Safety and Environment Awards Won by Railway Employees

CALGARY, Oct. 19 /CNW/ - VIA Rail Canada and CN have won the Railway Association of Canada's 2009 environmental awards for passenger and freight railways in the country. GO Transit and Canadian Pacific won the industry's safety awards, and short line operator Central Manitoba Railway received an honorable mention. The awards were presented during the RAC's annual general meeting, trade show and research conference in Calgary.

Cliff Mackay, President and CEO of the association, said: "The awards program encourages excellence in employee performance and shares best work practices throughout society." The RAC represents some 50 freight and passenger railways in Canada and encourages workers to adopt safe, environmental practices and operational techniques.

CN's award, in the freight category, was presented for their development of a greenhouse gas modal shift protocol that helps assess the benefits of shifting freight transportation from truck to rail. The protocol was recently approved for use in the Alberta GHG Offset System and is being converted for submission to the federal system.

VIA was recognized for their initiative in creating Enviro Expo awards for Canadian high school students, in cooperation with Youth Science Canada, VIA employees, teachers and the public. The program participated in 100 regional science fairs across Canada last year -- a 22 per cent increase -- and involved more than 20,000 young people. VIA's 11 Green Teams championed the effort, and VIA employees participated as judges, presenters and information providers. There were gold, silver and bronze medal winners in each age category, honorable mention certificates and three $10,000 scholarships for the gold medal winners.

In the public-private sector, GO Transit partnered with the Mikey Network and the Toronto EMS Cardiac Safe City program, to win in the RAC's passenger safety category. They successfully installed 100 public-access defibrillators across the commuter system's coaches and stations. Trained personnel on board and station attendants can also use the units. They can increase the chance of surviving a heart attack by up to 50 per cent.

CP's new Customer Safety handbook won the industry's safety award for freight railways. The handbook has been completely revised, reorganized and updated with current railway health, safety, security and environmental information.

There has been a 64 per cent reduction in third party caused train accidents on customer track since the handbook was first issued. CP and their customers currently focus on key common interests of restricted clearances, track maintenance procedures and proper handling of railway equipment.

Central Manitoba Railway, a short line, received an honorable mention for their week of emergency preparedness activities that increased employee skills and awareness, that of emergency responders and other stakeholders in managing safety and emergency incidents. They also conducted a full-blown simulation exercise with heavy railway equipment and an "injured" employee in conjunction with the Springfield Fire and Rescue Services. The open house gave many employees' families an opportunity to visit their work site.

Canada's railways transport 75 per cent of surface freight, 68 million passengers annually and generate only three per cent of the country's transportation greenhouse gas emissions.

SOURCE Railway Association of Canada

For further information: For further information: Roger Cameron, Railway Association of Canada, (613) 564-8097, rogerc@railcan.ca

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