Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP)

Program Overview

Background

Almost half of all railway-related deaths and injuries result from accidents at crossings. Because of the on-going need to reduce accidents, injuries and fatalities, government contributions are available to encourage and assist safety improvements at public grade crossings under federal jurisdiction.

The Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP), funded under section 12 of the Railway Safety Act (RSA), provides a contribution of up to 50 percent of the cost of a crossing improvement project. The maximum contribution to a recipient for a single project is limited to $550,000.

Contributions cover the cost of safety improvements only and do not include future maintenance costs. Responsibility for remaining costs must be negotiated by the involved authorities (usually railway companies and municipalities). If the authorities cannot reach agreement, they may ask the Canadian Transportation Agency to make a determination.

Identifying Projects

Potential improvement projects are most often identified through:

  • An application from a road authority and/or railway company
  • An inspection by a Transport Canada railway safety inspector, through regular monitoring or as a result of an accident
  • A recommendation following an accident, including recommendations made by the Canadian Transportation Safety Board
  • A complaint concerning the safety of a crossing

Road authorities and railway companies are responsible for maintaining grade crossings. They are encouraged to contact a railway safety inspector at the appropriate Transport Canada regional office if they have any concerns regarding the safety of a crossing.

Since urban development can have a significant impact on crossing safety, municipalities are encouraged to identify and assess the safety of grade crossings in the early stages of urban planning.

Eligible Work

Work allows for the improvement, closure, or relocation of a public crossing in the interests of safety. The crossing must be on a line of a federally regulated railway and must have been in existence for public use for at least three years.

NOTE: The term "in existence for public use" means that the purpose of the road in the crossing is a public thoroughfare (i.e. a highway, road, street, etc.). Generally, this means a street or road maintained by a recognized road authority for the public. Occasionally, a road over private property is used, principally, as access between two public roads, and therefore may be, "defacto", "in existence for public use". Any proposals in this category must be substantiated with a description of the traffic using the road, an explanation of how the road is principally a public thoroughfare, and include a commitment by the municipality involved to assume responsibility for the road.

Private and farm crossings serving private roads, entranceways, or other access to carry members of the public to places of business or recreation, or to one or more residences or cottages, a service road for resource development, trespass routes, or private recreation trails, are not considered to be "in existence for public use".

Any road work or other work that will improve the safety of the crossing is generally considered eligible.

Some examples of eligible projects are:

  • The installation of flashing lights, bells and gates
  • The addition of “Prepare to Stop” signs with traffic signal interconnection
  • The addition of gates or extra lights to existing signal systems
  • The replacement of incandescent lights with LED’s
  • The interconnection of crossing signals to nearby highway traffic signals
  • The modification of operating circuits within automated warning systems
  • The improvement of roadway alignment or grades
  • Construction of diversion roads
  • The modification of nearby intersections, including the addition of traffic control signals in some circumstances

Work beyond what is necessary to address the existing safety concerns at the crossing, such as construction to upgrade the standard of the road, is not eligible for a contribution.

Evaluation

Once a project has been brought to Transport Canada's attention, a railway safety inspector may meet on-site with road and railway officials and any other involved authorities to assist in assessing safety issues and to review the proposed work.

The aim of this assessment is to ensure that safety issues are correctly identified and understood, and to examine the alternatives. Interim safety measures may be applied while waiting for implementation of the proposed work.

Application Process

The following information must be provided by the applicant in the application:

  • The location of the crossing as described by the road authority and the railway involved (Mile, Subdivision, Road, City, Province)
  • Indicate if the project will be:
    • Located in or in close proximity to any of the following: National Parks, National Park Reserves, National Historic Sites, or Historic Canals;
    • Extended outside of the existing roadway or railway right-of-ways; or
    • Undertaken within 30m of a body of water.
  • Details of the train and road traffic (vehicular and pedestrian) using the crossing’s official traffic count and speeds
  • A description of the safety issues
  • A description of the work to be carried out, including appropriate plans
  • A detailed estimate of the cost of the work
  • The amount of funding applicant is applying for (can be up to 50% of estimate)
  • Environmental information (if applicable):
    • Provide a summary description of the local biophysical environment, including a description of the environmental components that are likely to be adversely affected by the project;
    • Indicate if the project will result in the likely release of a polluting substance into a water body; and
    • Provide information on other Environmental Assessments (EA) regimes to which the project has been or is likely to be subject to (i.e., provincial, territorial, etc).

NOTE: A proponent may only apply for a contribution before undertaking the work. There are provisions in the Railway Safety Act, however, that allow for completion of the work prior to the approval of funding without jeopardizing the funding if the application was filed prior to starting the work. If approval is required for a non-standard work under SECTION 10 of the RSA, an application for a grant must accompany the application for approval of the non-standard work.

Applications should be sent to:

Transport Canada
Transportation Infrastructure Programs, Programs Group
Tower C, 19th Floor
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N5

Attention: Director, Transit Projects

Copies of the application should also be sent to the appropriate Transport Canada Regional Offices, as well as to the other authorities involved.

Review of Application

Transport Canada reviews each application upon receipt in order to determine if the proposed project is eligible under the Grade Crossing Improvement Program. If the project is deemed eligible, an acknowledgement letter is sent to the recipient. Should a project be deemed ineligible, a letter is sent to the recipient identifying the reasons for ineligibility. Transport Canada endeavors to issue all letters with 3-5 business days after receipt of the application.

Prioritization

Due to the limited amount of available funds in a given year, the applications received under the Grade Crossing Improvement Program are prioritized and the funds are allocated based on the seriousness of the safety problem and the potential for avoiding fatalities, injuries and damage.

The following factors are used in prioritizing, and in assessing a grade crossing for funding:

  • Number of trains (annual daily average)
  • Number of vehicles (annual daily average)
  • Maximum train speed
  • Maximum road speed
  • Current level of protection
  • Multiple track crossings
  • Width of the travelled portion of the roadway
  • Angle of crossing
  • A history of accidents

Other key factors that could also be looked at include:

  • Proximity of adjacent intersection
  • Proximity of adjacent switch
  • Interconnection with traffic signals
  • Severely restricted sightlines
  • Inconsistent warning times
  • Curved or angled approach that impedes the view of approaching trains
  • Driver behavior
  • Driver confusion
  • Driver distractions
  • Driver expectations
  • Type of roadway
  • Type of traffic
  • Proximity of recreational facilities, schools, industries etc.
  • Overall visibility of the crossing area/lights/signs

NOTE: All applications that are received that do not receive funding in any given year are placed on Transport Canada’s “GCIP Pending List” and will be re-evaluated and prioritized against other projects the following year.

Approval Process

In September/October, once all the projects have been prioritized, a list of recommended projects is sent to the Minister for approval. Once the projects are approved by the Minister (usually around the end of April), Transport Canada sends a notification to the applicant. The maximum contribution authorized will be up to 50% of the total estimated cost of the project. At this time, Transport Canada will ask the recipient to provide an approximate start date and completion date for the project that correspond with the construction season for the following year.

Funded Projects

Funding Agreement

Following approval, an agreement between Transport Canada and the recipient must be signed and registered by Transport Canada’s legal registry in order for the contribution to be released upon completion of the project. The agreement outlines the work to be performed and the terms and conditions for payment of the contribution. Once the agreement is finalized, a copy is sent to the recipient for their records.

Projects that involve crossing signal work are normally carried out by the railway company. In such cases, the railway will submit a claim to the road authority and Transport Canada for their share of the cost of the work. Projects involving changes to the roadway are normally carried out by the road authority. In these cases the road authority will submit a claim to the railway and to Transport Canada for their share of the cost. A project may involve one agreement with a railway company for signal works and another with the road authority for civil works.

NOTE: Any changes in the nature or scope of the work without prior Transport Canada approval may result in the loss of payment of the contribution. Therefore, should there be a change of scope, a delay in completion or any cost over-run on the project, the recipient must notify Transport Canada immediately to request either an increase in funding or an extension of time for completion of work. The request will be reviewed by the appropriate parties and a decision will be made. The recipient will be notified of the decision and, if their request is approved, an amending agreement will be sent for their signature.

Apportionment of Costs

In regards to all projects funded under the Grade Crossing Improvement Program, Transport Canada funds up to 50% of the eligible costs under the program with the remaining 50% of the costs divided amongst the involved authorities. If the involved authorities cannot agree on the percentage split of the remaining costs, they can apply to the Canadian Transportation Agency for a determination.

The Agency makes its decision based on the merits of each case, following submissions from the authorities involved. Any application for such a determination may be filed either before or after the work begins, and addressed to:

Secretary
Canadian Transportation Agency
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N9
Attention: Director, Rail Infrastructure Directorate Rail Branch

NOTE: Transport Canada does not play a role in the apportionment of the remaining costs. In case of a dispute, involved authorities must go directly to the CTA.

Eligible Costs

Eligible costs are those incurred by the recipient that are in direct relation to the eligible project and which, in the opinion of the Department, are reasonable and required to achieve the objectives and results of the Grade Crossing Improvement Program.

For a complete list of eligible and ineligible costs under the program, please see the appropriate Applicant Guide.

Invoice Payments

The recipient is responsible for notifying Transport Canada when the work is complete. This must be done within 30 days of completion. The recipient is also responsible for submitting a detailed invoice to Transport Canada that includes all third-party invoices as back-up to support the costs being claimed. Only those costs eligible under the program should be claimed on the invoice. In addition, upon submitting the invoice, the recipient must disclose the amount of funding expected to be received from all other government sources (federal, provincial, territorial or municipal).

Prior to payment of the invoice, a Transport Canada (TC) inspector must visit the site location and perform a detailed audit of the costs on the invoice. At this stage, a joint inspection with TC and the involved authorities may be required. TC endeavors to make payment on all invoices within a 90 day timeframe (provided all necessary back-up and justification is included with the invoice). Should the inspector require further information in order to process the invoice, the authorities will be notified and given two weeks to provide the information required.

IMPORTANT: The total amount of government funding received (whether federal, provincial, territorial or municipal) by the recipient for a project should never exceed 100% of the total eligible costs of the project. Should the recipient ever receive government funding in excess of 100% of the project cost, Transport Canada must reduce the amount of its contribution accordingly.

NOTE: The maximum contribution to any recipient for a single project is limited to $550,000.

Regulatory Requirements

Subsection 8(1) of the Railway Safety Act requires that a Notice of Railway Works be given at least 60 days prior to the start of certain types of projects as specified in the Notice of Railway Works Regulations.

Section 11 of the Act requires that a professional engineer be responsible for the engineering work.

Pursuant to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), an environmental assessment (EA) of a project may have to be completed prior to Transport Canada providing financial assistance that would enable a project to be carried out in whole or in part. If determined to be necessary, proponents shall conduct an EA of their project proposals, to be completed in accordance with TC instructions, prior to the commencement of any project-related works.

Appendix A: Transport Canada Regional Offices

Transport Canada
Transportation Infrastructure Programs, Programs Group
Mailstop: AHSE
Tower C
330 Sparks Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0N5

Telephone: 613-990-4705
TTY: 1-888-675-6863
Email: railsafety@tc.gc.ca

Regional Offices

Applicant Guides