- Make major impression in Belleville and across Canada for Rail Safety Week -
MONTREAL, May 7, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - From April 30 to May 6 this year, Operation Lifesaver's Rail Safety Week raised public awareness and encouraged Canadians to take personal responsibility for safety near rail property.
While rail transportation is the safest of all ground transportation modes, trespassing on rail property and negligence at railway crossings cause unnecessary and preventable tragedies every year. This year, VIA Rail Canada contributed to the efforts to change attitudes and behaviours towards rail safety and reduce injuries and fatalities by organizing and participating in a variety of community-level events and activities.
"Safety is our number one priority," said Jean Tierney, VIA's Senior Director, Safety, Security and Risk Management. "From our train operations, to the work we do at our stations, in our maintenance centres and in our offices, VIA employees strive to promote a strong safety culture across every aspect of our business operations."
VIA operates some 500 trains each week across 12,500km of track, and there are processes and procedures in place to ensure that passengers arrive at their destination safely and securely. A great deal of time and energy goes into ensuring that all of the elements over which VIA has direct control are working properly. "It's something we take great pride in, and not something we take lightly," added Ms Tierney.
"Of course, not everything is within our direct control," she continued. "Various external elements can also have an impact on the safe arrival of our trains. This is why VIA is actively involved in outreach programs that strive to promote the importance of maintaining - and strengthening - railway safety in the communities we serve."
According to Operation Lifesaver - an organization that focuses on educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding rail property and trains - every year approximately 300 collisions and trespassing incidents occur at railway crossings and along railway tracks in Canada. "That is 300 incidents too many," declared Ms Tierney. "Indeed, even one incident is one too many. That is why VIA is proud to work with Operation Lifesaver, the Railway Association of Canada, Transport Canada, CN, CP and other industry partners, with a goal of preventing these incidents through education and outreach. We believe that getting out into communities to spread the word on rail safety can save lives."
As part of Rail Safety Week 2012, VIA worked with Operation Lifesaver, Belleville Police Service, CN and Bay of Quinte Safe Communities to educate the public and the youth of Belleville on the importance of following safe practices in and around railway land in the Belleville, Ontario area. "Together, our teams have been in the community, handing out Rail Safety guides at kiosks at VIA's Belleville station and in local malls; meeting pedestrians and vehicle drivers at area rail crossings; giving safety presentations at local schools and accepting a special donation from VIA Rail to the Belleville Children's Safety Village," said Belleville Police Chief Cory McMullan. "It has been a pleasure for the Belleville Police to collaborate with these organizations to put the spotlight on such an important safety issue for our community, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to improve safety for the citizens of Belleville.
"Nothing is more important to CN than running a safe railway. We are committed to continuing improvements in our safety performance through an uncompromising safety culture that leads to sustained leadership in safety. At CN, when it comes to safety, there is no compromise," said John Orr, CN's Vice-President, Chief Safety and Sustainability Officer. "Working with other stakeholders to build safer communities is a core principle at CN."
"Initiatives like these ones and hundreds more happen during Rail Safety Week and all year long," added Dan Di Tota, National Director of Operation Lifesaver. "Our goal remains the same all year and right across the country: to educate the public on how to stay safe." For more information on how you can get involved, or to find out about events near you, visit www.operationlifesaver.ca.
About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's (www.viarail.ca) mandate is to provide safe, efficient, more environmentally sustainable and cost-effective passenger transportation, in the country's two official languages. Every week, VIA operates 503 intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre network. Winner of the 2011 RAC Safety Award, VIA transports over four million passengers annually. The demand for VIA services is growing as travellers increasingly turn to train travel as a safe, hassle-free and environmentally responsible alternative to congested roads and airports. Since 2007, the Government has invested nearly 1 billion dollars in VIA in order to meet growing demand and transform Canada's rail passenger service for the future. Follow the evolution of current projects at viarail.ca/transformingVIA. Follow VIA on Twitter at twitter.com/via_rail. Visit VIA on Facebook at facebook.com/viarailcanada.
About Operation Lifesaver
Established in Canada in 1981, Operation Lifesaver is a national public-rail safety program sponsored by Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada. Through partnerships with provincial safety councils, police, railways, the trucking industry and community groups, Operation Lifesaver is dedicated to saving lives by educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding highway/railway crossings and trespassing on railway property. To learn more about Public-Rail Safety Week please visit: http://www.operationlifesaver.ca/events/ol-public-rail-safety-week-2012/. Like Operation Lifesaver at facebook.com/oplifesaver. Follow them at twitter.com/oplifesaver.
Image with caption: "Kindergarten class learns about safety at VIA Rail's station in Belleville, Ontario. (CNW Group/VIA RAIL CANADA INC.)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120507_C5062_PHOTO_EN_13220.jpg
For further information:
Media and Community Relations
VIA Rail Canada