Inductees in Canadian Railway Hall of Fame

The City of Montreal and two rail safety pioneers have been inducted into the new Canadian Railway Hall of Fame. Bill Rowat, President and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada made the presentations to Claude Dauphin, on behalf of the City of Montreal, and to the founding fathers of Operation Lifesaver during a regular meeting of the Canadian Railway Club in Montreal.

Mr. Dauphin is the member of the city's executive committee responsible for transport. The City of Montreal has been at the heart of Canada's railway industry throughout its history.

The first Hall of Fame award in the Heroes category went to Roger Cyr and Ben Levesque who founded the public safety program Operation Lifesaver in Canada. The program has led to the reduction of deaths and injuries along Canada's railways by 60 per cent since 1981, and helped spawn Direction 2006, a public-private initiative to drive those numbers down by another 50 per cent by the end of the year 2006.

Mr. Rowat said: "Our concept of a virtual, web-based industry hall of fame to celebrate achievements, technology, communities, leaders and heroes of our industry began a little over two years ago."

"We have been strong supporters, together with industry representatives and noted railway historians. The nominations for the awards themselves came from the public."

Montreal is home to the headquarters of Canadian National, Canada's largest railway and a top-performing North American network. Montreal is also headquarters city for VIA Rail Canada, Quebec Railway Corporation), Genesee-Rail One Canada and was historic home to Canadian Pacific Railway's headquarters.

Windsor Station continues as an active center for commuter rail services, and Central Station serves both Montreal commuters and VIA Rail's intercity network. Railway suppliers, including many of those in the room today, continue to operate and thrive in the city, said Mr. Rowat.

The Port of Montreal is used extensively for intermodal operations that connect North America and world markets, and feeds the railways main line networks to alleviate highway congestion.

Operation Lifesaver is sponsored by the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada, and is supported by Canada's railways, police forces, safety councils and leagues, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, community groups and some 500 volunteer presenters in communities from coast to coast.

"Without this program, more Canadians would have been seriously injured, or killed," said Mr. Rowat.

In 1980, there were 826 collisions at highway/railway crossings. Last year, there were less than 350. A wide range of public awareness programs, including crash simulations, rail safety days, mall displays, television and radio public service announcements, billboards and transit shelter posters, videos and interactive CDs have been introduced.

"Today, with increased train traffic, more railways, and more vehicles on the road, the number of deaths and injuries along Canada's railways continue to be driven down further, and faster," said Mr. Rowat. The volunteers and dedicated supporters of Operation Lifesaver have made it the best public safety program in Canada, and Canadian communities a better, safer place to live."