2 dead after collision with train in Headingley

Two people died after a collision involving a pickup truck and a freight train in Headingley, Man., on Monday.

A man, 75, and a woman, 65, died at the scene, Manitoba RCMP say

A vehicle and train collided in Headingley, Man., on Monday afternoon. (John Einarson/CBC)

Two people died after a collision involving a pickup truck and a freight train in Headingley, Man., on Monday.

The 75-year-old man driving the truck, and a 65-year-old woman who was a passenger, died at the scene, RCMP said.

The crash took place on Roblin Boulevard between Alboro Street and Highway 334 around 4:30 p.m. The truck was heading east on Roblin at the time of the collision, in which the truck was pushed onto a nearby bridge. 

STARS Air Ambulance was called to the scene but later told to stand down.

RCMP and emergency crews were on scene for several hours and asked the public to avoid the area. The area was closed until about 10:30 p.m. Monday.

Some people commenting on the Headingley Families community Facebook page questioned why the rail crossing doesn't have gate arms to stop traffic when a train is coming.

Transport Canada uses a calculation called a cross-product — the average number of vehicles crossing per day multiplied by the number of trains — to determine whether a gate is needed at a rail crossing, according to guidelines published on the agency's website.

According to Transport Canada, the requirements for a gate are:

  • A forecast cross-product of 50,000 or more.
  • Two or more railway lines.
  • A design speed of more than 81 kilometres per hour.
  • A distance of less than 30 metres between a stop sign and the nearest rail.
  • If there is a traffic signal, a distance between the stop line and the nearest rail of less than 60 metres.

Manitoba Public Insurance spokesperson Brian Smiley said there are, on average, five collisions involving trains and other vehicles annually in the province. Ten per cent of such crashes involve a fatality, he said.

Smiley would not speak to whether there have been incidents at the Headingley intersection, but he said trains have the right of way and the onus is on motorists to ensure the coast is clear.

"Motorists need to be reminded of that when [they] are coming upon a train crossing, whether it's controlled with lights or with crossing arms, you need to stop, you need to look both ways and check that there's no trains coming and cross safely when you can," he said.

Manitoba RCMP told CBC News in an email Thursday they were not aware of any previous collisions involving trains at the intersection.

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson