Transport Canada prepares to implement rail security technology

Transport Canada has taken the first steps to ensure that the country’s major freight railways implement enhanced train control, a security technology that tracks the distances between trains.

Enhanced train control would be Canada’s version of what is called positive train control (PTC) in the US, where the 2008 Railroad Safety Improvement Act requires certain freight and passenger railroads, including US operations of Canadian Pacific (NYSE: CP) and CN (NYSE: CNI) — to install technology to prevent train-to-train collisions, speeding derailments and train movements through switches left in the wrong position. US railroads completed PTC implementation ahead of the December 2020 regulatory deadline.

Canada has not required enhanced train control (ETC), but the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB) and the 2018 Rail Safety Act review panel have pushed for its implementation.

In February, Transport Canada said it would take the first steps toward implementing ETC, publishing a notice of intent in the Canada Gazette outlining how the Commonwealth would go about the process. Meanwhile, TSB last week reiterated its calls for Transport Canada to require ETC, publishing its review last week into the possible causes of a January 2019 collision of two CN trains in Manitoba.

Transport Canada told FreightWaves that “work is underway” to develop an ETC system in Canada, with the agency working with other government entities and industry stakeholders to implement it.

“Collaboration with the Standards Council of Canada continues as we develop a national technical specification on interoperability,” Transport Canada said. “This specification will be an essential first step in the implementation of the ETC system, ensuring that critical information, such as train position and train speed, can be reliably and securely communicated between railways, regardless of control technology. of the chosen train.

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Transport Canada also said it would respond to last week’s TSB review within 90 days.

The agency also told FreightWaves that it is looking at another Transportation Safety Board recommendation from last week, which would be to require Canadian railways to develop and implement formal crew resource management education to include in training. qualification for employees who operate trains.

Transport Canada said it is reviewing rail employee qualification standards, which include areas where training could be improved.

Transport Canada provided FreightWaves with a list of measures the agency has taken to address the rail movement of dangerous goods in the country, including a December 2021 final statement on rail safety culture and changes to safety rules related to inspection frequency and automated inspection technology. .

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