Jan Harder welcomes review of rail line crossings

Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder said a federal agency's order for a safety review of all level rail crossings that intersect with OC Transpo routes is "another opportunity to make sure" they are safe.
The September crash of an OC Transpo bus and a Via passenger train killed six people and prompted a Transportation Safety Board investigation. (Terry Pedwell/Canadian Press) (Terry Pedwell/Canadian Press)

Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder said a federal agency's order for a safety review of all level rail crossings that intersect with OC Transpo routes is "another opportunity to make sure" they're safe.

Employment and Social Development Canada issued the directive Thursday as part of its investigation into last September's fatal collision between a double-decker OC Transpo bus and a VIA Train in Barrhaven.

There are at least 13 such level crossings in the city, and six in Barrhaven alone.

Harder said the city already checks the crossings on a regular basis, but said the extra review can only help.

"I will be surprised if there are any significant issues at all, but the good thing is, it's just another opportunity to make sure," said Harder.

The Transportation Safety Board is responsible for investigating the cause of the crash, but ESDC is looking into the incident from a workplace safety perspective.

It has directed the city to assess and remove any hazards near such crossings that could obstruct sightlines.

City has already taken steps at some crossings

At the site of the fatal crash, the city has already cleared out brush and dead trees to improve visibility and sight lines.

The speed limit along the Transitway approaching the crossing was also lowered from 60 kilometres per hour to 50 kilometres per hour in both directions, and another warning light was added.

Transit advocate David Jeanes said the city has taken steps to improve safety at other crossings as well, including Merivale Road, where the crossing was redesigned, and at Greenbank Road, where plans are in place to put the Via line on a bridge over Greenbank.

Jeanes suggested the city could also clarify rules about when and where trains can sound their horns and follow the lead of some other jurisdictions by forcing OC Transpo buses to stop at all level crossings.


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