Canada takes action to further reduce risk of uncontrolled movement of railway equipment

From: Transport Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to making railway operations as safe as possible for railway employees and for people living close to railway lines, which is why Transport Canada continues working with the railway industry to make necessary updates to rules, regulations and standards that improve the safety of Canada’s railway system.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced that Transport Canada has approved changes to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules.

In light of these changes, the Canadian Rail Operating Rules now prescribe:

  • when air brakes must be used during switching operations (i.e. process of rearranging rail cars in a train yard) to ensure a consistent approach across the railway system;
  • measures to ensure that stationary equipment is secured during switching operations to prevent uncontrolled movements; and
  • speed restrictions when switching is conducted with a remotely controlled locomotive.

These changes are the result of a Ministerial Order that was issued in September 2020 that required the railway industry to adopt new practices designed to improve safety and prevent uncontrolled movement while conducting switching operations, and to ensure that equipment is properly secured while switching.

These changes to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules build on the measures that Transport Canada has already taken to reduce the number of uncontrolled movements of railway equipment. They are also part of a broader strategy to strengthen rail safety in Canada, and directly respond to recommendations made in the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s Watchlist, as well as findings in the Auditor General’s February 2021 follow-up audit on rail safety.


“Maintaining a safe, efficient and reliable rail system is key to the continued success of Canada’s economy. Transport Canada continues working to modernize its rail safety oversight and to directly address key safety risks facing Canada’s rail network.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra

Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • Under the Railway Safety Act, railway companies must comply with regulations and rules.

  • Transport Canada monitors railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations, and standards made under the Railway Safety Act through risk-based audits and safety inspections.

  • Transport Canada conducts more than 35,000 inspections every year as part of its oversight activities to ensure that rail companies and road authorities comply with the Rail Safety Act.

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