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Transport Minister unveils new safety measures after fatal railway yard accident

OTTAWA — The federal government is rolling out new measures to tighten rail safety following an investigation into a fatal 2017 incident at a Saskatchewan railway yard.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau says a new ministerial order requires railway companies to adopt new practices for employees who conduct switching duties — taking railcars from one track to another — that ensure equipment is properly secured.

Transport Canada says it also plans to ramp up oversight rules and address gaps in employee training and experience.

The department notes it will work with industry and labour representatives to identify the causes of uncontrolled movements that happen during switching without air brakes.

The new measures follow a Transportation Safety Board report in June that expressed concerns about inexperienced workers being paired together and recommended changes to reduce uncontrolled movement of railcars. 

Two Canadian National Railway Co. employees were carrying out switching duties at the company’s yard in Melville, Sask., 150 kilometres east of Regina, on Dec. 22, 2017, when one was fatally injured.

The safety board said the two workers, one a designated foreman and the other a helper, were moving rail cars by letting them roll to their intended track without the use of air brakes.

The investigation found that the crew’s limited experience likely contributed to a decision to switch three loaded cars uphill at too low a speed, and determined that there was a lack of communication between the two employees.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 8, 2020.

Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR)

The Canadian Press

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