Canadian National Railway Company (CN) has introduced a new mobile app called AskRail, which is designed to offer real-time information to emergency responders about a train’s railcar contents.

AskRail app is developed by the Association of American Railroads and its members, including CN and Canadian Pacific Railway.

This new mobile application will allow emergency responders across North America to view the contents of a railcar, find emergency contact information for the railways and search for resources in the event of a derailment.

"AskRail is a step in the right direction."

Railway Association of Canada president and CEO Michael Bourque said: "We know that access to this information can help emergency responders at the outset of an incident to make informed decisions about how to respond to a rail emergency.

"This is just one more way that Canada’s railways are working with communities on emergency response training and preparation."

CN already provides municipalities who request yearly aggregated information on the dangerous goods moving through their communities and the new AskRail app will give emergency responders another tool to use in responding to a railway incident.

Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs president Paul Boissonneault said: "AskRail is a step in the right direction.

"Instantly available, real-time information on what cars are carrying is an additional tool that will enhance our ability to protect our communities."

As part of the initial roll-out, both CN and CP have contacted emergency response departments across Canada to explain how the application works.

So far, more than 1,700 North American emergency responders, the the only parties eligible to use the mobile app, have enrolled.

A French-language version of the app is also being developed and will be launched later this year.

During the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual General Meeting in Edmonton, which will be held from 4 to 8 June, CN will also provide a demonstration of the AskRail app.