1991 TSB Recommendations & TC Responses

R90H0524 - Train / Pedestrian Accident, CP Train Extra 1841 East, Mile 2.4, Ellwood Subdivision, Ottawa, Ontario - 24 May 1990 (R91-01)(R91-02)

TSB Recommendation R91-01

Trespassers - (Action required, as indicated in the TSB's report)

The Board recommends that:

The Department of Transport establish minimum standards for the type, location and requirement for fencing along railway rights-of-way approaching railway bridges and any other areas where frequent pedestrian incursions are known. R91-01

Transport Canada's (Response R91-01)

(signed by the Minister on May 7, 1992)

One of the major concerns with respect to railway safety is the annual toll of deaths and injuries arising from trespassing on railway rights-of-way. Transport Canada has been working on new requirements for the fencing of railway rights-of-way. Recognizing the need for action on the part of railway companies, municipalities, property owners and the general public, widespread consultation will be required before improved standards for fencing can be established in law. In the meantime, safety officers are monitoring the situation and have the necessary powers under the Railway Safety Act to take action where problems are identified.

TSB Recommendation R91-02

Law Enforcement Officers and Trespassers

The Board recommends that:

The Department of Transport take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that law enforcement officers have the necessary legal basis to take deterrent action against unauthorized persons on railway rights-of-way or trestles. R91-02

Transport Canada's (Response R91-02)

(signed by the Minister on May 7, 1992)

An amendment to the Railway Safety Act has been drafted to create an offence where a person is found to be trespassing on railway lines. This will enable law enforcement officers to apply the penalties that now exist in the Railway Safety Act and will provide a stronger deterrent against trespassing.

In addition to these observations, I note that the Report also refers to the existence of a prohibition against whistling on railway operations over the Ellwood Subdivision as a potential threat to safety and a possible causal factor in the accident. It should be recognized that the prohibition Order applies only to grade crossings. As the Report correctly observes, there are no longer any grade crossings on the Subdivision, therefore the prohibition Order is moribund and did not play any role in this situation.

There is no prohibition against whistling in the case of an emergency over the Ellwood Subdivision or any other railway line in Canada. In fact, the engineer of the locomotive properly sounded warning whistle signal 14(f), as provided for in the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, to alert the trespasser to the danger.

The Board suggests that consideration should be given to a permanent requirement for whistling on the approaches to the bridge and that such a requirement is "normal". This is not standard practice on Canadian railways, particularly in built up areas. The department considers that the new speed restriction of ten miles per hour, established by departmental safety officers under section 31 of the Railway Safety Act, in combination with the use of emergency whistle signal 14(f) if necessary, is adequate to avoid a repetition of this accident.

I would like to assure the Board that Transport Canada safety officers are concerned about the trespassing problem. Considerable effort is directed towards identifying significant trespassing sites across the railway system and organizing meetings with railway and local authorities to develop means to address the problem. We will continue to work towards prevention of trespassing accidents and appreciate the assistance of the Board in the interests of public safety.

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