A brief summary of Railway Safety Act and it’s necessity in Bangladesh

Railway Safety Act is needed to be applied in case of railways in Bangladesh. Recently, Bangladesh met with several train accidents because of defects in the railways and as a result, many people were died and injured. It must be ensured that the railways are safe for travel by train. To ensure this thing, Railway Safety Act is the proper act to be applied. According to Section 2(2) of this act, it is applicable in respect of railways which are within the legislative authority of Parliament in Canada. It means that the Act is mainly applied in Canada. But it should also be applied in Bangladesh to prevent train accidents.
Before applying the Railway Safety Act, it is necessary to know about the provisions of the Act. A brief summary of the provisions is given below.
Section 3 of the Railway Safety Act deals with the objectives of the Act. According to this section, the objectives are to promote and provide safe and secure environment in railway operations, encourage participation of interested parties in improving railway safety and security, recognize the safety management system of the responsible companies and use modern systems to enhance railway safety and security.
The Minister is mainly responsible to deal with the matters related to the Railway Safety Act (Section 3.1). It is his duty to collect, publish and disseminate information, co-operate with persons who are involved in railway related projects, technical research, study or investigation. The Minister also has the duty to inspect, examine and report on activities related to railway matters.
Section 4.1 says that if there is any inconsistency between the provisions of the Railway Safety Act and any other act, then the provisions of the Railway Safety Act will be maintained. According to Section 6.1 (1), the Minister can enter into an agreement with a provincial minister responsible for transportation matters to ensure railway safety and security. Moreover, the Minister can also authorize any body, person or class of persons employed in the federal public administration to administrate the law according to the agreement [Section 6.1(2)]. Such authority can exercise any duty or power to enforce the law which is specified in the agreement [Section 6.1 (3)].
According to section 7 of the Railway Safety Act, the Governor in Council can make regulations to improve engineering standards of railways and the Minister can order a railway company for such improvement. Section 7 (2.1) says that the railway company has to take approval of the Minister in case of carrying any activity regarding the improvement of engineering standards of railways. Another thing is that all engineering works must be approved by a professional engineer [Section 11(2)].
Notice giving is a very important thing in case of prescribed kind of railway works. The proponent is not allowed to start the work without any notice [Section 8 (1)] and he/she have the opportunity to file objection about the proposed railway work with valid reasons [Section 8 (2)]. Such person may withdraw objection by notifying the Minister [Section 8 (3)] and the Minister may send a notice to the person and the proponent, if the objection is disregarded [Section 9].
A railway company may request the Minister for amendment of the terms and conditions of railway works on the basis of new information about safety [Section 19 (4.1)]. The Minister may on such request amend the terms and conditions by providing a copy of amendment [Section 19 (4.2)]. In this case, the Minister is allowed to seek advice of the experts [Section 19 (5)]. The Railway Safety Act gives right to a third party to act on behalf of a railway company [Section 20.1].
Section 23.1 contains provisions on the use of whistles. It says the whistle of the train cannot be used without permission of the Government and the exceptions say that it can be used in case of emergency and by the order of railway safety inspector. The railway safety inspector has some powers under the act [Section 31]. If he/she thinks that it is not safe to carry out the railway works, he/she can forbid or restrict the work by informing the Minister with reasons. But the inspector does not have authority to determine the standard of railway (If confirms by rules and regulations).
Emergency directive is a very important is a very important part in case of railway works [Section 33]. If the Minister thinks that it is unsafe to carry out the railway operation, he/she can inform the company by emergency directive to stop the work or follow any process to reduce the risk. The emergency directive is effective for a period not exceeding six months. The Minister can renew it by sending notice to the company. In case of any inconsistency between the emergency directive and rules and regulations, the emergency directive will be prevailed.
The most important thing is the safety management systems which generally lie on the Governor in Council [Section 47.1]. The Governor can make rules and regulations regarding safety of the railway operations including release of pollutants of the environment and keeping information about the employees, companies and also about the equipment.
The summary of the Railway Safety Act reflects that it has the capacity to ensure safety in case of railways. It is mentioned in the beginning that Bangladesh met with several train accidents. The accidents can be prevented by applying this act. Right to live is one of fundamental rights of a human being. So, people must be safe when they travel by train.
So, the Railway Safety Act should be applied in Bangladesh as soon as possible.
[See laws-lois.justice.gc.ca for more information]
Nazia Amin

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