$1.6 Million to Improve Safety at Railway Crossings Across Canada

OTTAWA - Transport Minister David Collenette today announced that Transport Canada will provide more than $1.6 million over the next three years to improve safety at 10,894 railway crossings across Canada under its grade crossing improvement program. Specifically, this program involves the placement of reflective materials at crossings to make them more visible at night.

“Railway crossing fatalities in Canada have fallen to their lowest levels in 10 years, but we are always striving to improve safety even further,” said Mr. Collenette. “That is why improving safety at rail crossings is one of Transport Canada’s top priorities. This program will add to the safety improvements and programs already in place to reduce accidents and fatalities at rail crossings.”

Through this initiative, federally regulated railway crossings will be fitted with a highly reflective material which will make the crossings significantly more visible at night. The crossings involved are those which do not have bells, lights or barriers. The Grade Crossing Improvement Program, which is funded under the Railway Safety Act, allows the department to finance up to 80 per cent of the total cost of the improvements, with the balance provided by the railways, municipalities or provinces.

“Safety is a shared responsibility. Motorists and pedestrians must use caution to reduce the risk of an accident at railway crossings,” added Mr. Collenette. “Even crossings equipped with automated warning devices - such as bells and gates - demand caution and prudent driving.”

Transport Canada supports other initiatives to improve safety at railway crossings. These include Operation Lifesaver, a public education program of the Railway Association of Canada that has promoted safety at railway crossings since 1981 and Direction 2006, a partnership of governments, railway companies and their unions working to reduce collisions and trespassing incidents by 50 per cent by the year 2006.

In 2003/2004, $7.5 million has been allocated for grade crossing improvements.

Funding for the grade crossing improvement program was provided for in the February 2003 budget and is therefore built into the existing financial framework.

Contact Information:

Amy Butcher
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister, Ottawa
(613) 991-0700

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca.