Canada watchdog warns railways on safety reporting problems

Mon Oct 27, 2014 11:45am EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Transportation Safety Board warned railways on Monday to be more diligent about reporting accident information after a review of three railways over a seven-year period showed 254 missing or late reports.

The safety watchdog said in a release that the majority of the incidents were minor, many taking place inside rail yards and causing no injuries. But it said it would take enforcement action if needed to better identify safety issues.

The three railways covered by the review were Canadian National Railway Co, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd and Montreal, Maine & Atlantic. CN Rail and CP Rail are Canada's two major railways, and Montreal, Maine & Atlantic operated the train that derailed and exploded in Lac-Megantic last year, killing 47 people.

CN Rail spokesman Mark Hallman said the railway cooperated with the Transportation Safety Board on its audit, which found 132 unreported incidents from 2007 to 2013.

Including them raised CN Rail's reportable accident rate by 3.4 percent over the period.

"All were very minor derailments with very minimal damage, and none involved dangerous goods," said Hallman. Until recently, he said, the board required reports where derailments caused damage that would affect "safe operation," a subjective judgment.

"The issue has since been addressed by TSB changing its regulation in July 2014 to require all derailments to be reported, something that CN has advocated since 2007," he said.

CP Rail did not immediately comment.

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic went bankrupt shortly after the Lac-Megantic disaster. It was sold and now operates as the Central Maine & Quebec Railway. That company could not immediately be reached for comment.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; Editing by David Gregorio)