Canadian National Railway - CEO and President JJ Ruest
CEO and President JJ Ruest
Source: Canadian National Railway
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  • Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) supports amendments to the transport minister’s order to slow train speeds
  • The ministerial order was initially made in response to a derailment in Saskatchewan on February 6
  • The move reduced the company’s network capacity by one-third
  • CEO JJ Ruest said he supports the changes as it recognises the company’s investment in automated signalling technology
  • CNR shares were up 0.82 per cent and traded at C$124.14  

Rail operator Canadian National Railway (TSX:CNR) has backed an amendment made by the country’s transport minister to restrict the speed of trains carrying dangerous goods on the country’s networks.

Marc Garneau updated his ministerial order early this week, which was initially made in response to a derailment of a Canadian Pacific train carrying crude oil in Guernsey, Saskatchewan on February 6.

“The series of derailments like the one that occurred in Guernsey, Saskatchewan, and the impacts of these accidents are concerning,” he said. 

“It is for this reason that I put immediate speed restrictions to reduce the risk of derailments until more permanent measures are put into place to address this situation.

 “A safe and efficient railway system is critical to the well-being of our country and its citizens.” 

It restricted the speed limit for key trains carrying cargos like petroleum, liquefied petroleum gas, gasoline and ethanol to 56.33kph (35mph) in metropolitan areas and 64.37kph (40mph) outside of metropolitan areas where there are generally no track signals.

The amendment makes the approach more targeted and risked-based.

Despite the move reducing Canadian National Railways’ (CN) network capacity by one-third, President and CEO JJ Ruest said the amendment takes into consideration the company’s investment in equipping mainline tracks with automated signalling technology.

“Safety is a core value at Canadian National Railways, and we are supportive of the Minister of Transportation’s decision,” he said.

We are committed to working over the next several weeks with Transport Canada on recommendations to increase overall safety by reducing derailments,”

“The safety of our employees and the communities in which we operate is not something on which we ever compromise,” 

“This amended ministerial order focusses on the safety of Canadians, particularly those living close to rail lines and that is of paramount importance to CN.”

The company said the automated signalling technology “represents the vast majority of CN’s network.” 

Transport Canada defines ‘key’ trains as carrying 20 or more cars containing dangerous goods or a train carrying one or more cars of toxic inhalation gas. 

These trains are limited to 56.33kph (35mph) in metropolitan areas, 80.47kph (50mph) in areas with track signals and 64.37kph (40mph) in areas with no track signals.

‘Higher risk’ key trains are defined as unit trains where tank cars are loaded with a single type of dangerous good and moving to the same destination or trains that include and combination of 80 or more tank cars containing dangerous goods. 

These are limited to 48.28kph (30mph) in metropolitan areas, 40.23kph (25mph) in ‘non-signalled’ metropolitan areas, 80.47kph (50mph) is areas with track signals and 64.37kph (40mph) in areas with no track signals.

Canadian National Railway shares were up 0.82 per cent and traded at C$124.14.

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