Rail industry focused on improving safety while benefitting domestic and global economies, says RAC President and CEO Michael Bourque

OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2013 /CNW/ - The rail sector is squarely focused on improving an already strong safety record as it remains the backbone of Canada's domestic and international supply chains, said Michael Bourque, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada, today as part of National Rail Day.

Bourque, speaking on behalf of the industry at the Economic Club of Canada, began by addressing how July's tragic derailment in Lac-Mégantic, QC deeply affected the men and women across the industry and in the RAC's membership.

"We are working very hard to prevent this from happening again and to reassure Canadians that railways are learning from this accident and taking immediate action on a number of fronts," said Bourque.

"For example, over the past three months, our industry has redoubled its efforts to meet with communities and first responders to inform them about dangerous goods passing through their communities. We've been working with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to resolve issues where urban development is in proximity to railway operations. And, we have been working with government to strengthen the rules and regulations that govern rail safety: from the securing of trains to sharing of information on dangerous goods."

Bourque said rail's strong safety record in Canada and the United States allows the industry to compete globally and benefit domestic and international economies.

"Safety is good for the business and it's good for the people in the business."

Today, Canada's railway industry moves close to 70 percent of all surface goods per year, with a value of $250 billion in Canada alone.

Since 2005, Canadian railway companies have invested more than $16 billion in infrastructure to make sure their networks operate safely and efficiently.

Despite the increase in traffic, accident rates of Canadian Class 1 railways have been on a steady decline from 1999 to 2012 (the most recent year available), when there were fewer than two accidents per million train miles moved.

Bourque's address coincided with the fourth annual National Rail Day, a day for citizens to embrace rail's role in Canada's history and recognize Sir John A. Macdonald's vision of the first coast-to-coast railway system which was instrumental in creating the country.

While we've already exceeded Macdonald's wildest dreams for the country and the industry, said Bourque, rail's present success has been largely due to an industry safety culture that places a very high premium on safety: the safety of its employees and the safety of the public at large.

Speaking for the industry, Bourque said rail's challenge moving forward will be to build on Macdonald's legacy to achieve safety outcomes that are beyond what we imagine possible.

"We too have obstacles, but we can count on the support and commitment from railroaders, who believe in safety first."

About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada represents some 50 goods, tourist, commuter and intercity Rail businesses in Canada, their more than 32,000 employees and over 50 associate member suppliers. RAC acts to inform officials, develop programs, policies and resources and respectfully communicate with the public and media to strengthen the role and capacity of Rail to deliver leading services that are economically viable, socially cohesive, future focused and environmentally sustainable.

SOURCE: RAILWAY ASSOCIATION OF CANADA

For further information:

Paul Goyette
Railway Association of Canada
613-564-8097
paulg@railcan.ca

Alex Paterson
Railway Association of Canada
613-564-8111
alexp@railcan.ca

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