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Canada unveils new railway rules after Quebec train disaster

30 october 2014, 12:04

 Canada on Wednesday announced stricter railway safety measures following last year's runaway train disaster in Quebec that killed 47 people, AFP reports.

Transportation Minister Lisa Raitt said the new measures include better training for conductors and engineers, more government audits of railway operations and rules mandating more frequent use of handbrakes.

Officials also plan new research into the explosive properties of crude oil.

Opposition lawmakers critical of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government complained however that the new rules do not go far enough.

The policies are being put in place in response to recommendations made in August by the Transportation Safety Board, which blamed the disaster on lax safety standards on the shortline Montreal, Maine & Atlantic (MMA) railway, as well as a lack of regulatory oversight.

The July 6, 2013 crash occurred when a 72-car train carrying 7.7 million liters (2.0 million gallons) of crude oil derailed.

The unmanned train came loose in the middle of the night, and rolled downhill in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) east of Montreal.

Several tanker cars exploded, unleashing an inferno that gutted 2.5 square kilometers (one square miles) of the picturesque lakeside town of 6,000 residents.

Three railway workers, including the driver -- who was not at the helm at the time of the accident and stands accused of failing to apply the brakes on several cars -- have been charged with criminal negligence in the case.

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