Almost half of all railway-related deaths and injuries result from accidents at crossings. The government of Canada is now working to reduce the number of these accidents by working closely with railway companies and communities to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements. This year, Transport Canada is funding six public education and awareness activities, 113 infrastructure projects, including grade-crossing improvements across the country and 12 technology and research projects. One of these exercises which was carried out to first train responders was a stimulated train derailment. This was aimed to enhance the knowledge and techniques of responders. With over 44,000 kilometres of track across the country, and approximately 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings, they believe everyone has a role to play in railway safety.
"People often think they can judge with their own eyes and ears how far away a train is, or they expect a train to be able to stop on a dime. The reality is, today's trains are big and fast."
Last month the Minister of Transport launched a Rail Safety Week along with 131 new projects and initiatives to keep Canadians safe, contribute to the reduction of injuries and fatalities and increase confidence in Canada’s rail transportation system. Collectively, the projects receive more than $20 million under the Government of Canada’s Rail Safety Improvement Programme.
As part of this funding, the Government is providing renewed support to Operation Lifesaver, a national public outreach initiative whose goal is to increase public awareness about railway crossings and the dangers of trespassing. It achieves this by providing rail safety awareness briefings to schools and communities, and by developing and promoting videos, exhibits and sponsoring outreach events across Canada.
In addition to renewed support for Operation Lifesaver, Minister Garneau’s announcement included funding for: 125 projects that focus on infrastructure, technology and research, including safety improvements on rail property, the use of innovative technologies; research and studies; as well as the closures of grade crossings that present safety concerns, and;
In February, the Canadian government stimulated a train derailment to educate first responders. The public was able to learn about the many resources available during a complex incident through the Transport Canada Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) programme. The ERAP provides first responders access to technical advisors and personnel as well as equipment for on-scene response should it be required. Volunteer firefighters also participated in this full-scale exercise. The exercise, which took place at L’Institut Maritime du Québec, simulated a train derailment to enhance the knowledge and techniques of responders.
This exercise is one of several activities put in place by the Government of Canada to improve public safety following the Lac-Mégantic train derailment. It is a critical step in the development of a standardized training curriculum for first responders across Canada. An exercise known as Exercise Vulcan was conducted in British Columbia last year.
Transport Canada, and Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science will conduct Exercise Athéna, an exercise to improve the response capabilities of first responders to incidents involving a train carrying flammable liquids.
"People often think they can judge with their own eyes and ears how far away a train is, or they expect a train to be able to stop on a dime. The reality is, today's trains are big and fast. They can appear slower and further away than they actually are, and can take more than two kilometres to come to a complete stop. You really don't want to get in the way of one - either by trespassing on railway property, or trying to beat a train at a rail crossing," said Sarah Mayes, Interim National Director, Operation Lifesaver.
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