Safer Railways Act (Bill S-4) (A)

Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his speech and for the improvements in railway safety represented in Bill S-4.

I would like to ask him if we could take it further. I certainly agree with my colleague, the hon. member for Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, about how tragic it is when rail lines are not making their way to city centres the way they should and we are losing service across the country.

As a frequent VIA passenger myself, I have noticed that there are often rail delays, which then lead to the crews trying to make up with speed later on, and we know that can have tragic consequences.

A lot of this is due to the fact that the railway sidings are shorter now than the average length of a freight train, and since passenger rail must lease space and rely on freight for its signalling and safety, we have conflicts.

Is there anything the minister thinks can be done to invest in longer sidings and better transit connections so there is better sharing of the rails between passenger and freight in the interests of safety?

Hon. Denis Lebel: Mr. Speaker, for sure and the way we will manage the bill and the continuation of it, we will respect the jurisdiction of provinces and municipalities. We are working with them. We have invested over $5 billion in public transit in the last years since 2006 and we will continue to do so. That is very important for us.

With regard to signalling, we have some very important changes in the bill, which have already been implemented by Transport Canada, and for sure everything will become safer. With all the railways in this country, we will do what we are able to do about that.