Third Party Inspections of Train Engines

Res #: 21-13A
Number: 21
Year: 2013
Midterm: No
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Transport Canada

WHEREAS mainline rail traffic is increasing; and

WHEREAS there is a move towards using fewer, higher horsepower, larger engines; and

WHEREAS major fires are increasing as a result of hot carbon deposits going through the spark arrestor screens or lack of spark arrestor screens; and

WHEREAS inspection of spark arrestor screens is done by the rail lines; and

WHEREAS in all other transportation industries safety inspection is mandatory, third party and paid for by the sector;

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the Federal Government to implement third party inspection of train engines to reduce the possibility of starting fires; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that legislation be developed regarding accepting liabilities for the resulting fires.

Response from Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport

I am responding to your correspondence of April 15, 2013, to my predecessor regarding a resolution adopted by the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities pertaining to rail transportation.  Please accept my apology for the delay in replying.

As you may be aware, the Railway Safety Act was recently amended following recommendations made by the Act's Review Panel, as well as the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.  These amendments, which came into force on May 1, 2013, include the authority to develop several new regulations, including regulations respecting the prevention and control of fires on railway works.  Allow me to assure you that your input will be taken into consideration in the development of any regulations in this regard.  In addition, as part of the regulatory process, Transport Canada is required to fully consult with all stakeholders, including municipalities, when appropriate.

The Rules for the Control and Prevention of Fires on Railway Rights-of-Way, which are currently in force, continue to apply to all federal railway companies, but not to third parties.  The Rules place the onus on railway companies to have in place suitable measures to prevent and control fires on their property, and, in the case of fire, to extinguish the fire.  If the railway company is unable to extinguish the fire, the company may call upon a fire department for assistance.

As part of its safety oversight role, Transport Canada conducts inspections on federal railway lines to ensure compliance to all regulations and rules under the Railway Safety Act. Last year, Railway Safety Inspectors conducted over 30,000 inspections in various railway functional areas, including the control of fires on railway property.

View updated response dated June 20, 2017 from the Federal Ministry of Transport