VIA Rail presents action plan to address Barrhaven-area railway crossings’ challenges

Written by Mischa Wanek-Libman, editor
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VIA Rail

VIA Rail Canada has developed an action plan based on a study conducted by RailTerm, Hatch Mott MacDonald and Siemens that looked into issues with Automatic Warning Devices (AWDs) systems at six Barrhaven-area rail crossings in Ottawa.


VIA Rail requested the study to find the root causes of AWDs systems at the crossings going into fail-safe mode with higher frequency and for longer periods of time than usual. VIA Rail says its plan aims to improve the reliability of its AWD systems; reduce the impact of unnecessary waiting time for road users, pedestrians and train operations; and enable the reporting of fail-safe occurrences in a faster way to reduce the crossings road block without compromising safety.

Amongst several measures, VIA Rail announced that it has and will undertake the following measures:

  • Complete, as soon as possible, subject to winter, the construction of a new siding track between Ottawa and Fallowfield stations to reduce false activations due to train traffic congestion;
  • Install cameras and communications equipment at three strategic crossings (Woodroffe Avenue, OC Transitway and Fallowfield Road) to facilitate faster response by maintenance crews;
  • Conduct, this year, all preventative maintenance tests, originally planned for later;
  • Conduct, in cooperation with Transport Canada and City of Ottawa, the government-regulated “Detailed Safety Assessment” exercise at the six crossings;
  • Post qualified personnel at proximity during peak times (6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday) to facilitate faster response by maintenance crews;
  • Appointed a Senior Advisor, John Marginson, who will be dedicated to managing this important file until these issues are resolved. Stationed in the Ottawa-area, he will report directly to Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, VIA Rail’s newly appointed president and CEO;
  • Continue to hold regular, daily or weekly communications with the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo as it has since February;
  • Maintain regular updated communications with the community

“We recognize the occurrences have been above acceptable levels and we remain committed to making changes that will reduce their frequency, as well as their impact on the community,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano. “Ensuring that those in the community who come in contact with VIA Rail’s railway crossing operations have complete confidence in their safety and reliability is of utmost importance to all of us at VIA Rail. We have taken the learnings from the technical review and combined them with our expertise and experience to ensure the highest level of safety will be maintained for the residents of Ottawa.”

More detailed information regarding the action plan can be found on VIA Rail’s website.

Categories: Ballast, Ties, Rail, C&S, Intercity, Safety/Training