My semi-annual letter from Transport Minister Lisa Raitt

Dear Ms. Raitt,

I am so glad we can have this conversation/dialogue every six months. Your letter has warmed the cockles of my freckles. I hope you don’t mind me sharing it with the world, my four followers on Twitter, and 12 Facebook strangers who I call friends. My previous letter to you was posted HERE I don’t mind you neglected to address the issue of the Turcot Train Tragedy and the provision of the Railway Safety Act I expressed concern over. I s’pose these things are clearly not of interest to you….

from: Minister of Transport / Ministre des Transports <MINTC@tc.gc.ca>
to: “jjlocke1957@gmail.com” <jjlocke1957@gmail.com>
date: Thu, Jul 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM
subject: Railway safety

Dear Mr. Locke:

I am responding to your correspondence regarding railway safety. I appreciate receiving your views and want to assure you that the safety of Canadians is Transport Canada’s top priority. Please accept my apology for the delay in replying.

Over the past months, Transport Canada has taken a number of concrete steps to further strengthen railway and transportation of dangerous goods safety that will benefit communities across Canada. On April 23, 2014, I announced decisive actions to address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s initial recommendations regarding the ongoing investigation into the Lac-Mégantic train derailment. In this regard, Transport Canada took the following actions:

* issued a Protective Direction removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tank cars from dangerous goods service;
* required DOT-111 tank cars used to transport crude oil and ethanol that do not meet the standard published in January 2014 in the Canada Gazette, Part I, or any other future standard, to be phased out or refitted within three years;
* issued a Protective Direction requiring Emergency Response Assistance Plans for crude oil, gasoline, diesel, aviation fuel and ethanol;
* created a task force that brings stakeholders such as municipalities, first responders, railways and shippers together to strengthen emergency response capacity across the country; and
* required railway companies to reduce the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods and implement other key operating practices.

I previously issued two protective directions to further enhance safety in the transportation of dangerous goods: one on October 17, 2013, requiring any person who imports or offers for transport crude oil to conduct classification tests on the crude oil; and on November 20, 2013, requiring any person who transports dangerous goods by railway vehicle to share information about those goods with municipalities to further support local emergency planners and first responders with emergency planning and response training.

On December 26, 2013, Transport Canada approved permanent safety rules, developed and submitted by the Railway Association of Canada, to further enhance the safety of railway operations and the security of railway transportation. These updated Canadian Rail Operating Rules, based on a previous Transport Canada emergency directive, can be viewed online at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/rules-948.html. The revised rules include a requirement for a minimum of two crew members when operating a freight train carrying dangerous goods.

I have also engaged two key Transport Canada advisory bodies, the Advisory Council on Railway Safety and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods General Policy Advisory Council, to seek input from their members on topics, including possible enhancements to railway safety and transportation of dangerous goods regulations, actions that can be taken to further reduce safety risks, and technological improvements. Advisory body reports can be viewed at http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/tdg/consult-advisorycouncil-488.htm.

Transport Canada is committed to working with industry; all levels of government, including the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and its National Municipal Rail Safety Working Group; and other key stakeholders, such as the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, to examine means of further improving railway safety and the safe transportation of dangerous goods in Canada. Thanks in large part to positive and productive working relationships, progress is being made.

For the most recent developments and announcements, you can view Transport Canada’s news releases at http://news.gc.ca/web/dsptch-dstrbr-en.do?mthd=advSrch&crtr.dpt1D=6695.

Thank you for sharing your views.

Sincerely,
The Honourable Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P.

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