There are about 74,000 kms of rail line in Canada.  As of June 2011 it was estimated that Saskatchewan had 3933 public crossings for federal railways and this amounts to 25% of all grade crossings in Canada.  In 2010 and 2011 there were 23 and 24 accidents at railway – roadway crossings in Saskatchewan respectively.

Rail safety is everyones concern and responsibility.  Our abilities are based on our age and also our stage and level of development.  Everyone, regardless of age should only cross rail lines at crosswalks, and no one should ever tresspass on rail property.  It is against the law and rail yards hold many dangers most of us never think of. Please talk with your children about safety around trains and rail lines and also the dangers of tresspassing. Children under 10 years of age should always be supervised around rail lines and trains.

Each year in Canada, about 100 people are killed and another 100 seriously injured in incidents with trains. These incidents can involve either a pedestrian and a train collision or a vehicle and train collision. They happen when people attempt to cross the track at the wrong place or the wrong time, or when people are trespassing on railway land. Children may play games or take risks on railway property, while others may trespass on railway property to take a shortcut. Pedestrians and motorists must cross at designated crossings only.

Obeying signals is important at rail crossings. Flashing light signals and gates activate by as little as 20 seconds before a train reaches the crossing. This does not give pedestrians or motorists enough time to safely cross the track. No one should ever try to beat the train.

Even when an approaching train has passed, a second train may be coming on the same track or from the opposite direction. Pedestrians and motorists must always look in both directions to make sure that another train is not approaching before crossing.

Trains are often closer and are moving faster than you may realize. Depending on the size of the train, if it is travelling at 105 km/h, it can take two minutes to come to a stop. That means a train can travel a distance of  2,500 metres from the time it brakes to the time it comes to a complete stop. Unlike a car, a train cannot swerve to avoid an oncoming collision. 

Teaching kids about rail safety

Railway tracks can be a tempting shortcut. If your child has to cross railways tracks on his way to and from school, he may simply be choosing the most convenient place to cross the tracks. This may mean taking a shortcut and choosing to trespass on railway land rather than at a designated crossing.

Below are 10 lessons that every child must know to stay safe around railway tracks:

  • Don’t take shortcuts. If you are not crossing at a designated crossing, you are trespassing. This is dangerous and illegal.  Walk to a designated crossing.
  • Cross at the right place and time. The only place to cross at railway tracks is at a designated crossing. Do not try to cross the tracks when the flashing lights have come on and the gate is down. 
  • Obey the signals.  Never walk around a closed gate. At designated crossings, flashing light signals and gates activate only 20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing. This is not enough time to cross the track.
  • Make sure the way is clear. If you must cross railway tracks, stop, look and listen before crossing.
  • A train cannot stop as quickly as a car. A train needs much more time and space to come to a complete stop than a car needs.  Unlike a car, a train cannot swerve to avoid a collision.
  • Never try to outrun a train. Trains are closer and are moving faster than you realize. The average 150-car freight train is travelling at 100 km/h.
  • Stand five metres (16 feet) back from the rail. Objects can fall from trains. Stand at least five metres back from the tracks to avoid getting hit by falling objects.    
  • Check for a second train. If one train passes, make sure a second train isn’t following behind or approaching on another track. Wait until the first train has passed and then make sure both tracks are clear before crossing. 
  • Never ride a bicycle over train tracks. The wheels can get caught in the track and you could fall off your bicycle. Always walk your bicycle across the tracks when it is safe to cross.
  • Do not trespass. Railway property is private property. Playing on railway tracks and bridges is dangerous and illegal. It is against the law to trespass on railway property.

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