Evaluation of Transport Canada’s Contribution to Operation Lifesaver

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Overview of the Findings and Recommendations

The Evaluation & Advisory Services of Transport Canada (TC) conducted an evaluation of Transport Canada's contribution to Operation Lifesaver (OL) in accordance with Section 42.1 of the Financial Administration Act and in response to commitments made to Treasury Board upon the program's renewal in 2009-2010. The findings of this evaluation were to inform policy deliberations in anticipation of a fall 2013 renewal, and therefore the evaluation activities were expedited. Planning, data collection and analysis, and reporting to senior management occurred between late May and July 2013. Details of the evaluation methodology can be found at the end of the body of this report.

Overall evaluators concluded that there is an ongoing need for public outreach in rail safety. The federal government and stakeholders, notably the rail industry and provinces, all have a role to play in its delivery. Through its support to Operation Lifesaver, the federal government is contributing to the development of rail safety awareness material and its distribution at schools and other public venues. During the three calendar years covered by this evaluation, OL delivered close to 1,500 school presentations and distributed public awareness material at 900 other events. As this level of activity represented a decline over the previous period, OL management is considering new ways of promoting rail safety to its target audience. The current contribution agreement does not stipulate the level of performance that the department expects. The program does monitor OL closely. Given the low level of risk that this small contribution agreement represents, however, Rail Safety's practice of monitoring through participation in OL committees and the delivery of its activities appears excessive. Evaluators recommends that Transport Canada better define the activities it expects Operation Lifesaver to deliver and adjust its monitoring practices in keeping with the level of risk represented by this contribution and good practices in contribution funding oversight.


Operation Lifesaver is a national project administered by the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and is intended to raise awareness and educate the public about railway crossing collisions and trespassing incidents. Its activities feature rail safety presentations at schools and other events at public venues during Rail Safety Week and are supported through contribution funding from Transport Canada and dollar-for-dollar matched funding from the sole recipient, the Railway Association of Canada. In-kind contributions are received from industry stakeholders. OL activities are largely carried out by volunteers from the railway industry, police forces, federal and provincial ministries of transportation and education, local commercial organizations (e.g. mining companies) and other public organizations (e.g. universities). (see Logic Model in Figure 1 at the end of this report) The contribution program is currently managed by the Railway Safety Directorate within the Safety and Security Group.

Operation Lifesaver is governed via a multi-level committee structure.

  • The National Advisory Committee provides support and guidance to the National Director on the development and implementation of the OL strategy and program in Canada. Its duties include the development of partnerships; development of priorities for the multi-year plan; resource allocation to provincial activities; and the monitoring of program effectiveness. Current members include representatives of Transport Canada, the Railway Association of Canada, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, VIA Rail Canada Inc., Go Transit, Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, Canada Safety Council, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, l'Agence métropolitaine de transport and provincial representatives of transportation or safety ministries.

  • The Program Review Committee reviews and facilitates the implementation of the OL program in Canada. Its duties include the development and updating of program material and the provision of guidance and support to OL committees, trainers and presenters. Current members include representatives of Transport Canada, the Railway Association of Canada, Canadian National Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, VIA Rail Canada Inc., Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, Go Transit and provincial transportation ministries.

  • OL provincial committees are responsible for promoting OL activities and providing leadership and support in the delivery of the OL program within their region. Local committees are to partner with other stakeholders to ensure broad support; identify local priorities; and budget for, schedule and deliver local events. Currently, there are active provincial committees for all but British Columbia and Saskatchewan. While the composition of the provincial committees varies, they generally include representatives of Transport Canada, railways, provincial ministries, regional police forces and large commercial users of railways or local institutions (e.g. universities).

Operation Lifesaver is administered by the OL National Director, with the support of a full-time assistant and other staff as necessary and as approved by the National Advisory Committee. The National Director is responsible for developing strategic partnerships, administering the operational budget, planning and organizing OL programming across Canada so as to reflect the proposals from provincial committees while aligning with the national mandate.

With the signing of this contribution agreement, Transport Canada committed to provide a total of $1.45 million to the recipient from 2009-2010 through 2013-2014. In return, the recipient committed to "raise public awareness of the potential hazards of road/railway grade crossings and the dangers associated with trespassing on railway property in view to reduce accidents, fatalities and injuries along Canada's railways in communities across the country." In order to do so, the recipient undertook to identify problem areas related to crossings or trespassing; develop strategies to address the problem areas identified; maintain statistics on OL activities; and survey public awareness resulting from their activities.

Given the modest dollar amount of the contribution agreement, it is not expected that OL's activities will have a discernible impact on the thoughts or behaviours of the Canadian public at large. Therefore, this evaluation restricted its analysis to the achievement of more immediate outcomes.


Relevance Summary Finding: There is an ongoing need for public outreach in rail safety. This activity is aligned with the strategic outcomes of the department and federal government at large and is widely viewed to be a shared responsibility with other orders of government and industry.

Finding #1: The continued experience of railway crossing and trespassing incidents suggests an ongoing need for interventions to improve rail safety.

The principal rationale given in support of the relevance of this program is that Canadians continue to be involved in railway grade crossing or trespassing incidents. From 2009 through 2012, on average per year 180 individuals were involved in crossing incidents and 74 in trespassing incidents. Over 30% of reportable crossing incidents and over 65% of reportable trespassing cases resulted in fatalities in those years (see Table 2, at the end of this report). As a result, there was consensus among government and recipient/beneficiary interviewees that there is still a need to support activities that promote railway safety.

Finding #2: Engineering interventions are widely considered to be more effective, but there is a place for social persuasion in the tool kit to improve rail safety.

Rail incidents have decreased considerably over the past three decades. However, it is not clear whether public education is the way to reduce the remaining occurrence of these incidents, and both government and industry stakeholders have questioned this. Nevertheless, there appears to be consensus that engineering interventions—such as grade crossing separations, access control, signage, warning devices (bells) and clearing sight lines—are effective in reducing rail incidents, and there is ample research to this effect (Lobb, 2006; Radbo, 2005; Silla & Luoma, 2011).

Interviewees were unanimous in suggesting that public awareness building communication has a contribution to make to rail safety in the context of a broad set of interventions. Consistent with this perspective, research literature also suggests that educational interventions may best serve as a component of a systems-oriented approach to the prevention of rail incidents (e.g. Silla & Kallberg, 2012).

In the same vein, the Transportation Safety Board (Watchlist, 2010, 2012) advised that a comprehensive solution to rail crossing safety "should include further improving public awareness of the dangers at railway crossings" along with changes to regulations, standards or guidelines, and ongoing safety assessments. Similarly, the Panel for the review of the Rail Safety Act (2006) endorsed the use of public education rail safety programs (OL, Direction 2006), among other efforts, and recommended the department renew or enhance them (Recommendation 37).

Finding #3: The contribution program is consistent with the federal government's commitment to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the security and safety of Canadians (Whole-of-Government, Social Affairs, outcome area #2.2). Activities to further rail safety align with this objective.

Finding #4: The contribution program is consistent with the departmental mandate.

Transport Canada's mission is to serve the public interest through promoting a safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada. In order to do so, the department administers several acts related to transportation, including the Rail Safety Act, which gives the Minister responsibility for rail safety regulation. Section 14 of this Act gives the Minister the authority to make a grant to support a "program or study related to education or research that is likely to promote, or make a contribution to, safe railway operations" legitimizing the contribution to OL, and prior sections legitimize the provision of grants for grade crossing closures and construction programs to improve rail safety.

Finding #5: Public education and awareness building regarding rail safety is viewed as a shared responsibility of industry and the federal and provincial governments.

While the Panel for the review of the Rail Safety Act endorsed the continued funding of public awareness programs by the department, it noted that this public education should be viewed as a shared responsibility among the federal and provincial governments and industry (page 130). Notably, the Panel indicated that the provinces should be more involved in educating the public about rail safety, as they do about road safety, and recommended that railway companies should expand their outreach so as to encourage better communication with communities (Recommendation 36).

Interviewees from government and the recipient/beneficiary remarked on this shared responsibility. A number of stakeholders are engaged in providing rail safety awareness programming, especially the major national railways, but also a non-profit organization and representatives of first responder groups. Interviewees indicated that rail police officers from one railway make roughly 10 to 15 school presentations per year in the vicinity of its railway lines while the second railway is committed to ensuring that every Grade 7-8 student in the vicinity of its lines receives safety education at least once in a three year period. VIA Rail delivers the Vélo Plaisir safety program which focuses on bike safety around trains. The non-profit Parachute now delivers the Safe Crossing Program in elementary schools. Law enforcement and emergency personnel were said to collaborate with the industry in the delivery of safety programming at schools and at events held throughout Rail Safety Week. Finally, Canadian industry representatives are on committees for international organizations that reflect a concern for and/or organize events promoting issues related to rail safety (e.g. International Level Crossing Awareness Day, the International Union of Railways, the American Public Transportation Association's Commuter Rail Safety and Security Audit Program, and the Association of Chiefs of Police).


Performance Summary Finding: No performance targets were established for this agreement; however, there is evidence of a decline in organizational activities in the current term as compared to the previous term. There is thin evidence of OL's programming impact on the attitudes or knowledge of participants and no evidence of its impact on their behaviours. Polling data indicates some public awareness of rail safety issues and events.

Finding #6: OL outputs (presentations, other events) declined in the current term as compared to previous term.

Although performance expectations had not been established by the department, interviewees were unanimous in noting that this term has been a challenging one for Operation Lifesaver. OL accomplished less per year during the present term than during the previous term. According to OL's annual reports, the number of OL school presentations has declined from an annual average of 1,521 for the previous period to 323 in 2012 and the number of other events has fallen from an annual average of 686 for the previous period to 226 in 2012. (see Table 2)

Finding #7: OL volunteers were less available in the present term to deliver OL programming as compared to the previous term.

Interviewees were unanimous in attributing the decline in activity to the reduced availability of volunteers. It is reported that a similar strain was felt within the committees, all of which are manned by volunteers. In recent years, members of the Program Review Committee and provincial committees were said to have been less available to attend meetings or contribute to the work of the committee (e.g. developing new products, scheduling future events). Interviewees consistently identified the same core group as having assumed a greater portion of the work load. Analysis of the volunteer data bank suggests a reliance on a few organizations, with 67% of the currently listed volunteers' training having been sponsored by the same two member organizations.

Finding #8: In 2013, OL undertook to adopt a formal strategic approach to identify and address problem areas related to crossings or trespassing.

The 2008-2009 evaluation of Operation Lifesaver recommended that the organization adopt a strategic approach to identify and address problem areas (i.e. high risk locations) for crossing and trespassing incidents, and this was included in the contribution agreement signed in 2009.

In response, a five-year Strategic Plan was developed in the spring of 2013 by members of the National Advisory Committee. The formal plan calls for a demographic approach targeting high risk groups. The plan was said to have resulted from the informal sharing among National Advisory Committee member organizations of their corporate intelligence, which in some cases is reported to be the product of a regular and rigorous review process.

Finding #9: There is qualitative evidence that OL programs may have influenced participants' attitudes or knowledge.

OL programming does not include a formal assessment of participants' learning. Interviewees, however, offered anecdotes from their experiences at public events where visitors indicated they had learned something new at that event or that their children had done so as a result of a school presentation. In addition, interviewees agreed on the high quality of the pedagogical materials produced by OL, and those with safety programs of their own indicated that, rather than reinvent this material, they would use or customize OL material when speaking at schools. This is consistent with findings of the two prior evaluations, specifically the 2008-2009 survey attesting to the quality of the presentation material and the 2002-2003 case studies demonstrating an increase in awareness as a result of exposure to OL events. Hence, it may be argued again that the use of high quality educational material appropriate to the target audience likely had some effect on the beliefs and feelings of audience members in the period under study.

Finding #10: There is public opinion polling evidence to show that Canadians are aware of rail safety issues.

The Railway Association of Canada commissioned a public opinion poll in March 2012 which included questions on awareness of rail safety and OL itself. Results from 2,508 respondents suggest there is some public awareness of rail safety ("15% of Canadians report having seen, heard or read anything done by the railway sector to promote railway safety") and of OL's focal activity ("5% of Canadians say they have seen, heard or read anything about the annual Rail Safety Week"), but less so about OL itself (i.e. 16% of those indicating awareness of rail safety, or roughly 2-3% of Canadians).

Demonstration of Efficiency or Economy

Finding #11: The department's budget to administer the program is high at 19% of its contribution. Actual administrative spending is not known. The beneficiary's spending on administration, as opposed to program delivery, is not clear.

Transport Canada committed to provide $1.45 M in contribution funding from 2009-2010 through 2013-2014. Total spending is forecast to amount to approximately $1.8M over the five years (see below).

 Table 1: Departmental Allocation
  2009-2010 2010-2011 2011-2012 2012-2013 2013-2014 TOTAL
Salaries 41,700 41,700 41,700 71,700 41,700 238,500
EBP 8,340 8,340 8,340 14,340 8,340 47,700
OOC 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 50,000
Contribution 250,000 300,000 300,000 300,000 300,000 1,450,000
TOTAL 310,040 360,040 360,040 396,040 360,040 1,786,200

Departmental budgeted overhead for the program from 2009-2014 was high, at just under 19% of the department's contribution funding. To some extent, the result can be considered an artifact of the low dollar value of the contribution. That being said, some dedicated resources are required to oversee any program, and as a result small programs such as OL will represent a greater comparative administrative burden for the department. Actual overhead spending to support OL is not well documented. The activity is said to be managed "off the desk." Hence, the time that TC management and staff spend supporting the program in various ways (which depending on the individual includes any of claims review, participation in OL committees, reviewing OL materials, developing material for OL, delivering presentations for OL, distributing OL material and explaining the program to the public at other events) is not tracked and so the actual cost to the department is not known.

The contribution agreement does not place a ceiling on OL's administrative spending. {ATIP removed}. However, departmental personnel are unable to use the OL financial information provided to distinguish salary spending on administration from salaries for consultants who develop communication products or individuals who deliver rail safety programming to the public.

Finding #12: The benefits deriving from leverage opportunities are eroding.

The cost effectiveness of OL is based on the leverage opportunities it offers. The agreement requires a matched contribution from the recipient, the Railway Association of Canada. This condition has been met through assessments levied against association members.

The department's contribution can also be viewed as levering non-financial support from member organizations. {ATIP removed}. In this case, in-kind contributions are the out-of-pocket expenses absorbed by committee members or their organizations when members attend committee meetings and by presenters when they deliver OL events. So, the drop in in-kind contributions is another reflection of the reduction in human resources leveraging already alluded to as volunteer involvement wanes.

Program Design and Delivery

Finding #13: Departmental monitoring of Operation Lifesaver is excessive given the level of risk presented by this agreement.

According to the Treasury Board Secretariat's Policy on Transfer Payments, transfer payment programs are to be designed, delivered and managed in a manner that takes account of risk (i.e. specific program risks, materiality of funding and risk profile of the recipients) and clearly demonstrate value for money (Section 5). OL is a low dollar value agreement to support public safety messaging, whose single recipient is a professional organization with considerable managerial and technical capacity. By all accounts the agreement is relatively low risk.

Transport Canada has undertaken to monitor OL's spending through a quarterly review of its expense claims, to monitor its activities through participation in OL committees, to monitor its performance through a review of the annual reports, and to provide technical guidance and support through participation on its National Advisory Committee. As a result, departmental personnel are currently members of all OL committees and the OL Communication Working Group.

Given the low risk of the agreement and the degree of sophistication of the member organizations, it would appear that the investment of departmental personnel's time in monitoring and/or overseeing OL is too high.

Finding #14: Gaps are apparent in monitoring.

Despite Transport Canada's presence on OL committees and the paperwork received from the beneficiary, there would appear to be gaps in the monitoring.

First, as noted previously, the expense claims lack sufficient detail to allow departmental staff to scrutinize the substantial spending on salaries, benefits and contracts so as to distinguish spending on administrative overhead from that on program delivery. Second, since no targets have been set for the recipient, past performance can be described but the level of success cannot be judged. Third, certain reporting requirements in the current agreement are ill-defined or impractical for an agreement of this size (e.g. the end of term impact report). Fourth, the monitoring of OL demand and activities through participation on OL committees means that the department follows decisions made by OL on the activities it will fund after the department has signed the contribution agreement and funds have begun flowing.

Finding #15: TC staff members are undertaking activities for OL for which OL receives contribution funding to deliver.

In response to the 2007 review of the Railway Safety Act, the department established an outreach program for rail safety. Previously, in the absence of its own departmental rail safety outreach program, interviewees indicated that OL had served as the department's outreach arm. As such, it had not appeared unusual that departmental personnel would be active in delivering OL programming.

With the establishment of a formal departmental outreach program, the expressed intent was to ensure that Transport Canada would complement and not overlap with OL's activities. Yet, departmental staff members continue to deliver OL school presentations. Further, through membership in OL committees, departmental staff members continue to work for OL in other ways, such as providing OL training, developing OL materials and planning upcoming regional events and presentations. The most recent job description provided for the promotional safety officers indicates that their role is to "design and deliver safety awareness and information sessions to schools and other areas of the private sector ... both within and external to OL."

It is important to note that the role of departmental staff with respect to transfer payments is to manage the agreement itself (e.g. to disburse payments and monitor that the recipient abides by the terms and conditions of the agreement), and not to administer the project or deliver project activities.


There is an ongoing need for public outreach in rail safety. This activity is aligned with the strategic outcomes of the department and federal government at large and widely viewed to be a shared responsibility with other orders of government and the railway industry.

Although no performance or delivery targets were established in the agreement with the Railway Association of Canada for Operation Lifesaver, there is evidence of a decline in organizational activities in the current term as compared to the previous term. OL's impact on the attitudes, knowledge or behaviours of participants is largely undocumented, however, public opinion polling data reveals some public awareness of rail safety issues and events. Improvements may be made to the department's management of this program. Being a low dollar value contribution, Operation Lifesaver is relatively expensive to administer. Further, given that both the department and the beneficiary are involved in delivering similar activities, it is important to ensure that an appropriate delivery model, and terms and conditions are identified for this program.


  1. The Program Group, in consultation with Rail Safety, should clearly define the activities it expects Operation Lifesaver to deliver, ensuring that they both complement the department's own outreach efforts and are commensurate with the level of contribution funding being offered.

  2. Transport Canada should adjust its oversight of this contribution agreement to better reflect its materiality and risk. Specifically, TC should require an annual report from the recipient focusing on the activities outlined in the contribution agreement.

Management Action Plan

Recommendations {Proposed Action) Forecast Completion Date OPI
The Program Group, in consultation with Rail Safety, should clearly define the activities it expects Operation Lifesaver to deliver, ensuring that they both complement the department's own outreach efforts and are commensurate with the level of contribution funding being offered. The program Group and Rail Safety will work jointly to ensure that OL's activities are aligned and complement TC's outreach efforts. To ensure that the activities carried out by OL' beneficiary are consistent with TC's outreach efforts, TC will require RAC to apply for funding. The application process will be supported by a newly drafted Applicant's Guide that will clearly identify objectives, specific activities as well as requiring a performance measurement strategy for reporting on its activities. April, 2014 Director General, Stewardship and Sustainable Transportation
Transport Canada should adjust its oversight of this contribution agreement to better reflect its materiality and risk. Specifically, TC should require an annual report from the recipient focusing on the activities outlined in the contribution agreement. The Contribution agreement for the program will include a requirement for an annual report with sufficient detail to ensure monitoring of expenditures and progress in achieving objectives. TC will modify the program design to ensure that it is not directly involved in the delivery of OL activities. Implementation Fall 2013 Director General, Stewardship and Sustainable Transportation

About the Evaluation

Evaluation Methodology

Operation Lifesaver was previously evaluated in 2003 and 2009. The present evaluation covers program spending, activities and results from 2009-2010 through to the present (2012-2013). In accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat's Policy on Evaluation, the evaluation assesses program relevance and performance, with a particular emphasis on current concerns and issues of the program, extending the lines of evidence from the 2009 evaluation and assessing follow-up actions in response to the recommendations of the 2009 evaluation.

The evaluation employed multi-method lines of evidence consisting of:

  • a focused literature search for railway incident prevention research published since 2007;

  • a media scan for the period of 2004 through to the present for references to Operation Lifesaver or rail safety promotion in the Canadian and international popular media;

  • a document review of federal government and departmental acts, policies and program documentation;

  • railway industry statistics produced by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and by the Railway Association of Canada;

  • Operation Lifesaver documents such as annual reports, the Strategic Plan, committee minutes, material produced for public dissemination and administrative data; and

  • semi-structured interviews with head office and regional staff from the Rail Safety Directorate and Environmental and Transportation Programs of Transport Canada (11 in total), and representatives of the recipient and funded entity (seven in total).

In accordance with the Treasury Board Secretariat's Directive on Evaluation (2009), the evaluation asked the following questions:

  1. Is there a continuing need for the program?

  2. Does the program align with current priorities of the federal government?

  3. Does the program support current departmental priorities?

  4. Have the expected outcomes been achieved through implementation of the program?

  5. Have resources been utilized efficiently and economically in the delivery of the program?


Primary data collection for the evaluation was limited to interviews with departmental staff and stakeholders. No surveys or focus groups were conducted to attempt to assess program impact. To offset this limitation, OL management and national board members were invited to provide any documentation that they might have that addressed intervention level (e.g. pre- and post- knowledge tests) or program level impacts. A focused literature search was also conducted for evidence that railway safety public awareness campaigns have been effective elsewhere within the past decade or so, and to explore the rail safety interventions that have been adopted and assessed over this period. A second limitation is the evaluation's reliance on a small set of interviewees representing the government, recipient and beneficiary. To maximize adequacy of coverage while restricting the absolute number of interviewees, departmental senior management were consulted in the development of the list and recipient and beneficiary interviewees were asked to identify individuals with whom they thought we should speak. A core group of individuals was mentioned repeatedly; and so, the evaluation included all of these individuals.

This evaluation relies more heavily on secondary data than on primary data. A key source of secondary information is the beneficiary's administrative information, both financial and performance data. Both are limited to some extent. The financial data are unaudited and annual reports for the previous term (serving as comparative data) contain errors and in some cases have been restated. Where data can be validated across two or more sources (e.g. information prepared by the current administration for this evaluation against previous annual reports and the 2009 evaluation), these figures are used. Spending by category as shown in the annual reports cannot be validated in this way and so may be inaccurate. For all years, the break-down by spending category is shown as reported in OL's annual reports. The performance data were input by volunteers and, while clear and straight-forward, the raw data contain gaps and duplicate records for events where two or more volunteers attend. So, the data have to be cleaned and judgements made in order to summarize the information for reporting and evaluation purposes. OL administration did summarize the information upon our request, but the summary provided by the new administration for 2009-2012 was inconsistent with the summary reported in the 2012 Annual Report for the same years by the former Director. For comparisons to be made with the previous term, the evaluation is based on the performance summary prepared by the former Director. In doing so, the total number of presentations and other events being recognized by the evaluation is 5% and 43% higher respectively.

Figure 1

 Logic Model for the Contribution Program supporting Operation Lifesaver
Activity Areas Reach Immediate Outcomes Intermediate Outcomes Ultimate Outcome
  • Provide funding to Railway Association of Canada for Operation Lifesaver

  • Co-Chair National Operation Lifesaver Advisory Committee

  • Provide advice and guidance to Operation Lifesaver National Director and Advisory Committee

  • Monitor the program priorities, activities and results

  • Youth (schools, social groups such as Scouts)

  • Professional drivers (truck drivers, emergency response, school bus drivers)

  • Targeted communities

  • Recreational users of railway rights-of-way (e.g. hunters, snowmobilers)

  • Native bands

  • Law enforcement agencies

  • Railway employees

  • Safety councils

  • Other interests

  • Identification of problem areas relating to highway/railway intersections and trespassing on railway rights-of-way

  • Development of strategies to address problem areas identified

  • Delivery of safety programs (presentations, trade shows, conferences, promotional material, disaster simulation events)

  • Enhanced awareness of grade crossing and trespassing hazards

  • Adoption of safe practices at highway/railway intersections and with respect to trespassing on railway rights-of-ways

  • Increase in safety

  • Increase in public confidence with respect to the safety of the railway system

Source: The model is based on that provided in the Performance Measurement Framework for Operation Lifesaver (2009)

 Table 2 Incident, Financial and Activity Statistics
Calendar Year 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Industry Statistics (taken from Transportation Safety Board of Canada, Statistical Summary, Railway Occurrences 2012, Table 1)
Rail volumes (million main track miles) 85.8 86.9 84.5 83.1 72.2 77.6 78.4 80.1
All incidents 1,476 1,371 1,320 1,179 1,043 1,074 1,022 1,011
Percent that are crossing incidents 18% 18% 17% 19% 18% 17% 17% 18%
Percent that are trespassing incidents 6% 7% 8% 6% 7% 8% 7% 7%
Reportable incidents 245 220 223 216 207 160 204 204
Fatalities for reportable incidents 103 95 84 74 71 81 71 82
Percent due to crossing incidents 36% 29% 30% 35% 27% 30% 35% 35%
Percent due to trespassing 62% 62% 67% 64% 73% 68% 63% 60%
Serious injuries for reportable incidents 78 71 58 64 50 62 52 72
Percent due to crossing incidents 71% 41% 36% 56% 42% 45% 42% 44%
Percent due to trespassing 22% 39% 47% 31% 32% 31% 40% 29%
Railway Statistics (taken from 2012 Rail Trends, Railway Association of Canada)
Freight revenue tonne-km ($ per tonne) 28.22 30.63 31.04 34.44 34.55 33.71 33.70  
Operating revenue ($ M) 9,940 10,613 10,704 11,197 10,034 10,768 11,532  
Average number of employees 35,389 34,558 34,938 35,208 32,337 32,565 33,624  
Beneficiary Statistics (taken from Operation Lifesaver unaudited Annual Reports)
Active volunteers (#)         257 256 162 307
Unique visitors – OL website           7,833   17,856
Presentations 1,463 1,643 1,533 1,446 1,568 596 538 323
Other events 667 693 316 371 1,381 561 110 226
Revenue spent per event on average ($) 288 252 333 278 184 548 957 1,122
Financial Data (taken from Annual Reports 2006, 2008-2012; Contributions, other revenue, support services, in-kind provided by OL)
TC contribution ($) 250,000 231,500 250,000 250,000 250,000 300,000 300,000 300,000
RAC contribution ($) 250,000 231,500 250,000 250,000 271,943 333,818 320,406 315,628
Other revenue ($) 113,786 125,571 115,966 4,854 3,550 0 200 400
Total revenue ($) 613,786 588,571 615,966 504,854 525,493 633,818 620,606 616,028
Salary, benefits, contracted services ($) 229,381 232,035 235,346 281,694 295,225 352,049 416,272 412,142
Grants & Donations ($) 36,190 39,010 91,477 61,331 48,653 35,873 27,996 33,562
Other spending ($) 416,064 360,811 297,620 211,212 178,065 245,896 171,378 169,924
Total spending ($) 681,635 631,856 634,042 554,237 521,943 633,818 615,646 615,628
RAC support services ATIP Removed
In-kind contribution

Documents Reviewed

Government of Canada

Department of Transport Act, (R.S.C., 1985, c. T-18)

Railway Safety Act, (R.S.C. 1985, c. 32 (4th Supp.)

Transport Canada

Audit and Advisory Services (2003) Final Report – Operation Lifesaver Program Audit.

Evaluation Services (2009) Final Report – Evaluation of the TC Contribution to Operation Lifesaver.

Rail Safety (2010) Guide for Developing, Implementing and Enhancing Railway Safety Management Systems

Rail Safety (2013) National Rail Safety Education & Awareness Program.

Rail Safety (2013) National Rail Safety Education & Awareness Program Working Group Terms of Reference.

Rail Safety (2009) Risk-based Audit Framework for the Operation Lifesaver Program; Performance Measurement Strategy–Operation Lifesaver Program.

Rail Safety (2010) Rail Safety Oversight and Expertise, Strategic Plan 2010-2015

Transport Canada (2013) Report on Plans and Priorities 2013-2014

Other Departments and Agencies

Office of the Auditor General (2007) Assessing Alternative Service Delivery Arrangements

Treasury Board Secretariat (2008) Policy on Transfer Payments

Treasury Board Secretariat (2013) Whole-of-Government Framework

Operation Lifesaver

Minutes of the National Advisory Committee (2010-2013).
Minutes of the Program Review Committee (2009, 2011-2013).
Minutes of OL Provincial Committees of New Brunswick (2009, 2010), Nova Scotia (2009-2013), Newfoundland (2010-2012), Ontario (2012-2013), Quebec (2010-2013).

Operation Lifesaver Annual Reports for 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
Operation Lifesaver (2013) Five-Year Strategic Plan 2012-2017 (Draft #2).

Terms of Reference for the National Advisory Committee, Program Review Committee and OL Provincial Committees for Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario.

Railway Association of Canada

Leger Marketing (2012) Perceptions of the Railway Industry in Canada a public opinion poll commissioned by the Railway Association of Canada (Summary Deck of Project # 11575_004).

Railway Association of Canada (2012) 2012 Rail Trends,

Academic Research Cited

Lobb, B. (2006) Trespassing on the tracks: A review of railway pedestrian safety research. Journal of Safety Research 37(4), 359-365.

Lobb, B.; Harré, N.; & Suddendorf, T. (2001) An evaluation of a suburban railway pedestrian crossing safety programme. Accident Analysis and Prevention 33(2), 157-165.

Lobb, B.; Harré, N.; & Terry, N. (2003) An evaluation of four types of railway pedestrian crossing safety intervention. Accident Analysis and Prevention 35(4), 487-494.

Silla, A.; & Kallberg, V. (2012) The development of railway safety in Finland. Accident Analysis and Prevention 45:737-744.

Silla, A.; & Luoma, J. (2011) Effect of three countermeasures against the illegal crossing of railway tracks. Accident Analysis and Prevention 43(3), 1089-1094.

Databases Consulted

Railway Incident Statistics (2013) Transportation Safety Board of Canada,

Operation Lifesaver (2013) DOLI database extracts for 2009 through 2012 provided by OL administration.

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