SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Roberto Medrano, Dmitriy Stepanov, Gilad Parann-Nissany, Srinivasan Sundara Rajan, Sean Houghton

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Government of Canada launches Rail Safety Week with new funding for railway crossing improvements

MILTON, ON, April 27, 2014 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada today launched Rail Safety Week with new funding to improve railway crossings.

This year, Transport Canada will provide more than $9.2 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.

Through the Grade Crossing Closure Program (GCCP), funding is available 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 2013-14, Transport Canada approved $100,000 in GCCP funding to close 11 crossings in the interest of public safety.

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.

Quick Facts

  • Rail Safety Week, taking place this year from April 28 to May 4, 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.
  • Almost half of all railway-related deaths and injuries result from accidents at crossings. The Government of Canada is committed to reducing the number of these accidents by working closely with railway companies and communities to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements.
  • Studies reveal that accident rates fall by up to 69 per cent and fatality rates by up to 80 per cent after grade crossing improvements are completed.

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, improvements can still be made. This investment will enhance safety for pedestrians and motorists at over 600 locations across the country, and help save lives."
Honourable Lisa Raitt,
Minister of Transport

Related Products

  • Backgrounders:  Grade Crossing Improvement Program, Railway Crossing Facts and Tips

Associated Links

Backgrounder

Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP)

Almost half of all railway-related deaths and injuries in Canada result from accidents at grade crossings. The Government of Canada is committed to reducing the number of these injuries and deaths by working closely with railway companies and road authorities to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements. 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.

Through the GCIP, Transport Canada funds up to 50 per cent of safety enhancement costs (to a maximum of $550,000 per project)at many sites across Canada 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.

2014-2015 Grade Crossing Improvement Program Funding

Province/Territory Number of Projects Federal Contribution
British Columbia 27 $888,252.00
Alberta 84 $1,610,332.50
Saskatchewan 62 $762,550.00
Manitoba 79 $1,616,478.43
Ontario 261 $3,170,635.55
Quebec 73 $908,829.90
New Brunswick 44 $251,550.00
Nova Scotia 11 $81,600.00
Total 641 $9,290,228.38

April 2014

Backgrounder

Railway crossing facts and tips

  • There are about 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along 42,650 kilometres of federally regulated rail lines in Canada.
  • There are still too many fatalities and injuries as a result of highway-railway crossing collisions. Although grade crossing accidents have generally fallen over the past 25 years, there has been a marked increase in fatalities at grade crossings since 2009.
  • Trains cannot stop quickly. An average freight train travelling at 100 km/h requires about 1.1 kilometres to stop. A passenger train travelling at 120 km/h requires about 1.6 kilometres to stop. That's 14 football fields! Trains can travel at speeds of up to 160 km/h and can take up to 2 km to stop in an emergency.
  • Look for the crossbuck symbol that indicates a highway-railway crossing. Some more heavily travelled highway-railway crossings have lights and bells or gates.
  • Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off, or turn down, distracting fans, heaters and radios 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 highway-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, because the momentum of the train will sweep your vehicle forward.
  • 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.
  • In 2013, there were 44 trespassers killed and 10 seriously injured while trespassing on railway property.
  • Do not walk, run, cycle or operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railway tracks or 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.

April 2014

SOURCE Transport Canada

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