Rail industry goes on the defensive

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OTTAWA, Ont. — Following two months of phone calls from Truck News regarding rail Hours-of-Service practices that went unanswered, the rail industry has spoken out in a written statement.

Railway Association of Canada (RAC) vice-president of operations and regulatory affairs, Mike Lowenger, has issued a statement defending the railway’s controversial Hours-of-Service regulations.

“Following numerous studies on both fatigue and operator practices on duty, railway policies on fatigue now address such measures as scheduling of assignments, assigned days off, napping facilities and opportunities, educational interventions, and work/rest consultation,” reads the statement. “In fact, the Canadian railway industry is leading North America in the development of Fatigue Management Plans, which incorporate the latest scientific findings on biorhythms and work-related fatigue to ensure locomotive engineers obtain proper rest, and trains are operated safely.”

The statement is in stark contrast to the accusations of Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) engineer David Boyko, who told Truck News it’s not unheard of for crews to fall asleep while on duty.

“A lot of times when you see a train right now, there’s a good chance that the crew on that train has been awake for 24 hours,” Boyko told Truck News.

After Boyko’s testimonial went to press, former CPR conductor Derek Latimer also came forward with equally shocking accusations.

“Crews will run themselves ragged just to make the extra dollar,” says Latimer. “When you see a train at a crossing, especially at night, the chances of one of the crew members being asleep is quite high.”

Latimer was disciplined twice for requesting rest time before leaving CPR to take up trucking.

RAC goes on to say that new Hours-of-Service regulations are currently in the works. “Canadian railways are proposing new hours of work and rest rules that will mandate the use of the Fatigue Management Plans.”

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