incorporate provisions governing switching operations pursuant to subsection 19(1) of the Railway Safety Act (RSA). These rules revisions will codify processes, procedures and criteria to reduce the safety risks when conducting switching operations.

The proposed rules must be filed with the Minister of Transport for approval on June 1st, 2021. This will allow sufficient time for the consultation period as required by subsection 19(2) of the RSA before the filing of the proposed rules.

Should you have any questions, please contact Sean Rogers, Director, Regulatory Affairs at (613) 298-5597 or sean.rogers@tc.gc.ca. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss technical aspects of this issue, please contact Stephanie Lines, Director, Operations Management at (613) 990-7745 or stephanie.lines@tc.gc.ca.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.

Michael DeJong
Director General, Rail Safety


Mr. G. Doherty, TCRC-MWED
Mr. K. Neumann, USW
Mr. S. Pickthall, IAMAW
Mr. B. Snow, UNIFOR

Mr. T. Lundblad, USW
Mr. D. Ashley, TCRC
Mr. E. Féquet, TUT

Mr. L. Hooper, IBEW
Mr. C. Crabtree, ATU
Ms. L. Robillard, TCRC
Mr. N. Lapierre, Métalos


MO 20-09
CHAPTER R-4.2, [R.S., 1985, C. 32 (4th SUPP.)]

Paragraph 19(1)(a) of the Railway Safety Act (RSA) gives the Minister of Transport the authority to order a railway company to formulate rules respecting any matter referred to in subsections 18(1) or (2.1) of the RSA, or to revise its rules respecting that matter.

Pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 19(1)(a) of the RSA, the railway companies and local railway companies listed in Appendix A are hereby ordered to revise the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) to incorporate provisions governing switching operations.

The revised rule should be based on an assessment of safety risks, and shall, at a minimum, address the following elements:

A) Requirements for location of switching operations

  1. A Location Designated for Kicking must meet the following parameters:
    1. terrain must be graded to prevent equipment from rolling back towards the movement;
    2. equipment that is released under its own momentum must be prevented from exiting the track that it was released into;
    3. the zone where employees pull pins (operating levers) must be clear of obstacles; and,
    4. a process must be developed and implemented to determine the maximum number of pieces of equipment that can be released at one time under its own momentum.
  2. Any switching at the following locations must be shoved to rest:
    1. tracks with an ascending grade;
    2. main tracks;
    3. sidings;
    4. subdivision tracks;
    5. industrial tracks or spurs; or,
    6. high-risk locations.

B) Requirements when performing switching operations

  1. Employees must be prohibited from detraining/entraining while equipment is being pulled or shoved.
  2. A functioning derail must be in place to prevent equipment from unintentionally fouling the main track, subdivision track or a siding.
  3. A process must be developed and implemented to establish when the use of air brakes on equipment is mandatory.
  4. When uncoupling from equipment, the stationary equipment must be prevented from moving with a minimum of a sufficient number of hand brakes. Once uncoupled, the equipment must be observed to ensure the equipment remains in place.
  5. When kicking cars, crew members must ensure that cars kicked are clear of and will remain clear of the next track to be entered.
  6. Kicking must be prohibited at any location which is not a Location Designated for Kicking.
  7. Any equipment being left unattended after switching is completed must be secured as per rule 112 of the CROR.

C) Requirements for switching with remote control locomotives

  1. When initiating a movement, the remote control operator must visually determine the direction the equipment is travelling.
  2. Remote control locomotive movements must not exceed 15 miles per hour.
  3. When coupling equipment, the employee controlling the movement must be located at the coupling.

The following definitions for the purpose of this order,

“Switching” means when rail equipment is moved from one track to another in rail yards, industrial spurs, customer sidings and the main line. This includes:

  • moving equipment from one track to another track or to re-order equipment on the same track;
  • moving of equipment in the make-up and break-up of movements;
  • moving of equipment on industrial tracks or interchange tracks; or,
  • doubling equipment, an activity to make-up or break-up movements.

“Kicking” means pushing and releasing equipment on its own momentum.

“Shoving to rest” means placing equipment constructively at rest before uncoupling.

“Location designated for kicking” means a location identified within company special instructions where kicking activities can occur.

Subsection 19(2) of the RSA requires that a company shall not file rules unless it has first, during a period of sixty days, given a reasonable opportunity for consultation with it on the rules to:

  • In the case of a railway company, each relevant association or organization that is likely to be affected by the implementation of the rules; or
  • In the case of a local railway company, any railway company on whose railway the local railway company operates that is likely to be affected by the implementation of the rules.

Pursuant to the provisions of paragraph 19(1)(b) of the RSA, the rules shall be filed with the Minister of Transport for approval by June 1st 2021. 

Director General, Rail Safety



Appendix A

9961526 Canada Limited
Algoma Steel Inc.
Battle River Railway NGC Inc.
Big Sky Railway Corp.
BioPower Sustainable Energy Corporation
BNSF Railway Company
Boundary Trail Railway Company, Inc.
Canadian National Railway Company
Canadian Pacific Railway Company
Cando Rail Services Ltd.
Canfor Pulp Ltd. – Northwood Division
Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway Ltd.
Cargill Limited – Cargill Limitée
Carlton Trail Railway Company
Celanese Canada ULC
Central Maine and Quebec Railway Canada Inc.
Central Manitoba Railway Inc.
Chemin de fer de Québec-Gatineau Inc.
Chemin de fer Québec North Shore & Labrador
Chemin de fer Orford Express Inc.
Chemin de fer Sartigan
City of Ottawa carrying on business as Capital Railway
Compagnie du Chemin de fer Roberval-Saguenay
CSX Transportation, Inc.
Eastern Maine Railway Company
GIO Railways Corporation
Goderich-Exeter Railway Company Limited
Great Canadian Railtour Company Ltd.
Great Sandhills Railway Ltd.
Great Western Railway, Ltd.
Hudson Bay Railway Company
Huron Central Railway Inc.
Kamloops Heritage Railway Society
Keewatin Railway Company
Kettle Falls International Railway Company
Knob Lake and Timmins Railway Company Inc.
Koch Fertilizer Canada, ULC
Lake Line Railroad Inc.
Last Mountain Railway
Maska-Wa Transportation Association Inc.
National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK)
Nipissing Central Railway                                                                             
Norfolk Southern Railway Company
Ontario Northland Transportation Commission
Ontario Southland Railway Inc.
Pacific & Arctic Railway Navigation, British Columbia & Yukon Railway, British Yukon Railway doing business as White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad (WP&YR)
Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.
Port Stanley Terminal Rail Inc.
Prairie Rail Solutions Ltd.
Prudential Steel ULC
RaiLink Canada Ltd.
Railserve Inc.
Réseau de transport métropolitan
RIO Tinto Alcan
RTC Rail Solution Ltd.
Société du chemin de fer de la Gaspésie
Southern Ontario Locomotive Restoration Society
Southern Rails Co-operative Ltd.
Southern Railway of British Columbia Limited
St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad (Québec) Inc.
St. Paul & Pacific Northwest Railroad Company, LLC
Stewart Southern Railway Inc.
The Essex Terminal Railway Company
The Toronto Terminals Railway Company Limited
The Vintage Locomotive Society Inc. O/A Prairie Dog Central Railway
Thunder Rail Ltd.
Torch River Rail Inc.
Trillium Railway Co. Ltd.
Trillium Railway Co. Ltd. (Port Colborne Harbour Railway)
Transport Ferroviaire Tshiuetin Inc.
Union Pacific Railroad Company
VIA Rail Canada Inc.
West Coast Express Limited
West Coast Railway Association
York-Durham Heritage Railway
Windsor Transload Inc.