VIA Rail presents action plan to address Barrhaven-area railway crossings' challenges

VIA Rail presents action plan to address Barrhaven-area railway crossings' challenges

Thursday, May 15th 2014


Ottawa, May 15, 2014 – VIA Rail Canada (www.viarail.ca) laid out its action plan related to Barrhaven-area railway crossing signals and submitted the response from its experts today. VIA Rail’s plan aims at (1) improving the reliability of its Automatic Warning Device (AWD) systems; (2) reducing the impact of unnecessary waiting time for road users, pedestrians and train operations; and (3) enabling the reporting of fail-safe occurrences in a faster way to reduce the crossings road block without compromising safety. Amongst several measures, the Corporation announced that it has and will undertake the following measures:

  • Complete, as soon as possible, subject to winter, the construction of a new siding track between Ottawa and Fallowfield stations to reduce false activations due to train traffic congestion;
  • Install cameras and communications equipment at three strategic crossings (Woodroffe Avenue, OC Transitway and Fallowfield Road) to facilitate faster response by maintenance crews;
  • Conduct, this year, all preventative maintenance tests, originally planned for later;
  • Conduct, in cooperation with Transport Canada and City of Ottawa, the government-regulated “Detailed Safety Assessment” exercise at the six crossings;
  • Post qualified personnel at proximity during peak times (6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday) to facilitate faster response by maintenance crews;
  • Appointed a Senior Advisor, Mr. John Marginson, who will be dedicated to managing this important file until these issues are resolved. Stationed in the Ottawa-area, he will report directly to Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, President and Chief Executive Officer;
  • Continue to hold regular, daily or weekly communications with the City of Ottawa and OC Transpo as it has since February;
  • Maintain regular updated communications with the community through www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/information-ottawa-area-residents, on Twitter @VIA_rail @VIARailPrez and on Facebook.

 

VIA Rail’s action plan


The action plan was created in accordance with its experts’ report findings and recommendations.

“We recognize the occurrences have been above acceptable levels, and we remain committed to making changes that will reduce their frequency as well as their impact on the community,” said Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, new President and CEO of VIA Rail. “Ensuring that those in the community who come in contact with VIA Rail’s railway crossing operations have complete confidence in their safety and reliability is of utmost importance to all of us at VIA Rail. We have taken the learnings from the technical review and combined them with our expertise and experience to ensure the highest level of safety will be maintained for the residents of Ottawa.”

The following are the measures VIA Rail took, or will take, to reduce occurrences of fail-safe mode:

Completed measures:

  • Requested RailTerm to increase the frequency of regular inspections until the data demonstrates that they are no longer required;
  • Conduct, for every occurrence of fail-safe, a detailed investigation using new wireless technologies.
     

Short-term measures:

  • Instructed RailTerm to immediately conduct all preventative maintenance tests, over a 30-day period, which are normally conducted every two, four or eight years.
     

Mid-term measures:

  • Implementation of an Electronic Defect Tracking System in order to better detect trends;
  • Complete, as soon as possible, subject to winter, the construction of a new siding track between Ottawa and Fallowfield stations in order to reduce false activations due to train traffic congestion;
  • Conduct, in cooperation with Transport Canada and the City of Ottawa the government-regulated “Detailed Safety Assessment” exercise at the six crossings that was originally planned for 2015.
     

In addition, VIA Rail took, and will take, corrective measures to minimize the impact on road users and pedestrians:

  • Established communication protocol between the City of Ottawa, RailTerm and VIA Rail;
  • Post qualified personnel at proximity during peak times (6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday) to facilitate faster response by maintenance crews;
  • Installation of unique remote communications equipment at the affected crossings that will serve to notify RailTerm of any anomalies;
  • Installation, by end of June, of cameras at the Woodroffe, Fallowfield and OC Transitway crossings that will serve to notify RailTerm, in real time, of any anomalies;
  • Creation of a section on VIA Rail’s website that provides information on planned work and educates the public on how AWDs work.

 

Findings from the study conducted by VIA Rail’s consulting firms

At today’s event, findings from a study conducted by RailTerm, Hatch Mott MacDonald and Siemens into issues with Automatic Warning Devices (AWDs) systems at six Barrhaven-area rail crossings were presented. The study, undertaken at VIA Rail’s request following reports of AWDs systems at six Barrhaven-area rail crossings going into fail-safe mode with higher frequency and for longer periods of time than usual, examined the Corporation’s infrastructure and signaling system, and further investigated the root causes of these occurrences.

Following a thorough analysis of the infrastructure and signaling system, the experts created an action plan that addresses a number of contributing factors that have led to fail‐safe activations and its impact on road users. Experts identified issues that can be classified in the following categories:

1. Electrical issues
       a. Contaminants in the track (e.g. water, salt)
       b. Moisture and ballast (rocks that the tracks rest on)

2. Mechanical issues (e.g. Component or sub-system, wind bracket [which prevents gates from bending in wind], etc.)

3. Software issues (e.g. circuit board failure)

4. Train operations in a complex environment (e.g. congestion of rail traffic)
 

Up to date information about Barrhaven-area rail crossings is on the webpage “Information for Ottawa area residents”: www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/information-ottawa-area-residents, on Twitter @VIA_rail or on Facebook

 

About VIA Rail Canada
As Canada's national rail passenger service, VIA Rail Canada's mandate is to provide safe, efficient and economical travel, in both official languages of our country. VIA Rail operates intercity, regional and transcontinental trains linking 450 communities across its 12,500 km network. Recipient of the Railway Association of Canada's Safety Award in 2012 for the 11th time in 12 years, and of Baxter Travel Media’s 2013 Agent's Choice Award (voted on by Canadian travel agents), VIA Rail safely transports nearly four million passengers annually. Since 2007, the Government of Canada has invested more than a billion dollars in VIA Rail. Follow the progress of our transformation at viarail.ca/transformingvia.

Follow us on our Evolution Blog at viaevolution.ca, on Twitter @VIA_rail and on Facebook.