Transport Canada has issued an emergency directive to boost rail safety following the train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, on July 6.
The directive, pursuant to section 33 of Canada’s Railway Safety Act, requires all operators to ensure that no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods is operated with fewer than two qualified persons on a main track or siding, or is left unattended on a main track.
It also requires all operators to ensure that all unattended controlling locomotives are protected from unauthorized entry and that directional controls are removed from unattended locomotives. Furthermore, every company’s special instructions on hand brakes must be applied to any locomotive attached to one or more cars that is left unattended for more than one hour, and the automatic brake must be set in full service position and the independent brake fully applied.
Transport Canada said it has been in contact with the railway industry, particularly Canadian National, Canadian Pacific and the Railway Association of Canada, to further promote the safety of the nation’s rail system and to build on the safety advisories received from the Transportation Safety Board. The transportation agency also noted that its inspectors at Lac-Mégantic are still determining the cause of the accident and whether there was non-compliance with regulatory requirements.
CN approved of the directive, saying it will adjust its safety practices to comply:
“The government’s new safety rules will help to reduce the risk of unintended train movements that can lead to catastrophic accidents such as the one in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec,” said Claude Mongeau, president and CEO of CN, in a written statement.