This July will mark the second anniversary since the terrible derailment and explosion in the town centre of Lac-Méganic, Qué. At the time, promises were made to investigate and understand the causes of the event and since then, a number of laudable and long overdue regulatory changes have been adopted in the sincere hope of preventing similar catastrophic events. Without questioning the good intentions behind them, the regulatory responses seem to continue a worrying trend of reactive regulation that lacks a unifying focus. This matters because the plethora of amendments and new rules will not produce the changes we need to address the real problem at the heart of Lac-Mégantic—that transportation of crude oil by rail is a process that requires systemic coordination in order to be done safely. In my view, appropriately addressing what happened in Lac-Méganic (and in subsequent, thankfully non-fatal derailments earlier this month) requires a mindset anchored in the recognition that railways are complex systems directed at the ultimate purpose of providing an efficient and cost-effective service.
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