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Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
house of commons
K1A 0A6

Comité permanent des transports, de l'infrastructure et des collectivités

For immediate release



Ottawa, May 29, 2008 -

Due to the frequency of rail accidents in Canada in the last few years, notably in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec and the resulting fatalities and environmental damage, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, in October 2006, undertook an in-depth study into railway safety in Canada.

Today, the Committee released its report: REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON TRANSPORT, INFRASTRUCTURE AND COMMUNITIES ON RAIL SAFETY IN CANADA, which makes a number of recommendations for enhancing railway safety.

While the Committee endorses the findings and recommendations of the Railway Safety Act Review Advisory Panel which held hearings on rail safety during 2007 and reported in March 2008, we believe that some of their recommendations can be strengthened.

The Committee’s core recommendations call for improvements in the way that that Safety Management Systems (SMS) are being implemented in the railway industry. We have serious concerns regarding both the delays and the manner in which the SMS has been implemented by the railways and the government.

We have called for:

• the government and the railways to develop an action plan for SMS implementation;

• Transport Canada and the railroads to develop an assessment tool to continually monitor the implementation of SMS;

• Labour to be involved and consulted on SMS implementation;

• Transport Canada and the railroads to report their progress to the Committee within six months of the presentation of this report to the House of Commons; and

• Transport Canada to ensure that a rigorous rail safety inspection process is in place, with adequate resources to properly administer it.

In addition, we have made recommendations calling for the establishment of a non-punitive reporting system for employees to report rail safety violations, the development of new fatigue management plans, enhanced employee training programs and the implementing of new technologies to improve railway safety.

Our report stresses that there needs to be a more proactive approach in addressing rail safety issues and that much more progress should have been made in implementing the Safety Management Systems during the past seven years. We believe that this lack of action has come about for two reasons – that it was not a high enough priority for the railroads and the government and that there has been a critical failure to communicate among the stakeholders on how safety issues must be addressed and how the SMS can be properly implemented. These failures are hampering the development of a “safety culture” in the Canadian railroad industry.

To achieve increased safety and the efficient implementation of SMS there will have to be better communication among the stakeholders, more resources for the regulator and a higher priority given to railway safety by the government and the railways. We believe that our recommendations will help to address these issues.

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For more information, please contact:
Maxime Ricard, Clerk of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Tel: 613-996-4663