Transport Canada has proposed grade crossings regulations that would establish new safety standards for federally-regulated grade crossings.
Under the authority of the Railway Safety Act, the proposed regulations will improve safety by providing comprehensive and enforceable safety standards for grade crossings; clarifying the roles and responsibilities of railway companies and road authorities and mandating the sharing of key safety information between railway companies and road authorities.
The regulations are a result of a comprehensive public consultation process and were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 8, 2014.
The current approach to managing safety at grade crossings requires collaboration between 1,460 municipal and provincial road authorities, 95 aboriginal bands, 32 railway companies and many individual private authorities. The proposed regulations affect approximately 14,000 public and 9,000 private crossings and would encourage increased collaboration, require information sharing and clarify roles and responsibilities.
“A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada’s economic well-being. While Canada has one of the safest rail systems in the world, we can do better. These proposed regulations will make grade crossings safer and save lives,” said Canada’s Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt.
The proposed regulations would require railway companies and road authorities to meet improved and enforceable safety standards when building or altering grade crossings and for existing grade crossings, such as the introduction of signs and warning systems. Additionally, the proposal specifies what critical safety information must be shared between railway companies and road authorities.
The proposed regulations also clearly define who is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance and inspection of the crossing surface, signage and warning systems.
Last, sightlines would be required to be clear of any obstructions, such as buildings, structures, trees or brush. Railway companies would not be permitted to leave railway equipment unattended if it impedes visibility at grade crossings. Other safety features include design plans for warning systems and standards for maintaining, inspecting and testing traffic control devices. Railway companies would be required to keep records of these activities and of any system malfunctions or failures for a minimum of two years.
Stakeholders and the public have 90 days to comment on the proposed regulations before a finalized version is published.