Announces plan to phase out company fleet of DOT-111 tank cars over the next four years
MONTREAL, March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ - CN (TSX: CNR) (NYSE: CNI) continues to take significant steps to strengthen the railway's Safety Management System, with the goal of improving the safety of its transportation of dangerous goods, says President and Chief Executive Officer Claude Mongeau.
"CN's business agenda is anchored on running a safe railway -- it's the overarching imperative in everything we do," said Mongeau. "We have developed a comprehensive work plan to bolster our overall safety performance and to enhance our strong record of delivering 99.998 per cent of dangerous goods to destination without a release caused by an accident."
The comprehensive plan has three major components:
1. Preventing accidents through process, technology, people and investments as part of a sound Safety Management System
After the tragic Lac-Mégantic accident last July, CN began a thorough review of its safety policy and procedures and has taken a number of steps, including a comprehensive review of its already-robust train securement practices and the implementation of a special program to acquire additional monitoring equipment to enhance its strong technological base for early detection of defects and mitigate the severity of accidents.
CN also applied the U.S. OT-55 "key train policy" to freight trains carrying one car loaded with toxic inhalation hazardous materials, or 20 cars loaded with any dangerous goods, and voluntarily extended the policy to its Canadian operations. The policy includes measures on train dispatching, track inspections and restrictions on train speeds.
Finally, CN continues to strengthen its safety culture, particularly with regard to a new generation of railroaders, by revitalizing its training programs and opening two new state-of-the art training facilities in Winnipeg and Chicago later this year.
2. Addressing the risks associated with the older DOT-111 tank cars used in the movement of highly flammable products
Mongeau also said: "For CN, tank car design is one of the most important systemic issues arising from the Lac-Mégantic accident. The question of tank car robustness is central, and that question is being addressed by the AAR, to which CN belongs, in recent recommendations calling for the retrofitting or phase-out of the old DOT-111 cars used to transport flammable liquids and a reinforced standard for new tank cars built in the future."
CN itself is carrying out a gradual phase-out of its small fleet of 183 legacy DOT-111 tank cars used to transport diesel fuel for its locomotives to yard terminals. CN is investing C$7 million to replace all the DOT-111 tank cars it owns outright with 40 new tank cars meeting the latest regulatory standards by the end of this year. The remaining 143 leased DOT-111 cars will also be replaced with a gradual phase-out plan completed as leases mature over the next four years.
3. Strengthening emergency response capabilities through sharing of relevant information with communities, training support, and mutual aid intervention protocols
Mongeau added: "CN believes that the rail industry can enhance safety by working more closely with communities. CN has already done this by launching a comprehensive outreach program to meet municipalities and their emergency responders along its network in order to discuss the nature and volumes of dangerous commodities transported through the communities we serve. This voluntary program is on top of the requirement to divulge such information annually to Canadian municipalities, as announced last fall by Transport Minister Lisa Raitt. "
CN is urging the implementation of mutual aid intervention protocols, with the participation of other carriers and producers of dangerous commodities. This would help codify emergency response standards and expand response resources in order to be prepared to handle any future rail incidents involving dangerous goods.
Mongeau concluded: "CN has an unwavering commitment to safety and always strives to deliver responsibly. Between 2003 and 2013, CN's main-track accidents declined by approximately 50 per cent despite increased freight volumes. But we are not stopping there -- our efforts are continuing to make an already solid safety record even better."
CN is a true backbone of the economy, transporting approximately C$250 billion worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network spanning Canada and mid-America. CN - Canadian National Railway Company, along with its operating railway subsidiaries -- serves the cities and ports of Vancouver, Prince Rupert, B.C., Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, Ala., and the metropolitan areas of Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis., and Jackson, Miss., with connections to all points in North America. For more information on CN, visit the company's website at www.cn.ca.
Certain information included in this news release constitutes "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and under Canadian securities laws. CN cautions that, by their nature, these forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties and assumptions. The Company cautions that its assumptions may not materialize and that current economic conditions render such assumptions, although reasonable at the time they were made, subject to greater uncertainty. Such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results or performance of the Company or the rail industry to be materially different from the outlook or any future results or performance implied by such statements. Important factors that could affect the above forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, the effects of general economic and business conditions, industry competition, inflation, currency and interest rate fluctuations, changes in fuel prices, legislative and/or regulatory developments, compliance with environmental laws and regulations, actions by regulators, various events which could disrupt operations, including natural events such as severe weather, droughts, floods and earthquakes, labor negotiations and disruptions, environmental claims, uncertainties of investigations, proceedings or other types of claims and litigation, risks and liabilities arising from derailments, and other risks and assumptions detailed from time to time in reports filed by CN with securities regulators in Canada and the United States. Reference should be made to "Management's Discussion and Analysis" in CN's annual and interim reports, Annual Information Form and Form 40-F filed with Canadian and U.S. securities regulators, available on CN's website, for a summary of major risks.
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