Grade Crossing Safety
A grade crossing is an intersection where a road or path crosses railway tracks at the same level. Grade crossings are also known as level crossings, railway crossings or train crossings.
Railway companies and road authorities (provinces, municipalities, band councils) and private owners are each responsible for managing railway crossing safety in Canada.
Transport Canada developed new Grade Crossings Regulations (GCR) under the Railway Safety Act to improve safety by establishing comprehensive and enforceable safety standards for grade crossings, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of railway companies and road authorities and ensuring that they share key safety information.
A grade crossing can either be public or private, depending on who owns it. A public grade crossing is where railway tracks intersect with a road that is owned by a public authority, such as a province, municipality or band council, and is used by the general public. A private crossing is where railway tracks intersect with a road that is owned and used by private parties, such as farmers, commercial businesses or private individuals. More information on private crossings can be available here.
Canada's Grade Crossings Regulations: what you need to know (PDF Format - 529 Kb) provides an overview of the Regulations.
The Grade Crossings Standards are mandatory engineering standards that improve safety at Crossings and are referenced in the Grade Crossings Regulations.
The Grade Crossing - Handbook helps railway companies, road authorities and private owners carry out their responsibilities in making their grade crossings safer.
Train whistling is the sounding of a whistle or horn when a train approaches a grade crossing.
The Railway Safety Act allows municipalities to implement cessation at a public grade crossing as long as the safety requirements are met.
The process for municipalities to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing is detailed in the Procedure for Train Whistling at public Grade Crossings.
For more information on Train Whistling, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.
A crossing is blocked when a train prevents drivers and pedestrians from passing at a public grade crossing.
The Grade Crossings Regulations state that railway companies cannot conduct regular railway operations or leave railway equipment blocking a public grade crossing for more than five minutes when drivers and pedestrians are waiting to cross, unless the railway equipment is continually moving in one direction. When emergency vehicles need to pass through, railway companies must take all measures to immediately clear the crossing.
For more information on blocked crossings, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions.
One of the requirements of the Grade Crossings Regulations is for road authorities and railway companies to share safety-related information with each other by November 28, 2016.
Road authorities and railway companies will have five years to upgrade their crossings to satisfy the regulatory requirements based on the information shared.
Transport Canada has developed forms that may be used by the railway company or the road authority when sharing information.
Safe and unobstructed sightlines, or lines of sight, allow road users and pedestrians enough time to see and react to an oncoming train at a grade crossing.
Road authorities, private authorities and railway companies are responsible for maintaining safe and unobstructed sightlines at grade crossings.
Transport Canada developed the "Determining Minimum Sightlines at Grade Crossings: A Guide for Road Authorities and railway Companies", which contains advice and technical guidance that stakeholders can use to determine the minimum sightlines required at grade crossings.
For more information on sightlines, please consult the Frequently Asked Questions.
Grade Crossings Inventory
As part of the Government of Canada's efforts to increase transparency and openness, Transport Canada made public a list of grade crossings on the Government of Canada's Open Data Portal. This list was generated by Transport Canada and provides an inventory of the location and characteristics of the railway crossings in Canada.
The current list represents a snapshot as of April 16, 2018. Transport Canada has committed to update this list on an annual basis.
For more information, please visit: https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/railsafety-1000.html
Complaint and Dispute Resolution
Who can help when complaints or issues become disputes that railway companies and road authorities cannot resolve?
- If the complaint or dispute is about grade crossing safety, contact Transport Canada. Learn more at www.tc.gc.ca/railsafety.
- If a railway company and a road authority disagree on who should pay for railway work at a crossing, either party can ask the Canadian Transportation Agency to apportion the costs of the project. Learn more at www.otc-cta.gc.ca, click on Industry Guidance or the Complaints and Disputes tabs.
- The Agency is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal that makes decisions on a wide range of matters involving federally-regulated modes of transportation (air, rail and marine), and has the powers, rights and privileges of a superior court to exercise its authority.
- The Agency resolves disputes on rail crossings (including the apportionment of costs) between federal railways and other parties who may interact with those railways. Such parties include municipalities, road authorities, utility companies, private landowners and nearby residents.
- The Canadian Transportation Agency's mission is to administer transportation legislation and Government of Canada policies to help achieve an efficient and accessible transportation system by education, consultation and essential regulation.