National rail safety accreditation marks start of Canadian venture

National rail safety accreditation marks start of Canadian venture
15 December 2021

Ricardo's Canadian accreditation - the first of its kind - is just the start of a new relationship with one of the world's fastest growing rail markets

Last month’s announcement by the Standards Council of Canada (SCC), the national accreditation organisation, that Ricardo had become Canada’s first accredited railway Independent Safety Assessor was a notable milestone for the country’s rail sector.

Safety audits of major projects by an independent third party – an organisation with no commercial interest in the outcome of a project or a system’s development – are performed regularly within Canada’s railway sector.

But in today's era of complex systems and interfaces, it is increasingly important that assessment bodies themselves demonstrate their ability to keep pace with the industry’s rapid developments.

“Safety is paramount for any railway project,” says Craig Young, Ricardo’s Business Manager for rail activities in Canada.

“The Independent Safety Assessment process is an established method for ensuring safety remains at the forefront of every stage of a project".

"It means specialists are invited to scrutinise engineering system safety plans, processes and documentation throughout the project life cycle, often starting at specification and extending through to product manufacturing, project construction, testing and commissioning, and even to ongoing operations".

Although the Canadian rail industry already operates under a strict regulatory system – and is one of the safest networks in North America - SCC launched the accreditation programme in 2021 to bring Canada’s safety processes into line with global best practice.

“Accreditation represents formal recognition that the assessment provider is competent to perform specific tasks and operates to the highest standards,” says Craig.

Elias Rafoul, SCC Accreditation Services Vice-President (left) and Marko Kroenke, Ricardo Business Development Director, Canada (right) mark Ricardo's Independent Safety Assessor Accreditation. Ottawa, November 2021.

“For SCC, we had to demonstrate how we can provide the knowledge and resource levels to assess projects in accordance with the Canadian Method for Risk Evaluation and Assessment (CMREA) Standard for Railway Systems, as well as to other relevant technical standards, such as EN 50126, EN 50128 and EN 50129”.

“We also had to show how we will preserve our expertise long into the future, such as our processes for training and knowledge management," he says.

“We are proud to be the first in Canada to meet the requirements and to be entrusted with leading the way for SCC’s Accreditation Program.”

A new technical partner for the Canadian rail market

The accreditation was also timely, coming just weeks after the establishment of a new Ricardo team dedicated to the Canadian rail market.

Although Ricardo has a long and established history in North America - with clients including Ford, Caterpillar and NASA - previous roles in the rail sector were typically acting as technical partner on projects such as the integration of new rolling stock on the Chicago and Boston metro systems.

With a permanent team based in Canada we can now support clients with a broader range of services, such as railway strategy and planning, asset management, project delivery and decarbonisation.

"For Ricardo, the Canadian market is the right place to be,” says Marko Kroenke, Ricardo’s Ontario-based Business Development Director, Canada.

"There are federal funded programmes with investments of Can$ 180 billion expected over 12 years, including transportation projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure and trade routes. Plus, a further Can$ 28.7 billion for public transit systems over 10 years, with many provinces already prioritising their plans". 

“We can bring international best practice to Canada's most complex rail programs. Our value will come from the fact we’re a truly global business able to draw upon expertise from more than 600 rail specialists around the world.” explains Marko.

"That brings benefits of scale. We can provide access to experts with extensive backgrounds in rolling stock, track infrastructure and operations who will bring direct experience of constructing mass transit systems in Amsterdam, London and Sydney, for example, or maintaining high-speed networks in Asia and Europe, or opening new freight routes across the Arabian Peninsula.

“It means we have a wealth of experience to tap into during the pinch points of a project – the critical periods when urgent decisions must be taken or consensus reached when the clock is ticking. It gives our clients reassurance that the right expertise will be available when it is needed".

With their first assignments already confirmed, and more in the pipeline for early 2022, Marko and Craig are now looking to add new members to the team.

“Over the coming year we’ll be organising recruitment events where people can find out more about the work we do, both here in Canada but also in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific, because opportunities to work on projects in other territories is a major benefit of life in Ricardo.

“In just a few months we have made some significant strides. We are currently the only company in Canada with accreditation to operate as an ISA for railway systems and we are now supporting a major rail construction project starting in 2022. It is an exciting time to be bringing a new name to the market.”

For more information about how the team can help your project, or how you could develop your career as part of our new Canadian rail business, contact [email protected].