Alberta’s grade crossing network waving a red flag

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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The province of Alberta is where the most collisions at rail crossings happen in Canada.
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There are plenty of flashing lights when it comes to Alberta’s railroad grade crossings.

The lights, however, show danger, not safety.

According to a recent Postmedia analysis of collision data and rail crossing inventories from the Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada, Alberta rail crossings have been the most dangerous in Canada over the last two years.

Alberta has almost 3,000 grade crossings, which ranks fourth in the country, and it experienced the most collisions at those sights in 2020 and 2021. Alberta and Ontario had the same amount of deaths and serious injuries at grade crossings in 2021, but Ontario has almost 1,500 more crossings than Alberta. A crossing on 30 Street in Lethbridge was the No. 1 site for collisions in Canada in 2021.

More than 70% of crossings in Alberta are categorized as passive where just signs are posted to warn motorists and pedestrians. Another 15% of crossings have flashing lights and bells, but no gates.

The Transportation Safety Board overhauled safety standards with grade crossings back in 2014, and provinces originally had seven years to meet them. The deadline was later extended to Nov. 28, 2022, for high-priority crossings and Nov. 28, 2024, for all other crossings.

There are six high-priority crossings that need to be upgraded in Alberta, and 10 low-priority crossings that need work.

Read more articles on grade crossings.

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