Canadian rail operating rules

The Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) are among the largest and most complex railway rules, covering most rail operating issues related to employee responsibilities, the safe movement of trains, signaling, and braking systems, amongst others. The CROR underwent a significant review following the 2013 Lac-Mégantic incident, with the most recent rule update in 2018 pertaining to the securement of unattended equipment (Rule 112). 

Securing unattended equipment (Rule 112)

Rule 112: Securing Unattended Equipment

Employees’ responsibility:

  • Employees must communicate with each other on how equipment is secured. 
  • Railway employees must refer to the chart in rule 112 that dictates the minimum number of hand brakes based on the weight of the train (total tons) and the average grade of the location where the equipment is secured. The rule clearly states that hand brakes applied to locomotives in the lead consist cannot be included in the minimum number of hand brakes required for cars. 
  • The procedure for verifying the hand brakes’ effectiveness is clearly outlined. The 2018 CROR added that if the hand brakes are not sufficient, employees must apply one or more additional brakes and re-test until secure.

The rule now distinguishes between different types of track: 

  • Main tracks1  – unattended equipment must be secured by at least two means of securement. 
  • Rule 112 contains a list of possible securement methods (Read more details in the CROR).
  • Non-main tracks2  – unattended equipment must be secured by hand brakes as dictated in the chart, unless special instructions exist. 
  • Yard tracks – unattended equipment must be secured by one securement method, either by hand brakes or by a securement method listed for yard tracks. 

New provision (f) in 2018 CROR:

  • When sudden or unforeseen circumstances hinder employees to fully meet the securement requirements, employees must communicate to the proper authority (1) how the equipment was secured and (2) whether additional action can be taken before leaving the equipment unattended. 
Number of crew members

General Rules – Section M: Number of crew members

The CROR requires a minimum of two crew members for trains carrying dangerous goods. This had not explicitly been required prior to the Lac-Mégantic incident.

Main Track + Subdivision Track, Siding or High Risk Locations
Non-Main Tracks – excluding Subdivision Track, Sidings, Yards and High Risk Locations

Locking unattended engines

Rule 62: Unattended Engines

When an engine such as a locomotive is left unattended, the CROR requires that the locomotive cab is locked to prevent unauthorized entry.

Rule 63: Freight Train Requirements

TIBS for freight trains

The CROR makes an explicit requirement for freight trains to operate with a train information braking system (TIBS) that is capable of monitoring the functionality of brakes on the rear car and initiating an emergency brake. An exception to the rule applies to trains operating at lower speeds.

Rule 64: Transfer Requirements

Transfers of dangerous goods

This rule specifies air brake requirements for train transfers carrying dangerous goods, and requires the locomotive engineer to test that there are enough operative brakes in place to control the transfer. Also, the rule requires a qualified operator for when remote-control locomotives are used as transfers.

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