GATINEAU, QC, Feb. 25, 2014 /CNW/ - The Transportation Safety Board of
Canada (TSB) issued two safety advisory letters today following a
review of a number of reported incidents that occurred at the OC
Transpo Transitway-rail crossing in Barrhaven. This crossing is the
site of the 18 September 2013 accident involving an OC Transpo bus and
a VIA Rail passenger train (TSB Railway Investigation R13T0192). These
types of incidents are not normally reportable to the TSB, but in light
of heightened public concern, the TSB followed up on them as part of
its ongoing investigation.
The first letter documents four incidents in which OC Transpo buses
traversed this crossing when the crossing lights were activated but the
gates had not yet come down. Because similar situations could arise
anywhere in Canada, the TSB conducted a review of the Barrhaven
incidents to identify common elements that might help improve railway
crossing safety country-wide. The following observations were made:
Vehicle drivers do not always slow when approaching a railway crossing.
According to most driver handbooks, when approaching a crossing, the
vehicle driver should slow down, be prepared to stop, and yield the
right of way to a train.
Drivers are expected to drive safely, respecting posted speed limits and
taking road conditions into consideration. When driving conditions are
poor, even driving at the posted speed limit may be unsafe when
approaching a railway crossing.
Failing to stop at railway crossing signals when they are activated is a
violation under most provincial highway traffic acts. However, these
acts may not necessarily apply to vehicles operating on private roads,
such as the OC Transpo Transitway.
In light of these incidents, the TSB called for the City of Ottawa to
implement additional measures to ensure that buses can safely stop in
advance of an activated railway crossing signal.
The TSB also takes this opportunity to remind all motor vehicle drivers
to exercise caution and slow down when approaching railway crossings.
Another incident occurred at the same crossing when one of the gates
stayed down and the lights remained activated after the passage of a
train. The TSB followed up and determined that the automated crossing
protection system functioned in the fail-safe mode as designed. In this
situation, frost on electrical contacts prevented the return of the
south gate to its upright position after the passage of a VIA train.
Subsequently, the gate stayed down and the lights and bells remained
active until the system recovered by itself 10 minutes later. While the
crossing protection was still activated, 3 buses traversed the
crossing, and an OC Transpo supervisor attempted to lift the south
In this incident, reasonable steps were taken to minimize risk, and
there were no adverse consequences, but there are still opportunities
to improve safety. The TSB is calling for OC Transpo and VIA Rail to
develop and implement standard operating procedures to ensure safe
operations when unusual activations of crossing automated protection
The two safety advisory letters and other factual information related to
the OC Transpo-VIA Rail collision can be found in the "Active
investigations" section of the TSB website at www.bst-tsb.gc.ca.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline,
railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the
advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the
Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.
SOURCE: Transportation Safety Board of Canada
For further information:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
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