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Ottawa eases speed restrictions imposed after Saskatchewan derailment


February 18, 2020   by The Canadian Press


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OTTAWA – Transport Minister Marc Garneau is easing speed restrictions placed on certain trains following a derailment in Saskatchewan earlier this month that spilled 1.2 million litres of crude oil and started a massive fire.

Garneau says the move is the result of close collaboration between government officials and rail companies to determine the reasons for derailments such as the one near Guernsey, Sask., and address the areas of greatest concern.

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau is easing speed restrictions placed on certain trains following a derailment in Saskatchewan earlier this month that spilled 1.2 million litres of crude oil and started a massive fire. Smoke billows up from a derailed Canadian Pacific Railway train near Guernsey, Sask., on February 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Matt Smith

The Feb. 6 derailment was the second since December and forced some residents in the agricultural community to be evacuated.

Related: Transportation minister orders speed restrictions after fiery derailment

The new rules announced by Garneau raise the permissible speed for trains pulling even one car with chemicals that are toxic when inhaled or more than 20 cars loaded with dangerous goods such as oil, liquefied natural gas or ethanol.

They take a harder line, however, on what the government considers higher-risk trains, setting lower speed limits for trains hauling nothing but dangerous goods or that include 80 or more tank cars of dangerous goods amid bigger loads.

Garneau says the new speed rules will remain in effect until April 1 as the federal government works with railways to develop new safety measures, which will include dealing with track maintenance and winter operations.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 17, 2020.