Mayor Jim Watson is calling on Via Rail to "fix their problem" with a set of malfunctioning level train crossing signals on Fallowfield Road, not far from the site of a crash between a bus and a train that killed six people last year.
"I don't find it normal that in a span of three months there are eight failures of an intersection," Watson told reporters on Tuesday morning. "The bars are going down and there's no train, or they're not going down and there is a train. Clearly there is a problem and it's a Via problem and they've got to get their act together and they've got to fix it."
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The crossings are owned by Via Rail, but a company called RailTerm maintains and operates the crossings for Via.
"We've had, I think, close to eight various failures over the course of the last three months," Watson said. "And I've become more and more frustrated with the fact that these are Via signals and they're not working properly, and they're eroding confidence of both the city and the public who have to travel across that particular roadway in the south end of the city.
"Obviously there is a cost because when you're sending police out to make sure that people are crossing safely, that costs taxpayers money. And it shouldn't be a cost absorbed by us. This is a problem that Via has and they've got to fix their problem."
Watson met with Via interim head Tuesday
Watson made the comments after a meeting of the finance and economic development committee and before meeting with interim Via Rail president Steven Del Bosco in the afternoon.
Watson later described the meeting with Del Bosco in an email as "a very thorough exchange."
"Mr. Del Bosco has given me his personal assurance that fixing these technical issues is a priority for VIA Rail on which they are working very diligently. He says that VIA Rail's best technical staff and resources – both internal and external – are reviewing the signals, and will update the City in the coming weeks," Watson wrote Tuesday afternoon.
"I appreciate the President taking a hands-on approach to ensuring the safety of rail crossings, and look forward to VIA identifying a solution to this issue," he wrote.