Lewis optimistic 50 recommendations will
Published: March 11, 2008
Source: Orillia Packet & Times
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An Orillia lawyer who chaired a panel that reviewed Canada's railways
has faith stakeholders will buy into the 50 recommendations it made to
improve safety across the country.
"My hope would be that each of the players, Transport Canada and the
railway companies, takes this report and uses our recommendations and
findings as a guide to improve railway safety in Canada," Doug Lewis,
former MP and transport minister, said Monday.
Lewis goes before a parliamentary standing committee on Thursday to
answer questions regarding the panel report, tabled Friday in the House
"Rail safety in Canada is reasonably good, but can be made much better,"
Lewis said. "That should be done... by concentrating on improving the
safety culture of both Transport Canada and the railways.
"If you've got a disaster and have to start over, that's one thing, but
that is not the situation we find ourselves in."
The all-party standing committee will do its own study and make
recommendations to the Ministry of Transport, Lewis noted.
The panel report states the industry is facing specific, safety-related
operations issues that affect both people and equipment.
"These include fatigue management, locomotive design, locomotive event
and voice recorder, rail traffic control locations, track and
infrastructure, training, train dynamics and drug and alcohol programs,"
the report states.
CN Rail and Canadian Pacific Railway operate about 74 per cent of
Canada's rail network.
The report said CP has made great strides improving its safety culture,
but CN's strict adherence to a rules-based approach focused on
disciplinary actions when mistakes were made.
CN "has instilled a 'culture of fear and discipline' and is counter to
an effective safety management system," the report said. "CN needs to
acknowledge this openly and take concrete steps to improve."
CN train wrecks were responsible for at least two of the environmental
disasters that set off the safety review.
In 2005, a chemical spill from a CN train into the Cheakamus River, near
Squamish, B.C., sterilized the river, killing more than half a million
A defective rail was responsible for an August 2005 derailment in which
700,000 litres of oil and chemicals were dumped in and around the shore
of Lake Wabamun near Edmonton.
The panel held public meetings at 15 Canadian locations, and met with
stakeholders, including the Transportation Safety Board, railway
companies, provincial governments and the Federation of Canada