CN Police are reminding people of the need to stay safe around railway crossings, yards, cars, and tracks. (Photo credit: Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

CN Police stress rail safety now that warmer weather is here

Be aware around rail lines and stay away from tunnels, bridges, and railway yards

With the return of warmer weather, and more people off work or school because of the COVID-19 virus, many are spending time in the great outdoors. Rail lines are a part of the landscape in the area, and the CN Police would like to remind everyone that the only safe and legal place to cross train tracks is at a properly designated railway crossing.

They also warn that all railway yards, tracks, tunnels, and bridges are private property and off limits to the public. Const. Peter Talvio of the CN Police Service has seen it all when it comes to trespassing around train tracks, including people walking, jogging, biking, hiking, climbing, cliff jumping, camping, off-roading on ATVs and dirt bikes, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, and berry picking.

Especially concerning are people who make the wrong decision to take a shortcut through rail property to access their favourite recreational areas, walk along the tracks, cross yards, and even climb on, over, or through parked trains. This is very dangerous, as trains can move at any time and can result in serious injury or death. In 2019 there were 28 railway crossing and trespassing incidents in B.C., with seven fatalities and 10 serious injuries.

Trespassing on or along rail lines is not only dangerous; it is also illegal under the Railway Safety Act of Canada and the Provincial Trespass Act. Claiming that you were just taking a shortcut, or trying to access a favourite recreational spot, is no excuse. A ticket will cost you $115, and can lead to a criminal charge and a fine of up to $50,000.

When approaching properly designated railway crossings, obey the crossing signs and signals, which are there to keep everyone safe. Proceed through only when the warning signals have stopped and you have a clear view that no other trains are coming.

The CN Police Service will be on patrol spreading the safety message Look, Listen, Live! Information and safety tips can be found at; here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re near train tracks.

Stay off the tracks: It’s hard to judge how far away a train is or what speed it’s travelling at. Trains can go as fast as 160 km/h and can take up to two kilometres to come to a complete stop. That’s the length of 18 football fields.

Keep off railway property: Railway yards, tunnels, and bridges are all private property. It isn’t just illegal to trespass on railway property; it’s extremely dangerous. Railway tunnels and bridges are often only slightly wider than the rails, leaving little to no room for you if a train does come along.

Use designated railway crossings: Always cross railway tracks at designated crossings. Trying to cross tracks anywhere else could be deadly. Remember, trains can come at any time, from either direction, and on any track. They also don’t always run on a set schedule.

Obey all railway signs and signals: Obey all railway signs and warning devices, such as lights, bells, and gates. Before proceeding through a crossing, look both ways and listen for approaching trains. If a train is coming, or railway warning signals are activated, stop behind any gates or stop lines—or no closer than five metres away from the nearest rail—and wait for the train to pass. Cross only after the warning signals have ceased and you are certain no other trains are approaching, from either direction, on any track.

Stay alert: You can’t avoid getting struck by a train if you can’t hear it or see it coming. Today’s trains are extremely quiet, so don’t be distracted by cellphones or other devices when behind the wheel or in the vicinity of a railway crossing. Although trains sound their whistles at many crossings, or in the case of an emergency, you won’t hear the warning if you are wearing headphones.

Keep your distance: Trains can overhang the tracks by as much as 1 metre on each side. They can also carry loads that are wider than the railway cars themselves, so stay clear. You could also get hit by chains, straps, or other equipment if you are too close.

Remember: An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you, or its speed. Trains are usually a lot closer than they seem—and travel a lot faster. A train hitting a car is like a car running over a pop can. The average freight train weighs more than 5.5 million kilograms. In comparison, a car weighs around 1,375 kilograms.

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