Grade crossing requirements for railway companies, private authorities and road authorities

By November 28, 2021, railway companies, private and road authorities must meet new requirements of the Grade Crossings Regulations for existing grade crossings. Learn about the requirements that apply to you now, as well as the ones you'll need to meet over the coming years.

Use this guidance together with the Grade Crossings Handbook.

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Private grade crossings

If your tracks cross a private road, you must comply with the regulations. The only time the roles and responsibilities may be different from the regulations is if they are otherwise covered by an existing order of the Canadian Transportation Agency under the Canada Transportation Act, section 103.

Requirements for railway companies at private grade crossings

Railways must (where applicable):

  • Install and maintain the following signs:
    • a railway crossing sign
    • a number of tracks sign
    • an emergency notification sign
  • Maintain the stop sign if it is installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Install and maintain a warning system
  • Install and maintain a crossing surface and a road approach within the railway right-of-way
  • Select the road crossing design speed and the design vehicle
  • Ensure effective sightlines are provided:
    • within the railway right-of way
    • over land adjoining the railway right-of-way
  • Maintain sightlines by removing any trees and brush

Requirements for private authorities at private grade crossings

If your private road crosses railway tracks, you must comply with the regulations.

Private authorities must (where applicable):

  • Maintain a road approach outside the railway right-of-way
  • Install and maintain traffic control devices, such as a stop sign, on your land, if it is not on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Ensure effective sightlines are provided over your land, up to the railway right-of-way
  • Maintain sightlines over your land by removing any trees and brush

Public grade crossings

If your tracks cross a public road, you must comply with the regulations. The only time the roles and responsibilities may be different from the regulations is if they are otherwise covered by an existing order or in an agreement filled with the Canadian Transportation Agency under the Canada Transportation Act, subsection 101(1).

Requirements for railway companies at public grade crossings

Railways must:

  • Install and maintain the following signs:
    • a railway crossing sign
    • a number of tracks sign
    • an emergency notification sign
  • Maintain the stop sign if it is installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Install and maintain a warning system
  • Install and maintain a crossing surface
  • Ensure effective sightlines are provided:
    • within the railway right-of way
    • over land adjoining the railway right-of-way
  • Maintain sightlines by removing any trees and brush

Requirements for road authorities at public grade crossings

Road authorities must:

  • Design, construct and maintain a road approach
  • Install and maintain traffic control devices, except for the maintenance of a stop sign that is installed on the same post as the railway crossing sign
  • Design a crossing surface
  • Ensure effective sightlines are provided:
    • within the land on which the road is situated
    • over land in the vicinity of the grade crossing
  • Maintain sightlines by removing any trees and brush

Information sharing requirements (public grade crossings)

Greater collaboration through information sharing

Transport Canada has developed forms railway companies or road authorities can use to facilitate information sharing:

The regulations require that railway companies and road authorities share safety-related information on their grade crossings. Sharing this information with each other will allow you to determine what you need to do to make your crossings safer.

What's happening when?

  1. As of today, you must share information when constructing a new grade crossing or making a change to an existing grade crossing.
  2. As of November 28, 2016, you must leave shared information with each other for existing public grade crossings.

Enforceable grade crossings standards

The regulations incorporate standards based on the best engineering practices known today and make them law. This requires all federally regulated grade crossings in Canada to meet the same standard. Railway companies, road authorities and private authorities will continue to apply the best options, building on the existing guidelines, for making their crossings safe. (Note: Transport Canada can and will take immediate action where a serious safety problem is identified.)

Grade Crossings Standards

What's happening when?

Immediately: The standards apply to new grade crossings, or when making a change to an existing grade crossing (for example, widening the road).

By the end of 2021: The standards will apply to surfaces, signs, sightlines and warning systems for existing grade crossings.

Effective sightlines

A safe crossing is a visible crossing. The regulations contain formulas for defining the area that road authorities, railway companies and private land owners must keep clear of anything that could block a road user's view of an oncoming train. For more information on sightlines, please refer to: Determining minimum sightlines at grade crossings.

What's happening when?

The regulations prescribe customizable requirements for your crossings.

Immediately: When constructing new grade crossings, or making a change to an existing grade crossing.

By the end of 2021: For existing grade crossings.

Working together to safeguard 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
  • train whistling cessation

Blocked public crossings

Under the Grade Crossings Regulations:

  • Railway equipment cannot block a public grade crossing for more than five minutes when a road user requires passage, unless the railway equipment is moving
  • When emergency vehicles require passage, railway companies must immediately clear any grade crossing
  • If the municipality has a safety concern relating to a grade crossing that is blocked, both parties must work together to find a solution to the safety concern
    • After 90 days, if they find no solution, the municipality can inform Transport Canada

Activity on or near a crossing

The requirements are that if a railway company or road authority performs any activity, such as 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 address any threat to the safety of railway operations

Train whistling cessation

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 provides a process for whistling cessation at a public grade crossing subject to certain requirements outlined in the regulations.

Grade crossings must be equipped with an appropriate warning system based on railway speed design, 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.

Transport Canada encourages railway companies and municipalities to work together to ensure that all the requirements have been met. If these two parties disagree that the requirements have been met, they may approach us for a final decision.

Read the detailed procedure for train whistling cessation.

Contact us

For general inquiries

Transport Canada
Rail Safety Branch
Mailstop: ASR
427 Laurier Avenue Street West
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0N5

Telephone: 613-998-2985
Toll-free: 1-844-897-RAIL (1-844-897-7245)
Facsimile: 613-990-7767
Email: railsafety@tc.gc.ca

Regions

Pacific: 604-666-0011
Prairie and Northern: 1-888-463-0521
Ontario: 416-973-9820
Quebec: 5514-283-5722
Atlantic: 506-851-7040

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