To protect Canadians who live along rail corridors, it is critical that the transport of dangerous goods by rail is done safely. Following the derailment of an important, or key, train on February 6th, 2020, in Guernsey Saskatchewan, a Ministerial Order was issued for the immediate slowdown of key trains. A key train is one carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods like petroleum crude oil; or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas. Since then, Transport Canada officials have worked diligently with large railway companies to further assess the causes of recent derailments, and to develop plans to address the areas of greatest concern. New measures are being implemented to reduce the speed of the higher risk key trains traveling through areas of greatest concern.
The speed limit for key trains is now limited to 35 mph in metropolitan areas. Outside of metropolitan areas where there are no track signals, the speed is limited to 40 mph. Higher risk key trains are trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods.
For now, the speed limit for higher risk key trains is now limited to 25 mph where there are no track signals. For metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 30 mph unless the metropolitan area is in a non-signal territory where the speed limit will be maintain at a maximum 25 mph.
This new Order was effective immediately and will remain in place until April 1, 2020. Transport Canada is working with the railways to develop a more comprehensive set of safety measures, which will include permanent measures such as track infrastructure maintenance and renewal, review of winter operations, safety practices of the railway companies, and other actions necessary to keep Canadians safe. Rail safety is the Minister of Transport’s top priority, and the Government of Canada is continuously looking for ways to make their railway system safer for Canadians.