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Another fatality on the Railways around Guelph

By shost at 8:28 pm on Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Another year, another fatality on the Railways around Guelph.


These are all preventable, and I will continue to tally the problem until we start to take some action:

On average, there is ONE death on Guelph railways every single year and I have been monitoring the statistics for 10 years now. That means since 2001, I have noticed 10 deaths on Guelph railways.

While the responsibility for accidents usually falls to the person who is injured or killed,  the Railways, the City, and Developers adjacent to the line should all share to help fight the problem. Here are some thoughts that may prove sensible in the hands of Guelph Councillors, Developers, and perhaps Railway officials (CN Rail, GEXR, and GO Transit – anyone listening?)

* Developers should be forced to pay into a fund to fence off all railway rights of ways adacent to residential development projects or areas of major ingress or egress of tresspassers

* Railways should enforce tresspassing laws (this is enforceable under federal law and a ticket costs $165 for tresspassing anywhere on railway property) as well as better maintain adequate warning signage. While CN police do patrol around Ontario, they are never noticed in Guelph. Hello?

* Railways should fence off major trespassing areas or work with adjacent property owners to solve these problems for existing developed areas.

* The City should take responsibility for major trespassing areas along city parks (Margaret Greene has seen two or three fatalities recently!) — fencing would be a great start.

* The city would be advised to put into development policy either a method to enact standards for fencing along railway rights of way, funded through development charges, and cooperate with railways to set a policy as well as any cost sharing initiatives that may be available

* Where is the Operation Lifesaver presence in Guelph and how can some of that funding be directed this way to teach young people not to trespass on the railway?

Two things to note here: Most of the fatalities around Guelph are *outside* of the downtown core as this is where trains travel at up to 100 KM/H and lots of people are caught walking along the right of way as a shortcut home. Downtown trains have a maximum speed of 15 MPH and fatalities are rare, but still occur. This is why fencing has gone up downtown, to the dismay of many, and to my delight, as this will save lives.

The Guelph Junction Railway has had little or no fatalities that I have been aware of related to an accident involving a train and a trespasser within the Guelph city limits, but further research may have to be done in order to verify this for fact. The Guelph Junction Railway has far fewer trains and also operates at a very low rate of speed.

Post your thoughts and comments below

-Steve Host, Guelph

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Comment by Mark Dowling

October 18, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

the problem with fenced tracks is that locals often refuse to abide by them as going to the nearest crossing is less convenient than the nearest hole in the fence and subsequent hop across the tracks. Fencing should be of good quality both structurally and from a visual perspective, perhaps supplemented by “living walls” which would add sound reduction even as it subtracts convenience for neighbouring residents.

Railways should also be forced to keep their alignments reasonably tidy. Some of what I observed on a trip from Toronto-Kitchener (garbage, old ties, old rails etc) was a disgrace. If rail alignments look like nobody cares about them, some locals may have formed the idea that trespass is no big deal either.

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