Public grade crossings

If you have a public 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 changes to grade crossings

If you're making changes to 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 full effect on November 28, 2021 and will help improve safety at Canada's 14,000 public grade crossings.

The regulations aim to improve safety at grade crossings by:

Agreements with the railways

If a road authority and railway company have filed an agreement with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), the agreement overrules the roles and responsibilitieslisted in 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 road authorities

As a road authority, you must meet the regulations by November 28, 2021. As such, you must share safety-related information with the railways that cross your public road, and decide on what changes (if any) are needed to make sure the grade crossing meets the regulations (see your agreement for any changes to these roles and responsibilities).

Road authorities are responsible for:

  • Designing, building, and maintaining a road approach outside of the railway right-of-way (contact the railway company to find out where the railway's property ends and yours begins)
  • Installing and maintaining traffic control devices, except for stop signs that are installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign (also known as a crossbuck).
  • Providing information that will affect the design of the crossing surface
  • Maintaining sightlines, including removing any trees or brush:
    • within the land where the road is located
    • on land near the grade crossing

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

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

Responsibilities of the railway companies

If a railway company's tracks cross a public road, then they must follow the requirements of the regulations (see your agreement for any changes 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
  • Make sure sightlines are maintained, including removing any trees or brush
    • within the railway right-of-way
    • over any land next to the railway property

Information Sharing

Better collaboration through sharing information

For existing public grade crossings, the regulations require road authorities and railway companies to share safety-related information with each other. This information will help both parties to decide on what upgrades, if any, are required to make sure the grade crossing comply with the regulations by November 28, 2021. To make this process easier, we've created forms for road authorities and railway companies:

Timeline

You must share information when building a new crossing or making changes to an existing one.

For existing crossings, information sharing should have been done by November 28, 2016, two years after the implementation of the Grade Crossings Regulations. If you haven't shared safety-related information, please do so immediately.

The standards

Railway companies and road authorities 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.

Sightlines

A safe crossing can be easily seen. The regulations include formulas for deciding the area that must be kept clear of anything that could block a road user's view of an oncoming train. For more information on sightlines see: Determining minimum sightlines at grade crossings.

Working together to protect public grade crossings

The regulations and Standards require road authorities and railway companies to work together on:

  • blocked public grade crossings
  • activity on or near a grade crossing
  • stopping trains from whistling

Blocked public grade crossings

Under the Grade Crossings Regulations:

  • Trains can't block a public grade crossing for more than five minutes when a road user needs to pass, unless the train is moving
  • When emergency vehicles need to pass, railway companies must immediately clear any grade crossing
  • If the municipality has a safety concern related to a grade crossing that is blocked, both parties must work together to find a solution. If no solution is found after 90 days, the municipality can contact Transport Canada

Activity on or near a grade crossing

If a railway company or road authority does any activity, like rail or road repair at or near a grade crossing, they must:

  • share information about the activity with each other, and
  • take temporary protection measures (for example, creating a detour) to deal with any threat to the safety of railway operations and the public

Stopping trains from whistling

Train whistling is an important way to keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safe when using public grade crossings.

Section 23.1 of the Railway Safety Act includes a process for stopping trains from whistling at a public grade crossing and is dependent on parameters being in place and may include:

  • the grade crossing has an appropriate warning system which is based on the railway speed and the vehicle and pedestrian use, and the number of railway tracks going through the grade crossing

The municipality must also pass a resolution agreeing that whistling should not be used at that crossing.

We encourage railway companies and municipalities to work together to make sure that all the requirements have been met. If they disagree on this, they can contact us for a final decision.

Read the detailed procedure for train whistling cessation.

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 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.

For more information on how to apply for funding, visit the Rail Safety Improvement Program website, or contact the Transport Canada Rail Safety Improvement Program via email.

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

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