November 9, 2016
November 9, 2016
November 9, 2016
November 9, 2016
October 12, 2016
Minister Garneau announces new rail safety program targeted at reducing incidents and accidents on rail lines
October 12, 2016 – Montréal, Quebec – Transport Canada
The Government of Canada is significantly increasing its investment, and expanding eligibility criteria to reduce injuries and fatalities, and increase public safety around the railway system.
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, today announced the new Rail Safety Improvement Program with over $55 million in funding. This new program increases overall funding, expands the list of eligible recipients and broadens the scope of projects that could be funded to enhance rail safety.
Funding will support safety improvements on rail property, along rail lines and at road-rail grade crossings such as flashing lights, bells and/or gates; the use of innovative technologies; outreach, promotional awareness, educational activities and public service announcements, research and studies; as well as the closures of grade crossings that present safety concerns.
The new program builds on three previous rail safety programs: the Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP); the Grade Crossing Closure Program (GCCP); and Operation Lifesaver.
Minister Garneau also launched a call for proposals for 2017-18 under the infrastructure, technology, and research program and the public education and awareness program.
“Canadians rely on our rail system to be safe. As I’ve said many times, rail safety is my top priority, and I remain committed to reducing the number of accidents and incidents on Canada’s rail lines and over 20,000 federally regulated crossings. There are new technologies to improve railway safety that have proven effective, and through this new program, we can invest in them and expand their use nationwide.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport
Transport Canada is funding over 380 existing grade crossing improvement projects across the country.
The new Rail Safety Improvement Program is a comprehensive approach to improving the safety of rail transportation across Canada, through two key components: Infrastructure, Technology and Research Activities; and Public Education and Awareness.
Applications for both components will be accepted from a wide range of applicants, including: provinces, territories, municipalities and local governments; road/transit authorities and Crown Corporations; for-profit and not-for-profit organizations; Indigenous groups, communities and organizations; and, individuals.
Backgrounder – Rail Safety Improvement Program (RSIP)
Rail Safety Improvement Program
Infrastructure Technology and Research
Education and Awareness
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa
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October 12, 2016
Minister Garneau to make announcement on rail safety
Montréal, Quebec — October 11, 2016 — The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, will make an important announcement concerning rail safety in Canada.
October 12, 2016
1:00 pm, Eastern Time
Port of Montreal – Area 32
Enter on Boulevard Pie-IX, turn right on rue Port de Montréal.
Drive a few minutes west to area 32 where a patrol vehicle of the Port of Montreal will be positioned. Parking is available on site.
Office of the Honourable Marc Garneau
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa
October 4, 2016
Ottawa, September 20, 2016 – Officers of the Teamsters Union have reacted strongly to some of the conclusions revealed yesterday by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) with respect to locomotive voice and video recorders. The Teamsters Canada Rail Conference (TCRC) took part in the study and represents almost all workers who operate the trains throughout the country.
The report recommends that the TSB and rail companies be authorized to access the content of locomotive voice and video recorders. Although the Teamsters agree the TSB requires access to these recordings for the purpose of conducting investigations into railway accidents, it is categorically opposed to providing rail carriers with access to these same recordings.
“We disagree with the TSB’s interpretation of certain data, but I would nevertheless like to point out here that we have consistently maintained our position on this issue for several years now. We agree with the implementation and use of voice and video recorders, but the TSB must be the only body with authorized access to the recordings,” explains the president of the TCRC, Doug Finnson. “Rail carriers are not to be given access to the recordings because that would be an unprecedented and unparalleled intrusion into the workplace, one that is unnecessary, and would be tantamount to violating workers’ right to privacy.”
The TSB report acknowledges the serious workers’ rights issues raised by LVVRs, and recognizes the need to implement a balanced system with clear instructions on how recordings are to be used. However, Doug Finnson thinks that a culture of fear and intimidation will be the consequence of railway managers having unprecedented access to 24/7 electronic surveillance of workers.
“The reality is that rail companies would use these recordings arbitrarily and that the already negative relations that prevail in the industry worsen considerably,” warns the union leader. “It’s a sword of Damocles that we don’t need given the already acrimonious relations that prevail between certain carriers and their workers.”
It needs to be pointed out that, according to a report filed by the Advisory Council on Rail Safety last June 7, access to recordings by TSB had previously been mentioned in five accident investigations in a 25 year period. Taking the TSB authority to access recordings provided specifically to them under law and providing uninhibited access to rail management for daily intrusion, meaning thousands of times annually, is completely unparalleled and disproportionate to the real situation. The TSB original request is to install LVVR on locomotives and to provide the recordings to them for their investigations. Since then, industry has been trying to leverage the TSB and they are hoping to hit a home run in surveillance they have no legal right to obtain.
The measure put forth by the Transportation Safety Board could also result in significant additional demands on railway workers who are already pressured by long working hours and the inability in too many cases to refuse work even if they feel too tired to work safely. The TCRC has been advocating for a real fatigue management system within the rail industry, and emphasizes the need for fatigue risk management systems and processes based on current fatigue science.
Conclusion: There is no concrete proof demonstrating that allowing rail carriers to conduct continuous and intrusive surveillance of their workers contributes to improving the safety of the rail industry. However, the presence of a real fatigue management system within the rail industry, more railway inspectors mandated to verify the condition of the tracks and authorize tired workers to rest up are sustainable and effective solutions to improve rail safety and protect both the workers and Canadian public.
The Teamsters represents 120,000 members in Canada in all industries, including 12,000 in the rail industry. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, with which Teamsters Canada is affiliated, has 1.4 million members in North America.
April 27, 2016
Written by David Thomas, Contributing Editor – Railway Age
Proposing a radical new business model, Quebec’s huge public pension fund announced April 22, 2016 that it will directly undertake construction and continuing operation of a 67-km (41.5-mile), double-tracked, electrified and fully automated rapid rail network, the Réseau électrique métropolitain (REM), which will transform commuting in Montreal and its immediate hinterland.
The REM, which will be an automated rapid transit system (though the city is calling it “light rail”), will serve 24 stations 20 hours a day, with departures every three to 12 minutes depending on route and time of day.
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec pension fund will put up C$3 billion of the C$5.5 billion project, with the balance coming from the Quebec and Canadian governments as subordinate equity investors.
Because of its fiduciary responsibilities to protect old-age pension payouts, the deal will guarantee the Caisse first call on profits, with the two levels of government claiming their share only above an agreed-upon threshold. But the Caisse will not ask government to backstop its investment and will assume the business risks of ridership and revenue.
Thus, the pension fund, which last November acquired 30% of Bombardier’s global rail business, becomes a railway operator. Caisse CEO Michael Sabia was in the 1990s chief financial officer of Canadian National.
Quebec is the only Canadian province to run its own old-age security pension; the others are covered by Canada’s national pension system.
The REM will involve reconstruction and conversion of the existing AMT Deux-Montagnes line, which tunnels under Mount Royal to the city’s Central Station, as well as new right-of-way utilizing the existing Highway 40 route from the island city’s western tip to a connection with the Deux-Montagnes.
In addition, the REM will include a spur to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport and will extend new trackage from downtown to the bedroom communities of the St. Lawrence River south shore via a new Champlain Bridge scheduled to open in 2018.
Overhead catenary will provide the power, with third-rail rejected because of Quebec’s icy winters. REM will be the third-longest driverless rail system in the world, after Dubai and Vancouver, and will employ 1,000 workers.
The initial fleet will consist of 200 150-passenger cars with open “boa” vestibules between them. Rush hour trains will consist of four cars, with two-car trains operating in off-peak hours.
The Caisse promises WiFi connectivity for all trains and live smartphone access to actual train times. Fares will be comparable to existing tariffs for travel on the existing commuter train and bus services.
Sabia says construction should start in Spring 2017 with the full system operational in 2020. Procurement and environment assessment hearings are to begin this summer.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre endorsed the project, assuring that rights-of-way and infrastructure currently belonging to the city’s’ transit system (not including the Montreal Metro, operated by STM, Société de transport de Montréal) will transition to the new REM. The project fits with Montreal’s declared ambition to convert its bus fleet to electricity and provide a network of vehicle charging stations for public use.
The ambitious timeline depends on agreement by the federal and provincial governments to join in the Caisse’s scheme for a “public-public” partnership in which future seniors are the primary equity holders. Sabia said the business model is “a virtuous circle in which profits from passenger fares will feed public pension payouts. Every time passengers use their new transit system, they will be helping to secure their future retirement.”
April 14, 2016
Are Canada’s rail-safety regulators in the pocket of a regulation-averse industry?
Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS
Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil, after a derailment in LacMegantic, Que., July 6, 2013.
By: Bruce Campbell – The Toronto Star
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said recently that rail safety is his number one priority. The federal budget pledged an extra $143 million over three years to, among other things, “support new and expanded activities to strengthen oversight and enforcement” of rail safety.
While this is a laudable step, fundamental problems with the rail regulatory regime remain. Toronto mayor John Tory and 17 counsellors raised some of these in a letter to the minister.
Not mentioned was the issue of regulatory capture, which gained widespread attention during the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis. It is generally accepted that a major cause of the crisis was that regulators were in the pocket of a regulation-averse industry.
Capture exists where regulation is systematically directed to benefit the private interest of the regulated industry at the expense of the public interest. Characteristically, industry is able to shape the regulations governing its operations. It regularly blocks or delays new regulations, and seeks to remove or dilute existing regulations deemed be adversely affecting profits.
There is considerable evidence that regulatory capture of the rail regulatory regime played a role in the 2013 Lac Mégantic rail disaster.
Most importantly, why were these trains allowed to transport their massive oil cargo with only one crew member? Immediately after the accident, Transport Canada reversed itself, issuing an emergency directive requiring a minimum of two operators for trains carrying dangerous goods — an order which was subsequently entrenched in the Canadian rail operating rules.
Omitted from this narrative is how, several years earlier, the Railway Association redrafted the rail operating rules, notably introducing General Rule M, which enabled companies to implement single-person train operations for freight trains, under certain conditions, without needing a formal ministerial exemption. Transport Canada approved this rule modification, over the objections of the unions, without ensuring an equivalent level of safety.
Subsequently, the RAC lobbied hard on behalf of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway — the first company to take advantage of the rule change; one with a poor safety record — to enable it to operate oil trains on its Lac-Mégantic line with a single operator.
Senior Transport Canada officials approved the MMA request despite opposition from within Transport Canada itself, and contrary to the advice of its own National Research Council-commissioned study.
A draft of the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) report, obtained by Radio-Canada, stated that the existence of a single operator was “a cause and contributing factor” to the accident. In the report’s final version this cause was curiously demoted to “findings as to risk.”
There is also evidence that the regulatory regime has not changed fundamentally since the disaster.
For example, the industry continues its knee-jerk defence of the Safety Management Systems (SMS) regime. This system was designed to give the companies greater responsibility for ensuring the safety of their operations. However, in an environment of regulatory capture, a SMS regime becomes highly problematic.
The industry claims that SMS is an effective additional line of defence. But that’s only true if government allocates sufficient resources, including on-site inspectors, for traditional oversight. Failing that, companies are in practice left to regulate themselves.
The sad history of MMA’s totally defective safety management system, and the failure of Transport Canada to do anything about it, is a case in point.
Several reports, including from Auditor General, have pointed out that SMS “contained serious flaws.” Safety Management Systems remain on the Transportation Safety Board’s watch list as “among those issues posing the greatest risk to Canada’s transportation system.” A vague TSB letter that there has been “satisfactory intent” to fix it, provides little comfort.
Furthermore, despite repeated requests from many municipalities, companies are still resisting making public their safety reports, risk assessments, and real-time information about their dangerous goods cargo.
There remain too many unanswered questions about the causes of that terrible tragedy, including the nature and extent of regulatory capture by industry. The people of Lac-Mégantic were victims of a regulatory regime that failed catastrophically. They should not be victimized again by a system that continues to obscure the truth about what happened and who was responsible — essential to preventing it from happening again.
Bruce Campbell is a visiting fellow at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, on leave from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. He received the 2015 Law Foundation of Ontario Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship.
April 11, 2016
By Jacquie McNish and Laura Stevens – The Wall Street Journal
CP says it sees ‘no clear path to a friendly merger’
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. abandoned its nearly $30 billion pursuit of Norfolk Southern Corp. on Monday after it was unable to overcome a wall of opposition from rival railroads, shippers and U.S. politicians warning the merger would diminish competition.
Canadian Pacific also has no plans to initiate merger talks with other competitors, Chief Executive Hunter Harrison said in an interview.
“I doubt very much we will be reaching out to anyone else. We fought the good fight; we tried to educate the public. But the political and economic environment was against us,” he said.
He said the Calgary, Alberta-based company’s board decided to withdraw from the takeover field over the weekend as it became clear that political and industry opposition was too great.
William Ackman, CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management LP and a major Canadian Pacific shareholder who actively backed the railway’s merger ambitions, approved the retreat, Mr. Harrison said.
A number of powerful interests including the U.S. Army and a top antitrust official with the U.S. Department of Justice recently raised concerns about the competitive effect of the merger. Canadian Pacific’s complex plan to hold Norfolk Southern in a trust until transportation officials completed a lengthy review of the proposed combination also drew opposition.
Virginia-based Norfolk Southern said its board was committed to “enhancing value for shareholders,” focusing on a five-year plan to eliminate $650 million of annual expenses. The U.S. railway ranks as one of the least efficient of North America’s major carriers.
“We are confident the continued execution of our plan will deliver superior value to all of the company’s stakeholders by best positioning Norfolk Southern to succeed,” the company said in a statement.
Canadian Pacific has been aiming to eliminate bottlenecks in busy rail hubs such as Chicago by merging with an Eastern-based railway to create the first transnational railway in the U.S.
The Canadian railway launched its Norfolk Southern pursuit in November, after a failed attempt in 2014 to combine with CSX Corp. As Norfolk Southern’s board and others voiced opposition, Canadian Pacific quietly—though unsuccessfully—tried to revive talks with CSX in January.
Some regulators, shippers and industry officials have raised concerns that any rail merger would trigger further consolidation, reducing North America’s current stable of seven major carriers to only a few. But with Canadian Pacific’s retreat on Monday, any further merger activity is likely now on hold for the near future. The U.S. Surface Transportation Board adopted rules in 2001 that place a heavier burden on merger applicants to show that a major deal is consistent with the public interest by enhancing competition.
Without the stimulus of a merger, Canadian Pacific faces pressure to boost its slumping earnings and stock price amid a commodity-price rout that has sharply reduced the volume of oil and mining products on the rails. Some analysts have predicted the railway will announce a significant share buyback.
Canadian Pacific reported lower fourth-quarter earnings and revenue in its final quarter of 2015, hurt by a drop in several key freight volumes. Its stock has also fallen sharply from a high of about $214 in October 2014.
Canadian Pacific shares were recently up nearly 4% at $140 in New York. Norfolk Southern shares declined more than 2% to $79.74.
Mr. Harrison had predicted that support for a transnational railway would increase as the U.S. economy pulls out of the commodity-price slump.
“When we have a rebound there will be problems. Where are we going to put all the oil? Are we going to put it on the highways?” he said.