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News release

TSB calls for improvements to pedestrian railway crossings following a July 2016 fatal crossing accident

Associated links (R16M0026)

Moncton, New Brunswick, 15 February 2018 – Today the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is calling on Transport Canada (TC), railway companies and road authorities across Canada to take steps to improve safety at railway crossings that are designated for persons using assistive devices, such as wheelchairs, arm supports, hearing aids, visual aids, and others. The recommendation (R18-01) asks TC to collaborate with these stakeholders to identify and assess the effectiveness of various engineering options for designated railway crossings, and update its regulatory provisions accordingly.

The recommendation is being issued as part of a TSB investigation report (R16M0026) into a 2016 accident in which a person in a wheelchair was struck and fatally injured by a Canadian National (CN) freight train at a railway crossing in downtown Moncton, New Brunswick. The individual's motorized wheelchair became immobilized in the gravel at the edge of a sidewalk at the Robinson Street public crossing and was struck at about 1:43 a.m. on 27 July 2016. The investigation found that several crossing conditions contributed to the accident, including a void in the asphalt and the lack of visual cues to navigate safely.

"Designated crossings are used by persons who have particular needs, so it only makes sense that they require particular consideration as to their design and safety features," said TSB Board member Faye Ackermans. "More than 2 million Canadian adults identify as having a mobility disability, including 300 000 wheelchair users. Moreover, the number of persons with an assistive device is on the rise."

The investigation also found that federal regulations required railway companies and road authorities to share certain information regarding crossings by November 2016. This requirement included the identification of those crossings equipped with a sidewalk, path or trail designated for persons using assistive devices. The Board is concerned that some of this information has yet to be shared. "Until this happens and these crossings are identified," said Mrs. Ackermans, "required improvements may not be implemented in a timely manner, and Canadians, particularly those using assistive devices, will continue to be at an elevated risk at railway crossings."

"Despite new standards introduced in 2014, there remains a clear need for additional improvements. Today is an opportunity to do exactly that," added Mrs. Ackermans. Upgrades for designated crossings could include improved lighting, additional visual and audio cues, flangeway fillers, changing the angle of the sidewalk and textured surfaces, for example.

Since the accident, CN has made several repairs to the Robinson Street crossing, including the sidewalk areas. The City of Moncton notified CN that the crossings at Robinson Street and nearby Victoria Street have been designated for persons using assistive devices. The city is also developing its own crossing standards, which are planned for implementation in 2018.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates air, marine, pipeline, and rail 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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-360-4376