More money and awareness needed for rail safety

Finance

OTTAWA | The federal government must absolutely invest more in raising awareness and securing railway crossings if it hopes to reduce the number of injuries and deaths, believes Senator André Pratte.

“The first avenue is for the federal government to make more money available exclusively to tackle this problem, which is not the case right now. The program, which invests $ 55 million over three years for this problem, is clearly not enough for an issue that is not improving, “said the Quebec senator.

He reacted to the findings of a report revealed by Le Journal on Thursday that intrusions on railroads and crossings are leading to more and more deaths and serious injuries across the country.

In 2017 alone, 53 people died and 23 people sustained serious injuries as a result of an intrusion on a railway line, a peak for 10 years.

According to many stakeholders in the rail sector, the amount of money invested by Ottawa is not even enough to solve the problem in Montreal alone.

These referred to the $ 55 million over three years announced by Ottawa in 2016 under the Rail Safety Improvement Program. Ottawa has also invested $ 1.5M over three years in Operation Lifesaver for awareness raising around railways.

According to Senator Pratte, it is essential that the federal government invest significantly more money to increase the scope and impact of awareness campaigns promoting safety around railways.

“Certainly, the Government of Canada must show leadership on this issue […] This is the next issue that the Minister of Transport must address head-on. There is no visible improvement in this area, but 90% of rail safety-related fatalities occur at crossings or intrusions, “said the senator, who also recently participated in the study. of the bill to amend the Canada Transportation Act.

“Absolute priority”

At Marc Garneau’s office, rail safety is already a “top priority” and the government continues to look for ways to improve the situation across the rail system.

“The government is committed to reducing crossing incidents by working closely with railways and road authorities to identify crossings that require safety improvements.” “Said her spokeswoman Delphine Denis.

“In addition, the Transportation Modernization Act, which received Royal Assent on May 23, 2018, amends the Railway Safety Act to mandate the installation of voice and video recorders for locomotives. This will provide information that will help to better understand the events leading to an accident and prevent future accidents. “

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