Rail Safety week promoting awareness in rural Saskatchewan

EAST CENTRAL — Local communities are working to raise awareness of railway safety this week.

According to data collected by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, 114 rail safety incidents occurred across Canada so far in 2020, 36 of them resulting in fatalities and 22 in serious injuries.

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Sarah Mayes, national director for rail safety organization Operation Lifesaver, said communities from across the country are taking part this year’s #StopTrackTragedies campaign, including 311 RCMP and CN Police detachments.

“We're asking them to use their social media channels basically to amplify our message in those communities.”

Safety is a shared responsibility, Mayes said, and municipal partnerships are crucial in supporting rail safety initiatives in railway communities.

“We just really want to remind people to be safe. These incidents are entirely preventable.”

The biggest messages that Operation Lifesaver wants to get out is that train tracks should not be used as shortcuts and motorists and pedestrians need to obey the crossing signals, Mayes said.

“You think that you'll be able to hear or feel a train coming but they're remarkably quiet and they can really sneak up on you. When you're out at a crossing, obey all the signs and signals, and be alert.”

The Town of Nipawin was one of the many towns that made note of Rail Safety Week in their community during their latest council meeting on Sept. 14. With a major rail line running right through town, Mayor Rennie Harper said rail safety is important for all communities to talk about.

“People need to be safe about railways and we all need to be aware. You have to listen for the horn and you have to pay attention at the crossings.”

Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit partnership between the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada working towards promoting rail safety in Canada.

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