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Federal government imposes urban speed limit on freight trains

OTTAWA - Transport Minister Lisa Raitt is extending a speed limit on trains carrying dangerous goods that are travelling through urban areas.She has extended a directive to rail companies ordering trains to stick to a 64 km/h speed limit in heavily urbanized areas — a speed limit was brought in last October.The directive she announced on Thursday also calls for increased inspections along key routes used for transporting dangerous goods.A government news release says both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific have already imposed a 56 km/h speed limit on their trains.The Transportation Safety Board included slower train speeds among a list of possible actions the government might consider in a report on rail safety last year, although it did not formally recommend the move.Rail safety has become a hot-button issue for the federal government since the disaster in Lac Megantic, Que in 2013 in which 47 people died.A parked train broke loose and derailed in the middle of the Quebec community, setting off a massive fire.There have been a number of train derailments since that involved hazardous materials.Last month, the transportation ministers of Ontario and Quebec sent a letter to Raitt expressing concern over the growing number of derailments, calling it unacceptable.

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