RAIL SAFETY PRESENTATION
Author; Don GiIIis
Forum Location: Vancouver
This presentation culminates a year of general observations, information gathering via
the media and other sources, attempted communication with Transport Canada and the
Minister of Transport, and my personal concerns over the attitudes and actions
displaYed by Transport Canada, the Office of the Minister of Transport. and Canada's
railroads with regards to railroad' activities generally and' rail' safety specifically.
General Railroad Safety
The subject of rail safety is not just a Canadian issue, but increasingly receiving
attention throughout the western World. The United States reporting a rail accident or
mishap takrng place on avera'g'e every ninety (90) minutes of each day rail roads operate
therein, and the United Kingdom is not fairing much better. While Canada's CSIS, US
Homeland Security, and the UK's MI;.6, to name a few, are concerned with terrorist
activities threatening rail safety, disrupting service, and endangering the citizens of our
respective countries, it is proving that it is the raHroads themselves and respective
government transportation oversight bodies that are actually the railroads' public enemy
Supposedly Transport Canada, under direction of the Office of the Minister of Transport
and through the Rail Safety Act, has the ultimate authority and responsibility for insuring
rail safety' within Canada and that Canada's railroads adhere to the entire Rail Safety
Act. However, during my attempts to communicate with both Transport Canada and the
Ofnce of the Minister of Transport all I have received in return is policy rhetoric and
statements explaining how the system is supposed to work, not how it is working.
Cases-In-point, copies of letters dated August 20, 2006 from myself to the Rail Safety
Directorate, New Westminster, B.C. and the corresponding response dated October 11,
2006 from one Brent Harradine, Manager Operations and Equipment, Rail Safety,
Pacific Region, Transport Canada, and letters dated March 7, 2007 from myself to the
Honourable Lawrence Cannon, MP, Minister of Transport and the corresponding
response date stamped April 3, 2007 from one Richard Stryde. Special Assistant,
Northern and Western Canada, om'ce of the Minister of Transport .
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RAft SAFE~ PRESENTATION
Forum lOtation: Vanc:ouver
Domestic Overslaht (continued)
Note that neither Mr. Harradine'snor Mr. Stryde's letters respond entirely to the specifics
raised within either one of the letters that I submitted. Rather they skirt the issues and
avoid" the reality of what has or is actually taking place at Canada's railroads. I further
refer to page 75 of a Distrid of Mission Memo dated March 19, 2007 from an April 2,
2007 ag~nda for the Regular Meeting of Council wherein it refers liThe final' decision if
Whistling at crossing will be stopped is made by the CPR Public Works Engineer and
the Transport Canada Engineer". Questioning if Transport Canada has the u1timate
authority and responsibility for enforcing the Rail Safety Act, why does any railroad
have authority over any part of the Act, as previously implied? There must be a distinct
separation between Transport Canada's enforcement of the Act and each railroads
compliance wi1h the Act for the Act to have any validity. Noting it i's already near
impossible for the likes of Mission, B.C. to get a railroad's attention about anything.
Eaui'oment FailJ.lre & ODerator Error
During the week of April 23, 2007 there was an accident publicized on the CP Rail line
within Trail, British Columbia that claimed the life of its engineer due to apparent brake
failure on a known to be excessive grade. While the death of its engineer is a tragedy, it
is only fortunate the same fate did not befall others. And although sympathetic to the late
engineer's family, one must question if the engineer had done a thorough pre~trip
inspection and CP Rait adequately maintained the locomotive(s) he was manning could
this accident have been avoided altogether? Will the accident investigation determine
whether it was CP Rail, the engineer, or both who were culpable in the cause and effect
preceding this accident? we will have to await a final report. However, what we shouldn't
have to await is a repeat of the Trait incident befalling Canadats railroads.
Further noting that the Trail incident was preceded by another potentially disastrous
accident on the Ontsri'o Northland route April 2, 2007 that resulted in a spill of sulfuric
acid, forcing an evacuation of residents of the adjacent area. Preceded by another
accident under investigation on the Yellowhead route of CN Rail, another in the Crows-
Nest Pass of CP Rail. and again another on tha Fraser Canyon line of eN Rail attributed
to brake failure, and on it goes. Then there was a recent past accident and toxic spill on
the CP Rail line through Minot, North Dakota that killed one resident, injured many
others, and forced the entire evacuation of Minot for three days. tndicating Canada's
railroads are also incapable of keeping an unblemished accident record elsewhere .
~'L SAFETY PRESENTATION
Author: Don Glllls
Forum Location: Vancouver
EQuipment Failure & Operator Error (continued)
The irony, if it can be referred to as such, is that the biggest issue brought forth by
investigations into both US and UK rail accidents was operator error, not equipment
failure_ Particularly engineers running red signal lights, hitti'ng other trains within the
same block and/or preceding through incorrectly positioned switches. An estimated
seventy-five percent (75%) of which can be eliminated within the US by spending' 8 mere
billion dollars to automate the entire US rail system. However, to the contrary, the
recently publicized rail accidents within Canada are allegedly not only operator error, but
also equipment failure. The latter suggesting Canada's rai/roads may not be properly
maintaining and repairing either their equipment or trackage. Transport Canada has no
qualms about grounding an airline with a poor accident record, then why not a railroad?
Pri'or to moving to Mission, B.C. I admittedly didn't give too much thought to either rail
safety or the Rail Safety Act. However, now living but five blocks from the CP Rail
main line during the past year t have personally observed many engineers show very
little concem over either the sanctity or safety of the residents of Mission. During all
hours of the night i'ncessantly blowing whistles and creating havoc with squealing train
wheels that are either the result of defective brakes and wheel bearings, or operating
trains too fast through the wye off the MiSSion trestle. Believing it is inevitable that a
brake failure, wheel bearing seizure, or excessive speed will again cause a major
deraitment and devastating loss of life either within this community of thirty thousand, or
another equally vulnerable, if those at Transport Canada continue to spout rhetoric and
policy rather than take responsibilitY' for stringently enforcing the entire Rail Safety Act.
In summation it is my understanding the majority of all government legislation enacted
into laws, acts, regulations. etcetera, is done so on the presumption that approximately
ninety-five percent (95%) of the Hme ninety~five percent (95%) of the populOUS will
eomply without the necessity of enforcement. However, further implying the other five
percent (5%) of the time there is five percent (5%) of Canada's populous that do not
voluntarily comply_ Therefore, surmising those managing and operating Canada's
railroads are no e}(ception, hence the need for Transport Canada to be prepared to
stringently enforce the Rail Safety Act upon all railroads one hundred percent (100%) of
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RAIL SAFETY PRESENT AliON
Forum' loeatl'on: Vancouver
the time, and without exception. to insure there is not a five percent (5%) lapse in rail
safety within Canada, This requires both the political will of our Federal Government to •
not only' mandate Transport Canada to enforce the current Rail Safety Act in its entirety,
and as stringently as required, but also provide the necessary resources to enable
Apparently the last review of the Rail SafetY' Act was done apprOXimately ten years ago,
any resulting amendments enacted eight years ago, and according to one source at
Transport Canada not entirely implemented until about four years ago, Implying there
was either a lack of will, impetus, or both, within Transport Canada that delayed
implementation of the Rai'! Safety Act in its cU'rrent form. However, also putting into
question whether four years is ample time to ascertain whether the current Rail Safety
Act has been in place I'ong enough to prove to be either adequate or i'nadequate, and
cautioning those representing the Rail Safety Directorate to consider this before
recommending further amendments to the Act. Requesting the Directorate's fi-nat report
strongly recommend Canada's rai/roads be kept at arms length from any future
administrati'on of the Rail' Safety Act, Transport Canada be held to a higher standard for
the administration and enforcement of the Act, and solicits Canada's Parliamentary
Standing Committee on Rail Safety to draft legistation requiring Canada's railroads
install technically advanced block control systems to enhance rail safety throughout
Canada and minimize opportunities for further human error during rai"troad operations.
list of SUDoortlng. Doeumonts
2 page letter dated August 20,2006 from Don Gillis to the Rai'l Safety Directorate
2 page letter rc,
dated October 1, 2006 from Brent R. Harradine, to Don Gillis
2 page letter dated March 7,2007 from Don Gillis to Honourable Lawrence Cannon, MP
2 page letter date stamped April 3, 2007 from Richard Stryde, MOT, to Don Gillis
,. page copy of District of Mission Memo dated Mar.;:h 1'9,2007 numbered page 75
August 20, 2006
Rail Safety Directorate
New Westminster, B.C.
Fax: (604) 666-7747
To whom it may concern,
Subsequent to contacting the District of Mission to complain about being kept awake at night by
the incessant blaring of train whistles, I am awaiting a formal staff report to be presented [l)
District Council regarding the adoption of Transport Canada Guiddim~ No, J: Procedure &.
Condition,y Fot !;;liminllling Whi.'itling At Public Cf'08sings. Sincerely believing those living
adjacent to railroad right-of-ways should be atlorded t.he same courtesy by Transport Canada as
those living adjacent to airports.,.a decent night's sleep!
During t.his period, and in view of recently publicized accidents on both the CP and eN
ma.inlines Within nritish Columbia, I find myself increasingly concerned about the ongoing
safety of this Nation's railroads. Pa.rticularly when I l:tmawakened in the middle of the night not
only by the blaring of a train's whistle, but also from the squealing of its wheels. And' while I
realize some of this noise may be the result of a train passing through switch frogs, I am
convinced too much is the result of inadequa,lcly maintained brakes and wheel bearings ...thc
types of problems that inc'vitably lead to derailments and/or eventual rail disasters.
I therefore pose the question, are Canada's railroad right-of-ways not equipped with strategically
located sensors to detect overheating brakes and bearings, and if so, why do J continue to hear an
inordinate amount of squealing from the wheels of passing trains? The same trains I presume to
be frequently transporting dangerous cargoes such as liquid chlorine, ammonia and t.hc likes
destined for lower mainland a.nd Vancouver Island pulp mills, refrigeration plants, and industrial
sites. Posing a further question. are Canada's railroad right-of-ways equipped wilh strategically
located sensors to detect noxious fumes emanatil1g from such chemicals, and if not, why not?
Need J remind the Directorate that the transporting of hazardous materials through populated
areas, such as Mission, RC., among consists containing inadequately maintained equipment was
indicated to be what led to the potentiaJ1y devastating chlorine spill within Ontario a decade or
two ago ...an event 110 other community in Canada should have to experience.
".. ) of2
Rail Safety Directorate August 20, 2006
New Westminster, RC.
While in the process of gathering information and assembling material fOT Mission })istrict
Council to consider adopting Transport Canada G'J.ideline Nu. 1: Pro,~edu1'c & Conditicm:. For
EJiminuling Whistling AI Puhlic Cro.'J.s·;ng.\·, 1 had occasion to engage in a conversation with a
representative fTom the CPR Community Connect Line in Calgary. A conversation during which
I was advised that in this era. of virtual1y unlimited methods of communication the CPR still
considers the hlowing of train whistles an integral method of communication on their rail.road.
The son of a late thirty-five year railroad veteran, an avid railroad hobbyist, and student of
railroading for over fifty years. if there is one thing thatl learned is that the use of whistles to
communicate on a railroad were, and likely still are, the most inefficient way to do so...flags,
sticks, lanterns, and even smoke signals. would probably be more efficient. Other than letting it.
be known a train is coming, communication by whistle is subject to weather conditions, consist
configuration, and most of all the cOlT\petence of whomever is blowing the whistle. Evident by
what observe on a nightly basis, as what is obviously a short whistle for onc engineer may vel)'
well he a long for another.
The majority of what I hear would appear to be just the blowing of a whistle, because otherwise
it would just be gibberish or garbage according to any signal information that I possess. Posing a.
further question, if the use of train whistles continue to be an integral method of communication
on the CPR as claimed, then how often are ePR engineers and train crews tested by either
Transport Canada or Rail Safety Directorate to assess their knowledge regarding this form of
communication? Because not to do so would not only be putting the respective train crews at
risk, but moreovcr every citizen living within a reasonable proximit)' of every CPR rail line
within Canada and the USA.
Thanking the Rail Safety Directorate in advance for considering the enclosed points, and
responding to my questions forthwith.
cc. Honourable LawrenCe Cannon, Minister of Transport
Randy T<amp,MP. Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission
Glen Robertson, Chief Administrative Omcer. District of Mission
Rick Rake, Editor. The Abbotsford News
225 - 625 Agnes Streel
New Wesbninster. B.C.
Your IIIe VoI", ~~..,," ••
Our fill!! Nalllt refeJence
Mr. Don Gillis October 11. 2006
Reference your letter of August 20, 2006 of which I must firstly apologize
for the delay in responding.
The Transport Canada's Railway Safety Directorate through the Railway
Safety Act (RSA) promotes safe railway operations through the
development of appropriate safety rules, regulations and standards
through an active monitoring and enforcement regime aimed at ensuring
compliance with the regulatory requirements.
The Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) approved by the Minister of
Transport govern railway operations, including whistling to which you
refer. CROR rule 14L is the most commonly used rule as it refers to the
whistling requirement of operating crews. The requirement being to sound
one long. one short and two long whistles in succession. at least one
quarter of a mile from each public crossing at grade except at crossings
where prohibited. This prohibition can be implemented when agreement
is reached by all parties in accordance with the guideline of which you
refer. In nearly all cases. communication by way of whistle has been
replaced by radios. however radios cannot be use in lieu of the
requirement of CROR Rule 14L. Also the CROR prohibits unnecessary
Use of the whistle.
Canada 03-Oll6l1l I!l9fI.l1)
The Railway Freight Car Inspection and Safety Rules and The Railway
Freight & Passenger Train Brake Rules require railways to physically
inspect and maintain equipment and air brake systems. This would
include the inspection of wheels, roller bearings and brake system
components and verify the inspection of air brake tests to ensure brakes
are working as intended. As an added safety precaution
the railways have installed and implemented electronic wayside
monitoring systems which can detect overheated bearings, dragging
equipment, wheel/rail impacts, acoustic bearing detectors and, derailment
detectors. Specifically on the CP Rail Cascade Subdivision there are
eight hot bearing and dragging equipment detectors placed at strategic
Transport Canada has a regular inspection program in place as well as a
mechanism to audit railway infrastructure. equipment and methods of
operation to determine the level of compliance with the established rules,
regulations and standards as set out in the legislation. This is performed
through field operations monitoring, visual inspections and on site audits.
, hope I have provided the information you have requested. and should
you wish to discuss further, please feel free to contact me at
Brent R. \4arradine
Manager Operations & Equipment
Rail Safety, Pacific Region
cc. Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport
Randy Kamp, MP, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission
Glen Robertson, Chief Administrative Officer, District of Mission
Rick Rake, Editor, The Abbotsford News
March 7, 2007
Honourable Lawrence Cannon, MP
Mtnister of Transport
Fax: (613) 995-0327
Currently 12: 15 a.rn. on Wednesday, March 7, 2007, 8 train began passing through
Mission, a.c. at 11:58 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, 2007 and blew its whistle eontinually
upon entering one end of Mission until it exited the other end, or for ten solid
mtnutes ...no exaggeration! Compounding the problem was -the excessive amount of
beariflg and brake screeching from the wheels that accompanied the ridiculous duration
of whistle noise. Certainly enough to wake me from a sound sleep, and almost enough
to raise those within the local cemetery!
Sir, I have copied you numerous times on letters that I have initiated to Randy Kamp.
MP 'for PiU Meadows~Maple Ridge-Mission, the District of Mission, the New Westminster
office of Transport Canada, and others over both CP Rail's and eN Rail's abuse of
whistles when passing through Mission, British Columbia and my concerns over rail
safety in view of the rash of rail accidents taking place within this Country. However,
while others nave had the courtesy'to at least acknowledge my correspondence, to date
'I have flat received one response ,from yourself or anyone at the Ministry of Transport.
This' is unacceptable behaviour by'those put into positions of trust to supposedly protect
Sir. I s'aw you interviewed on elY's W~Five Saturday, February 24, 2007 specifically
over eN Rail's abysmal safety record, and your refusal to release a copy of a recent
report done by CN Rail on the subject that is apparently within your possession. Further
'bringing your attention ·to the fact ihstCP Rail's record isn't very much better, and
suggest you contact the family whose member died as the result of a CP Rail derailment
and -toxic chemical spill i'n ,Minot, North Dakota ,for verification. Further confirming that
the whole community had to be evacuated, not unlike the result of last weekts mishap
within ·the Crows-Nest Pass by CP Rail.
Honourable lawranea CarlflOn, MP March 7, 2007
Minister of Transport
Sir, consider this a formal complaint against the locomotive engineer re5ponsible for the
totally unconscionable and ridiculous behaviour in the use of the whistle on the train
passing through Mission, British Columbia during the period identified within the first
paragraph of -this ,letter. I expect no less than a 'formal investigation into this mishap by
Transport Canada, and appropriate sanctions or licencing suspension imposed upon the
individual responsible ·for tonight's deplorable behaviour.
First thing in the morning I will be in touch with the Mission Detachment Of the RCMP to
find out whether I can file a d1sturbing the peace complaint against both ·the locomotive
engineer in question and the railroad by whom they are employed. While the railroads
have a significant historical role in Canada's development, and an important ongoing
role' in -the Country's commerce, they do not own this Country's soul. Therefore, it is time
to stop giving ,them a carte 'blanche and start making ,them responsible and 'liable ·for
tMe1r' aaio"s. And if it takes embarrassing ·those either sitting on the boards of directors
or chairing Canada's raHroads to accomplish this, then so be it'! I can't see any
chairperson worth $6 million in annual bonuses that is doing a good job, and certainly
not one -that is receiving this ridiculous sum at the expense of Canadian's safety and
abuse'of'their entitled sanctity.
Sir; this matter is now in your hands and those responsible for carrying out your
instructions at Transport Canada. I expect nothing less than your immediate attention to
this matter and swift action against both the perpetrator of tonight's incident and the
raHroad with whom they are employed.
Don ,Wo Gillis
ee, Rand)' Kamp, MP, PiU Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission
Mayor James Atebe, District of Mission, British Columbia
Editor, The Abbotsford News
,Brent Harradine, Manager, Rail Safety. Pacific Region. Transpor1 Canada
Office of the Minister of Transport. Cabinet du ministre des Transports,
Infrastructure and Communities de l'lnfrastructure et des Collectivites
Ottawa, Canada K1A ON5
- 3 Ae: 2007
Mr. Don W. Gillis
Dear Mr. Gillis:
Thank you for your correspondence of March 7, 2007 t to the Honourable Lawrence Cannon,
Minister of Transport,· Infrastructure and Communities, regarding railway noise. The Minister
has asked me to reply on his behalf.
At the outset, allow me to clarify that Transport Canada is responsible for regulating railways to
which Part III of the Canada Transportation Act applies. The Railway Slife~y Act (RSA), under
which Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National are regulated, provides for the safe
operation of railways and amends certain other acts that pertain to the RSA.
The department's Railway Safety Directorate promotes safe railway operations through the
development of appropriate safety rules, regulations and standards. This mandate is carried out
by means of an active monitoring and enforcement regime, which is aimed at ensuring
compliance with the RSA's safety requirements.
I should note that railway operations, including whistling, are goyemed by the Canadian Rail
Operating Rules and approved by the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.
Under the Rulcs, railways are required to whistle at public crossings at grade to warn persons or
animals on or near the track of approaching rail movements. Furthermore, the Rules prohibit the
unnecessary use of whistles. Transport Canada's Guideline No. 1, Procedure &: Ca"ditions for
Eliminating Whistli"g At Public: Crossings outlines the procedure to be followed when railway
companies initiate an exemption to eliminate whistling at public crossings.
In additiont in order to comply with the Railway Freight Car Inspection and Safety Rules and the
Railway Freight & Passengcr Train Brake Rules, railways must physically inspect and maintain
equipment and air brake systems, including wheel bearings, brake system components and air
brakes, to ensure that equipment is working as intended.
1 should further note that Transport Canada has both regular in~l'ection program in place, as
well as a mechanism to audit railway infrastructure, equipment and methods of operation, to
determine compliance levels with established Nles, regulations and standards,'which are carried
out through field operations monitoring, visual inspections and on-site audits. For further
information, 1would encourage you to contact Transport Canada's regional office responsible
for this area at 604-666-0011. '
I trust that the foregoing has clarified the department's position with respect to this matter.
Again, thank you for writing.
Special Assistant - Northern and Western Canada
c.c. Office of Mr. Randy Kamp, M.P.
To: Chief Administrative Officer
From: Director of Engineering and Public Works
Date: March 19, 2007
Subject: Whistle Cessation at Railway Crossings
There have been a number of requests submitted by Mr Don GiIlis of 207 - 7440 Columbia St to
stop train whistling at controlled railway crossings in the District of Mission.
There are 9 Canadian Pacific .Railway (CPR) crossings within the District of Mission four of
which are private (three with stop signs only and one fully controlled with lights. bells & control
arm). The remaining 5 are public crossings and are fully controlled as described above.
Rick Posnikoff of CPR advised that the use of train whistles provides added safety at the
crossings however there is a new guideline that has been approved where municipalities or
private entities can request train whistling be stopped by doing the following:
• A resolution must be made by Council approving of the request.
• The public must be notified and given opportunity to provide input.
• Each crossing must have a safety assessment completed by a professional engineer
(CPR advise that the estimated cost is $ 5000 per crossing) .
• Each crossing must have an added insurance policy estimated at $ 1200/yr which is split
SO/50 between CPR & the.municipality.
• The municipality must agree to provide any necessary upgrades to tne crossing
identified by the safety assessment. One of the more expensive items noted by Mr
. Posnikoff was the possibility of required fencing along the railway for a distance of 400 m
in .both directions if it was determined that pedestrians cr'ossthe tracks on a regular
basis within that zone.
The final decision if whistling at crossing will be stopped is made by the CPR Public Works
Engineer and thE;! ransport Canada Engineer.
A map showing the location of the crossings is attached.
One of the private uncohtrolled crossings is located on Beatty Dr which is fairly close to the
downtown area. Unless it is included in the whistle elimination application it will be less effective.
It is also noted that some train whistle noise is also audible from the Abbotsford side of the river
so train whistle nOise will still be heard from that side of the river.
Should Council wish to have staff pursue train whistle elimination at all public crossings it could
be included as a spending package for 2008 or we could meet with Finance to review funding
options to complete in 2007.