Minister of Transport announces new measures to address extreme weather and climate change impacts on rail infrastructure

·5 min read

OTTAWA, ON, July 5, 2022 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is taking action to further improve the safety and security of Canada's rail system, especially in light of the impacts of climate change and severe weather on railway operations.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced two new rail safety measures. One focuses on railway-related fire prevention, while the other improves the resiliency of Canada's railway infrastructure against climate change impacts, such as flooding, landslides, and fire risks. 

To help prevent fires on railway property and in nearby communities, Transport Canada is introducing these measures as part of broader federal government efforts on climate change adaptation by creating new rules for the fire season (April 1 to October 31). These new rules require railway companies to:

  • Reduce train speeds and conduct additional track inspections when temperatures are high to reduce the risk of a derailment caused by track conditions;

  • Inspect locomotive exhaust systems more frequently to ensure they are free of any deposits that could pose a fire risk; and

  • Implement a fire risk reduction plan.

The fire risk reduction plan is robust and requires companies to monitor fire risk levels, manage vegetation, reduce activities that could spark fires, and respond to detected fires. Companies must also engage local governments and Indigenous communities on their plans. Similar to other critical sectors of Canada's economy, risk monitoring and preventative measures are important steps towards a comprehensive national adaptation strategy.

Transport Canada is also announcing the Rail Climate Change Adaptation Program. Its objective is to support research, development, and implementation of innovative technologies, tools, and approaches to better understand and address the increasing risks and impacts of climate change on Canada's rail sector.

The Rail Climate Change Adaptation Program will provide up to $2.2M in contribution funding to Canadian railways to cost-share research. Project submissions from eligible railways will be accepted until September 28, 2022.

Collectively, the new rules and the program are two innovative, on-the-ground adaptation measures that show concrete actions the Government of Canada is taking today to build climate resiliency as efforts continue on developing Canada's first National Adaptation Strategy. 

The National Adaptation Strategy will establish a framework for action on how to improve our health and well-being, build and maintain infrastructure, steward the environment, make informed economic decisions, and prepare for and prevent climate-related disasters over the longer term.

Quote

"In a period where we are seeing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather in Canada, it's important that we do everything we can to mitigate future risks. Our new rules will protect our railways against wildfires in the context of extreme weather. At the same time, the new Rail Climate Change Adaption Program will help railways assess and adopt next generation tools to mitigate adverse issues caused by climate change." 

The Honourable Omar Alghabra 
Minister of Transport


"Investing in rail safety measures, including the Rail Climate Change Adaptation Program, demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to building a more climate resilient country today as we are developing our first National Adaptation Strategy. The National Adaptation Strategy will build on existing adaptation efforts in the country, like this one, as we build climate preparedness for all of us living in Canada and ensure the safety and well-being of our families, communities, and the environment well into the future."

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Quick Facts

  • The new fire mitigation rules make permanent the measures contained in Ministerial Order 21–06, issued by the Minister of Transport Canada in July 2021, to reduce the risk wildfires in the context of extreme weather.

  • These new rules complement recent revisions to the Rules Respecting Track Safety, which strengthen track inspection and maintenance requirements.

  • Rules and regulations have the same force of law, under the Railway Safety Act, and a railway company can be subject to monetary penalties or prosecution for non-compliance to a rule.

  • Eligible recipients for the Rail Climate Change Adaption Program include federally or provincially regulated railway companies incorporated in Canada that support freight movement and supply chains, including Class I railways and most Class II/III railways (i.e., shortlines).

  • Transport Canada monitors railway companies for compliance with rules, regulations, and standards made under the Railway Safety Act through risk-based audits and safety inspections.

  • As the climate continues to change, more action is needed to prepare and respond to the impacts of these changes.

  • To inform the development of the National Adaptation Strategy, the Government of Canada has been engaging and consulting with provinces and territories, municipal governments, and Indigenous Peoples as well as other partners and organizations.

  • Since May 16, 2022, the Government of Canada has also been engaging Canadians on the discussion paper on the National Adaptation Strategy through an online platform: https://letstalkadaptation.ca/.

  • Building on significant investments to date, Budget 2022 proposed key measures to advance federal adaptation efforts, including funding to support Indigenous Climate Leadership and the development of a Canada Green Homes Strategy, which will help to increase the climate resilience of existing buildings. Budget 2022 also proposed other investments related to adaptation, such as funding for freshwater and agriculture initiatives, and wildfire response.

Associated Links

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SOURCE Transport Canada

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