Winnipeg employees, companies and volunteers turn rider cars into Operation Lifesaver rolling billboards

With their white body paint, red decals and reflectorized tape, CN 77014 and CN 79823 stand out. Which is what they are meant to do, so the Operation Lifesaver message they carry, English on one side and French on the other, will not be missed: Look. Listen. Live.

The cabooses, now called rider cars, have been turned into "rolling billboards" by a group of employees, companies and volunteers, led by Tom Bozyk, yard foreman, Prairie Division, Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Tom, an Operation Lifesaver volunteer, approached Engineering in January on behalf of the organization with the idea. A message on the cars could help reach age groups that don't get to see Operation Lifesaver presentations. Explains Tom, "We can go into schools and talk to kindergarten to grade six about trespassing. We can talk to Drivers Ed students who are fifteen and sixteen. We can talk to all the professional truck drivers or school bus drivers. But who are we hitting at railway crossings? It's other age groups, like 20 to 30 year olds.

"Engineering agreed with the proposal, and also offered to cover the cost of the paint. The cars, part of Prairie Division Track Services' work trains, will transport work crews to and from sites throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northwestern Ontario. It's an ideal opportunity to carry the message to communities, because work gangs all too frequently see motorists doing stupid things. "We try and take our equipment through a crossing," tells Emil Piwtorak, Track Services program supervisor, "and even with the flag person, people still drive around us."

Once CN made the cars available, Tom called on other willing companies and individuals for supplies, space and help. Burlington Northern (Manitoba) Limited was a key player, donating space and equipment in their engine house in Winnipeg to do the work. Shane Stewart, a railway enthusiast designed the look, 3M Canada donated materials for the decals, and GBLK Enterprises of Winnipeg did the installation at a reduced cost. Volunteers spent 79 hours at the engine house to strip and paint the cars. Rick Small, CN locomotive engineer and Operation Lifesaver volunteer, and Mark Horobec, senior waybill representative, CN Customer Support Centre came out to help. It even became a family affair, with Tom's dad and brother, and Rick Small's two daughters lending a hand.

Dan Di Tota, National Director for Operation Lifesaver in Ottawa is thrilled with the use of the cars and everyone's involvement. "I think what is happening is wonderful. I can't stress enough about the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. We really appreciate all their efforts. Safety has no boundaries. This project demonstrates a fine example of collaboration and partnership within the Operation Lifesaver family."

Source: Canadian National