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Bill C-52 - Safe and Accountable Rail Act


As a result of the events of July 2013 in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, the Canadian Government has made amendments to the Railway Safety Act (in the form of Bill C-52) that will provide greater oversight and accountability throughout the industry. Included in these amendments are changes that will provide the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) with the authority to assign minimum levels of insurance to railways in relation to the types of dangerous commodities they carry. The key components are as follows:

  • The prescription of minimum insurance levels for federally regulated railway companies only, based on the type and volume of goods that are transported. For the short term, this is limited to crude shipments, but the Canadian Government has expressed the possibility of including other dangerous commodities, like Toxic Inhalation Hazards (TIH) (see below). Minimum limits can be supplied through traditional insurance or CTA-approved self-insurance.
  • Establishes that a railroad operator is liable, without proof of fault or negligence if it is involved in an accident (introduces strict liability). The term “involved” is not specifically defined in the legislation.
  • Liable up to the level of the company’s minimum liability insurance coverage.
  • Ability for railroads to subrogate remains intact.
  • Short-line railways transporting larger quantities of dangerous goods will be able to “phase-in” with $50 million or $125 million in insurance. After one year, those levels will increase to $100 million and $250 million, respectively.