New Awareness Campaign Launched by VIA and Operation Lifesaver


Montréal - Canada's railways have earned a reputation for operating one of the safest networks in the world. Despite that fact, in 2001 alone, there were 279 collisions between trains and motor vehicles at highway/railway crossings in Canada, resulting in 41 deaths and 47 persons seriously injured. In addition to highway/railway crossing collisions, there is an annual average of 86 trespassing incidents, 60 fatalities and 25 serious injuries. The railway industry considers these collisions to be a major problem. The greater tragedy, however, lies in the fact that virtually all of these incidents could have been avoided.

VIA Rail Canada, which operates the country's passenger rail network, and Operation Lifesaver Canada, a national public awareness program, supported by governments as well as railways, whose goal is to reduce the number of incidents that result in fatalities, injuries, and monetary losses, want to share the following basic guidelines with the public with a view to reducing the number of serious incidents involving trains and either vehicles or pedestrians.

1. Be prepared to stop at a highway/railway crossing

2. Look for the crossbuck symbol of a highway/railway crossing. Some more-travelled highway/railway crossings have lights and bells or gates.

3. Listen for warning bells and whistles. Turn off, or turn down, distracting fans, heaters and radios. Ask the kids to be quiet until the crossing is safely crossed. Opening the window helps you hear.

4. Obey the signals. Never attempt to drive under a gate as it is closing, or around a closed gate. If the gate begins to close while you're underneath, keep moving ahead until you clear the crossing.

5. If a police officer or a member of the train crew is directing traffic at the crossing, obey their directions.

6. If one train passes, make sure that a second train isn't approaching on another track. They can, and they do!

7. Cross the tracks in low gear. Do not attempt to change gears while crossing.

8. If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out quickly and away from the vehicle and tracks. Move in the direction the train is approaching from to avoid being hit by debris, because your vehicle will be swept forward by the momentum of the train.

9. If your view is obstructed for 300 metres in either direction, do not attempt to cross the track until you are certain that no train is approaching. Be especially careful driving during bad weather.

10. Walking or playing on train tracks is dangerous, and illegal. The only safe way to cross railway tracks is to use designated crossings, and to obey all signs and signals. Be smart. Be safe. Stay alive!

VIA information and reservations are available by calling 1-888-VIA-RAIL or at

Further information on Operation Lifesaver Canada and its programs is available by calling (613) 564-8100, by e-mail at, or at Operation Lifesaver's Web site at

Contact Information:

Dan Di Tota
National Director
Operation Lifesaver
(613) 564-8094

Malcolm Andrews
Senior Advisor, Public Affairs
VIA Rail Canada
(514) 871-6604