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SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Ian Goldsmith, Ed Featherston, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

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Transport Canada proposes new rail regulations to reduce accidents and save lives

Protecting the safety of Canadians travelling by rail and road at federally regulated grade crossings

OTTAWA, Feb. 7, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today announced proposed Grade Crossings Regulations that would establish new safety standards for federally regulated grade crossings. A grade crossing, also known as a road or level crossing, is where a railway line crosses a road at the same level.

Under the authority of the Railway Safety Act, the proposed regulations will improve safety by helping to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents, therefore saving lives and preventing injuries and derailments at federally regulated grade crossings. In particular, the proposed regulations would improve safety by:

  • Providing comprehensive and enforceable safety standards for grade crossings;
  • Clarifying the roles and responsibilities of railway companies and road authorities; and
  • Mandating the sharing of key safety information between railway companies and road authorities.

The regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 8, 2014. Stakeholders and the public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed regulations. Comments will be considered before the regulations are finalized and published in Canada Gazette, Part II.

Quick Facts

  • The current approach to 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 proposed regulations would encourage increased collaboration, require information-sharing and clarify roles and responsibilities.
  • The proposed regulations would 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 tracks in Canada.
  • The proposed Grade Crossings Regulations are expected to help reduce the number of collisions, fatalities and serious injuries and help prevent derailments and damage to road vehicles.

Quote

"A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada's economic well-being. While Canada has one of the safest rail systems in the world, we can do better. These proposed regulations will make grade crossings safer and save lives."

The Honourable Lisa Raitt Minister of Transport
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Current federal acts and regulations governing grade crossings:

Backgrounder

Proposed 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 proposed Grade Crossings Regulations introduce several requirements that would improve safety standards, clarify roles and responsibilities, and facilitate information sharing.

The key aspects of the proposed regulations include:

Introducing grade crossings standards

Railway companies and road authorities would be required to meet improved and enforceable safety standards when building or altering grade crossings and for existing grade crossings, 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 proposed regulations clearly define who is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and inspection of the crossing surface, signage, and warning systems.

The proposed regulations specify what critical safety information must be shared between railway companies and road authorities. The improved exchange of information would promote a collaborative relationship between the two responsible authorities.

Improving safety features

Safety features play a critical role at grade crossings. Under the proposed regulations, sightlines would be required to be clear of any obstructions—such as buildings, structures, trees or brush. Further, railway companies would not be permitted to leave railway equipment unattended if it impedes visibility at grade crossings.

Other safety features include design plans for warning systems and standards for maintaining, inspecting and testing traffic control devices. Railway companies would be required to keep records of these activities and of any system malfunctions or failures for a minimum of two years.

Temporary protection measures would be required when activities undertaken at a railway line or road crossing pose a risk to the safety of railway operations. Requirements regarding the cessation of train whistling in certain areas would also come into force.

SOURCE Transport Canada

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