Proposed amendments to the Grade Crossings Regulations will help focus efforts to improve safety at grade crossings
June 18, 2021 Ottawa, Ontario Transport Canada
Accidents at grade crossings are a serious safety issue, representing approximately one third of all fatalities and half of all serious injuries from railway accidents. That is why the Government of Canada continues taking action to address the risks related to grade crossings and improve rail safety across the country.
Today, the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, announced the publication of proposed amendments to Grade Crossings Regulations in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period.
The proposed 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.
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.
After receiving considerable input from stakeholder groups, Transport Canada is proposing to amend the Grade Crossings Regulations to modify the compliance deadline in a manner that accounts for the economic realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, while still delivering on its fundamental commitment to strengthen rail safety in Canada.
The proposed amendments establish new compliance deadlines to meet the requirements of the Regulations based on the various levels of risks posed by grade crossings. 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).
Rail safety is a top priority for Transport Canada and the department 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.
“Railway companies, public road authorities and owners of private crossings share the responsibility for managing safety at grade crossings, and ensuring that they meet the requirements of the Grade Crossings Regulations. The global pandemic has resulted in widespread financial hardship, including for local governments and private owners of grade crossings, so Transport Canada is proposing amendments that will focus efforts on reducing the risks of preventable accidents at grade crossings while being mindful of the economic realities.”
The Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport
The approach for the proposed amendments to Grade Crossings Regulations was made possible by the increased availability of data since the regulations were first implemented, which has allowed for the better identification and assessment of risks.
Grade crossings can pose a higher risk to safety based on indicators such as traffic volume, track complexity and history of accidents.
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.
Transport Canada's Grade Crossings Regulations help improve safety at grade crossings by:
- using engineering best practices to make sure all crossing users can have a safe crossing experience;
- putting in place clear and enforceable safety standards for both new and existing crossings; and
- defining the roles and responsibilities of railway companies, road authorities and private landowners.
Through the Rail Safety Improvement Program, the Government of Canada has invested more than $85 million over the past four years in the form of grants and contributions to fund projects that have contributed to an overall reduction of risk, and increased safety for Canadians.
Office of the Honourable Omar Alghabra
Minister of Transport, Ottawa
Transport Canada, Ottawa
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