The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB)
calls for a national standard to prevent collisions between trains
and vehicles at Canada's railway crossings.
This recommendation follows TSB's investigation of a collision in
2008 between a passenger train and a lowboy tractor-trailer stopped
on a railway crossing in Mallorytown, Ontario. Five of the 214
people aboard the train were injured on impact and the
tractor-trailer was destroyed. In its investigation, the TSB found
that no signs were installed at the crossing to warn the truck
driver that the slope of the road over the crossing was too steep
for his truck.
"In the last ten years, there have been four collisions between
trucks and trains on this busy railway corridor," said Tom Griffith,
Investigator in Charge. "It's time to put clear warning signs where
they're needed and take the guesswork out of safety," he added.
Following a similar accident in 2002, Transport Canada worked with
road and railway authorities to develop low ground clearance warning
signage but a national standard has still not been put in place.
While there are low ground clearance signs at some railway
crossings, the Board says the design and placement of the signs is
inconsistent and, without a national standard, numerous crossings in
Canada remain at risk.
Adding to the risk, the Board determined that truck drivers do not
receive training about what to do when facing emergencies at railway
crossings. In Mallorytown, an emergency contact sign and phone
number was posted on a nearby signal box but was not visible. As a
result, the railway was not called and the oncoming train was not
alerted to stop in time. That's why the TSB also wants driver
training requirements strengthened to include handling emergencies
at railway crossings.
"The goal is to prevent vehicles from getting stuck at crossings and
to ensure drivers know what to do if it happens", said Tom Griffith.
"Transport Canada, the railways and the road authorities must work
together to identify high-risk crossings, put warning signs where
they're needed, and ensure drivers get the information and training
they need to avoid accidents", he added.
The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline,
railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the
advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the
Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.