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Rails are roads for trains

Lorraine Graves   Dec-13-2018

Screen grab from Google


Those trains can be long and the minutes click by slowly if you’re stuck waiting for one to pass but death is forever. CN Rail Police ask the public to think of their safety when it comes to trains.

According Jonathan Abecassis, manager for media relations with CN Police, “In 2017, more than 222 accidents occurred in Canada, resulting in 72 fatalities and 44 serious injuries. Disregard for railroad crossing signals and gates and distracted driving were the main causes of those accidents.”

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Statistics are clear. Scientists have measured it. Three seconds, just enough for a quick glance, certainly less time than it takes to read a text, are enough for a disaster on the road. Be it a coffee cup, a phone or fiddling with the radio, in those three seconds a child can run out onto the road, a train gate can close, or the car in front of you can stop suddenly.

And, Abecassis says, if the public doesn’t act safely, the CN Police are there to enforce. They can hand out substantial tickets. Did you know you can get a $150 ticket for walking along the tracks? It is akin to walking down the middle of a road, a road where a fully loaded vehicle, a train, can take 1.5 kilometres to stop after it sees you. From the time an engineer sees you, reacts, and activates the brakes, the train could be much closer than that.

Under section 44 of the Railway Safety Act, CN Police have the same powers as every other police officer in Canada in that they can detain, arrest, use force and search. They can carry guns. They have the authority to enforce both federal and provincial laws within 500 metres of railway property. The edge of railway property often extends quite a distance out from the tracks.

Abecassis says, “Not only is it dangerous to disregard signals or signs at railroad crossings, but it is illegal. Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act in BC states that all motorists must obey the signs and control devices at crossings. Please take the time to be aware of your surroundings and watch for railway crossings in your community.”

He says, “The CN Police Service will be on patrol in your community and want to send a strong reminder to obey the crossing signals and signs. Be aware of your surroundings and look, listen, live.”

Safety tips:

• Trains and cars do not mix. Never race a train to the crossing – even if you tie, you lose.

• Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly. Even if the locomotive engineer sees you, a train can take 1.5 km or more to stop. That’s 18 football fields!

• Never drive around lowered gates – it is illegal and extremely dangerous.

• Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a railroad crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping. Remember, the train is much wider than the tracks on both sides.

• If your vehicle ever stalls on a track with a train coming, exit the vehicle immediately and move quickly AWAY from the tracks in the direction from which the train is coming. Contact the railway company concerned for assistance.


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