BRANTFORD - The Honourable Jane Stewart, Minister of Human Resources Development and Member of Parliament for Brant, on behalf of Transport Minister David Collenette, today attended a car/train collision simulation in Brantford, Ontario. The simulation demonstrated the dangers of ignoring railway-crossing signals, drinking and driving, trespassing and not using seatbelts.
"Initiatives such as this car/train collision simulation provide excellent opportunities for Direction 2006 and its partners to work together to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities that occur every year at Canada's railway grade crossings," said Ms. Stewart.
Participants in this simulation included students and staff of St. John's College, Transport Canada, the City of Brantford, County of Brant, Brantford City Police, Brantford Fire Department, County of Brant Ambulance Service, CN Police Service, and Operation Lifesaver.
"Improving safety at rail crossings is one of Transport Canada's top priorities," said Mr. Collenette. "Although the number of rail crossings incidents has declined in the last ten years, Transport Canada and its partners in the rail sector continue to seek opportunities to improve the safety of railway crossings across Canada."
"Every effort will be made to ensure that the provincial government continues with this very valuable initiative," said Dave Levac, Member of Provincial Parliament for Brant. "The health and safety of our citizens remain a prime focus of all stakeholders."
"Safety is a shared responsibility. Motorists and pedestrians must use caution to reduce the risk of an accident at railway crossings," said Mayor Chris Friel, Mayor of the City of Brantford, "Even crossings equipped with automated warning devices - such as bells and gates - demand caution and prudent driving."
This simulation was organized by Direction 2006, a partnership between Transport Canada, provincial and municipal governments, railway companies, public safety organizations, police and community groups. Its primary objective is to reduce grade crossing collisions and trespassing incidents across Canada by 50 per cent by the year 2006.
Since 1996, trespassing incidents and crossing collisions in Canada have been reduced by 98% and 70% of the target, respectively, in spite of dramatic increases in road use and urban development around railway lines. Direction 2006's public information and education campaign is focused on changing people's personal behaviour involving railway tracks and trains, and increasing awareness of safety issues surrounding grade crossings.
RAILWAY CROSSING FACTS
Transport Canada has a permanent safety inspection program to monitor railway crossings and compliance with standards under the Railway Safety Act, and to identify areas for improvement.
The Transport Canada grade crossing improvement program contributes, on average, $7.5 million over the course of each year to improve safety at railway crossings across Canada. Funding decisions are based on pre-established regional accident and serious injury criteria over a five-year period, and funding is allocated to various regions at different times of the year.
Although rail-related accident rates and crossing fatalities have decreased over the last 10 years, improving safety at rail crossings is one of Transport Canada's top priorities, as accidents at crossings account for almost half of the railway-related deaths and injuries each year.
There were 261 crossing accidents across Canada in 2002. These accidents resulted in a total of 46 fatalities and 42 injuries.
Passenger trains travel at speeds of up to 160 km/h and freight trains can reach 105 km/h.
It can take a train more than one minute to come to a complete stop. For example, in perfect weather, an 88-car freight train weighing 13,000 tonnes and travelling 96 km/h would cover about two kilometres before stopping.
In addition to funding up to 80 per cent of improvements to eligible crossings, Transport Canada works with the Railway Association of Canada on Operation Lifesaver, a public education program.
Transport Canada also participates in Direction 2006, a partnership among all levels of government, railway companies and unions with a goal of reducing grade crossing collisions and trespassing incidents by 50 per cent by the year 2006.