Operation Lifesaver Canada marks 40th anniversary with Rail Safety Week initiatives from coast to coast

September 20, 2021

OTTAWA – Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada kicked off Rail Safety Week 2021 (September 20-26) today — seven days of important initiatives to remind Canadians to exercise caution around tracks and trains. Every year, 2,100 North Americans are seriously injured or killed when they engage in unsafe behavior around railways. OL Canada — which was founded in September 1981 — works to prevent these needless incidents from happening.
“Our 40th anniversary wish is to bring the number of rail crossing and trespassing-related deaths and injuries in Canada to zero,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of OL Canada.
“We’re targeting a range of audiences through our Rail Safety Week initiatives this year — from parents to children, emergency responders, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers — and our hope is that we can convince them to act safely around railways and help us #STOPTrackTragedies."
A key initiative of Rail Safety Week 2021 is OL’s new Stay Safe with Thomas Rail Safety Art Contest. Open to Canadian children aged eight and younger, the contest gives kids the opportunity to exercise their creativity and learn about rail safety for a chance to win fantastic Thomas & FriendsTM prize packs and a train trip for four anywhere in the Quebec-Windsor corridor, courtesy of Mattel and VIA Rail Canada. Children are asked to create a piece of original visual artwork for the contest — such as a painting, drawing, digital poster, or comic strip. Each entry must depict one or more Thomas & FriendsTM characters and must clearly convey one of OL’s five important rail safety messages:

  • Train or track? Just keep back!
  • Never use tracks as a path or a shortcut
  • Don't play near tracks or on train equipment
  • Always obey railway signs and signals
  • Stand well behind the yellow line on train station platforms
All contest entries must be received midnight (ET), October 20, 2021, and must comply with OL’s contest rules.

Canadians are also encouraged to keep their eyes and ears open for OL’s #STOPTrackTragedies campaign during Rail Safety Week, which will be promoted through radio and social media ads across Canada. The campaign features the voices of people personally affected by rail crossing and trespassing incidents — including victims, friends and family members — and their reflections on what they would have done to prevent these incidents if given the chance. The full campaign is available at STOPTrackTragedies.ca.
On September 21st, OL’s law enforcement partners will join the Rail Safety Week campaign by participating in Operation Clear Track — the single largest rail-safety law-enforcement initiative in North America. Law enforcement personnel from more than 600 departments and detachments across Canada will work to enforce rail crossing and trespassing laws and distribute rail-safety messages to communities through pamphlets, press releases and social media.
On September 22nd, OL will launch a series of new, interactive Train to Drive virtual-reality training videos for first responders to test whether police, paramedics, and firefighters know how to safely approach rail crossings and position their equipment near tracks when responding to emergencies.
Next, on September 23rd, OL will begin unveiling 145 rail safety decals in 29 communities from coast to coast, to remind Canadians to “Look. Listen. Live.” at rail crossings. In addition, OL will be launching a new Signs and Devices page on its website that will feature interactive, animated graphics to help educate road users and pedestrians on how to safely navigate rail crossings.
Finally, OL will cap off the week by announcing its 2020 Roger Cyr Award winner — an annual award given to a Rail Safety Ambassador who demonstrates an exceptional commitment to promoting rail safety in Canada.
Canadians are encouraged to support OL’s Rail Safety Week 2021 campaign by heeding these rail safety tips, by following OL Canada on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and by sharing OL’s rail safety messages with their loved ones using the hashtags #STOPTrackTragedies and #RSW2021.

Additional Quotes

Quote from CP Police Chief, Al Sauve

“Rail Safety Week is an important opportunity for CP to highlight how to be safe around tracks and trains. CP Police Service will be working with the public to educate them about the dangers of unsafe behaviour around the railway. Train incidents are preventable and rail safety must be an on-going priority each and every day. Together, we can build safer communities,” said Al Sauve, CP Police Chief.

For more information, please contact: 

Sarah MacFadyen

About Operation Lifesaver Canada 

Operation Lifesaver Canada is a national public rail-safety program sponsored by Transport Canada, the Railway Association of Canada and its members, including CN, CP, VIA Rail, Metrolinx, exo, West Coast Express and Genesee & Wyoming, among others. Through its national network of Rail Safety Ambassadors, partnerships with safety councils, police, the trucking industry and community groups, and innovative tools such as its virtual-reality Look. Listen. Live. campaign, Operation Lifesaver Canada works to save lives by educating Canadians about the hazards of trespassing on railway property and failing to exercise caution at rail crossings. Canadians can keep up-to-date on the latest rail safety news by visiting operationlifesaver.ca.