News release

Lack of awareness of railway crossing risks led to pedestrian fatality

Gatineau, Quebec, 27 January 2014 – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) today released its investigation report (R12T0217) into the December 2012 pedestrian fatality at a railway crossing in London, Ontario.

In the late afternoon of 1 December 2012, two school-age pedestrians approached the Third Street crossing from the south, on the west side of the street. As the crossing gates, bells and lights were activated by the westbound Canadian Pacific (CP) freight train, the pedestrians began to run toward the crossing. They ran to the east side of the street, then cut back diagonally to the west side behind a car that had stopped behind the crossing gate. As the train entered the crossing, one pedestrian stopped, but the other continued onto the track, was struck by the train and sustained fatal injuries. The train crew sounded the horn as the train approached the crossing and initiated an emergency brake application as the pedestrian crossed the track. The crossing protection was functioning normally.

The investigation determined that it was likely the pedestrians rushed to cross the track to avoid having to wait for the train. As they were familiar with the crossing and had seen other pedestrians cross the track when a train was approaching, their perception of the risks surrounding this behavior was reduced. The investigation determined that the lack of specific education for school-age children about railway crossing risks and the ineffective enforcement of crossing and trespassing laws increase the risk of similar accidents.

Following this accident, the TSB issued a Rail Safety Information Letter to Transport Canada regarding pedestrian crossing and trespassing behavior near the Third Street crossing. Subsequently, the City of London ordered the removal of brush near railway crossings to improve sightlines. Transport Canada undertook a number of activities, including improving educational materials, as well as coordinating with local police forces to increase enforcement activities and educate drivers and pedestrians about railway safety. CP has delivered Operation Lifesaver presentations to many schools in the London area and has entered into agreements with local police forces to enforce crossing and trespassing laws on CP property.

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.

For more information, contact:
Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Media Relations
Telephone: 819-994-8053