• John Jantak

Rail track safety is focus of Operation Lifesaver campaign


PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Terrasse-Vaudreuil public works employee Yves Bourdeau uses a stencil to spray paint a warning sign onto a pedestrian walkway advising people at the Pincourt-Terrasse-Vaudreuil train station to REGARDER, ÉCOUTER, VIVRE – LOOK, LISTEN, LIVE last Thursday, September 19, to promote Rail Safety Week as part of Operation Lifesaver which ends on Sunday, September 29.

LOOK, LISTEN, LIVE – REGARDER, ÉCOUTER, VIVRE; that’s the message being delivered as part of safety campaign by Operation Lifesaver aimed at getting people to become more safety conscious at train stations and rail lines.

As part of the campaign, representatives from the CN Police, CP Police, EXO Police, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and councillors from the Towns of Pincourt and Terrasse-Vaudreuil invited the media to an information event at the Pincourt–Terrasse-Vaudreuil train station last Thursday, September 19 to highlight the importance of being vigilant at rail crossings and train stations.

Respect all signage

The weeklong campaign which ends September 29 featured new yellow warning signs with the message – LOOK, LISTEN, LIVE – that were spray painted in English and French onto pedestrian walkways leading to and from the train station. They’re to remind people to always be alert to their surroundings when at train stations and especially when crossing rail tracks.

“We want people to be more aware when they cross tracks and to respect all the signage to make sure no one gets hurt or hit by a train. When you first see tracks, always think about trains. Be aware of the schedule and make sure you’re on time and not running for the train,” CN Police Constable André Lebreux told The Journal.

PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK

Constable Michel Belizaire, CP Police; Inspector Jean-Pierre Guérin, EXO Police; Pincourt Councillor Denise Bergeron; Terrasse-Vaudreuil Councillor Jean-Pierre Brazeau; Pincourt Councillor René Lecavalier; Constable André Lebreux, CN Police; and Sergeant Bruno Beaulieu with the SQ police detachment in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, were at the Pincourt-Terrasse-Vaudreuil train station last Thursday, September 19, to promote Rail Safety Week as part of Operation Lifesaver.

On-line pledge

He also advises that if people see something to say something. “If someone is going to cross the tracks when they shouldn’t, they should feel free to tell people that it’s wrong and dangerous to do so. One accident is one too many,” said Lebreux.

Commuters are also encouraged to sign an online pledge that commits them to be safety conscious around rail tracks at www.mysafetypledge.com.

Dangerous crossing

Motorists should also check to see if trains are approaching when crossing the double sets of tracks at the Pincourt–Terrasse-Vaudreuil rail crossing, recommends Terrasse-Vaudreuil Councillor Jean-Pierre Brazeau. He said the two pairs of tracks make the crossing particularly dangerous.

Brazeau said the annual event helps to get people to recognize the importance of rail safety. “I’ve been with Operation Lifesaver for 35 years ever since I worked at CP Rail. It’s a good thing that we sensitize everybody especially at this crossing. It’s very dangerous. There are about 560 passengers that got on the commuter train here to Montreal every weekday,” he said.

“You also have CP and CN freight trains going through at about 55 to 65 kilometres per hour and the VIA train coming by at 95 kilometres per hour,” Brazeau added.

Proposed pedestrian tunnel

A pedestrian tunnel would help commuters avoid having to access the train station above ground, said Brazeau. “People from Pincourt and Terrasse-Vaudreuil would be able to use the tunnel and come up the stairs to access the platform,” he said.

The tunnel would help to alleviate a dangerous problem at the station where pedestrians do not wait for the barrier to lift after a freight train has passed. Instead, they run past or cross underneath the barrier to catch the commuter train without realizing there could be a fast-moving VIA train approaching, said Brazeau.

‘People are impatient’

“The gate won’t help because when the commuter train pulls into the station, the train is on the circuit and the gate won’t go up. If people stay at the gate, they’re going to miss the train and get to work in Montreal maybe an hour or two later. That’s why everyone’s rushing,” said Brazeau.

“People are impatient. They go underneath the gate to get the train. VIA comes in at 95 kilometers at the same time. I’m afraid that one day the train is not going to hit one person – it’s going to hit 10 people at the same,” Brazeau added.

Before a tunnel project could proceed, Terrasse-Vaudreuil would need the approval of the federal and provincial governments, and CN, CP and EXO. The municipality has already had two meetings with federal, provincial and EXO representatives and officials from Pincourt and Terrasse-Vaudreuil.

“We’re moving forward to see what solution we can have with the tunnel,” Brazeau said.

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