Rail Safety Week 2020 kicks off in COVID-19 era – See the close call videos that show train lines are no place for complacency

Metrolinx joins Operation Lifesaver and other freight partners to launch Rail Safety Week 2020.

Metrolinx has a mantra that guides everything the transit agency does.

Safety Never Stops.

That means Rail Safety Week is circled on the calendar every year, but the transit operator’s commitment to safety goes beyond a single week or month. Metrolinx works every single day to increase awareness and keep people safe.

From new PPE vending machines, to anti-trespassing mats, keeping customers and staff safe is a tireless effort

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, GO Transit Safety Officers were out in communities year round conducting community rail safety outreach, often partnering with local police, fire services and other community safety groups. GO Transit staff would often go into schools to speak with students – a key partnership with Operation Lifesaver Canada.

This year is a little bit different. Outreach continues, but often from a safe distance.

So this week, Sept. 21 to 25, Metrolinx will join rail safety partners across North America – in some cases virtually – to launch Operation Lifesaver’s Rail Safety Week to raise awareness on how to reduce preventable incidents along Canada’s railways.

Rail Safety Week is a great time to remind customers and community members to stay safe when they are near or crossing tracks. Within the GTA, there are more than 200 level rail crossings, 122 of which are Metrolinx-owned. In 2020 so far, crossing incidents have resulted in 12 deaths and 4 serious injuries in Ontario.

Throughout Rail Safety Week, Metrolinx will be participating in virtual and physically distanced outreach events in communities across the region in partnership with rail industry partners, safety organizations, law enforcement and emergency services to promote safety and reduce preventable accidents.

Monday September 21st at CN Rail Yard in Vaughan: GO Transit Safety Officers will participate in an outdoor ceremony where a memorial train bell will be mounted. Representatives from Metrolinx, VIA Rail and CN Rail will each go up and ring the bell to remember the lives lost due to rail incidents.

CN Rail bell ringing ceremony from earlier this year, paying tribute to people that loves their lives in rail accidents.

Monday September 21st at Hillsview Drive crossing in Richmond Hill: Metrolinx officials will participate in a level crossing safety event at the Hillsview Drive crossing in Richmond Hill. This crossing has a new Operation Lifesaver ‘Look, Listen, Live’ pavement marking installed.

Tuesday September 22nd at 6:00am – Rutherford Road crossing: GO Transit Safety Officers will join York Regional Police at the Rutherford Road level crossing for an education blitz.

Thursday September 24th at 7:00am – Lancaster Street crossing in Kitchener: GO Transit Safety Officers will join Waterloo Regional Police at the Lancaster Street level crossing in Kitchener to hold a rail safety education blitz.

Due to increased COVID-19 safety measures at schools this year, GO Transit officials can’t speak to students in person. Instead, the transit agency is working with groups like Whitby Children’s Safety Village to help spread the rail safety message to students.

Whitby Children’s Safety Village is providing the transit agency with USB drives so that GO Transit can distribute digital rail safety resources to schools in Durham Region. Teachers can share the important information with students and then schedule a virtual Q&A session where students can ask GO Transit Safety Officers questions over video chat.  

This year as Rail Safety Week unfolds in an unprecedented era of personal protective equipment and physical distancing – where everyone has had to make sacrifices – organizations like Metrolinx are redoubling their efforts to ensure progress on rail safety is not lost.

At Metrolinx, Safety Never Stops and that message rings even more clearly this September.

Story by: Scott Money, Metrolinx media relations senior advisor