Via Rail's new chief executive has vowed to restore public confidence in the Crown corporation's rail crossings and has promised they will do a better job of communicating when malfunctions occur.
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Yves Desjardins-Siciliano told Ottawa city council at a special briefing Thursday that many of the problems that plagued level crossings in the south Ottawa community of Barrhaven were a result of failsafes activating more often then they should, and that at no moment was safety at risk.
But he concedes Via didn't communicate effectively when malfunctions did occur.
Desjardins-Siciliano said he has brought Via's former chief operating officer John Marginson out of retirement to be his point man in Ottawa to supervise the fix and said the two men will be communicating daily.
Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder told Via Rail executives she welcomed the new approach.
"Last time I had a lot of questions, this time I heard a lot of answers," said Harder.
Desjardins-Siciliano replaced Steve Del Bosco, who filled the job on an interim basis.
Del Bosco came under fire for Via Rail’s handling of rail crossing issues at several south Ottawa level crossings where signal failures frustrated residents.
Desjardins-Siciliano said he has gotten an earful already from Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, local MPs John Baird and Pierre Poilievre and Transport Minister Lisa Raitt.
"I can feel the heat of their breath on my neck and so I heard their concerns and I share their concerns and we will address those concerns," he said.
Warning signals at several crossings in Barrhaven have repeatedly malfunctioned for months. The crossings are close to where six people were killed when an Ottawa city bus collided with a Via passenger train in September last year.