An investment in rail safety

Cathy McLeod, Member of Parliament for Kamloops – Thompson- Cariboo, announced last week that the Government of Canada is investing $1,315,000 for 204 high-priority rail safety projects, with $54,000 being invested in nine railway crossings in the riding.

This new funding under the Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP) will primarily be used to replace existing incandescent lights with light-emitting diode (LED) signals at rail crossings. This will have an immediate positive impact on rail safety in Canada.

This amount is over and above the close to $11 million Transport Canada announced in April 2010 to upgrade 155 high-priority rail grade crossings across Canada.

“Canada maintains one of the safest rail transportation systems in the world as a result of shared efforts between numerous partners, including governments, rail companies and communities,” said McLeod, on behalf of the Honourable Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport). “These are life-saving projects that will improve the safety of railway crossings in our region.”

Crossing collisions have dropped significantly in recent years, thanks in part to Transport Canada’s collaboration with the rail industry, police, unions, and many other public organizations and community groups. For example, according to the Transportation Safety Board, the number of crossing collisions decreased by 4 per cent in 2010 from the previous year and by 21 per cent compared to the previous five-year average (2005-2009).

The Government of Canada continues to work closely with railway companies and communities across Canada to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements. Through the GCIP, the government funds up to

80 per cent of safety enhancement costs at grade crossing sites across the country.

The LED replacement initiative is the result of a study on LED Technology for Improved Conspicuity of Signal Lights at Highway-Railway Grade Crossings sponsored by Transport Canada (TC) and its stakeholders. This study led to the development of the Canadian standard for LED signals at grade crossings. TC has identified higher-risk crossings and is funding replacements at these sites under the GCIP.