Watch out for trains

Playing around railway tracks can result in tragic consequences.

Playing around railway tracks can result in tragic consequences.

In 2011, 42 people were seriously injured and 70 people were killed after being struck at road-rail crossings or trespassing on railway tracks across Canada.

Rail Safety Week, which runs from April 30 to May 6, is a good time to remind ourselves about safe behaviour around tracks and trains. Here are three important tips to always keep in mind:

1. Always expect a train – Just because you haven’t seen a train at a crossing recently, doesn’t mean there is not one approaching. Always listen for warning bells and whistles, and make sure you check both ways before crossing. When on foot or bicycle, make sure to turn off your headphones. When in your car, open the window and turn down distracting fans, heaters and radios until the crossing is safely cleared. Children should always be supervised when around rail crossings.

2. Obey all warning signs and signals – Pay attention to the crossbuck signs that indicate a roadway/railway crossing. Some busier crossings also have lights and bells or gates. Never drive around lowered gates—it’s illegal and potentially deadly. If you suspect a signal is malfunctioning, call the 1-800 number posted on or near the crossing signal or contact your local law enforcement agency.

3. Respect private property – Railway tracks may look like a great place to ride your bike or take a walk, but, trespassing on the railway’s private property is illegal and unsafe. An average freight train travelling at 100 km/h requires more than a kilometre to stop. That’s the length of 11 football fields!

Transport Canada’s Rail Safety inspectors help make our railways safe by inspecting locomotives, rail cars, tracks, equipment, right-of-ways and all other aspects of railway operations. The inspectors also work with local governments and residents to ensure railway crossings operate safely with visible signage, crossing lights, bells and gates, and coordination with traffic intersections.