Public Safety

Of the accidents recorded in 2012, many of them involved vehicles at road-rail crossings or people trespassing on railway property. Through education, reaching out to communities and improving safety measures, Rail is working hard to find solutions to something that is largely beyond its control.

Railway crossing safety has been a key focus for Rail over the past thirty years and will continue to be. Rail has been working with governments on reducing fatalities and injuries, particularly at grade crossings or when trespassing occurs.  In Canada, Rail has focused on grade crossing upgrades, to improve crossing safety. Through RAC, Rail companies in Canada are engaged in an active and highly successful public information and education campaigns to reduce the number of crossing and trespassing incidents. Initiatives, such as the educational efforts undertaken by Operation Lifesaver, have had an effect on improving safety.

Since 1980 the number of crossing collisions (where a train and motor vehicle collide) in Canada has fallen dramatically. While this reduction speaks to the success of safety efforts undertaken in that time, there still remains unnecessary loss of life and injury. In 2012, crossing accidents and trespasser accidents were down 8.8 per cent and 16.1 per cent, respectively, from the five-year average.

Further efforts are required to eliminate the risk at the source. This can only be accomplished by recognizing the strategic importance of implementing a comprehensive grade crossing closure program. In Canada there are approximately 18,500 public crossings and 18,500 private crossings under federal jurisdiction.  Under the Transport Canada grade crossing closure program (GCCP) from 2003 - 2012, there have been a total of 122 crossings closed (58 public and 64 private) for an average of 12.2 crossings per year.  However, the Rail sector estimates that approximately 50 crossings open each year.  This is clearly the wrong approach given industry and government efforts to improve the fluidity of the rail logistics supply chain and passenger rail system.  Going forward, the rail industry needs to implement a more effective crossing closures program, increasing the rate of closure by 10 fold annually.  Further, additional rail/road grade separations must be undertaken in urban centres.  The industry cannot accomplish this goal without government help.

Media Contact:

Alex Paterson
Communications Specialist
Telephone: (613) 564-8111

Sarah Mayes
Director, Public Affairs
(613) 564-8097


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