Minister of Transport updates Ministerial Order to reduce the risks of derailment of trains transporting dangerous goods

To protect Canadians who live along our rail corridors, it is critical that the movement of dangerous goods by rail is done in a safe way. 

On February 16, 2020, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced specific measures through an amended Ministerial Order, to help prevent further derailment of trains carrying large quantities of dangerous goods, like petroleum crude oil, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline and ethanol.

Following the derailment of a key train on February 6th, 2020, in Guernsey Saskatchewan, a Ministerial Order was issued for the immediate slowdown of key trains. A key train is one carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods; or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas.

“The safety of Canadians is a top priority for myself and the Government of Canada. The series of derailments like the one that occurred in Guernsey, Saskatchewan, and the impacts of these accidents are concerning,” said the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. “It is for this reason that I put immediate speed restrictions to reduce the risk of derailments until more permanent measures are put into place to address this situation. A safe and efficient railway system is critical to the well-being of our country and its citizens.”

Since then, Transport Canada officials have worked diligently with large railway companies to further assess the causes of recent derailments, and to develop plans to address the areas of greatest concern. As a result of this work, new measures are being implemented effective immediately to reduce the speed of the higher risk key trains traveling through areas of greatest concern.

Accordingly, the Ministerial Order has been updated to provide a more targeted risk-based approach. 

Key trains

  • The speed limit for key trains is now limited to 35 mph in metropolitan areas. Outside of metropolitan areas where there are no track signals, the speed is limited to 40 mph.

New measures for high risk key trains. 

Higher risk key trains are unit trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods.

  • The speed limit for higher risk key trains is now limited to 25 mph where there are no track signals. For metropolitan areas, the speed limit is 30 mph unless the metropolitan area is in a non-signal territory where the speed limit will be maintain at a maximum 25 mph.
Type of trainSpeed limit of train in metropolitan areasSpeed limit of train in areas where there are track signalsSpeed limit of train in areas where there are no track signals
Higher risk key trains (unit trains where tank cars are loaded with a single dangerous goods commodity moving to the same point of destination; or trains that include any combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods)30 mph (and 25 mph for non-signaled territory).50 mph25 mph
Key trains (Key trains include one or more tank cars of dangerous goods that are toxic by inhalation; or trains that include 20 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods)35 mph 50 mph40 mph

The new Ministerial Order will enter into effect immediately and will remain in place until April 1, 2020.

Transport Canada is working with the railways to develop a more comprehensive set of safety measures, which will include permanent measures. These will target track infrastructure maintenance and renewal, winter operations, safety practices of the railway companies, and any other actions necessary to keep Canadians safe. 

Rail safety is the Minister of Transport’s top priority, and the Government of Canada is continuously looking for ways to make our railway system even safer for Canadians.

Quick Facts

  • A Ministerial Order is binding instrument that is put in place to address a safety issue. 
  • Minister Garneau issued a Ministerial Order on February 6, 2020, that required key trains to slow down, as a precaution to prevent further derailment of trains transporting dangerous goods.
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *