Railway signs and warning devices are installed along roads and at railway crossings across Canada. They’re there to warn drivers and pedestrians, control traffic, and keep people safe. Unfortunately, people sometimes tamper with rail lines, rail cars or signaling systems. Not only does this put lives at risk, it can also lead to a $5,000 fine or up to 10 years in jail.
Despite these risks, rail tampering incidents continue to occur. In December 2020, RCMP in Antigonish County, N.S. investigated four cases of rail tampering
in just one week. In three instances, lights at crossings were tampered with to indicate that a train was coming, even when there was no train. In another instance, the lights were tampered with to shorten the warning time of an approaching train by more than 50 per cent. Earlier that same month, two Washington state women
were charged with a “terror attack” after they were captured on camera tampering with train tracks near the Canadian border.
Working to prevent rail tampering incidents
The Government of Canada recently announced a partnership with the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association
to help increase awareness about the dangers posed by incidents of rail tampering or sabotage. In February 2020, then Transport Minister Marc Garneau also issued a statement regarding unsafe behaviour around rail lines and property.
“As Minister of Transport, I have a duty to ensure that our rail system and its infrastructure are as safe as possible. I take this responsibility very seriously. Our railway companies are also working to make their operations as safe as possible,” he said.
“I also want to remind Canadians that tampering with rail lines, rail cars or signalling systems is illegal and extremely dangerous. In addition to putting yourself at risk, you are endangering railway workers and train passengers.
Minister Garneau’s statement is one that Operation Lifesaver wholeheartedly supports. So please stay clear of railway tracks and property. If you see someone tampering with railway equipment, please dial the railway’s emergency phone number (typically posted behind crossbucks or on signal houses) or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS to remain anonymous.