Celebrating 20 years of Rail Safety Week

Every year, dozens of Canadians lose their lives because they take risks on or around railway tracks. Sometimes, it’s a simple split-second decision that can have devastating—and life-long—consequences. Our mission at Operation Lifesaver (OL) Canada is to prevent these tragedies from happening.
We first held Rail Safety Week (September 18th to 24th) back in 2003 as a way to promote safety-conscious attitudes toward railways and safe driving skills, and to encourage Canadians to obey railway signs and signals. During that first Railway Safety Week, we held mock collisions, safety blitzes, and other initiatives to deliver the rail safety message to the public.
But over the past two decades, the week has grown into so much more.
Holding rail safety events across North America
Rail tragedies don’t just happen in this country—they occur across North America. That’s why today, Rail Safety Week is no longer just a Canada-wide event.
In 2017, Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) in the United States got on board, and in 2020, the Mexican Association of Railroads (AMF) followed suit. Now, every year, we work with OLI and the AMF to plan and organize rail safety events across Canada, the United States, and Mexico—making it a truly North American effort.
In 2017, OL Canada moved its Rail Safety Week from April to September to better coordinate activities with OLI in the U.S. The two organizations now work together to spearhead several initiatives, such as Operation Clear Track, the single largest rail-safety law enforcement initiative in North America. Taking place on September 19th this year, it’s one of the ways we work with police and other law enforcement agencies to bring the rail safety message right to pedestrians, drivers, and cyclists.

In 2018, we also launched our #STOPTrackTragedies campaign in partnership with OLI. This video campaign tells the heartbreaking stories of those affected by railway crossing and trespassing incidents: victims, friends and family members, railway employees, and first responders. This year, we will release two new campaign videos during Rail Safety Week, highlighting the devasting consequences of unsafe behaviour on or around railway tracks.

Always looking for new ways to reach Canadians

In addition to well-established Rail Safety Week events like Operation Clear Track and the #STOPTrackTragedies campaign, OL will also announce the winners of its prestigious Roger Cyr Awards this week — recognizing Rail Safety Ambassadors and communities that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to promoting rail safety in Canada. We’ll also partner with municipalities across the country to unveil dozens of “Look. Listen. Live.” decals and signs as part of our Community Safety Partnership Program. Finally, because it’s never too early to teach young Canadians about rail safety, we’ll also be hosting readings of our Thomas & FriendsTM Stay Safe story book at venues across Canada, and giving out free Thomas books and stickers.  
We’re excited about everything that we have planned for our 20th annual Rail Safety Week ― and we want to thank all of our partners for their contributions to the week’s success over the past two decades. To find out more about OL Canada and the Rail Safety Week events that are happening in your community, check out our website, and follow us on on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And remember to share OL’s Rail Safety Week social media messages with your loved ones using the hashtags #STOPTrackTragedies and #RSW2023. It could save a life.