VIA Rail Canada has launched a drive to improve its safety management, following the completion of a four-month investigation by two international experts on March 20. The wide-ranging, independent review was commissioned following a derailment of Via’s premier train, the Canadian, near Biggar, Saskatchewan, last September.

Conducting the study were Terry Worrall, who established a comprehensive safety framework at British Rail, and Colin Churcher, a leading Canadian authority on rail safety. Among their 27 recommendations was a re-evaluation of training in equipment maintenance to ensure personnel in safety-related positions have the right knowledge and tools to perform their tasks safely.

The role and function of Via’s safety and health committees will be enhanced, and given greater priority at the executive level. Via will employ a Senior Director, Safety, Health & Environment, reporting directly to the Chief Executive Officer, to oversee all safety-related procedures and practices.

The company also plans to appoint a new national council on safety, health and environment, composed of senior officials, representatives from regional safety and health committees and union representatives. They will meet quarterly to review and, if necessary, implement policy changes affecting safety. o