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March 10, 2008
 
Minister tables the Railway Safety Act review report to House of Commons
The Railway Safety Act (RSA) review report, Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety, was tabled on March 7, 2008 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.

Source:  Files from CNW
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