Canada and the United States are announcing wide-ranging, new rail-safety standards with the aim of avoiding disasters like the one that devastated Lac-Megantic, Que., in 2013.

The new requirements include a different braking system for new trains, a 50-mile-an-hour speed limit for certain trains and retrofits for old DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars.

"When it comes to shipping crude, there is no such thing as an American fleet and a Canadian fleet." - U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

The new standards will apply to new trains and also set a series of deadlines over the next decade for retrofitting old trains.

Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx outlined the changes Friday at a news conference in Washington.

"I know that the safety measures we have outlined today will not be easy, and quite frankly they will not be cheap," Raitt acknowledged.

"But the financial losses, and the costs of cleaning up, after such events as Lac-Megantic will in the long run be far more burdensome."

They say the changes are the result of collaboration on both sides of the border, with the goal of strengthening the safety of the two countries' inter-connected rail networks.


Several fiery crashes of crude-oil trains, including the 2013 disaster in Lac-Mégantic, have ratcheted up pressure on regulators. (CBC)

"When it comes to shipping crude, there is no such thing as an American fleet and a Canadian fleet," Foxx said.

"There is only one fleet."

The first retrofit deadline occurs in May 2017, for non-jacketed DOT-111 cars delivering oil and the last deadline applies to jacketed CPC-1232s in 2025.

The changes will pay dividends in the long run, both in terms of the economic and human consequences of not taking action, Raitt said.

"I witnessed the damage in Lac-Megantic first-hand. And I believe we truly had to act, to honour those who died and honour those who were injured, and to show that community and all communities that safety is our first priority."