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'Catastrophic incidents': CN emphasizing the importance of rail safety

Manitobans are being reminded about the importance of safety around railways as being irresponsible can pose “catastrophic” dangers.

This week marks CN Rail’s annual Rail Safety Week, and the transportation service is teaching people about how to eliminate railroad accidents.

Const. Michael Reid said in his 12 years with the CN Police one of the biggest issues he’s seen is people disobeying traffic control devices, including lights, gates and crossings.

“[It’s] people developing complacency in their habits of maybe not coming to that complete stop and maybe rolling through and that can lead to catastrophic incidents,” he said in an interview with CTV Morning Live on Friday.

According to CN, in 2022 there were 232 railway crossing and trespassing incidents in Canada, which led to 66 fatalities and 43 serious injuries.

Reid noted that all of these incidents could have been prevented through proper precautions, including not trespassing on railway properties and obeying the Highway Traffic Act.

“In my career, I’ve been to over 85 collisions or incidents – 19 fatalities myself,” he said.

“But the statistic for North America is someone’s hit or hits a train every two hours.”

Reid is reminding Manitobans that it’s difficult for trains to stop quickly, due to their weight and the speed that they travel at. On average, it takes about two kilometres for a train to come to a stop.

“Obviously, they can’t change lanes, they can’t steer or anything like that. They can only go forward or backward. They’re stuck on the tracks,” Reid said.

“So really it’s up to whatever’s in front of that train to get out of the way.”

Reid added that Winnipeg is a rail city, so it’s important for residents to be rail-smart.

CN Rail’s tips for being rail smart include stopping at a safe distance away from tracks and crossings; looking both ways to ensure a train is not approaching; and listening for any approaching trains.

“Just be cautious. The implications for having a mistake around a railway crossing or trying to rush across can be catastrophic,” he said.

- With files from CTV’s Rachel Lagace. Top Stories

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