Weed Control of Railways

Res #: 33-02M
Number: 33
Year: 2002
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Transport Canada

Resolution 33-02M

WHEREAS, the eradication of noxious weeds has become a problem along the railway tracks and the railway companies never spray at the proper time in order to achieve good results;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby the railway companies to cooperate, possibly by way of agreement, with the rural municipalities to eradicate the noxious weeds along the railway tracks.

Reponse from Andrew Brooke, Special Assistant to Hon. David Collenette, Minister of Transport: 

There are no federal regulations dealing with weed control on railway rights-of-way. However, railways have an obligation to control vegetation and weeds that become a fire hazard, which might constitute a threat to safe railway operations, on their rights-of-way. Otherwise, it is expected that railways, when spraying their tracks to destroy weeds, obtain permits for the application of the herbicide products from the appropriate provincial ministry of the environment.

Response From Canadian Pacific Railways:

…I would like to emphasize that we are proud of CPR's record in the area of vegetation management. We manage a unique program that we believe is beyond those conducted through most other railroad companies. Environmental Services manages vegetationon the ballast section of the tracks across the system, and the level of management is based on the results of surveys. Adjustments are made based on year end results. Because of the safety concerns with this item, a significant effort is made to ensure our tracks remain in good shape, and they are.Our noxious weed program is based on cooperation with other in Saskatchewan. For instance, we have worked with the RM of Longlaketon and Agriculture Canada to survey and make a number of Biological released for Leaft Spurge. This specific area is the site of an ongoing research project. Dr. Gary Bowes is aware of those releases. As well, we have worked with the cities of Regina and Moose Jaw to deal with toadflax and knapweed issues. There are a number of other locations where challenges were brought to our attention and those were addressed by various means from hand pulling of small sites (Scentless Chamomile) to burning and reseeding (with Saskatchewan Wetland Conservation Corporation).It is in our interest to work with local municipalities to address local noxious weed issues. Our office tracks methodology and timing of alternate treatments with respect to efficacy and we can share that information. While funding is tight, we believe that all communicated interests were addresses these last few years. We would be very happy to provide local inspectors with an ontrack view of our right-of-way in areas of concern to assist in the quantifying of local problems. The initial contact is Angelo Dalcin, our Vegetation Management Specialist at 403-319-6145 who can coordinate this. We would be very happy to hear from you and work with you on this issue.

Response from CN Rail:

… I can advise that CN does not have a formal 'policy' regarding vegetaion control. CN does however conduct an extensive annual vegetation control program. Our first priority is to endure the safety of rail operations by controlling undesired vegetation within the track ballast and shoulder area, and at sight lines at crossings.

Currently, where an area of noxious weeds requiring chemical control or eradication is brought to our attention, it is our practice to include these areas in our scheduled annual program if the noxious weeds are assumed to have originated on our property. This work is done by qualified herbicide applicators. In most situations this process is adequate, however where CN is unable to respond to noxious weed issues originating from CN property, CN will cooperate with Municipalities or weed control agencies, and provide funding when appropriate to allow their applicators to apply the herbicide.

I hope that the foregoing provides adequate information for your purpose. Should you have any questions in this regard, please call (204) 235-2502.