Canada·CBC Investigates

Data on dangerous railway crossings to be shared, minister says

Canada’s transportation minister is pledging to share more information about the country's most dangerous rail crossings, after CBC News revealed an internal government list, that pinpoints the 500 “highest risk” crossings, has never been shared with municipalities.

List of 500 'highest-risk' crossings will be available to local officials, Marc Garneau tells MPs

Transportation Minister Marc Garneau told MPs he will offer to share Transport Canada's list of highest-risk railway crossings during a meeting next week with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Canada's transportation minister is pledging to share more information about the country's most dangerous rail crossings, after CBC News revealed an internal government list, that pinpoints the 500 "highest risk" crossings, has never been shared with municipalities.

"I have made it very clear that this information, which is a tool that Transport Canada uses, can be made accessible to the municipalities if they wish it," Marc Garneau told MPs this afternoon during question period on Parliament Hill.

"In fact I will be meeting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in two weeks to make that offer to them," Garneau said in response to questions. 

CBC News reported Wednesday that Transport Canada's database in 2014 ranked a rail crossing in southwestern Ontario as the fourth most dangerous in Canada — but never told local officials.

Last week, two women were killed at that crossing when their car was struck by a VIA train. The road has a speed limit of 90 km/h and the crossing is marked by flashing lights and warning bells, but has no automatic gate.

Today's announcement evoked a lukewarm response from the mayor of Southwest Middlesex, where the fatality occurred.

Emergency crews remove a car that collided with a VIA train, killing two women, at a railway crossing last week in Southwest Middlesex, Ont. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

"I think it's very unfortunate it's taken this much effort for them to take responsibility for these crossings," Vance Blackmore told CBC News. 

He's been calling for installation of gates since a previous accident two years ago at the same spot.

"Why do we have to wait until 2016? How many people have died on crossings before the government and CN Rail accepts responsibility?" Blackmore said. 

The VIA trains run on CN Rail tracks, and CN is responsible for the automated warning system at the crossing. 

CBC's investigation also found widespread design flaws across the country through analysis of records from the Transportation Safety Board and examination of the top 25 most accident-prone crossings in Canada.

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