News Release

The 2021 Safety and Environment Awards Winners

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) has announced the winners of its 2021 Safety and Environment Awards which recognize RAC members for their outstanding contributions to rail safety and environmental impact.

“Canadian railways are the safest and the greenest mode of transportation for goods and Canadians from coast to coast. As the years go by, our members continue to work hard to reduce their environmental footprint and enhance rail safety measures. These awards reflect the ongoing commitment of our members as well as the four pillars of our RightTrack initiative,” said Marc Brazeau, President and CEO, Railway Association of Canada.

On March 5th, 2021, the RAC launched the 16th edition of the Safety and Environment Awards contest. Annual nominations are limited to one initiative per RAC member railway per category (or subcategory).

RAC’s Safety Awards are awarded annually whereas the Environment Awards are presented every two years. Both sets of winners are chosen from member submissions and ratified by the Safety and Operations Management Committee (SOMC).

The Rail Safety Award winners for 2021 are:

Safety Award in the North American Class 1 freight – employee incidents and third-party incidents category: Canadian National Railway (CN)

Canadian National Railway (CN) submitted a safety award nomination for their Autonomous Track Inspection Program (ATIP) which serves to employ a variety of inspections systems and methodologies, each aimed at providing a high degree of autonomous inspection capability. The program consists of eight boxcars, each equipped with its own solar and generator power, along with electronic communication systems and servers capable of housing various inspections technologies in revenue train service. As a platform technology, ATIP serves to employ a variety of inspections systems and methodologies, each aimed at providing a high degree of autonomous inspection capability. The first such system introduced by CN was an Autonomous Track Geometry Measurement System (ATGMS) used to conduct Heavy Geometry Inspections.

“What distinguishes CN’s Autonomous Track Inspection Program is its use of state-of-the-art sensing technologies and advanced analytics to inspect tracks with special railcars travelling at service track speed. This allows CN to realize inspection frequencies far above traditional means and provides unparalleled visibility into the safety and structural integrity of its track with more than 38 billion measurement records a month. Achieving these safety standards would not have been possible without dedication of our engineers and our I&T colleagues, whom I thank for their accomplishment, now recognized through this prestigious prize.”
– Tom Brown, Assistant Vice-President, Safety at CN

Safety Award in the Passenger (intercity, tourist, commuter) category: VIA Rail Canada

VIA Rail Canada submitted a safety award nomination for their New Coupler Tool which is a safer, more efficient, and ergonomic method to remove and install the coupler assembly on the various types of coaches and locomotives in service. This new and innovative design is a complete departure from the previous tool. It eliminates the need for counterbalance weights and provides a stable mobile platform that can be transported to the track where the coach or locomotive is located. The simple design with both vertical and lateral adjustments for precise placements during removal/installation benefit is the elimination of pinch points, crushing injuries and strain to employees.

“At VIA Rail, we have always promoted a proactive safety culture and this initiative is a perfect example of that. In a true team effort, our mechanical services identified a risk and formed a cross-functional team with employees from various departments to collectively create an innovative solution that made the process of removing and installing the coupler assembly safer and more efficient,” said Dominique Lemay, Chief Operating Officer at VIA Rail Canada. “We commend the team’s accomplishment and are looking forward to more great initiatives like this one in the years to come.”

The Rail Environmental Award winners for 2021 are:

Environment Award in the North American Class 1 freight category: Canadian Pacific Railway (CP)

Canadian Pacific (CP) submitted an environment award nomination for its Solar Energy Farm which is a solar electricity generation system at the Company’s corporate headquarter campus in Calgary, AB. The project is one of Alberta’s largest private solar farms and is expected to generate more power than consumed annually by CP’s main headquarters building. This project demonstrates CP’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions while innovatively repurposing existing land assets to incorporate renewable solar energy into facility operations. It consists of four extensive solar gardens covering approximately 10 hectares of underutilized campus grounds and creating covered parking for up to 500 employee vehicles. The project includes more than 9,700 solar panels with the capacity to generate up to 5 megawatts of renewable electricity, substantially reducing CP’s demand for electricity from local utility providers.

“CP is honoured to be the recipient of the RAC’s Environment Award for our Solar Energy Farm project. This project serves as a daily reminder to all our employees of CP’s commitment to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from our business operations,” said James Clements, CP Senior Vice-President Strategic Planning & Technology. “Implementing innovative solutions, such as renewable solar energy, are critical components of our climate strategy, helping to transform CP’s operations and position our company as a leader for a low-carbon future.”

Environment Award in the Passenger (intercity, tourist, commuter) category: VIA Rail Canada

VIA Rail Canada submitted an environment award nomination for the LEED Gold Certification of its Ottawa train station. The heritage Ottawa station was identified as the flagship station where new sustainability and accessibility initiatives would be piloted. Since 2016, numerous improvements and renovations were completed in those areas. In parallel, the Corporation started its LEED certification process, which led to the Ottawa station achieving LEED® Gold v4.1 certification for Operations and Maintenance for Existing Buildings in 2020. As part of its vision to be the smarter way to move people, VIA Rail embeds environmental, social, economic, and ethical considerations into its strategy and everyday operations. Making sustainable choices when it comes to building management contributes to VIA Rail’s lasting success. As part of its certification journey, VIA Rail namely incorporated LEED’s policies and best practices in the station’s Facility Renovation and Maintenance Policy, Green Cleaning Policy and Purchasing Policy.

“Obtaining the LEED Gold v4.1 certification was a milestone for VIA Rail and is a great source of pride for our teams. It brought us one step closer to our green building goal and formalized our commitment to creating more sustainable and accessible stations and maintenance centres,” said Dominique Lemay, Chief Operating Officer at VIA Rail Canada. “It is by modernizing our infrastructure and services, and by making them greener, that we will lead Canadians to a more sustainable future.”

The RAC would like to congratulate all the winners as well as all those who applied.


About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents close to 60 freight and passenger railway companies that transport over 100 million passengers and $320 billion worth of goods in Canada each year. RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable and, most importantly, safe. Learn more at

Stéphanie Montreuil
Senior Director, Communications and Media Relations

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