Communiqué

TSB # R 18/96

Pedestrian Fatalities at the Park Street Public Crossing Brockville, Ontario, Mile 125.15, Kingston Subdivision Involving Canadian National Freight Train No. 395 20 April 1995

Report No. R95D0055

(For release 05 December 1996)

(Hull, Quebec) - The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has concluded its investigation into an accident at a railway crossing in Brockville, Ontario, on 20 April 1995, in which two high school students were fatally injured. Contributory to the accident was the lack of restriction to pedestrian access to the tracks. Also, present and proposed standards for the design and operation of multi-track crossing devices do not compensate for the danger to pedestrians when two trains are approaching the crossing at the same time by providing additional visual and audible alarms.

The accident occurred at approximately 1145 EDT, when the westbound Canadian National (CN) freight train struck the two students, who were walking back to their school on the south side of the multiple-track Park Street public crossing. The Board determined that the two pedestrians stepped into the path of the westbound train while their concentration was fixed on a passing eastbound train.

The Board is concerned about the adequacy of the warning protection provided to pedestrians at multiple-track level crossings. In this accident, the automated warning devices activated as designed, but the students waiting for the eastbound train to pass were apparently not aware of the developing situation regarding the oncoming second westbound train. There is no warning protection available at multiple-track level crossings to specifically warn pedestrians when more than one track is, or is about, to be occupied. Pedestrians have to depend on gates, bells, and flashing lights that are primarily directed at vehicular traffic to alert them to potential danger.

Transport Canada has apparently recognized the need to provide supplemental warning protection at pedestrian/cyclist walkways; however, no such protection is proposed for simple pedestrian walkways beside roads or highways. In spite of all the warning and alerting systems already required at multiple-track level crossings, pedestrians in populated areas remain vulnerable to misinterpreting the available cues, unwittingly assuming that the way will be clear after the passage of the train in sight.

In order to provide better protection to pedestrians against concurrent train passage at multiple-track level crossings, the Board has recommended that:

The Department of Transport, in cooperation with the railways, the provincial and local authorities, implement, on a priority basis, a program to upgrade the pedestrian protection systems on those multiple-track mainline crossings in populated areas warranting immediate attention. [R96 - 14]

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is an independent agency operating under its own Act of Parliament. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

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