Canada’s railways are launching AskRail, a mobile application aimed at providing emergency responders with real-time information about a train’s railcar contents in the event of an emergency. Through the mobile interface, developed by the Association of American Railroads and its members, including CN and CP, emergency responders across North America will be able to see the contents of a railcar, view railway emergency contact information, and reference resources to support incident response.
“We know that access to this information can help emergency responders at the outset of an incident to make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency,” said Michael Bourque, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada. “This is just one more way that Canada’s railways are working with communities on emergency response training and preparation.”
Canadian railways already provide municipalities who request it with yearly aggregated information on the dangerous goods moving through their communities. But AskRail goes further – giving emergency responders another tool to use in responding to a railway incident. “AskRail is a step in the right direction,” said Paul Boissonneault, President of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. “Instantly available, real-time information on what cars are carrying is an additional tool that will enhance our ability to protect our communities.”
As part of the initial roll-out, CN and CP have contacted emergency response departments across Canada to explain how the application works, and to invite them to sign up for access to it. To date, more than 1,700 North American emergency responders – the only parties eligible to use the mobile application – have enrolled. In addition, a French-language version of the app is being developed and will be launched later this year.
“FCM welcomes this additional emergency response tool that will enhance first-responder capabilities where equipment is compatible, and cellular networks allow,” said Brad Woodside, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Canada’s railways must have comprehensive Emergency Response Plans in place for all dangerous goods, to ensure an immediate and comprehensive response in the event of an incident. AskRail supplements railway procedures to promptly provide first responders with information about the materials carried on the affected train (information that is carried in the locomotive cab) in the event of an emergency.