CN is to acquire additional monitoring equipment to enhance its ability for early detection of defects. Jim Vena, CN Executive Vice-President and CEO, said: “We’re stepping up our inspection and detection capabilities. We’ve had a major push in recent years to increase the number and quality of track, wheel and bearings inspections that help prevent accidents. This has positioned us well in the rail industry. With this program, we intend to go further when it comes to safe rail operations.”

At a cost of $10 million, the program will include the acquisition/installation of thirty new Wayside Equipment System units that detect hot bearings, hot wheels and dragging equipment, as well as a new track geometry test car to monitor the position, curvature and alignment of track. In addition, an optical track inspection system that uses imaging to identify defects will be acquired, as well as more than 30 new brittle bar detectors that identify and flag derailed equipment to train crews. Lastly, controlled signaling on certain key rail sidings in our most heavily used corridors will be acquired to alert crews and dispatchers to broken rail incidents.

CN has more wayside detection technology than any other railway in North America and has increased that capability by 30 per cent over the past five years. CN has also increased the frequency of its ultrasonic rail flaw inspection by 70 per cent over the past five years.

Vena said “Our safety focus is producing solid results. CN’s main-track accidents declined by more than 50 per cent between 2002 and 2012, a year in which CN recorded the fewest such accidents in its history. That’s a good performance but we know we can, and have to do better still.”