Government of Canada invests in safety with new funding for railway crossing improvements

OTTAWA, Nov. 7, 2011 /CNW/ - The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced that the Government of Canada is providing almost $14 million in new funding for the Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP) this year. The GCIP supports projects to upgrade railway crossings and improve safety where road and track meet.

"Our government is increasing its commitment to rail safety," said Minister Lebel. "While Canada has one of the safest rail systems in the world, improvements can still be made. This additional investment will enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists at 810 locations across the country, and help to save lives."

Transport Canada works closely with railway companies and communities to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements. Through the GCIP, eligible railway crossings are upgraded, relocated or closed, based on factors such as traffic volume and accident history. Improvements may include installing flashing lights and gates, linking crossing signals to nearby traffic lights, or adding new circuits or timing devices. Transport Canada finances up to 80 per cent of the total cost of grade crossing improvements, with the balance provided by the railways and road authorities.

The Government of Canada also supports other initiatives to improve safety at railway crossings. For example, Operation Lifesaver is a national public education program to reduce the needless loss of life, injuries and damages caused by highway-railway crossing collisions and train-pedestrian incidents. This program is supported jointly by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada.

Backgrounders on railway crossing facts and tips, and funding by region are attached.

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to e-news at www.tc.gc.ca/e-news or stay connected through RSS, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada.

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Backgrounder

IMPROVEMENTS TO ROAD-RAILWAY GRADE CROSSING SAFETY

CROSSING SAFETY

The Government of Canada is taking action to reduce the number of injuries and deaths that result from train-vehicle collisions in Canada, by:

  • developing a grade crossing regulation that will set higher standards and prohibit the construction of new crossings in areas where train speeds exceed 128 km/h;
  • investing in safety at crossings located on the busy Quebec-Windsor passenger rail corridor and working to reduce the risk of vehicle-train collisions; and
  • working with the Transportation Association of Canada to speed up the development of low ground clearance advance warning signs at railway crossings.

Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP)

Almost half of all railway-related deaths and injuries in Canada result from accidents at grade crossings. Government of Canada contributions are available for safety improvements at public grade crossings that are under federal jurisdiction.

The Government of Canada is committed to reducing the number of these injuries and deaths by working closely with railway companies and road authorities to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements. Through the GCIP, Transport Canada funds up to 80 per cent of safety enhancement costs at many sites across Canada every year. These sites are most often identified through:

  • an application from a road authority and/or railway company;
  • an inspection by a Transport Canada railway safety inspector, through regular monitoring or after an accident;
  • a recommendation following an accident, including any made by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada; or
  • a complaint concerning the safety of a crossing.

Road authorities and railway companies are responsible for maintaining grade crossings. They are encouraged to contact a railway safety inspector at the appropriate Transport Canada regional office if they have any concerns about the safety of a crossing.

Since urban development can have a significant impact on crossing safety, municipalities are encouraged to identify and assess grade crossing safety in the early stages of any urban planning.

Some examples of eligible projects are:

  • installing flashing lights, bells and gates;
  • replacing incandescent lights with LEDs;
  • adding gates or extra lights to existing signal systems;
  • interconnecting crossing signals to nearby highway traffic signals;
  • modifying operating circuits within automated warning systems;
  • improving roadway alignment or grades; and
  • modifying nearby intersections and adding traffic control signals in some circumstances.

November 2011

RAILWAY CROSSING FACTS AND TIPS

  • There are approximately 55,000 public, private and pedestrian highway-railway crossings in Canada.

  • There are still too many fatalities and injuries as a result of highway-railway crossing collisions.

  • Approximately 50 per cent of vehicle-train collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (gates, lights, bells).

  • Trains cannot stop quickly. An average freight train travelling at 100 km/h requires about 1.1 kilometres to stop. A passenger train travelling at 120 km/h requires about 1.6 kilometres to stop. That's 14 football fields!

  • Look for the crossbuck symbol that indicates a highway-railway crossing. Some more heavily travelled highway-railway crossings have lights and bells or gates.

  • Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off, or turn down, distracting fans, heaters and radios until the crossing is safely cleared. Opening the window helps you hear better.

  • Never drive around lowered gates — it's illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local law enforcement agency.

  • Never race a train to the crossing — even in a tie, you lose.

  • Do not get trapped on the tracks. Proceed through a highway-railway crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember that the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.

  • If your vehicle stalls on the tracks at a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Move in the direction that the train is approaching from to avoid being hit by debris, because the momentum of the train will sweep your vehicle forward.

  • When at a multiple-track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
  • Railway tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property. Walking or playing on them is illegal, and trespassers are subject to arrest and fines. Too often the penalty is death.

  • In 2010, there were 55 trespassers killed and 19 seriously injured while trespassing on railway property.

  • Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railway tracks or rights of way, or through tunnels.

  • Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or railway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.

  • Do not attempt to hop aboard railway equipment at any time. A slip of the foot could cost you a limb or your life.

November 2011

2011-2012 GRADE CROSSING IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM FUNDING PROJECTS

Province/Territory Projects Contribution
British Columbia 43 $1,170,481.00
Yukon 0 $0.00
Northwest Territories 0 $0.00
Alberta 76 $1,370,220.00
Saskatchewan 14 $493,400
Manitoba 11 $1,652,155.00
Ontario 399 $5,568,319.00
Quebec 199 $2,605,580.00
New Brunswick 48 $725,040.00
Newfoundland and Labrador 0 $0.00
Nova Scotia 20 $118,800.00
     
TOTAL 810 $13,703,995.00

For more information on the Grade Crossing Improvement Program, please visit: www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/publications-46.htm

November 2011

 

SOURCE Transport Canada

For further information:

Vanessa Schneider
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Denis Lebel
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Ottawa
613-991-0700
      Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055

 


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