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Grade Crossing Regulations

Rail safety is a shared responsibility. By working together, we can help keep communities and citizens safe and prevent fatalities and injuries on or near railway property.

Under the Grade Crossings Regulations (the Regulations) effective in November of 2014, railway companies, and public and private authorities share the responsibility for managing the safety at federally-regulated grade crossings. They must work together to make sure that grade crossings meet the requirements found in the Regulations and the associated Grade Crossing Standards for everyone’s safety.

Do the regulations apply to me?

Are you a landowner (farmer, commercial business, private individual) who has a right (such as an agreement with the railway company, or an order authorizing the crossing) with respect to a private grade crossing?  If so, you may be a private authority with certain responsibilities to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Regulations.

Are you a municipality, province, or a band council that has a legal authority to open and maintain roads that cross federally-regulated railway tracks?  If so, you may be a road authority with certain responsibilities to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Regulations.

If you answered yes to either question above, then you are subject to the requirements of Transport Canada’s Grade Crossings Regulations.

Railway companies will join efforts with road and private authorities to determine whether some crossings can be closed or consolidated, and which crossings will be upgraded to meet Transport Canada’s new Regulations.

It is important to note that the cost of compliance may be the responsibility of the road authority, private authority, or the railway company or shared by the parties.  Each situation is unique. The parties will work together to determine apportionment of costs for compliance. Any crossings requiring upgrades will become part of an action plan to meet the terms of the new Regulations by November 2021.

Authority (e.g. Landowner, farmer, commercial business)?

It is important to note that responsibilities described in the Regulations do not determine responsibility for costs.  As a private authority, you must make sure that your private grade crossing(s) meet the requirements of the Regulations for which you are responsible.  These include:

  • Maintain a road approach outside of the railway right-of-way (contact the railway company to find out where railway property ends and yours begins)
  • Install and maintain traffic control devices, like a stop sign, on your land, if it isn’t on the same post as the railway crossing sign (also known as crossbuck)
  • Maintain sightlines on your land, up to the railway right-of-way, including clearing it of any obstructions (i.e. Trees, brush, stored materials, equipment)

*note that any work on or near active railway lines is subject to the safety procedures of the railway company. In order to ensure your safety, you must contact the railway company before doing any work near railway property

What is the responsibility of the railway company that owns tracks crossing my private road? 

Where applicable, railways must:

  • Install and maintain:
    • a railway crossing sign
    • a number of tracks sign
    • an emergency notification sign
  • Maintain the stop sign if it’s installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Install and maintain a warning system
  • Install and maintain a crossing surface and a road approach within the railway right-of-way
  • Choosing design speed and the design vehicle for the private crossing
  • Maintain sightlines, including removing any trees or brush
    • within the railway right-of-way
    • over land next to the railway right-of-way, other than sightlines over land owned by a private crossing owner

The railway company may have contacted you already as they will be working directly with you to address public crossings.

What are my responsibilites as a public authority (municipality, province, band council)?

As a road authority, you must have shared, before November 28, 2016, accurate safety-related information with the railway company with whom you share a grade crossing.

In addition, you must make sure that public grade crossing(s) for which you are the road authority, meet the requirements of the Regulations for which you are responsible. These include:

  1. Designing, building, and maintaining a road approach outside of the railway right-of-way (contact the railway company to find out where the railway’s property ends and yours begins)
  2. Installing and maintaining traffic control devices, except for stop signs that are installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign (also known as a crossbuck).
  3. Designing the crossing surface.
  4. Maintaining sightlines, including removing any trees or brush:
    • within the land where the road is located; and
    • on land near the grade crossing

In some circumstances, minimum sightlines cannot be met despite best efforts due to buildings, topography or other issues, and warning systems (with gates) will be required.

In other circumstances, where the maintenance of minimum sightline requirements is not viable, the Regulations allow for reduced sightline requirements where vehicle speed is reduced, or a stop sign is installed.  The requirement to maintain sightlines can be avoided altogether with the installation of a warning system (with gates).

What is the responsibility of the railway company that owns the tracks at a grade crossing?

Where applicable, railways must:

  • Install and maintain:
    • a railway crossing sign
    • a number of tracks sign
    • an emergency notification sign
  • Maintain the stop sign if it’s installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Install and maintain a warning system
  • Install and maintain a crossing surface
  • Maintain sightlines, including removing any trees or brush
    • within the railway right-of-way; and
    • over land next to the railway property

The railway company may have contacted you already as they will be working directly with you to address public crossings.

What is the deadline to comply with the regulations?

November 28, 2021

Railway companies, road authorities, and private authorities must ensure that existing crossings meet the requirements of the Regulations prior to this date.

Who’s responsible for costs?

It is important to note that responsibilities described above do not determine responsibility for costs.  The cost of compliance may be the responsibility of the road authority, private authority, or the railway company or shared by the parties.  Each situation is unique, and may vary.

Costs may be determined based on existing agreements between the road authority and railway company, or between the private authority and railway company.  Costs could also be determined based on existing orders from the Canadian Transportation Agency (or its predecessors) dating from when the grade crossing was first authorized or reconstructed.

Need support to cover your costs to comply with the regulations?

The Government of Canada has made funding available to help you.

The infrastructure, technology and research (ITR) component of the Rail Safety Improvement Program (RSIP) funds rail safety improvements that support measures to improve public safety at rail property and rail lines (both federally and provincially regulated).

Transport Canada is currently accepting applications for projects. The deadline for applications is August 1, 2020 at 11:59pm (PDT).