Canada announces new amendments that will improve safety at grade crossings

From: Transport Canada

Rail safety is a top priority for the Minister of Transport and the Government of Canada is committed to protecting all Canadians who live and work along railway tracks by putting in place the necessary measures to reduce the risk of serious accidents.

Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced new amendments to Grade Crossings Regulations. The Grade Crossings Regulations increase safety at Canada’s federally regulated grade crossings and help prevent deaths, injuries, property damage and environmental damage by imposing requirements that grade crossings:

  • make use of engineering best practices to ensure that all crossing users can have a safe crossing experience;
  • put in place clear and enforceable safety standards for both new and existing crossings; and
  • define the roles and responsibilities of railway companies, road authorities and private landowners.

Amendments to the Regulations will preserve the core safety objectives while providing financial relief to public and private authorities during the COVID-19 pandemic by extending compliance deadlines and ensuring that low-risk grade crossings are not subject to an undue burden. This includes:

  • a one-year extension for existing public grade crossings which present a higher risk;
  • a three-year extension for all remaining public and all private grade crossings; and
  • an exclusion from the construction and maintenance requirements for very low-risk grade crossings (such as field-to-field crossings with minimal train traffic).

The Government of Canada takes grade crossing accidents very seriously, especially as they represent approximately one third of fatalities and half of all serious injuries from railway accidents.

Final amendments to the Grade Crossings Regulations are part of the Government of Canada’s overall efforts to address the risks related to grade crossings and improve rail safety across the country.

Quotes

“The global pandemic has resulted in widespread financial hardship, including for local governments and private owners of grade crossings. The final amendments to the Grade Crossings Regulations published today will focus efforts on reducing the risks of preventable accidents at grade crossings while being mindful of economic realities.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra

Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • The Grade Crossings Regulations initially gave railway companies, public road authorities and owners of private crossings a deadline of November 28, 2021, to comply with the requirements for existing public and private crossings.

  • There are about 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along more than 40,000 kilometres of federally regulated railway tracks in Canada.

  • Grade crossings can pose a higher risk to safety based on indicators such as traffic volume, track complexity and history of accidents.

  • The amendments to the Grade Crossings Regulations were based on significant stakeholder consultation and the increased availability of data, which has allowed for the better identification and assessment of risks.

  • These amendments will ensure that the Grade Crossings Regulations are more effective in focusing the efforts of railway companies, public road authorities and private crossing owners on grade crossings that present the greatest risks to community safety.

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