Canada to strengthen rail-safety rules in wake of tragedy: Reports

Government to change rules in response to Lac-Megantic tragedy

TORONTO (Reuters) — The Canadian government will require a rapid phase-out of older-model tank cars commonly used to haul crude oil by railroad, responding to recommendations made after last year's deadly train accident in Quebec, a newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The federal government will also require railways to prepare for catastrophic explosions by making emergency response plans mandatory for all crude-oil shipments that pass through Canada, according to the Globe and Mail. The newspaper cited sources familiar with a package of policy reforms that will be announced on Wednesday.

Older-model DOT-111 tank cars have been criticized as prone to puncture and gas buildup, and shippers are expected to be given between two and three years to switch to newer models for certain flammable good shipments, including oil. That's a much shorter time period than rail-car suppliers have proposed.

Ashley Kelahear, a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Lisa Raitt, would not confirm the exact timeline for phasing out old DOT-111s but did say, "Our government timeline is ambitious."

The rule changes would mean Canada is acting ahead of the United States, which has yet to set a timetable for any regulatory changes. In the past, the Canadian government has emphasized the tight integration of North American rail industry.

The move comes after a horrific accident last July that destroyed the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. The Quebec disaster was one of a series of recent rail accidents involving crude oil in the United States and Canada.

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