02/20/2015 12:11 EST | Updated 04/22/2015 05:59 EDT

Proposed rail safety laws to make oil carriers responsible for accidents

Proposed rail safety laws introduced Friday will make railways and crude oil shippers responsible for the cost of accidents, federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt says.

The Safe and Accountable Rail Act will bring in minimum insurance requirements for railway crude oil shippers, from $25 million for carriers of minimally dangerous goods to $1 billion for substantial qualities of them, Raitt said at a news conference.

Companies that ship crude oil will also have to pay a fee per tonne of crude oil shipped that will go into a backup fund to cover costs above and beyond what their insurance covers if they're involved in an accident involving crude oil.

Raitt said the changes bring railway crude oil shippers in line with other transporters of oil, including pipelines and tankers.

Much of Raitt's work on the railway safety file over the last 18 months has focused on the Lac-Mégantic derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in July 2013.

Some of the other changes put in place since then include requiring trains carrying dangerous cargo to have at least a two-person crew, removing the least crash-resistant DOT-111 tanker cars from circulation and minimum requirements for hand brakes and other equipment that could protect from similar incidents.

However, liability insurance was one of the issues raised after the crash that had not been addressed until this point.

The company involved in the Lac-Mégantic explosion, Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, was banned from operating in Canada because it didn't have the required third-party liability insurance nor enough money to cover the self-insured portion of its coverage.