Improving rail safety in Canada: Minister tables the Railway Safety Act review report in the House of Commons



    OTTAWA, March 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The Railway Safety Act (RSA) review
report, Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety, was tabled today
in the House of Commons by the Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of
Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. Minister Cannon launched a review
of the RSA in December 2006. The report presents the findings, including more
than 50 recommendations to improve rail safety in Canada.
    "Our government is taking action to improve rail safety in Canada. The
rail industry is the backbone of our economy and part of a historic legacy
that should continue to serve Canadians into the future. The Railway Safety
Act review presents concrete ideas to improve railway safety," said Minister
Cannon.
    Through its work and consultations, an independent RSA review panel found
that the framework of the Act is fundamentally sound and that there have been
positive efforts to improve rail safety in certain areas, such as at grade
crossings. However, more needs to be done.
    "Our government continues to work to improve railway safety and we
appreciate the efforts of the panel to produce this report. We will be working
with the industry to reduce safety risks, increase accountability, improve the
reporting of and response to incidents and reduce environmental impacts,"
Minister Cannon said.
    The report identifies key recommendations to improve rail safety that
would require legislative changes, including the following:

    
    - Railway companies should be required to obtain a rail operating
      certificate once they meet regulated baseline safety requirements,
      prior to commencing or continuing operations.
    - Administrative monetary penalties should be included in the RSA as an
      additional compliance tool.
    - Railway companies should be required to file annual environmental
      management plans with Transport Canada to demonstrate they operate in
      an environmentally responsible manner.

    The first step in implementing the recommendations has already been taken.
Minister Cannon has given a mandate to the newly created Advisory Council on
Railway Safety to address future directions in rail safety, rule making,
regulation, policy and other issues of concern.
    The Minister has also tasked a joint Transport Canada-industry steering
committee to develop an action plan to address the recommendations in the
report. Transport Canada will pursue implementation of the recommendations,
including legislative amendments, as the steering committee determines its
strategies.
    In February 2007, Minister Cannon appointed an independent advisory panel
to conduct a review of the RSA. Between April and August 2007, the panel,
chaired by the Honourable Doug Lewis, held public consultations and
commissioned independent research to study the operation and overall
efficiency of the Act. The RSA review panel was the Minister's primary source
of independent advice about railway safety.
    To view the Railway Safety Act review report, visit
www.tc.gc.ca/tcss/RSA_Review-Examen_LSF/.
    To view the terms of reference of the Advisory Council on Railway Safety,
visit www.tc.gc.ca/railway/ACRS/TOR.html.


                                 Backgrounder
                                 ------------

                          Railway Safety Act Review

    On December 14, 2006, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and
Communities announced a review of the Railway Safety Act (RSA). An advisory
panel, comprised of the Honourable Doug Lewis (chair), Mr. Pierre-André Côté,
Mr. Martin Lacombe and Mr. Gary Moser, was appointed on February 20, 2007, to
lead the review.
    The RSA, which came into effect in January 1989, sets the regulatory
framework for addressing rail safety, security and some of the environmental
impacts of rail operations in Canada. The Act was last reviewed in 1994 and
amended in 1999.
    The current RSA review examined the operation and overall efficiency of
the Act. In particular, the review aimed to address the efficiency and
effectiveness of the regulatory framework established under the RSA; the
provisions and operation of the Act; environmental concerns with respect to
rail transportation and accidents; interface with non-railway users; and
related railway safety issues.
    The role of the advisory panel was to conduct independent study and
analysis, to undertake consultations and to prepare a report for the Minister
with recommendations on how to improve railway safety in Canada.
    Beginning in April 2007, the panel held public consultations, site visits
and bilateral meetings in cities across Canada to consult with stakeholders.
These included the public, railway companies and their industry associations,
railway employees and their unions, customers (e.g., shippers and travellers),
the provinces and territories, municipalities, aboriginal and environmental
groups, Transport Canada, and other federal departments and agencies.
Consultations concluded in August 2007. The panel also commissioned
independent research to supplement its knowledge and understanding of a number
of key subject areas.
    Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety, the RSA review
panel's final report, was published on March 7, 2008. The report makes 56
recommendations to strengthen the Act and improve railway safety in Canada.
    Visit www.tc.gc.ca/tcss/RSA_Review-Examen_LSF to view the report.

                                                                   March 2008
    




For further information:

For further information: Karine White, Press Secretary, Office of the
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Ottawa, (613) 991-0700;
Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, (613) 993-0055; Transport Canada is
online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to news releases and speeches at
www.tc.gc.ca/listserv/ and keep up to date on the latest from Transport
Canada. This news release may be made available in alternative formats for
persons with visual disabilities.


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