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6 Top Tips | Rail Safety Week

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6 Top Tips | Rail Safety Week

Canada’s Rail Safety Week is from September 21 -27 and aims to increase awareness around the importance of safe behavior near railroad tracks. Did you know Canada has almost 45,000 km of railway tracks covering the country from cities to towns and even rural communities? Railways still play an essential role in Canadian infrastructure, acting as a major form of transportation for both people and goods across the country.

According to the Canadian Rail Safety Organizations Operation Lifesaver report, so far this year we’ve had 100 incidents, 34 fatalities, and 18 serious injuries across Canada. Almost 2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured every year in railways crossing and trespassing incidents. The most tragic part about these numbers is that almost every single one of these incidents could be prevented if people knew how to properly and safely act around railroad tracks and trains.

According to Operation Lifesaver, an organization dedicated to preventing collisions at railway crossings and railway trespassing incidents in Canada, these are the 6 top tips to keep you safe near the rails!


You should never unnecessarily walk, cycle, or drive along railway tracks. Trains can travel as fast as 160 km/h and can take up to 2 km to come to a complete stop – That’s the length of 18 football fields. Because it can be very hard to judge how far away a train is or what speed it’s traveling at, you should always consider active railways a hazard and keep a safe distance.


Railway yards, tunnels, and bridges are all private property and if you are caught trespassing on them, you could be fined up to $50,000. Not only is it illegal to trespass on railway property – it is extremely dangerous! Railway tunnels and bridges are often time only slightly wider than the rail themselves which leads very little room for you to go if a train were to come along. Like we said before, you should always consider active railways a hazard and keep a safe distance, and this includes all railway property. Save your life and $50,000 by steering clear!


There are some situations where crossing railway tracks is necessary, such as when tracks cross public roads. These are designated crossings equipped with the proper safety measures needed to ensure you are able to cross safely. You should only cross railway tracks at designated crossings. Remember, trains can come at any time, from either direction and on any track and they also don’t always run on a set schedule so you can never trust that the coast is clear.


Railway signs and warning devices such as lights, bells, and gates are crucial safety devices and should be obeyed at all times. If crossing, at a designated crossing, you need to LOOK and LISTEN. Look both ways for any approaching trains and listen for if you can hear any trains. If a train is coming, or railway warning signals are activated, stop behind any gates or stop lines—or no closer than 5 meters 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.


You can’t avoid getting struck by a train is you’re not LOOKING or LISTENING. Some modern trains can be extremely quiet so you can not trust that simply because you don’t hear the chug chug chug that there isn’t one nearby. When near railway tracks stay off of phones or other distractions and stay alert. Although trains sound their whistles at most crossings, or in the case of an emergency, you won’t hear the warning if you are wearing headphones – and sometimes it can still be too late!


Trains are not always the size of the railway tracks and can overhang by as much a 1 meter on each side. They can also carry loads that are even wider than the railway cars themselves. So, don’t assume that taking a few steps back will keep you in the clear. Even if the train itself wouldn’t hit you, you can get hit by chains, straps, or other equipment if you are too close. Remember, they can travel up to 160km/h – would you want to be within even a couple feet of a car driving that fast?

For more rail safety tips, resources and more check out Operation Livesaver.