Meet Rail Safety Ambassador Yan Tremblay

Our Rail Safety Ambassadors come from all over Canada and all sorts of backgrounds. They’re also all ages. But Yan Tremblay is definitely the youngest.

The 16-year-old from Valleyfield, Que. is an avid rail fan. But his decision to sign up as an online
Rail Safety Ambassador wasn’t just because of his love of trains. It was also for a very personal reason.

One of his aunts and an uncle were killed in separate rail incidents.

Now, he is one of dozens of Rail Safety Ambassadors across the country who are spreading the rail safety message online and in their communities. He spoke to Operation Lifesaver about why he thinks rail safety is so important.

How did you become interested in trains?

When I was really young, I was scared of trains. I don’t know why. But when I was about 10 years old, I started to be intrigued by railway crossings. And then maybe when I was 13, I started to become interested in locomotives, freight cars and all that stuff. I take pictures of them and some videos too.

So, you are a rail fan, yet there have been rail tragedies in your own family. What were the circumstances of your aunt’s accident?

It was in Trois-Rivières in the sixties. The train was moving really slowly, so she decided to climb under the crossing gate. But the train started to accelerate and she fell on the tracks and was killed.

And what happened in your uncle’s case?

It was in the seventies in Valleyfield and Highway 30 wasn’t officially open. The railway hadn’t installed the whistle post yet, and there were no crossbucks, no signals, and no gate. My uncle didn’t know there were train tracks there. And the train didn’t whistle because [the locomotive engineer] didn’t know thecrossing gates weren’t installed —or something like that—and my uncle was killed by the train.

What impact did those two separate incidents have on your family?

My family is still really sad about them because they were two really tragic accidents. My uncle was only 19 years old.

Why did you want to sign up to be a Rail Safety Ambassador?

I decided to sign up because I often see people crossing the tracks outside of railway crossings, and it scares me. I know many locomotive engineers and they are really scared to hit somebody. People are not careful, they don’t care. There are crossing gates, there are lights, but they pass through the gates anyhow. They think the trains can stop quickly, but they can’t. People don’t realize that trains are dangerous.

Why is it important for people, especially young people, to understand the rail safety message?

I think that it is really important because if we teach rail safety at age 15 or younger, people will start to know what is dangerous, and what they can’t do, so then they won’t do it.

Trains are a part of our country. They have been here for more than a hundred years, so it’s very important to teach people that trains are dangerous, and that people should be more careful around the tracks.

Maybe if everybody spreads the word, we could live in a better country—and more safely.