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Transport Canada would like to modify the Grade Crossings Regulations

27 Jan 2021 12:30 PM | Christine Heggart (Administrator)

Click this link to be redirected to Government of Canada website with consultation forums at the bottom of the page. Consultation closes February 3, 2021.

Transport Canada wants to hear from stakeholders and the Canadian public. Your opinions and feedback are important.

There are about 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along more than 40,000 kilometers of federally-regulated railway tracks in Canada.

The Grade Crossings Regulations and Grade Crossings Standards help improve safety by setting broad and enforceable safety standards for both new and existing grade crossings in Canada.

More information about the Grade Crossing Regulations(External link)

The regulations require any railway company, road authority or private owner of an existing crossing to comply with the requirements of the regulations by November 28, 2021.

Over the past year, stakeholders have expressed concerns about the deadline and their ability to meet the requirements.

Public crossings

Due to the ongoing pandemic, municipalities and railway companies are faced with increasing challenges to make the upgrades required by the regulations. With only one construction season left, their ability to meet the 2021 deadline is almost impossible since most public crossings still need work.

Private crossings

Railway companies had issues identifying private crossing owners which delayed their assessments of work to be done, and they have just started communicating the results of these assessments. There are concerns over costs and future access to property. Since only a few private crossings already comply with the 2021 requirements, it is unlikely that all private crossings will be compliant by the deadline.

Transport Canada has looked at the situation and is considering a plan to address it.

Transport Canada is proposing a tiered, risk-based approach to changing the regulations. This approach would help us respond to stakeholders’ concerns while also keeping our original safety goals intact.

1. Change the scope of the regulations so that defined low-risk crossings don’t need to meet all requirements

The regulations would be updated so that low-risk public and private crossings don’t need to meet all requirements. This permanent change would affect grade crossings with very low train and traffic volumes (like many field-to-field crossings used by farmers, as well as public and private crossings on rail lines that are no longer being used). We would develop a measurable way to identify whether a crossing is low-risk.

These changes would address concerns from private landowners who are facing high costs for upgrading crossings that see little traffic. It would also allow companies and road authorities to avoid spending money to upgrade grade crossings that they won’t be using.

2. Extend the deadline using a risk-based approach for all grade crossings

Extending the deadline using a risk-based approach would allow parties to prioritize work and resources to focus on compliance for the highest-risk crossings as quickly as possible. Since the current regulations don’t include such a process and given the amount of work to do, railway companies and road authorities are not able to use the existing framework to address the emerging issues.

Transport Canada is proposing to extend the deadline by:

  • one year for high-risk grade crossings and
  • three years for all other crossings

Transport Canada would develop a measurable way to identify whether a crossing is high risk.

Safety at crossings is still a priority. These changes would give all stakeholders the time to agree on work plans, get funding, and make the required upgrades. The safety benefits would be kept by making sure that crossings that are considered high-risk are dealt with first.

For additional information contact Rail Safety Consultations (TC) link)

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