Minister tables the Railway Safety Act review report in the House of Commons
Source: Minister of Transport
Published: March 7th 2008

OTTAWA, March 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The Railway Safety Act (RSA) review report, Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety, was tabled today 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 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


Backgrounder

Railway Safety Act Review

On December 14, 2006, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities announced a review of the Railway Safety Act (RSA). An advisory panel, comprised of the Honourable Doug Lewis (chair), Mr. Pierre-André Côté, Mr. Martin Lacombe and Mr. Gary Moser, was appointed on February 20, 2007, to lead the review.

The RSA, which came into effect in January 1989, sets the regulatory framework for addressing rail safety, security and some of the environmental impacts of rail operations in Canada. The Act was last reviewed in 1994 and amended in 1999.

The current RSA review examined the operation and overall efficiency of the Act. In particular, the review aimed to address the efficiency and effectiveness of the regulatory framework established under the RSA; the provisions and operation of the Act; environmental concerns with respect to rail transportation and accidents; interface with non-railway users; and related railway safety issues.

The role of the advisory panel was to conduct independent study and analysis, to undertake consultations and to prepare a report for the Minister with recommendations on how to improve railway safety in Canada.

Beginning in April 2007, the panel held public consultations, site visitsand bilateral meetings in cities across Canada to consult with stakeholders.These included the public, railway companies and their industry associations, railway employees and their unions, customers (e.g., shippers and travellers), the provinces and territories, municipalities, aboriginal and environmentalgroups, Transport Canada, and other federal departments and agencies.Consultations concluded in August 2007. The panel also commissioned independent research to supplement its knowledge and understanding of a number of key subject areas.

Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety, the RSA review panel's final report, was published on March 7, 2008. The report makes 56 recommendations to strengthen the Act and improve railway safety in Canada.
Visit www.tc.gc.ca/tcss/RSA_Review-Examen_LSF to view the report.