On April 10, following reports of VIA Rail Canada's Automatic Warning Devices (AWDs) systems at six Barrhaven-area rail crossings going into fail-safe mode with higher frequency and for longer periods of time than usual, VIA Rail retained experts at RailTerm and engineers from Hatch Mott MacDonald and Siemens to conduct an investigation of its infrastructure and signaling system and further investigate the root causes of these occurrences.
Following receipt of the reports, VIA Rail will develop its action plan to address any outstanding issues. On April 30, VIA Rail received a first report; other reports are expected early next week and VIA Rail will consider the reports’ findings, recommendations and actions taken to-date. It will elaborate its own action plan if the reports recommend that further actions be undertaken.
At an Ottawa City Council committee on May 15, the consulting firms will present their reports and VIA Rail will present its action plan. VIA Rail says it hopes that following the briefing, VIA Rail, its contractors and the city of Ottawa can work cooperatively to resolve all issues related to rail crossings in the area, in the interest of the safety of VIA Rail’s passengers and Ottawa residents.
VIA Rail has been scrutinized over repeated malfunctions of crossings in the Fallowfield area. The issues were so frequent, VIA Rail posted personnel at problem locations until the crossings could be fixed.
On April 30, city of Ottawa officials shared with VIA Rail and RailTerm engineering staff a city video of an incident of April 28 on Fallowfield Road. The video shows that an OC Transpo bus clearly stopped beyond the stop line, the north gate hit the bus and the bus proceeded to back-up to the regulated stop line.
Following further investigation by VIA Rail and RailTerm engineering staff, it was determined that the fail-safe mode may not have been caused by the OC Transpo bus hitting the north gate at Fallowfield Road, but by the south gate, which was misaligned. Notwithstanding the cause of the incident, it remains that on both April 25 and April 28, OC Transpo buses stopped beyond the stop line. For VIA Rail, these types of breaches are unacceptable.
Provided that road traffic respects signals and stop at the stop line when approaching a railway crossing, the AWD fail-safe mode ensures that both road and train traffic cross the area safely, at all times.