Transport Canada to improve rail safety across Canada

by Canadian Shipper

Transport Minister Jean-C. Lapierre says that the Government of Canada will provide more than $10 million to improve safety at 92 railway crossings across the country.

“Canada maintains one of the safest rail systems in the world – and we are committed to further improving this system,” said Lapierre. “That is why we are working with rail companies and communities to help reduce crossing accidents, injuries and fatalities across Canada.”

Under the grade crossing improvement program, eligible railway crossings are either upgraded, relocated or closed. Improvements may include installing flashing lights and gates, adding gates or extra lights to existing systems, linking crossing signals to nearby traffic lights, modifying operating circuits, or adding new circuits or timing devices. The department finances up to 80 per cent of the total cost of the improvements, with the balance provided by the railways, municipalities or provinces and territories.

“Although accident rates and crossing fatalities in Canada have decreased over the last 10 years, accidents at railway crossings resulted in 26 fatalities and 51 serious injuries in 2003,” said Mr. Lapierre. “It is necessary to continue highlighting the importance of exercising caution when nearing and crossing railways.”

For this reason, Transport Canada supports two other initiatives to improve safety at railway crossings: Operation Lifesaver, a public education program of the Railway Association of Canada that has promoted safety at railway crossings since 1981; and Direction 2006, a partnership of governments, railway companies and their unions working to reduce collisions and trespassing incidents by 50 per cent by the year 2006.

Funding for the grade crossing improvement program was provided for in the February 2003 budget and is therefore built into the existing financial framework.

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