Train Safety FAQ

How many people are killed or injured in crossing or trespassing incidents each year?

In 2011, there were 169 crossing collisions across Canada, 25 fatalities and 21 serious injuries. There were also 67 trespasser incidents, including 46 fatalities and 21 serious injuries.

What are my odds in a car-train collision versus a two-car collision?

A motorist is 40 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a collision involving another motor vehicle.

How many crossings are there in Canada?

There are approximately 37,000 public, private and pedestrian highway/railway crossings in Canada.

Do active warning devices at crossings help?

Approximately 50% of vehicle/train collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (gates, lights, bells).

Where do most collisions occur?

Most collisions occur within 40 kms of the motorist’s home.

How long does it take a train to stop?
  • Trains CANNOT stop quickly. An average freight train travelling at 100 km/h requires about 2 km to stop. A passenger train travelling at 160 km/h requires about the same distance to stop. Compare that to an automobile travelling at 90 km/h, which requires about 60 metres to stop.
  • The majority of highway/railway collisions occur when the train is travelling less than 50 km/h.
  • An approaching train activates flashing light signals and gates approximately 20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing.
How much does a locomotive engine weigh?

The average locomotive engine weighs 110 tonnes. Compare that to the average automobile, which weighs less than two tonnes

Aren’t train tracks on public property?

No! Railway tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property. Walking or playing on them is illegal. Trespassers are subject to arrest and fines. Too often the penalty is death.

How much railway track is there in Canada?

There are approximately 73,000 km of railway tracks in Canada.

How many highway/railway crossings are there in Canada?

Number of highway/railway crossings in Canada are estimated at:

  • Public (Federally regulated) …………….15,800
  • Public (Provincially regulated)…………….2,700
  • Private………………………………………18,500
  • Total..……………………………………….37,000
What lifesaving tips do you have for people travelling on foot?
  • DO NOT walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATV’s) on railway tracks or rights-of-way or through tunnels.
  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or railway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • DO NOT hunt, fish or bungee jump from railway trestles. They are not designed as sidewalks or pedestrian bridges – there is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass.
  • DO NOT attempt to hop aboard railway equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb, or your life.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN. Trains DO NOT follow set schedules.
What lifesaving tips do you have for automobile drivers?
  • Never drive around lowered gates – it’s illegal and deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or your local emergency number.
  • Never race a train to the crossing. Even in a tie, you lose.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks. Only proceed through a highway/railway crossing if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is 1 metre wider than the tracks on both sides.
  • If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, immediately get everyone out and far away from the tracks. Call 911 or your local emergency number for assistance. Look for a 1-800 emergency notification number nearby to contact the railway.
  • At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching in either direction.
  • ALWAYS EXPECT A TRAIN! Trains do not follow set schedules.
  • Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 120 km/h can take up to 2 km or more to stop once the emergency brakes are applied; more than 18 football fields in length!
  • Don’t be fooled by the optical illusion. The train you see is closer and faster moving than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
What lifesaving tips do you have for highway/railway crossings?
  • Be prepared to stop at a highway/railway crossing.
  • Look for the crossbuck symbol of a highway/railway crossing. Some more-travelled highway/railway crossings have lights and bells and some include gates.
  • Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off, or turn down distracting fans, heaters and radios. Ask the passengers to be quiet until the crossing is safely crossed. Opening the window helps you hear.
  • Obey the signals. Never attempt to drive under a gate as it is closing, or around a closed gate. If the gate begins to close while you’re underneath, keep moving ahead until you clear the crossing.
  • If a police officer or a member of the train crew is directing traffic at the crossing, obey their directions. Remember, however, that you are not relieved of the responsibility to ensure your personal safety and you must confirm that it is safe to cross the tracks by looking and listening for the approach of a train.
  • If one train passes, make sure that a second train isn’t approaching on another track. They can, and they do!
  • Cross the tracks in low gear. Do not attempt to change gears while crossing.
  • If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out quickly. Move towards the train and away from the tracks to avoid being hit by debris, because the momentum of the train will sweep your vehicle forward.
  • If your view is obstructed for 300 metres in either direction, do not attempt to cross the track until you are certain that no train is approaching. Be especially careful driving during bad weather.
  • Walking or playing on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. The only safe way to cross railway tracks is to use a designated crossing and to obey all signs and signals. Be smart. Be safe. Stay alive!
What should I know about public-rail safety?
  • It is against the law to enter railway property. That’s because it is dangerous. Obey the safety rules and STAY OFF!
  • Train tunnels and bridges are built for trains, not people. If the train comes, there’s no room for you to get away. You can be hit by the train or fall from the bridge. Don’t take chances. STAY OFF!
  • A stopped train can suddenly start moving. If you are on or near the train, you could be badly hurt. Be smart and STAY AWAY!
  • Putting things like rocks or wood or cans on the train tracks can cause accidents. When the train hits the object, it can fly up and hurt someone – even you. Objects placed on tracks can even cause the train to come off its tracks and crash. Don’t put things on tracks and don’t go on the tracks. STAY AWAY!
  • A freight train moving at 100 km. an hour needs the length of 18 football fields to stop. If you are on the train tracks, the train can’t stop in time and you can be injured – or worse. Train your brain. Practice safety rules. STAY ALIVE!
  • Remember – when it comes to train tracks – STAY OFF! STAY AWAY! STAY ALIVE!
What should I ALWAYS do around trains and railway property?
  • ALWAYS use designated level crossings to cross train tracks.
  • ALWAYS obey the signs and signals near railway crossings – flashing lights and bells mean the train is coming so be safe and stay away.
  • ALWAYS stop, look and listen before you cross just to make sure it is safe.
  • ALWAYS stay away from the edge of the platform while waiting for the train at the station. Stay behind the platform safety line.
  • ALWAYS stay away from trains and tracks and off railway property.
  • ALWAYS say “NO” to trespassing on tracks or railway property.
  • Remember – when it comes to train tracks – STAY OFF! STAY AWAY! STAY ALIVE!
What should I NEVER do around trains and railway property?
  • NEVER take shortcuts on or around train tracks – it is dangerous.
  • NEVER throw things at trains – you could hurt someone.
  • NEVER put objects on train tracks – they can fly off and hurt someone – maybe you.
  • NEVER walk in front of or behind a stopped train – it could move suddenly.
  • NEVER walk or climb between parked railway cars – they can move at any time and you can get hurt
  • NEVER enter open boxcars – the doors can shut suddenly and trap you there.
  • NEVER use railway tunnels and bridges as shortcuts – a train can come at any time.
  • Remember – when it comes to train tracks – Stay off! Stay Away! Stay Alive!