Private grade crossings

If you have a private grade crossing that's affected by the Grade Crossings Regulations, this is what you need to know.

Existing federally-regulated grade crossings must meet the requirements of the Grade Crossings Regulations by November 28, 2021. To see if a grade crossing is federally-regulated, look for your crossing on the grade crossings map. If your grade crossing isn't listed on the map, please contact us.

New or changed grade crossings

If you're changing an existing crossing or building a new one you must meet the regulations immediately.

Look up the Grade Crossings Handbook for more information on how to follow the regulations.

On this page

About the Regulations

The Grade Crossings Regulations come into effect on November 28, 2021 and will help improve safety at Canada's 9,000 private grade crossings.

The regulations aim to improve safety at grade crossings by:

Agreements with the railways

If a private road owner and a railway company have an agreement filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), their agreement overrules the roles and responsibilities listed in the regulations.

If an agreement exists and you can't find a copy, contact the railway or CTA to get a copy. If you're not sure what railway company is operating on your land, you can find this information on the grade crossings map.

Responsibilities of the private crossing owners

As the owner of a private road that crosses over tracks of a railway, you have a role to play in making sure the requirements of the regulations are met by November 28, 2021. You must make sure that any of your new or existing private grade crossings meet the requirements of the regulations.

Private crossing owners must (where applicable):

  • Maintain a road approach outside of the railway right-of-way (contact the railway company to find out where railway property ends and yours begins)
  • Install and maintain traffic control devices, like a stop sign, on your land, if it isn't on the same post as the railway crossing sign (also known as crossbuck)
  • Make sure good sightlines are provided over your land, up to the railway right-of-way, and are clear of any obstructions (i.e. Trees, brush, stored materials, equipment)

To meet minimum sightline requirements, the regulations have flexible options that include reducing vehicle speed, or installing a warning system.

One of the main factors that helps with deciding what sightlines might be needed, is the design vehicle. A “design vehicle” is the type of vehicle that typically would be the longest and slowest vehicle expected to regularly use the grade crossing. Railway companies are responsible for choosing the “design vehicle” for private grade crossings. The railway might contact you to confirm the best “design vehicle” for your crossing, and to discuss what options could best deal with safety at your crossing.

This information is key in deciding what changes may be needed, if any, so that the grade crossing complies with the regulations. You may want to contact the railway company to share this information to make sure the design of the crossing makes sense with your use of it.

For more information on what options could work for your crossing, please refer to the regulations.

Responsibilities of the railway companies

If the railway company's tracks cross a private road, they must follow the requirements of the regulations (see your agreement for any variances to these roles and responsibilities).

Where applicable, railways must:

  • Install and maintain:
    • a railway crossing sign
    • a number of tracks sign
    • an emergency notification sign
  • Maintain the stop sign if it's installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Install and maintain a warning system
  • Install and maintain a crossing surface and a road approach within the railway right-of-way
  • Choosing design speed and the design vehicle for the private crossing
  • Make sure good sightlines are maintained, including removing any trees or brush
    • within the railway right-of-way
    • over land next to the railway right-of-way, other than sightlines over land owned by a private crossing owner.

The standards

Railway companies, road authorities and private crossing owners must work together to make sure that regulations, standards and guidelines are applied and the best options are used to make crossings safe. We inspect grade crossings regularly to make sure they meet the safety requirements outlined in the regulations.

In the unfortunate event that you are unable to satisfy the minimum requirements, you may be subject to penalties for continued non-compliance. An Inspector from Transport Canada would give you their findings before any enforcement action is taken, and would be available to help you understand your options. However, until safety-related concerns are dealt with, one option may be that access to the crossing be restricted in order to make sure that all crossing users can stay safe.

Who's responsible for the cost?

Depending on the agreement you have with the railway company, or the one filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency, the cost might be shared between the road authority/private road owner and the railway. Generally, this information is outlined in the agreement.

If you need additional information on dividing the cost, agreements, or for any rail-related dispute, please contact the Canadian Transportation Agency.

Funding is available

We have funding under the Railway Safety Act for eligible costs related to improving and closing crossings. Our Rail Safety Improvement Program (RSIP) gives funding in the form of grants and contributions to improve rail safety and reduce injuries and deaths related to rail transportation.

You, a railway company or a road authority can apply to see if the proposed project is eligible for funding. For more information, see the Rail Safety Improvement Program website, or contact the Transport Canada Rail Safety Improvement Program via email.

Information for private crossing owners

Other options that would limit your need to follow the regulations include:

  • Grade Crossing Closure
  • Combining Grade Crossings

In order to limit your obligations to meet the Grade Crossings Regulations, one option would be to close the grade crossing or combine your road access with another crossing. In order to close a grade crossing, you and the railway companies must agree to close the crossings. Please contact the railway company to find out more about these options. Funding is available under the Rail Safety Improvement Program.

If you can't come to an agreement, contact the Canadian Transportation Agency to solve the dispute.

Please note that the regulations apply to both seasonal grade crossings as well as crossings that aren't actively in use, unless the grade crossing has been discontinued through the Canadian Transportation Agency process or special permission has been given.

Contact us

For information about safety at your grade crossing, contact the regional offices listed below:

For general inquiries: Transport Canada Rail Safety

Telephone: 613-998-2985
Toll-free: 1-844-897-RAIL (1-844-897-7245)
Facsimile: 613-990-7767
Email: railsafety@tc.gc.ca

Transport Canada Regional Offices Contact Information:

Pacific: 604-666-0011
Prairie and Northern: 1-888-463-0521
Ontario: 416-973-9820
Quebec: 514-633-3400
Atlantic: 506-851-7040