Hitting the rails to promote safety awareness

Canadian Pacific Police were out in full force in Fernie on May 1 to educate the public during Rail Safety Week.

Canadian Pacific (CP) Police were out in full force in Fernie on Friday, May 1 to stress the importance of safety around railway property as part of Rail Safety Week.

“Rail Safety Week is an initiative to raise awareness on the safety implications of railway lines,” said public affairs and communications worker with CP Salem Woodrow. “We unfortunately can’t control human behaviour, but we can take measures to deter that behaviour through education and enforcement.”

CP Police teamed up with local RCMP to conduct education and enforcement activities at different locations across Fernie, among them were the 4th and 13th street railway crossings.

Woodrow said that officers were largely focusing on issues of trespassing in Fernie as a walking path developed near Ridgemont has resulted in safety concerns.

“The importance of us being out in Fernie is to remind and educate people that trains cannot stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks,” said Woodrow. “It can take a freight train up to two kilometers to stop so it’s important to remember to stay clear and not access railway property as a shortcut.”

According to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, there were 58 trespasser vs. train accidents in Canada last year — 36 resulted in fatalities.

For Fernie residents, a notable railway-related issue is that of the 13th Street crossing’s lack of gate arms.

Despite willingness from the city to install these arms, Transport Canada requires specific guidelines to be met in order to qualify a crossing for arms, which the 13th Street crossing does not fulfill.

Rail Safety Week continued from Fernie across the country until May 3. For more information and statistics on the importance of being rail safe visit www.cpr.ca/en/safety/being-rail-safe.