Protecting the safety of Canadians at federally-regulated grade crossings
OTTAWA, Dec. 17, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today announced regulations to help prevent accidents and improve railway safety. The new Grade Crossings Regulations establish new safety standards for federally-regulated grade crossings. Amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations will help identify and address safety risks proactively.
A grade crossing, also known as a road or level crossing, is where a railway line crosses a road at the same level. Railway companies and road authorities (provinces, municipalities, band councils, and private crossing owners) are all responsible for managing railway crossing safety in Canada. After extensive consultation with stakeholders across the country, the Government of Canada is introducing new Grade Crossings Regulations.
Under the authority of the Railway Safety Act, these Regulations improve safety by helping to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents, preventing derailments and injuries and saving lives. 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
- Improving safety features and promoting collaboration betweenall parties.
These Regulations are results-based, meaning they contain options for bringing a consistent level of safety to each railway crossing in Canada. They will take full effect over the next seven years.
The Government of Canada is also introducing amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations. Under the changes, rail carriers will be required to report leading indicator data to Transport Canada. Leading indicators are measurable factors that can be used to proactively identify and address safety risks. This new requirement will support better planning and performance measurement, more focused audits and inspections, and targeted programs that address specific safety issues.
- Managing safety at grade crossings requires collaboration between 1,460 municipal and provincial road authorities, 95 Aboriginal bands, 32 railway companies, and many individual private authorities. The Grade Crossings Regulations increase collaboration, require information-sharing, and clarify roles and responsibilities.
- The Regulations improve safety at federally regulated grade crossings, including approximately 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along 42,650 kilometres of federally-regulated railway track in Canada.
- From 2009 to 2013, collisions between vehicles and railway equipment at public and private crossings caused, on average, 26 deaths and 26 serious injuries a year.
- The Regulations address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) Watchlist issue that the "risk of passenger trains colliding with vehicles remains too high in busy rail corridors".
- Under the changes to the Transportation Information Regulations, carriers will have to provide leading indicator data in three areas: operations, equipment, and engineering.
"The goal of the new Grade Crossings Regulations is to save lives by providing consistent grade crossing safety standards across Canada, and promoting collaboration between railways and road authorities. The Amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations will also help identify and address safety risks proactively. We continue to work together to make the Canadian railway system one of the safest in the world."
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport
- LINK TO CG II publication when available
- Backgrounder: Grade Crossings Regulations
- Backgrounder: Transportation Information Regulations
Current federal acts and regulations governing grade crossings and safety data:
- Railway Safety Act
- Railway Safety Management System Regulations
- Transportation Information Regulations
This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons living with visual disabilities.
Grade Crossings Regulations
Promoting safer grade crossings for all Canadians
The safety of Canadians remains Transport Canada's top priority. Despite ongoing outreach activities and the advent of new technologies, avoidable collisions continue to occur at federally regulated grade crossings. This is why, in January 2012, Transport Canada launched a comprehensive public consultation process to help improve how railway companies and road authorities manage the safety of grade crossings.
As a direct result, the Grade Crossings Regulations introduce several requirements that would improve safety standards, clarify roles and responsibilities, and facilitate information sharing.
The key aspects of the Regulations include:
Enforceable Grade Crossings Standards
The Regulations incorporate standards based on the current best engineering practices and makes them law. This brings all grade crossings in Canada to the same standard. Railway companies and road authorities will be required to meet these safety standards when building or altering grade crossings as well as bring existing grade crossings in compliance, through measures such as the introduction of signs and warning systems.
Managing roles, responsibilities, and information sharing
Grade crossing safety is a shared responsibility between railway companies, road authorities, and private authorities. The Regulations clearly define who is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and inspection of the crossing surface, signage, and warning systems.
The Regulations require railway companies and road authorities to share basic safety related information on their grade crossings. Sharing this information with each other will allow them to assess the safety of their infrastructure and determine what they need to do to make their crossings safer.
Improving safety features
A safe crossing is a visible crossing — so the Regulations contain formulas for defining the area that road authorities, railway companies and private land owners must keep clear of anything that could block a road user's view of an oncoming train. Under the Regulations, railway equipment cannot block a public grade crossing for more than five minutes when a road user requires passage, unless the railway equipment is moving. When emergency vehicles require passage, railway companies must immediately clear any grade crossing. If a municipality has a safety concern relating to a crossing that is blocked, both parties must work together to find a solution to the safety concern. After 90 days, if they find no solution, the municipality can inform Transport Canada.Other safety features include design plans for warning systems and standards for maintaining, inspecting and testing traffic control devices. Railway companies are now required to keep records of these activities and of any system malfunctions or failures for a minimum of two years.
Temporary protection measures are required when activities are undertaken at a railway line or road crossing that pose a risk to the safety of railway operations. The requirements a municipality must meet for the cessation of train whistling at public crossings has been defined in the Regulations and will also come into force.
The Grade Crossings Regulations address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) Watchlist issue that the "risk of passenger trains colliding with vehicles remains too high in busy rail corridors".
Transportation Information Regulations
Increased data collection will help prevent accidents and improve railway safety across Canada
The Government of Canada is introducing amendments to the Transportation Information Regulations to better identify and address safety risks proactively.
Railway data reporting in Canada
Currently, railway safety data is collected after an accident happens—commonly referred to as lagging indicators. Lagging indicators help Transport Canada target inspections and monitor compliance with the Railway Safety Act and its regulations, rules, and standards.
Under the changes, rail carriers will be required to report leading indicator data to Transport Canada. Leading indicators are measurable factors that can be used to proactively identify and address safety risks before accidents occur. This new requirement will help improve rail safety by supporting better planning and performance measurement, more focused audits and inspections, and targeted programs that address specific safety issues.
Information Collection, Analysis and Dissemination Working Group
In 2008, the Information Collection, Analysis and Dissemination (ICAD) Working Group was created to respond to recommendations stemming from the Railway Safety Act Review. The Working Group, which comprised representatives from government, industry, and labour, identified 15 leading indicators to be gathered under the proposed regulations.
The leading indicators are grouped into three categories—operations, equipment, and engineering—and may include, for example, data on:
- railway staffing and training activities (e.g. employee proficiency tests and results);
- condition and maintenance of locomotives and rolling stock (e.g. number of broken or cracked wheels found on a train in a yard); and
- railway infrastructure repairs (e.g. number of bridges with temporary speed restrictions).
SOURCE: Transport Canada
For further information: Ashley Kelahear, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, 613-991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055