Canada has one of the largest railway networks in the world. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigates railway occurrences that take place on federally regulated track anywhere in Canada.
Since the TSB’s creation in 1990, Rail and Pipeline Investigations Branch investigations and Board recommendations have helped lead to numerous safety advancements in Canada and across North America, including: the introduction of safety management systems, better passenger safety and emergency preparedness requirements, more stringent criteria for the operation of trains carrying dangerous goods, in-cab video cameras for controlling locomotives and tougher standards for tank cars carrying flammable liquids.
TSB rail investigators come from a variety of backgrounds in the industry, each possessing significant knowledge in some or many aspects of operations, equipment and maintenance of way. TSB rail investigations touch on a wide variety of subjects, such as operational decision making, risk management, component failure, supervision, metallurgy and track–train dynamics.
Rail transportation occurrences in 2020
In 2020, 965 rail accidents were reported to the TSB, down from the 2019 total of 1256, and an 11% decrease from the previous 10-year (2010–2019) average of 1083.
The main-track accident rate in 2020 was 2.7 accidents per million main-track train miles, down from 3.3 in 2019 but 12% above the 10-year average of 2.4.
Rail fatalities totaled 59 in 2020, down from 72 reported last year and below the previous 10-year average of 73. Crossing accident related fatalities totaled 18 in 2020, down from 28 in 2019 and trespasser fatalities totaled 39, up from 38 in the previous year. Two rail employees were fatally injured, which is below the 10-year average of 3 employee fatalities.
Among all railway accidents reported to the TSB in 2020, 82 involved dangerous goods, down from 171 in 2019. Three accidents resulted in a dangerous goods release in 2020, compared with 8 in 2019, and the 10-year average of 4.