- Article 21 – General requirements
- Article 22 – Temporary protection measures
- Article 23 - Exemptions / Notice of Railway Works
- Article 24 – Sharing of information
- Article 25 – Out of service railway lines and warning systems
- Article 26 – Maze barriers and guide fencing
- Article 27 – Blocked crossings
- Article 28 – Whistling cessation
Article 21 - General Requirements
The Grade Crossings Regulations (GCR) apply to all public and private grade crossings, except for private grade crossings at which the road is opened or maintained by a railway company that is the sole private authority at the crossing. However, it is considered an engineering best practice to apply the GCR at all grade crossings, not only at those legally governed by those Regulations.
Signal enclosures should be kept clean and should not be used for storing material, tools, or supplies, unless special provisions are made. They should not be opened in severe or stormy weather unless necessary (e.g., an emergency maintenance call) or means are provided to protect their contents.
Any modification, alteration or addition of a warning system component must be indicated on the design plans. Such changes must be dated and initialed by the person making the change. When a change is made, a revised design plan reflecting the modification or installation must be prepared to replace the former, annotated plan at the site (GCR 93(3)).
Doors covers and fastenings should be kept in good condition with suitable gaskets in place.
All instrument housings of a warning system must be kept locked with an approved device when unattended (GCR 92).
Signal Equipment Service Bulletin
Railway equipment service bulletins, traffic signal/interconnected components with a warning system bulletins and all software revisions should be reported to Transport Canada so that any equipment and/or software issues can be reported nationally.
Average Annual Daily Railway Movements
Average annual daily railway movements must be provided to the road authority, if that value is three (3) or greater, and it increases by 50% or more relative to the previous value provided to the road authority. (GCR 8)
Average Annual Daily Traffic
When a road authority has recalculated the Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT) of a grade crossing, the updated value should be communicated to the railway company if that value has increased by 20% or more relative to the previous value provided to the railway.
Various tools exist to help in calculating the AADT. For locations that are expected to see seasonal variations in the road traffic, the AADT should take these variations into account. Also, the AADT should be re-calculated every five years, or whenever significant project development is planned or carried out in the area.
21.1 Railway Records
Warning system records of inspection, testing, maintenance, malfunctions, and failures, including such that have not been confirmed, must by law be retained for a minimum of two years. The information to be included in these records is detailed below [GCR109(3) and 110(2)].
Note: The GCRrequires that a design plan of the warning system's configuration be kept at the grade crossing at all times. (GCR93).
21.1.1 Inspection, Testing and Maintenance Records
To be considered complete, inspection, testing and maintenance records must contain the following information:
- The identity of the person who conducts the inspection testing or maintenance.
- The date on which the inspection, testing or maintenance was conducted.
- The precise location of the warning system that was inspected, tested, or maintained.
- The reason for the inspection, testing or maintenance.
- A description of the inspection, testing or maintenance that was conducted.
- An indication of any malfunction of failure of components of the warnings system; and
- An indication of any deviation from the GCS and action taken to remedy it.
The record must be completed on the day on which the railway company inspects, tests, or maintains the warning system and must not be changed once it has been created (GCR109(1) and 109(2)).
The record must be kept for a minimum of two years after the day on which it is created.
Note: If the GCS specify an interval of two or more years between each inspection, test or maintenance activity, a record of the two most recent inspections, tests or maintenance activities must be kept (GCR 109 (3)).
21.1.2 Records of Malfunction, Failure, or Suspected Malfunction or Failure
To be considered complete, records of malfunction, failure, or suspected malfunction or failure must contain the following information:
- The nature of the malfunction, failure, or condition.
- The precise location(s) of the grade crossing(s) in question.
- The date and time at which the railway company was advised or became aware of the malfunction, failure, or condition.
- All measures taken by the railway company to address any threat to the safety of railway operations.
- The date and time at which a representative of the railway company arrived at the grade crossing to
- take the measures referred to at (d), above, and
- remedy the malfunction, failure, or condition.
- All measures taken by the railway company to restore the grade crossing to use or to remedy the malfunction or failure or condition or, if no measures are taken, the reason for this decision; and
- The date and time at which the grade crossing was restored to use, or the malfunction, failure or condition was remedied.
21.1.3 Electronic Record Storage Requirements
For the purposes of compliance with this article, records may be kept in an electronic system, provided that:
- the system is designed so that the integrity of each electronic record is maintained through the application of security measures, including means to uniquely identify the person who authored that record. No two persons must have the same electronic identity.
- the electronic storage of each record is initiated by the person who performed the maintenance, testing or inspection by the end of the day following the day on which the maintenance, testing or inspection was performed.
- the system ensures that no electronic record can be modified in any way or replaced after the record has been transmitted and stored in the system.
- any correction or amendment to an electronic record is electronically stored and retained separately from the electronic record it corrects or amends. Such correction must be used only to correct a data entry error in the original electronic record. The electronic system must uniquely identify the person who made the correction.
- the system provides for records maintenance without corruption or loss of data.
- all electronic records are kept for two years after the day on which they are created. However, if the GCS specify an interval of two or more years between each inspection, test or maintenance activity, the records of the two most recent inspections, tests or maintenance activities must be kept available to the persons who performed the maintenance, tests, or inspections and to those performing the subsequent maintenance, tests, or inspections.
Article 22 - Temporary Protection Measures
The GCRrequires that temporary protection measure be put in place during planned activities at a grade crossing, as well as when a grade crossing warning system is reported as malfunctioning. The specific provisions of those Regulations are provided below.
Note: putting temporary protection measures in place does not eliminate the requirement to ensure compliance to the Grade Crossings Regulations and by reference the Grade Crossings Standards.
GCR 102(1) When a railway company or a road authority undertakes, at a public grade crossing, an activity that could constitute a threat to, or that interferes with, the safety of railway operations, the railway company and the road authority must put in place the necessary protection measures to address the threat or the interference.
GCR 102(2) Within a reasonable period of time before the activity begins, whichever of the two—the railway company or the road authority—undertakes the activity must provide the other with sufficient details about the activity to determine the necessary protection measures to be put in place.
Malfunction, failure, or condition
GCR 103 When a railway company or a road authority is advised or becomes aware that a warning system, or a traffic control device that is interconnected with a warning system, has malfunctioned, or failed, or that a condition exists that may cause a malfunction or failure, the railway company or the road authority has a duty to report.
- notify the other of the malfunction, failure, or condition, even if the existence of the malfunction, failure or condition is not confirmed.
- immediately put in place the necessary protection measures to address any threat to, or interference with, the safety of railway operations.
- immediately after putting in place the protection measures, notify the other of those measures; and
- within a reasonable period, take the necessary measures to restore the use of the grade crossing or remedy the malfunction, failure, or condition.
GCR 102 is designed to provide protection during planned activities at public grade crossings, and it applies to both the railway and the road authority.
GCR103 is designed to provide protection in the event of malfunctions or failures even if they are not confirmed, and it likewise applies to both stakeholders.
22.1 Application of GCR 102 and 103
Below are three examples of the application of GCR 102.
Railway XYZ is scheduling to complete a crossing rehabilitation project the mile 123 Ottawa Sub Main St. crossing. The project is scheduled to start on July 4, 2015 at 09:00.
This project could interfere with, and has the potential to become a threat to, the safety of railway operations.
Temporary protection measures must be established and put in place for compliance with GCR 102(1).
Before XYZ Rail begins the project (or within a reasonable period, as stated in GCR 102(2)), it must communicate the project activities to the applicable road authority to give the latter the opportunity to determine the protection measures needed for both parties to protect safety while the project is carried out.
Once the necessary protection measures have been established by both stakeholders, they are put in place and the project begins with both parties in compliance with GCR 102.
Railway XYZ plans to replace all incandescent light units with new LED lights at the mile 123 Ottawa Sub Main St. crossing.
The work will leave the warning system without visible light units to warn the public of approaching trains while the changes are being made. This could constitute a threat to, or interfere with, the safety of railway operations.
Temporary protection measures must be established and put in place for compliance with GCR102 (1).
Before XYZ Rail begins the project (or within a reasonable period, as stated in GCR102(2)), it must communicate the project activities to the applicable road authority to give the latter the opportunity to determine the protection measures needed for both parties to protect safety while the project is carried out.
Once the necessary protection measures have been established by both stakeholders, they are put in place and the project begins, with both parties in compliance with GCR102.
The road authority is planning to carry out brushing and ditching along the road approaches at mile 123 Ottawa Sub of XYZ Rail.
The machinery that will be used to perform the work will obstruct the visibility of the light units from the road approaches, which may prevent crossing users from seeing approaching trains. This could constitute a threat to, or interfere with, the safety of railway operations.
Temporary protection measures must be established and put in place for compliance with GCR102 (1).
Before the road authority begins the project (or within a reasonable period, as stated in GCR102(2)), it must communicate the project activities to XYZ Rail to give the latter the opportunity to determine the protection measures needed for both parties to protect safety while the work is carried out.
Once the necessary protection measures have been established by both stakeholders, they are put in place and the project begins, with both parties in compliance with GCR102.
Scheduled railway testing and the application of GCR 102
When testing routinely interferes with and has the potential to become a threat to the safety of railway operations and is conducted according to the same process/procedure every time, temporary protection measures must be established and put in place for compliance with GCR 102(1).
In this case, the necessary temporary protection measures required by each party while the activity takes place can be determined one time only, well in advance of the first scheduled test. (In most cases, these measures will be put in place by the railway, since it is responsible for the testing; but in some cases, the road authority may require additional measures to be applied, such as when device interconnection is tested, or when a warning system being tested is interrupting the normal flow of traffic or the normal operation of adjacent warning systems.) Once the necessary protection measures have been agreed upon by both parties (and the testing process/procedure has been provided, ideally in writing, to the other party), there is no need to contact the other party again, unless a change is made to the testing procedure, or the road authority has requested to be contacted each time the activity takes place.
22.2 Application of GCR 103
The local road authority receives a call from a citizen claiming that XYZ Rail's warning system at mile 123 Ottawa Sub is not working correctly.
To follow GCR103, the road authority contacts XYZ Rail to notify it of the reported malfunction, even though that malfunction has not yet been confirmed.
The road authority also decides that the police should be dispatched to the location immediately, and an alternative route created. These temporary protection measures are immediately communicated to XYZ Rail. XYZ Rail in turn informs the road authority of the measures it has put in place (General Bulletin OrderFootnote 7 issued, railway police dispatched, repair/inspection crew dispatched, etc.) and verifies that the threat or interference to the safety of railway operations is properly addressed.
XYZ Rail personnel verifies that the warning system is operating properly or makes any necessary repairs. Once proper operation is confirmed, XYZ Rail contacts the road authority, at which point both parties begin the process of having the temporary protection measures removed and returning to normal operations.
Article 23 - Exemptions / Notice of Railway Works
Exemption provisions exist under the Railway Safety Act (RSA). For information on exemption authorities under the RSA, please visit Transport Canada's website to read the Guideline on Applying for Exemption or Filing of a Notice of Exemption.
23.1 Notice of Railway Works
The Notice of Railway Works Regulations provide requirements on what types of railway works that would require a Notice to be given and to whom. This serves to ensure that all persons, which might be directly affected, are given the opportunity to object to the proposed works, if the person considers that the proposed railway work would prejudice their safety or the safety of their property.
More information pertaining to the Notice of Railway Works Regulations can be found at the following website.
In addition to providing a Notice to affected parties, a copy of a Notice must also be sent to the Director of the regional Transport Canada Railway Safety Directorate office having jurisdiction over the railway line at the location of the proposed railway works. For regional contact information please refer to Appendix F.
23.2 Undertaking of Proposed Railway Works
A proposed railway work is one in respect of which a Notice has been given under RSA 8(1) and, includes a period specified in that Notice for the filing of any safety-related objections.
More information can be found in Transport Canada's Guideline on Requesting Approval to Undertake Certain Railway Works at the following website.
23.3 Departure from any Engineering Standard
Section 10 of the RSA provides a means for stakeholders to present a request to the Minister, when a project departs from Transport Canada Engineering Standards. For a list of TC Engineering Standards, please consult Transport Canada's website.
Under subsection 10(1) of the RSA, where a proponent wishes to propose a railway work that departs from an Engineering Standard in effect under section 7 of the RSA, the proponent must first request the approval of the Minister and, if approval is obtained, must undertake the work in accordance with the terms and conditions of that approval.
For more information pertaining to Submitting Proposed Engineering Standards or Revisions to Engineering Standards can be found on Transport Canada's website.
23.4 Engineering Works
Section 11 of the RSA requires that all work relating to railway works— including, but not limited to, design, construction, evaluation, maintenance, and alteration—must be done in accordance with sound engineering principles, and that all engineering work relating to the railway works must be approved by a professional engineer.
More information on the application of section 11 can be found in the Guideline - Engineering Work Relating to Railway Works on Transport Canada's website.
Article 24 - Sharing of Information
For existing public grade crossings, railway companies and road authorities are required to share prescribed information with each other within two years of the coming into force of the GCR(by November 28th, 2016). This is to give each party time to assess the safety of its infrastructure and plan accordingly. The GCRset out the specific information that must be shared between both authorities to ensure the highest level of safety at their grade crossing. In addition, railway companies and road authorities are required to share information when a new grade crossing is constructed and when a grade crossing undergoes an alteration or operational change. Railway companies will also be required to keep records of the most recent information shared between parties.
Information sharing is intended to foster a collaborative environment between railway companies and road authorities, which are jointly responsible for the overall safety at grade crossings.
Note: It is important that the road authority and the railway collaborate when sharing the information mentioned in sections 4 to 18 of the GCR, to ensure that none of the crossing's characteristics creates a potential risk to safe railway operations.
The railway has provided all the information required under sections 4 to 11 of the GCR to the relevant road authority, and the road authority has in turn provided all the information required under sections 12 to 18 to the railway. However, the commitment to safety does not end there. This information must be reviewed to verify that the warning systems in place are adequate for the users of the grade crossing. A review of the information provided by the road authority and railway should be conducted to determine whether the grade crossing in question needs safety improvements. Article 9 of the GCS should be reviewed to verify that the minimum safety standards are in place at the crossing.
Note: See Article 31 of this Handbook for information on grade crossing safety assessments.
Sections 4 to 18 of the GCRset out in detail what information must be shared, and when. The following articles are adapted from those sections of the GCRand provide further explanation.
24.1 Railway requirements
In the case of a change referred to in subsection 28(a) or 28(b) or section 87 of the GCRa railway company must provide a road authority, in writing, no later than 60 days before the day on which the change comes into effect, with the details of the change and the information referred to in subsection 4(1) of the GCRrelating to the change (GCR5).
The railway has decided to change the warning system light units from incandescent to LED. The railway is required to share the details of the change with the road authority. However, it need not provide all the information specified in subsection 4(1) only that specified in paragraph 4(1)(e) relating to the change.
XYZ rail wants to increase its design speed to allow it to operate on a higher class of track. Sixty days before the change is to take effect, the railway must notify the relevant road authority of the proposed change. This gives the road authority sufficient time to assess the potential impact of the change on road users and put in place, as needed, any measures necessary to mitigate the risk associated with the change. (A change in railway design speed could impact the interconnection times required at a grade crossing; it is important that the road authority be made aware of this.)
- A railway company must notify a road authority in writing of an increase in the railway design speed at a public grade crossing, not later than 60 days before the day on which the increase takes effect and must specify in the notice the precise location of the grade crossing and the new railway design speed (GCR 6).
- Despite sections 5 and 6 of the GCR, a railway company may make a change referred to in those sections, at any time, if the road authority has advised it that the requirements of the GCR with which the road authority must comply, with respect to the railway company's changes, are met (GCR 7).
- A railway company must provide a road authority with the average annual daily railway movements when that value is three or more, and the value increases by 50% or more relative to the previous value provided to the road authority (GCR 8).
- If a railway company stops requiring the use of a whistle at a grade crossing, it must notify the road authority of that change in writing no later than 30 days after the day on which the change is made (GCR 9).
- If a line of railway at a public grade crossing is transferred from one railway company to another, the railway company to which the line of railway is transferred must, within seven days after the day on which the transfer takes effect, provide the road authority with the name, address, telephone number and email address of a contact person (GCR 10).
Note: See Appendix H for a sample sharing of information form designed as a job aid to assist railway companies with the information sharing process.
24.2 Road Authority requirements
In the case of a change referred to in GCRsubsection 28(c) or 28(d), or any of the sections from 88 to 91, inclusive, a road authority must provide a railway company, in writing, no later than 60 days before the day, on which the change comes into effect, with the details of the change and the information referred to in subsection 12(1) of the GCRrelating to that change (GCR13).
The road crossing design speed increases, resulting in a road classification change or a change in the design vehicle for the crossing.
- A road authority must notify the railway company in writing of an increase in the road crossing design speed at a public grade crossing not later than 60 days before the day on which the increase takes effect and must include in the notice the information referred to in paragraphs 12(1)(a), (d), (h) and (i) of the GCR (GCR 14).
- A road authority must provide the railway company with the information referred to in paragraphs 12(1)(a), (l) and (m) of the GCR not later than 60 days before the day on which an interconnected traffic signal referred to in Article 19 of the GCS, or a Prepare to Stop at Railway Crossing sign, is installed or is changed (GCR 15).
- If a road, at a public grade crossing, is transferred from one road authority to another, the road authority to which the road is transferred must, within seven days after the day on which the transfer takes effect, provide the railway company with the name, address, telephone number and email address of a contact person (GCR 17).
- The information referred to in sections 4 to 6, 8, 9 and 12 to 15 of the GCR must include the date on which it is sent, the name and address of the railway company / road authority, and the name, telephone number and email address of the person who provides the information (GCR 11 and 18).
Note: See Appendix G for a sample sharing of information form designed as a job aid to assist road authorities with the information sharing process.
Article 25 - Out of Service Railway Lines and Warning Systems
- On lines where railway operations have ceased temporarily, the line or portion of it, can be considered out-of-service or not-active. If a railway company places a line, or part of a line, out-of-service, it may nonetheless still be required to continue inspecting and testing grade crossing warning systems on the out-of-service portion of that line. Unless the line has been discontinued through the CTA discontinuance process, the line is considered active for the purpose of the RSA, and Transport Canada will continue to monitor its compliance with the rules and regulations pursuant to the RSA. (See Article 2 for more information on amendments to the GCR timelines.)
- To minimize road user confusion, grade crossing light units or railway signs (i.e., Railway Crossing sign) should be bagged/covered, and gates, where used, should be held in the vertical position.
- A sign indicating that railway lines and warning systems are out-of-service should be put in place to notify road users that the track has been placed out-of-service and that trains are no longer expected over this grade crossing. The sign should include an emergency contact number, the precise location of the grade crossing affected, and the railway company name.
- The railway company should inform the affected municipalities and road authorities, in advance of the line is placed out-of-service.
Before an out-of-service railway line can be returned to service, the following conditions must be met:
Before the railway company operates equipment on any portion of an out-of-service railway line, full inspections must be performed of all grade crossing warning systems and all tests required under sections 93(2), 95 and 96 of the GCR and as per tables 17-1, 17-2, and 20-1 of the GCS must be completed before the company begins operation over the grade crossings on that portion of line. Once tests are completed, and company has confirmed the grade crossings are compliant to the GCR, any covered signs or light units can be uncovered, within seven days prior to resumption of operation.
Note: Any component, relay, or other electromagnetic device that fails to meet the requirements of the GCR must be removed from service and must not be restored to service until its operating characteristics are within its operating limits. Repaired or replaced components must be inspected in accordance with GCR 94(2).
The railway company must issue a bulletin with the following instructions:Footnote 8
“Due to the possibility of rusty rail conditions, railway equipment must approach all public/private crossings that are equipped with automatic warning devices within the portion of track that is out-of-service, in a “Prepare to stop” manner, and must not obstruct the crossing surface until the warning system without gates are seen to be operating for at least 20 seconds or until a crew member has provided manual protection of the grade crossing or until the gates (when provided) of a warning system have been in the horizontal position for at least 5 seconds.”
- The railway company must modify the rail traffic control system on the affected subdivisions to prevent issuance of a clearance until the rail traffic controller has received notice from engineering services that the line has been inspected and is safe for the operation of railway equipment. This involves testing all of crossing signals on the section of line for which a clearance is to be issued. On other than main tracks, an operating bulletin must be issued to prevent operation until notice has been received from engineering services that the line has been inspected and is safe for the operation of railway equipment. The railway must provide assurance that these provisions will prevent railway equipment movement on the line before signal testing has been performed.
- Upon the return to service of the of the formerly out-of-service railway line, the railway company resumes all maintenance, inspections and tests specified in Tables 17-1, 17-2 and 20-1 of the GCS and sections 93(2), 95 and 96 of the GCR.
- The railway informs affected municipalities and road authorities in advance of any reinstatement of maintenance, inspections, or testing.
Article 26 - Maze Barriers and Guide Fencing
Maze barriers and guide fencing are designed to channel pedestrian movements to a designated crossing area and limit the number of potential pedestrian-rail conflict points. Fences are used to create a “maze” that slows pedestrians as they approach the crossing.
Proper channelization ensures that pedestrians will use a crossing as intended. Channelization treatments should be installed in such a way that pedestrians (or cyclists) are not able to easily circumvent them.
Figure 26-1 shows an example of pedestrian barriers installed in a maze, or zigzag, style pattern on sidewalks. The configuration of the paths forces pedestrians to slow down and face the direction of approaching railway equipment along the railway right-of-way. Maze barriers and guide fencing should be used only at pedestrian crossings, sidewalk paths or trails with adequate sight distance.
GCR 106(3) If a warning system without a gate is indicated as being required in Table D-1 of the Grade Crossings Standards, guide fencing must be installed to deter persons from crossing the line of railway other than at the grade crossing.
GCR 106(4) If a warning system is not indicated as being required in column 5 of Table D-1 of the Grade Crossings Standards, guide fencing must be installed, as well as a barrier that is intended to slow a person's approach to the grade crossing and to encourage a person to look both ways before crossing the grade crossing.
Guard rails, when required or requested by the road authority, should be installed by the road authority per the latter's specifications (AREMA 3.1.35(6)).
Guard rail, bollards, fences, and other obstructions must not interfere with a warning system's operation and maintenance area or obstruct sightlines or the visibility of light units (AREMA 3.1.35(7)).
The presence of vulnerable road users (VRU) at grade crossings in particular persons using assistive devices is a significant factor for assessing risk at a grade crossing. Special consideration should be given to accessibility needs for persons with mobility impairments.
Reference Appendix M of this Handbook to find further guidance on VRU treatments.
Figure 26-1 Typical Pedestrian Maze Barrier for Public Grade Crossing
Figure 26-2 Example image of Pedestrian Maze Barrier for Public Grade Crossing
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration
Article 27 - Blocked Crossings
27.1 Public Crossings
A public grade crossing is said to be blocked when railway equipment, either by standing on the crossing surface or by activating a warning system with gates while switching, prevents road users from using the crossing. If there are no road users waiting to cross, the crossing is not considered blocked.
Blocking a public grade crossing should be always avoided. Not only is a blocked crossing a nuisance to road users; it can also create a safety concern if, for example, it prevents emergency responders from reaching their destination. The GCR have provisions to prevent this, including stipulating a maximum time limit during which public grade crossings can be blocked while road users are waiting to cross and a process for resolving grade crossing obstruction issues. They are:
GCR 97(1) It is prohibited for railway equipment to be left standing in a manner that causes the activation of the warning system at a public grade crossing other than for the purpose of crossing that grade crossing.
GCR 97(2) It is prohibited for railway equipment to be left standing on a crossing surface, or for switching operations to be conducted, in a manner that obstructs a public grade crossing—including by the activation of the gate of a warning system—for more than five minutes when vehicular or pedestrian traffic is waiting to cross it.
GCR 98 (1) If railway equipment is operated in a manner that regularly causes the obstruction of a public grade crossing, including by the activation of a warning system, and the municipalityFootnote 9 with the grade crossing is located declares in a resolution that the obstruction of a public grade crossing creates a safety concern, the railway company and road authority must collaborate to resolve the safety concern.
GCR 99 Despite sections 97 and 98, if an emergency vehicle requires passage across a grade crossing, a company must take all necessary measures to immediately clear the grade crossing.
GCR 100(1) A road authority must take measures to ensure that motor vehicles do not stop on the crossing surface of a public grade crossing, if there is evidence that queued traffic regularly stops on that crossing surface.Footnote 10
27.1.1 Blocked Public Grade Crossing
The first step in addressing a blocked public grade crossing is to determine whether it poses, or is likely to pose, a safety concern.
There is a safety concern if railway equipment blocks a public grade crossing on a regular basis and may consequently cause physical harm, property loss and/or an environmental impact, regardless of the length of time that it blocks the crossing. As stated earlier, for example, blocking a public grade crossing that is on the primary access route of an emergency vehicle would be a valid safety concern that could require immediate action.
Once it has been established that a blocked public grade crossing poses a safety concern, the municipality must be notified. Once the municipality has been notified, safety concerns are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the road authority/municipality and the railway company. Together they must attempt to resolve any safety concerns by following the procedure set out in section 98 of the GCR, which can be summarized as follows:
- The municipality passes a resolution stating that the blocked crossing is creating a safety concern.
- The municipality, provincial government, or band council (road authority) writes to the Minister of Transport and the railway company to inform them of the resolution.
- The railway company and the road authority work together to resolve the safety concern within 90 days.
If the railway and municipality/road authority cannot reach an agreement within the 90-day period on how to resolve the safety concern related to the blocked public grade crossing, the road authority must notify the Minister of Transport.
The Minister of Transport may take further action to resolve any safety issues.
27.2 Private Crossings
Blocked grade crossings can cause the same concerns at private grade crossings. However, the current Regulations have no provisions for private crossings in this respect. Sections 97(1) and 97(2) of the GCR, apply only to public grade crossings.
27.2.1 How to Resolve a Blocked Private Grade Crossing
The first step in addressing a blocked private grade crossing is to determine whether it poses, or is likely to pose, a safety concern.
There is a safety concern if railway equipment blocks a private grade crossing on a regular basis and may, consequently, cause physical harm, property loss and/or an environmental impact, regardless of the length of time that it blocks the passage.
Here again, blocking a private grade crossing that is on the primary access route of an emergency vehicle could constitute a valid safety concern that could require immediate action. If you witness railway equipment blocking a private grade crossing, contact your Transport Canada regional office (contact information provided in Appendix F) and provide the following information:
- location of the crossing (city and intersection/road)
- date and time
- name of the railway company
- what the train was doing and for how long
The Minister of Transport may take further action, and involve the railway and private authorities, to resolve the matter. Additionally, disputes concerning a private crossing agreement filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) or the suitability of a private grade crossing being maintained by the railway company may be raised with the CTA for ruling.
27.3 What to do in the event of an emergency at a blocked grade crossing
Call the railway company's emergency telephone number immediately if you:
- become aware of an emergency at a Railway Crossing; or
- see an emergency vehicle, such as an ambulance, stopped at a blocked crossing and needing to pass immediately.
At a public grade crossing, you can find the railway company's emergency telephone number and the crossing's location information on the Railway Crossing signs, on a nearby equipment housing compartment known as the signal bungalow, or on the flasher masts facing approaching traffic.
Make sure to give the railway company the location of the blocked crossing and a description of the emergency so it can take immediate action to clear the crossing and prevent railway movement on all tracks affected. Next, you should contact your municipality.
At a private grade crossing, there may or may not be an emergency notification sign. If an emergency contact number is not provided, call 911 or, where 911 is not available, your local police or fire service.
Article 28 - Whistling Cessation
Train whistling is the sounding of a whistle or horn when a train approaches a public grade crossing. Train whistling is essential in keeping drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians safe when using public grade crossings. The Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) requires trains to sound their whistle when they approach a public grade crossing.
Whistling cessation is the act of putting an end to train whistling when a train approaches a public grade crossing. Train whistling can be bothersome to people living close to public grade crossings. As a result, some municipalities may wish to end train whistling to provide those residents with some relief from the noise.
The RSA allows municipalities to implement whistling cessation at public grade crossings if certain safety requirements are met. These are detailed in sections 104 to 107 of the GCR and Appendix D of the GCS. The requirements vary according to railway design speed, vehicle and pedestrian use, the number of railway tracks and the history of trespassing and other incidents at the grade crossing, among other considerations, and may include flashing lights, bells, or gates.
The GCR prescribe the area inside of which train whistling may be prohibited under section 23.1 of the RSA. The GCRalso prescribe the safety devices required inside of this area. For example, to be granted whistling cessation, a grade crossing may be required to have a warning system, and that warning system must meet the GCS Articles 12 to 16 (GCR104 to 107).
28.1 The Process
The process for municipalities to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing is detailed in the Procedure for Eliminating Train Whistling at Public Grade Crossings in Appendix D to this document.
In summary, the municipality must.
- consult with the railway company to assess whether whistling cessation at the grade crossing would still allow the safety requirements of the GCR and the GCS to be satisfied.
- notify the public and other interested parties of the municipality's intent to stop the whistling; and
- pass a council resolution to have the whistling stopped.
After a resolution for whistling cessation is passed, both the municipality and the railway company are responsible for maintaining and monitoring the conditions supporting the whistling cessation. Recurring occurrences of trespassing and vehicle-train collisions, among other events, could result in a re-evaluation of the conditions that allowed whistling cessation. In some instances, the railway company and municipality may decide to reinstate whistling.
Note: Transport Canada can at any time order a railway company to reinstate whistling at a public crossing after a resolution is passed if the railway company or the municipality fails to maintain the conditions supporting the cessation of train whistling.