Canada to set new speed limits on dangerous goods trains

Updated April 25, 2015 — Ottawa | Reuters — Canada will immediately impose a new speed limit of 65 kilometres per hour for dangerous goods trains moving through urban areas with more than 100,000 people, Transport Minister Lisa Raitt said Thursday.

This is one of many measures the Conservative government has introduced since the July 2013 Lac Megantic oil-by-rail disaster in which 47 people died.

The current limit is 80 km/h, although crude oil trains are already limited to 65 km/h.

Raitt’s emergency directive, issued Thursday, also requires more “inspections and risk assessments” along key routes used for moving dangerous goods, including crude oil and ethanol. The directive is in place until Aug. 17.

Raitt said she decided to impose the emergency order after the government and rail companies disagreed in consultations over what the urban speed limits should be.

Canada’s big two railways, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific (CN, CP) already limit their speeds to about 55 km/h in such “highly urbanized” areas, Transport Canada noted Thursday.

Reporting for Reuters by David Ljunggren in Ottawa. Includes files from Network staff.

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