FCM makes recommendations on proposed Grade Crossing Regulations
FCM has provided detailed comments and recommendations to Transport Canada on the federal government's proposed Grade Crossing Regulations, including the need for additional funding for crossing improvements. FCM also appeared at the House of Commons Transport committee on May 15 to discuss rail safety. While FCM fully supports the intent of the GCR, upon further consultation with our members, there remains a need for additional refinements that address the outstanding concerns of the municipal sector while continuing to meet Transport Canada's regulatory objectives.
Railway Safety Working Group meets to discuss federal action on rail safety
On April 23, 2014, the members of the National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt met in Ottawa to discuss the recent progress made by the federal government on rail safety issues. We were pleased that Mayor Colette Roy Laroche of Lac-Mégantic, QC was also able to attend the meeting and share her community's perspective on improving Canada's rail safety rules.
This week's meeting coincided with the deadline for Transport Canada to respond to the interim rail safety recommendations made by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) in January. Many of the recommendations were ones that FCM has been calling for since the formation of our National Rail Safety Working Group.
Following the meeting, Minister Raitt announced the following new rail safety measures in response to the TBS recommendations:
- 5,000 of the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars are being removed from dangerous goods service immediately;
- All remaining DOT-111 tank cars used to transport crude oil and ethanol that do not meet the most recent tank car standard must be phased out or refitted within 3 years;
- Emergency Response Assistance Plans are now required for all shipments of crude oil, ethanol, gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel;
- Railways are now required to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and conduct robust risk assessments along all routes; and
- A new emergency response task force, including municipalities and first responders, will make additional recommendations to improve emergency response capacity in our communities.
The new safety measures announced today respond directly to FCM's call for urgent and concrete action by the federal government and are a critical step forward in improving the safe transportation of dangerous goods by rail. FCM will continue to be vigilant in calling for additional reforms over the coming months.
National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group met in Ottawa January 22, 2014
FCM's National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group met in Ottawa January 22, 2014 to discuss progress on the rail safety priorities we identified to the federal government in the wake of several rail derailments across the country, including the tragedy in Lac Megantic. Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, joined the group for part of our meeting to provide an update on the federal government's actions and participated in a productive discussion on the work that needs to continue. FCM issued this statement following the meeting.
On Thursday, January 23, 2014, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) issued strong recommendations to improve the safe transportation of crude oil by rail. FCM issued this statement on the TSB recommendation.
Government improves rail safety and the transportation of dangerous goods
The federal government has announced a new measure requiring railways to share dangerous goods information with municipal first responders and emergency planners. FCM's statement on the announcement.
The Protective Direction issued by Transport Canada introduces the following requirements which respond directly to FCM's call for action on rail safety:
- All Canadian railway operators will be required to provide municipal emergency planners and first responders with annual information on the nature and volume of dangerous goods being transported through their communities;
- Large Canadian railway companies, such as Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP), will be required to include in their annual reports a quarterly breakdown of the nature and volume of dangerous goods shipped through Canadian communities;
- Smaller railways will be required to notify municipalities of any significant changes to the information provided in their annual reporting.
- Municipalities wishing to receive this information will need to inform Transport Canada and assign a designate to receive the information. It will be possible for municipalities to designate to regional emergency management officials if appropriate.
These measures represent important improvements in rail safety in our cities and communities. They also demonstrate how governments can and should work together in partnership to respond to emerging challenges, improve public services and save taxpayer dollars.