Minister Raitt launches Rail Safety Week with new funding for railway crossing improvements

Improving safety for Canadians at rail crossings across the country

OTTAWA, April 27, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today launched Rail Safety Week and announced new funding for railway crossing improvements. This year, Transport Canada will provide more than $9.7 million for improvements at over 600 railway crossings across the country through its Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP).

Under the GCIP, eligible railway crossings are upgraded based on factors such as traffic volume and accident history. Improvements may include installing flashing lights and bells, installing gate barriers, linking crossing signals to traffic signals, upgrading light bulbs to brighter LED lights, or adding new circuits or timing devices. Transport Canada finances up to 50 per cent of the total eligible costs of grade crossing improvements (to a maximum of $550,000 per project), with the balance provided by the railways and/or road authorities.

Transport Canada also provides funding through its Grade Crossing Closure Program (GCCP) to encourage the closure of certain grade crossings that are under federal jurisdiction. The program provides a $20,000 grant for a public grade crossing and a $5,000 grant for a private grade crossing in exchange for the beneficiary (generally a road authority or private property owner) relinquishing their rights to the crossing and closing it. In 2014-2015, Transport Canada approved $165,000 in GCCP funding to close nine crossings in the interest of public safety.

Also in support of safety at railway crossings, Minister Raitt announced in December 2014, new Grade Crossings Regulations to help prevent accidents and improve railway safety. In particular, the Regulations improve safety by:

  • Providing consistent grade crossing safety standards across Canada;
  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of railway companies and road authorities; and
  • Promoting collaboration between these parties.

Transport Canada takes the safety of the Canadian railway system seriously and is committed to ensuring that appropriate levels of safety are maintained. As such, on April 23, 2015, the Minister issued an Emergency Directive requiring companies to slow their trains to a maximum of 64 kilometres per hour (40 miles per hour) when travelling in highly urbanized areas, and increase inspections and risk assessments along key routes used for the transportation of dangerous goods, including crude oil and ethanol.

Quick Facts

  • Rail Safety Week, taking place this year from April 27 to May 3, is a national celebration aimed at increasing awareness of safety around railway operations and highlighting government's and industry's commitment to making the rail system safer for Canadians.
  • Since 1980, the number of crossing collisions in Canada has fallen dramatically from over 800 per year to 180 in 2014. However, there still remains unnecessary loss of life and injury with 57 fatalities and 46 serious injuries occurring in 2014 as a result of crossing collisions and trespassing on rail property.
  • The Government of Canada also supports other initiatives to improve safety at railway crossings, such as Operation Lifesaver – a national public education program whose goal is to reduce the needless loss of life, injuries and damages caused by highway/railway crossing collisions and train/pedestrian incidents. Transport Canada provides Operation Lifesaver with $300,000 per year to support their safety outreach and education campaigns.

Quote

"A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada's economic well-being. Through the Grade Crossing Improvement Program, our government is helping to enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists at over 600 railway crossings across the country."

The Honourable Lisa Raitt,
Minister of Transport

Related Products

  • Backgrounder: Grade Crossing Improvement Program and Grade Crossing Closure Program
  • Backgrounder: Railway Crossing Facts and Tips

Associated Links

 

 

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Backgrounder

Grade Crossing Improvement Program

Through the Government of Canada's Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP), contributions are available for safety improvements at public grade crossings that are under federal jurisdiction.

Transport Canada funds up to 50 per cent of safety enhancement costs (to a maximum of $550,000 per project) at many rail crossing locations across the country every year.

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.

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.

This year, Transport Canada is investing more over $9.7 million under the GCIP, to upgrade over 600 rail grade crossings across the country.

The majority of the projects involve the conversion of signal lights to LED which will greatly improve the safety of Canadian motorists and pedestrians by improving signal visibility, and result in grade crossing warning systems that operate more efficiently.

 

Province

Number of Projects

Federal Contribution

British Columbia

91

$1,848,063.93

Alberta

46

$2,156,604.50

Saskatchewan

79

$1,275,239.00

Manitoba

77

$925,041.00

Ontario

208

$2,641,128.26

Quebec

101

$952,750.50

Total

602

$9,798,827.19


Backgrounder

Grade Crossing Closure Program

Through the Government of Canada's Grade Crossing Closure Program (GCCP), funding is available to encourage the closure of certain grade crossings that are under federal jurisdiction, in the interest of public safety.

The program provides a $20,000 grant for a public grade crossing and a $5,000 grant for a private grade crossing in exchange for the beneficiary (generally a road authority or private property owner) relinquishing their rights to the crossing and closing it.

In 2014-2015, Transport Canada approved $165,000 in GCCP funding to close nine crossings in the interest of public safety.

 


Province

Number of Closures

Total Grant

Alberta

1

$20,000.00

Saskatchewan

1

$20,000.00

Manitoba

2

$40,000.00

Ontario

4

$80,000.00

Quebec

1

$5000.00

Total

9

$165,000.00

Backgrounder

Railway crossing facts and tips

  • There are about 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along more than 40,000 kilometres of federally regulated railway tracks in Canada.
  • Look for the crossbuck symbol that indicates a roadway-railway crossing. Some more heavily travelled roadway-railway crossings have lights and bells and/or gates.
  • Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off, or turn down, distracting fans, heaters, radios and music 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 roadway-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.
  • 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.
  • Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railway tracks, 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.

 

SOURCE Transport Canada

For further information: Zach Segal, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, 613-991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055


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