Railway Safety
Railway safety

Data by technology: Railways


Technical Safety BC regulates railways that operate solely within British Columbia and have a Ministers Certificate and Operating Permit issued by the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Provincial railways are subject to the British Columbia Railway Act, Railway Safety Act, and adopted federal railway safety legislation. We regulate five different classes of railways: common carrier, heritage, commuter, industrial, and industrial sidings and spurs.

Key Statistics


Railways are responsible for ensuring all hazards are properly managed for safe railway operations. Continuing our education efforts, Technical Safety BC provides operational information detailing the consequences of unsafe conditions that can impact the safety of railway employees, the public and the environment.

In 2021, the number of incidents relating to railways decreased by 42 (24%) compared to 2020, with 132 reported incidents.

Railways Incidents by Year (2017 - 2021)


In 2021, 9 injuries were reported to us, an 18% decrease from 2020.

Please note that we receive injury reports and descriptions from operators or first responders at the time of, or immediately following, the incident. Injuries may develop after the initial reports were made to us and the long-term effects of a resultant injury may not be recorded as part of our investigation.

Railways Injuries by Year (2017 - 2021)


Technical Safety BC does not issue railway installation permits.

Assessments and audits

As part of regular oversight, our railway safety officers assess and audit all operating railways. It is through assessments and audits that railways are sometimes found to be non-compliant with Acts, regulations, rules, and guidelines. Railway operations are also audited against their safety management systems, which are required for all railways.

In 2021, Technical Safety BC performed onsite inspections of approximately 50% of our certified clients, while other inspections were performed remotely due to COVID-19 health and safety restrictions. Those facilities selected for inspection were determined based on risk/hazard.

Assessments are rated as follows:

Non-compliance The safety officer has assessed the regulated work and/or regulated product and found it to be non-compliant with the British Columbia Railway Act, Railway Safety Act, and adopted federal railway safety legislation.
Recommendation The safety officer has assessed the regulated work and/or regulated product and recommended that there are opportunities to better align with the British Columbia Railway Act, Railway Safety Act, and adopted federal railway safety legislation. A recommendation is not a fail, but rather an opportunity for improvement.
Note: Unlike some other technologies, Railways does not have a Conditional Pass category.


Emerging risks

Technical Safety BC’s rail program annually audits certified railways to verify that all safety critical employees are compliant with the training qualifications set out in their safety management system. In addition, all audits consist of an evaluation performed by a safety officer to validate a facilities’ ability to operate their equipment in a safe and compliant manner.

Proficiency tests

Despite internal proficiency tests being a requirement of all certified railways, many facilities often do not possess the knowledge to assess or perform proficiency tests effectively. As a result, Technical Safety BC encourages industrial railways to leverage professional third-party consultants to conduct rail crew testing on their behalf. To further mitigate this risk, the rail program has increased its system capability to analyze rail incidents and compliance data to isolate those clients that are underperforming and focus greater program resources to aid those clients as required.

Insufficient train crew competency on industrial sites

Due to the part time nature of the industrial railway sector, inexperienced train crews present a risk to safe rail operations. This is especially important when dangerous goods or substances (e.g., ammonia or chlorine) are transported within a facility as these goods present a greater hazard to workers, the public, and environment if employees lack the necessary training and support.

Safety Advisories issued

In 2021, two Safety Advisories were issued by Technical Safety BC:

  • A Safety Advisory was issued to regarding the Railway Employee Qualification Standards Regulations, in which all provincially-regulated railways must train and certify their employees that participate in the movement of railway equipment.
  • Extreme heat and fire danger conditions may be present in BC where provincially regulated railways are undertaking operations. Following events in Lytton BC, Transport Canada issued Ministerial Order MO 21-06. That Order requires that certain actions be taken by impacted railways during periods of extreme heat and/or when fire risk dangers are high.