Thursday, April 18, 2024

Report of the Auditor-General of Canada | Rail safety still needs improvement

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Alan Binder
Alan Binder
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(Ottawa) More than seven years after the Lake-Megantic train accident, the Auditor General of Canada found that the Federal Department of Transportation was not sufficiently monitoring the safety of passengers and goods on the railways.

Lina Deeb
The Canadian Press

In a report presented Thursday afternoon in the House of Commons, Karen Hogan said there had been “significant improvements” in oversight, but that the federal government had failed to determine whether its oversight would improve rail safety.

And commented during a press conference to comment on her report: “This is the big loophole that we raised.”

She insisted, “If we are going to invest time and energy, we must be able to know if the activity really improves safety.”

In response to this criticism, the Federal Minister of Transport insisted on noting that no country does what the master does.I am Hogan claims his ministry.

Minister Omar Al-Ghubra said, “What the Auditor-General is asking of us is to add another layer of security scrutiny.”

He said, “We searched all over the planet for another jurisdiction that would do as requested and were unable to find any of it.”

Nevertheless, the minister sees it as a “good idea” and promises to work on it.

“Nothing prevents us from being the first in the world to do that. We are committed to that.”

In the first pages of the chapter on railway safety, the Auditor General (AG) report highlights the increase in rail activity, noting, for example, that between 2017 and 2018, the amount of fuel oil and crude oil transported by train jumped by more than 45 %.

It is noteworthy that “this increase in rail traffic causes wear and damage to the tracks, which may lead to additional safety risks.” There are also concerns about “increasing developed land near railway operations” and “expanding railway lines in urban areas”.

However, the Federal Department of Transportation failed to measure the effectiveness of railway company safety management systems as well.

The ministry did not provide sufficiently detailed guidance for the railway companies to produce their safety data. As a result, the information was sometimes incomplete, of poor quality or was provided late.

The Office of the Auditor General, which oversees federal government activities, had already considered these questions in 2013, just weeks before the Lake Megantic tragedy. His recommendations at the time were not “fully implemented,” according to al-Sayed.I am Hogan.

M. said.I am Hogan.

Minister Al-Ghubrah, like his predecessors, assures us that “railway safety is (his) first priority.”

“Without a doubt, safety is a continual improvement project,” he said.

Opposition reactions

Upon reading the auditor’s report, Caucus member Maxime Blanchett Joncas expressed concern.

“After 14 years, it is time to spread the message. Every day large quantities of hazardous materials are spread across our municipalities and regions.” The deputy wrote in a statement, “Without proper supervision, rail transport will not be safe.”

Conservative MP Luc Berthold, representing Mégantic-L’Érable Ride, was scathing.

“Former Transportation Minister (Marc Garneau) kept saying repeatedly that railway safety was his first priority.” The deputy wrote in a statement released at the end of the day, Thursday, that the report showed us that it was clearly a failure.

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He demanded, “I call on the new Minister of Transport to do a better and faster job and to ensure that this report does not go unanswered this time.”

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