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VIA says workaround for level crossings under repair is standard practice

It has been two days since the advanced warning signals began malfunctioning at the Jockvale and Strandherd level rail crossings and crews are still working to repair them.

Today, callers to CFRA News called with concerns about the way the crossing problems are being dealt with.

They say the trains are stopping short of the road for a worker to get off the train, cross the road and look for traffic.

The worker then reportedly waves a flag to signal to the train operator it's safe to cross the road before climbing back on the train once it's safely across.

VIA Rail says this is the rule that is instated every time there are repairs being made at a level rail crossing.

A spokesperson couldn't confirm this specific practice meets safety guidelines but she did say all VIA practices fall within federal regulations.

UPDATE: CFRA sent the photo featured in this article to VIA for comment. Here is their written response:

  • Picture was taken at Greenbank Road, Mile 5.10 Smiths Falls Sub, looking toward the North (train was travelling to the West).
  • It is most likely a legitimate picture, taken today.
  • Rail term has confirmed with the Rail Traffic Controller (RTC) that there is currently a General Bulletin Order (GBO) in place that instructs train crews to stop before fouling the crossing and to manually protect by a crew member until crossing occupied.
  • By rule, the train crew must abide by their Orders.
  • The westbound train would have therefore pulled to the east side of the crossing (right side of crossing on the picture), one crew member would have descended from the cab to manually protect the crossing while instructing the other crew member to advance the locomotive to occupy the crossing, at which point the crew member on the ground would have climbed back into the cab and the train would have proceeded to the west.
  • The picture was taken after the above procedure was employed as the front of the train is already west of the crossing.

The GBO protecting the out of service Advance Warning Device (AWD) at Greenbank Road has been in place since yesterday to ensure that trains are not accelerating/decelerating through the crossing approaches while work is being done at Jockvale Road, Mile 5.73 and Strandherd Road, Mile 6.81, where GBO are also in place to protect those out of service AWD.

When the AWD are out of service they may not activate on the approach of a train, however, AWD are not taken out of service without first applying GBO protection from the RTC ensuring a stop and manual protection by crew members. 100% normal situation and occurs on a regular basis at all crossings.

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