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Heartland 101 April 2016: Rail Transport in the Heartland

photo_heartland_101_201604Rail lines have been transporting goods and people across Canada for over 130 years. Since the completion of the railway to the Pacific Ocean in 1885, rail has been a reliable means of transport. Currently, Canada’s railways move $282 billion worth of goods every year, making it one of the most important modes of transport for our economy.

Job #1: Delivering Goods and People

Everything from cars and lumber to grain and consumer electronics are transported by rail, as trains are both reliable and efficient. According to the Railway Association of Canada, one train, on average, moves the same amount of freight as 280 big trucks. This helps reduce congestion on highways and limits vehicle emissions.

Safety & Regulations

The rail industry is regulated through Transport Canada and under the Railway (Alberta) Act to ensure the safety of employees, shippers, and communities. Rail cars carrying dangerous goods meet strict standards. Proper packaging and documentation is required. Safety procedures and training are practiced regularly.

Locally, training with first responders occurs in a number of ways. Alberta Transportation Dangerous Goods and Rail Safety provides inspector and first responder courses. Responsible Care companies in the region routinely bring the TRANSCAER Safety Training Tank Car – a rail tank car converted into a classroom on wheels – to our area to train industry and municipal first responders and for community education and outreach purposes. Mutual aid organization Northeast Region Community Awareness Emergency Response (NRCAER) conducts training exercises for rail incidents with hazardous material release. Training and practicing allows emergency responders to test plans before an incident occurs.

Rail in the Heartland

Alberta’s Industrial Heartland is a major hub for rail shipment of locally produced commodities including oil, propane, plastics, metals, fertilizer and more. Rail is particularly critical for the downstream, or value added, sector. Unlike the upstream sector that relies mainly on pipelines to ship product to market, operations in the Heartland often ship product by rail as well.

As industrial activity in the region increases, we will see an expansion in rail traffic over the next few years. This includes projects by Pembina, Keyera, Plains Midstream, Cenovus, TransCanada, Alberta Midland Rail, and others.

Learn more about rail projects at the upcoming Heartland Community Information Evening on Monday, May 2 at the Lamont Hall. Doors open at 5 pm and presentations begin at 6 pm. RSVP to info@lifeintheheartland.com or call/text 780.231.9802.

For more information about Life in the Heartland, visit lifeintheheartland.com, follow us on Twitter and Facebook, or email info@lifeintheheartland.com.