Security and Safety

Canada seeking to mandate locomotive voice and video recorders

Posted on May 18, 2017

Following a fatal accident in February 2012, in Burlington, Ontario, which claimed the lives of three VIA Rail employees, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) identified the need for in-cab voice and video recorders and added this issue to its Watchlist.

In September 2016, following a joint study with Transport Canada on the safety benefits, technical requirements and legal considerations of locomotive voice and video recorders (LVVR), the TSB released a report, which determined that rail safety would be enhanced if the data could be collected and used for proactive safety management as well as for post-accident/incident investigation.

In November 2016, the Minister of Transport announced his intention to make the installation and use of LVVR mandatory, ensuring that the information could be used during accident investigations, while protecting the privacy of employees.

Since fall 2016, Transport Canada officials have met with key stakeholders and partners including companies, unions, and the TSB. These discussions have focused on the type and configuration of equipment, scope of application, and how the information from the recorders would be used. During those consultations, it was generally determined that the safety benefits of LVVR would be maximized if the recording could be used by railway companies and Transport Canada for proactive safety management.

The Transportation Modernization Act proposes to amend the Railway Safety Act to mandate the installation of LVVR in locomotive cabs to further enhance the safety of the rail transportation system in Canada. The proposed legislative amendments would also limit the purpose for which the data is used, to mitigate the employees’ privacy concerns. As a result, LVVR would only be used by:

  • The TSB for accident/incident investigation purposes.
  • Federally-regulated companies - to conduct analysis via random sampling in order to identify safety concerns as part of ongoing safety management; to determine the cause of a reportable accident/incident not being investigated by the TSB; and to address a prescribed safety threat.
  • Transport Canada - for policy development such as trend analysis to inform future policies, regulations or legislation via random sampling; to determine the cause of a reportable accident/incident not being investigated by the TSB; to address a safety threat; and to ensure compliance with the specific provisions of the LVVR regime.

Mandating this technology would be in line with the Government of Canada’s commitment to enhancing railway safety and addresses recommendations made by the Canada Transportation Act Review Panel, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and the TSB.

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