Rail Safety Week reminds people of potential rail crossing risks
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
Rail Safety Week was observed across North America last week, encouraging communities to create awareness about the potential risks involved at rail crossings. Running from September 21-27 this year, the Canadian National (CN) Railway Police Service officials went out to the communities across its network in North America, in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, to educate people about trespassing on rail tracks and disregarding rail safety signs and devices at level crossings.
“2020 has been a challenging year for everybody, but it’s important to remember that the coronavirus is not the only danger out there. As an essential service, railways have been an important part of most people's lives and the supply-chain, whether it’s transporting goods, for travel or for transportation. Each year more than 2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured in rail crossing and trespassing incidents. Rail safety is everyone’s responsibility, year-round. We’re asking everyone to keep this in mind, not just for this week, but throughout the year,” said Stephen Covey, the Chief of Police and the Chief Security Officer at CN, in their news release for Rail Safety Week 2020.
The Operations Sergeant for Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario, Paul Leaden said, “Rail Safety Week is important because it gives us a platform to talk about some of the issues in terms of rail safety that are very important, as we deal with them on a day-to-day basis. It gives us a focus that we can talk to the media and community even more so for that week.”
CN links communities to markets around the world. The company mentions in its news release that all necessary steps are taken to protect their employees, communities, customers, vendors and partners, in response to the unprecedented challenges associated with the pandemic. CN continues to invest into rail safety and even this year, invited all communities across its network to participate in activities, at a safe distance, to promote rail safety.
“It’s been a challenge for us because we have had to limit our interaction with the community, so the most part of it is being done virtually. Where we would go to schools, driving training schools… we now send them a virtual package, which gives them a video and some information in regards to rail safety that they can talk about and links to virtual learning tools for school,” said Leaden.
Each year, CN Police serve and attend to hundreds of events along CN’s network across eight Canadian provinces and 16 U.S. states. By rolling out strategic educational initiatives and conducting targeted operations, CN police aim to promote safe behaviors and increase awareness of rail safety. CN reminds all drivers and pedestrians to be extra vigilant when using level crossings that they may not have used as frequently in recent months, due to the disruption with work patterns during the pandemic. “We ask people to stay alert, even at level crossings they are familiar with, stop and take the time, look and listen for trains and please be patient and adhere to the signals and warning signs. Safety has been a core value at CN for more than 100 years and we want to continue to collaborate with the communities where we operate to reinforce a strong safety culture,” said Covey.
“You’re 40 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident if you’re struck by a train. So, on the approach to the railway crossing, take the time to stop. Same thing with people who are trespassing when they’re walking, it’s not worth taking the time to cut through the property and it’s not worth risking your safety and your life to trespass,” said Leaden. In collaboration with the cities, towns and Aboriginal communities that CN serves, they have created powerful allies in promoting the rail safety messages in their communities. Last year, more than 200 communities across CN’s network signed proclamations in support of the Rail Safety Week.