Thursday, July 24, 2008

CN reasserts their ownership of the waterfront rail yards

It has always been an uneasy relationship between CN and the folks of Prince Rupert, the residents seeking to have some form of access to waterfront areas of the city, while CN of course has a railway to run.

With the summer months bringing more people down to the Waterfront park and the walk between the old Rivtow yard and the Atlin Terminal, CN is once again reminding people that wandering off that thin stretch of road and onto their tracks is not only dangerous but against the law.

Once again declaring the railroad tracks and all the lands between them and the cliff sides as out of bounds, CN advises that they will again be on the look out for tresspassers who do not heed their warnings.

The official warning came in a front page story in Thursday's Daily News.

People reminded that area next to waterfront is dangerous and out of bounds to public
By Kris Schumacher
The Daily News
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Pages one and two

With the middle of summer vacation upon us, the CN Police want to give the public a friendly reminder about the importance of rail safety and the dangers of walking on or near train tracks.
"Look, listen and live" is the message that CN is delivering to B.C. families as their children are out of school for the summer holidays and are frequently playing outside.

People may think that exercising caution when using rail crossings is a no-brainer, but statistics show that since 2001 there has been a continual increase in trespassing incidents, serious injuries and fatalities relating to railway tracks across the country.

In recent years, the numbers have gone from 83 trespassing accidents in 2005 to 92 in 2006, and a staggering 100 in 2007.

The numbers are particularly worrisome considering that more than 90 per cent of accidents result in either death or serious injury.

"There haven't been any incidents since the container terminal started operating, but we have had an increase of trespassing activity in the Prince Rupert yard," said Kelly Yendrys, a CN Police official responsible for Prince Rupert, Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers.

"People are walking through the railway tracks, underneath cars and all over the place down there. We just want the community to realize that rail yards are dangerous places."

The Prince Rupert yard is located on the waterfront between Kwinitsa Station and the CN access road, and although the gravel road and waterfront area is open for public access, the area between the first set of rails and the hillside is private property and not to be used by pedestrians or other recreationalists.

Trespassing includes walking, playing and running on or beside the railway tracks, and driving a bike, a car, an ATV, or any other vehicle on or beside railway tracks.

People are also trespassing by taking a shortcut across railway tracks or railway property, or entering railway yards at any time.

Yendrys said the major safety issue for Prince Rupert involves warning the public about the dangers of the CN railyard, but that in Terrace they face a much larger problem.

"We have a huge problem in Terrace," he said. "I've been here for two years now and it's getting a bit better, but the railway yard cuts the town right in half. So, for shortcuts, people will go through the railway yard instead of using the overpass. We've even had incidents where parents will push baby carriages under rail cars. You've got to see it to believe some of the things we are seeing."

Yendrys is one of many CN Police members who speaks to more than 300,000 children and adults every year about the importance of paying attention to signs and signals at level highway-railway crossings and the dangers of walking on or near railway tracks. In fact, more than 53,000 students attended CN Police's All Aboard for Safety presentations that include safety blitzes at level crossings, simulation train-vehicle collisions, safety displays at community events, safe driving for school bus drivers and truckers, and rides for children on CN's safety train, 'Little Obie'. Yendrys made several presentations to Prince Rupert students last year, and plans to visit the community again in the fall to speak at schools and any other businesses or community groups that want to receive railway safety presentations.

CN's All Aboard for Safety community education program aims to help prevent injuries and fatalities, as well as form partnerships with community groups to help deliver the safety message. Partners include: Operation Lifesaver, Safe Communities Foundation, SMARTRISK, Safe Kids Canada, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada). During the past decade, The All Aboard Safety program has helped reduce the number of fatalities and injuries at rail crossings and on railway property.

CN Police have 10 tips for railway safety that they hope will help save lives and serious injury to Canadians in the future: Walking or playing on train tracks is dangerous and illegal. Be prepared to stop at crossings. Cross train tracks at designated highway/railway crossings. Look for the crossbuck sign, lights or gates at crossings. Listen for warning bells and whistles. Obey the signals. If one train passes, make sure that a second train isn't approaching on another track in the same or opposite direction. Obey the directions of a police officer or member of a train crew directing traffic at a crossing. Cross the tracks in low gear; do not change gears while crossing. If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, get out quickly and move away from the vehicle and tracks.

Schools, businesses and other organizations interested in organizing a CN Police presentation can feel free to contact Kelly Yendrys at 250-641-2884.

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