As a result of an unprecedented wildfire in British Columbia that displaced hundreds of residents and the ongoing extreme weather and wildfire risk to BC, Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, has announced some precautionary safety measures that will be effective as of July 10, 2021.
Honourable Alghabra stated “Unprecedented weather conditions in British Columbia continue to pose a serious threat to public safety and railway operations. The Government of Canada remains committed to supporting those affected by the devastating wildfires in British Columbia and will not hesitate to take any safety actions that are necessary to mitigate these risks to public safety and the integrity of railway tracks and infrastructure.”
The safety precautions in place are as follows:
- Where the air temperature is 30 to 32 degrees Celsius and the fire danger level for the area is “extreme”, Class 1 railways (Canada’s largest railways) must ensure train speeds are reduced to 25 mph where permitted track speed is between 26 mph and 35 mph and by 10 mph if track speed is 36 mph or greater.
- Where the air temperature is 33 degrees Celsius or higher and the fire danger level for the area is “extreme”, Class 1 railways must ensure train speeds are reduced to 25 mph where permitted track speed between 26 mph and 50 mph and to 30 mph where the permitted track speed is 51 mph or greater.
- From the date of issuance of this Order until October 31, 2021, Class 1 railways must ensure that no locomotive is operated through an area where the fire danger level is “extreme” unless it has been inspected in the previous 15 days to ensure the locomotive’s exhaust passages are clear of combustible material, including oil accumulation and carbonaceous deposits in excess of 1/8 inch (3 mm) in thickness.
- Class 1 railways must develop and implement an Interim Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan within 14 days following the issuance of this Order that at a minimum addresses fire detection, monitoring and response measures.
- Class 1 railways must communicate the Interim Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan to municipal and other orders of government, including Indigenous governments or other Indigenous governing bodies, and establish a method for receiving comments for consideration.
- Class 1 railways must complete and implement a final Extreme Weather Fire Risk Mitigation Plan within 60 days following the issuance of this Order.