Transport Canada Proposes New Grade Crossing Regulations

The Canadian Minister of Transport , the Honorable Lisa Raitt, has proposed new grade crossing regulations that would establish safety standards for federally regulated grade crossings.

The proposed regulations will  also clarify the responsibilities and mandate the sharing of safety information for railway companies and road authorities.

"A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada's economic well-being,” said Raitt. “While Canada has one of the safest rail systems in the world, we can do better. These proposed regulations will make grade crossings safer and save lives."

The proposed regulations include:

  • Introducing grade crossings standards: Railway companies and road authorities would be required to meet improved safety standards for existing grade crossings and when building or altering grade crossings. This will include the introduction of signs and warning systems. The proposed regulations would affect all federally regulated grade crossings, including approximately 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along 42,650 kilometers of federally regulated railway tracks in Canada.
  • Managing roles, responsibilities, and information sharing: The proposed regulations will require that certain specific safety information be shared between railway companies and road authorities. Responsibility for the design, construction, maintenance and inspection of the crossing surface, signage, and warning systems will be clearly defined.
  • Improving safety features: The proposed regulations require sightlines to be clear of any obstructions such as buildings, structures, trees or brush. Railway companies would not be permitted to leave railway equipment unattended if it impedes visibility at grade crossings. The proposed regulations also include design plans for warning systems and standards for maintaining, inspecting and testing traffic control devices. Records of these activities and of any system malfunctions or failures must be kept for a minimum of two years by railway companies under the proposed regulations.
  • Any activities undertaken at a railway line or road crossing that pose a risk to the safety of railway operations will require temporary protection measures. And the cessation of train whistling in certain areas would also come into force.

The regulations will fall under the authority of the Railway Safety Act. The regulations were published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, on February 8. Stakeholders and the public will have 90 days to comment on the proposed regulations. Comments will be considered before the regulations are finalized and published.

In January 2012, Transport Canada launched a public consultation process to help improve safety management for railway companies and road authorities. The proposed grade crossing regulations are a direct result of that process.