Changes proposed for railway crossing upgrades

Transport Canada is proposing a new risk assessment system to prioritize which railway grade crossings should be upgraded. In concert with this risk assessment, the federal government would extend the compliance deadline for existing public grade crossings to meet the requirements of the Rail Safety Grade Crossings Regulations.

As published by Transport Canada in the Canada Gazette, Part I – June 19, 2021 issue, the upgrade requirements for railway grade crossings would be set using a risk-based model, with exemption for existing crossings considered to be low risk. Further, the proposed amendments would extend the compliance deadline for upgrades by one year for high priority crossings (to November 28, 2022), and three years for all other crossings—those that are neither low-risk nor high priority (to November 28, 2024).

These proposed changes have not yet been adopted by the federal government.

Background

The BC provincial government had announced earlier this year that it would extend the compliance deadline to January 1, 2028 for local governments and rail companies to bring existing grade crossings of provincial railways into compliance.

Existing public grade crossings must meet the requirements of the federal Rail Safety Grade Crossings Regulations (GCR) by November 28, 2021.

A public grade crossing consists of railway tracks that intersect with a road that is owned, open, and maintained by a public authority like a province, local government or band council, and is used by the public.

Transport Canada administers the Rail Safety Improvement Program (RSIP), which provides grant funding to road authorities or railway companies to improve railway grade crossings to meet GCR requirements. They have made available data sets in the form of a grade crossings map and inventory, to assist local governments to determine the regulatory status of grade crossings in their jurisdiction.

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