CTA rolls out guidelines for rail noise
Published: October 20th 2008
Source: Grain News
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Canada's transportation regulator is stressing collaboration over
confrontation in its new
guidelines for settling disputes between railways and communities
over noise and vibrations.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) on Monday released its new
guidelines for resolution of such complaints under the Canada
"Ongoing communication among all involved in railway noise and
vibration issues can help develop awareness of the needs and realities
of other parties and may help prevent future complaints," agency CEO
Geoffrey Hare said in a release Monday.
To that end, the guidelines specify that "before the agency can
investigate a complaint regarding railway noise or vibrations, it must
be satisfied that the collaborative measures set out in these guidelines
have been exhausted."
Such measures allow both the complainant and the railway "to have a
say in resolving an issue," the CTA wrote in its guidelines. "A solution
in which both parties have had input is more likely to constitute a
long-term solution and is one that can often be implemented more
effectively and efficiently than a decision rendered through an
Complainants should talk to their municipal government about their
concerns before raising them with a railway, the CTA said, as the
municipality "may have information and expertise that is pertinent to
the resolution of the complaint and may wish to become involved in the
discussion with the railway company."
Before the CTA will get involved in a complaint, it expects "direct
communication" to have been established between the parties involved,
with complainants given thr opportunity to clearly express their
concerns and describe the impact of the problem to the railway, while
the railway must be "adequately informed" of the situation.
The type of information a railway should have at this stage is
outlined in the CTA's
A railway must also respond to a written complaint within 30 days and
agree on a date in the following 30 days to meet and discuss resolving
the complaint. The parties involved must make "reasonable efforts" to
resolve the complaint before it goes to the CTA.
Collaborative measures, the CTA said, are expected to be completed
within 60 days of the railway getting a written complaint, unless the
parties agree to extend the process.
The CTA noted that the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and
Railway Association of Canada operate a joint
website on the topic of resolving such disputes.
The Transportation Act requires that railways shall cause
"only such noise and vibration as is reasonable" to load, unload,
transport and deliver goods or transfer cars from one railway to the
other, but notes that those specifics "do not relieve a railway company
from its obligation to cause only such noise or vibration as is
"Reasonableness" is determined on a case-by-case basis and relates to
an objective sense of what's just and proper in a given circumstance,
the CTA said. "What is reasonable in some circumstances may not be
reasonable in other circumstances."
The challenge is to carefully balance the concerns of communities
with the need for a railway company to maintain efficient and
economically viable railway operations, the CTA wrote. "Overall, this
balance is inherent in the statutory requirement that the allowable
noise or vibration be only that which is reasonable."