Tag Archives: Ottawa

Ottawa, ON: Concerns at noise associated with grade-separation works

14 May

The project to grade-separate the Greenbank Road level crossing in Barrhaven is drawing extensive criticism for the noise associated with constructing the highway underpass. The terrain dictates the use of blasting which is overlaid by the requirements that train horns are sounded as the trains approach the temporary level crossing near the construction site.Local councillors and residents are speaking-out against the noise although, some admit, there is no real alternative to blasting and likewise the price of having the temporary crossing is an increase in train horn use. The new road will be substantially complete by the end of the 2016 construction season.

Ottawa, Ontario: Law suits continue to increase in number

4 Dec

Further law suits have been filed in relation to the fatal collision of a Via Rail train and an OC Transpo bus on a level crossing in Fallowfield, Ottawa on September 18th, 2013. The latest law suits target both the City of Ottawa and the estate of the bus driver alleging negligence on their part. In one case the latest laws suits also target Transport Canada and Via Rail concerning alleged unsafe train speed and alleged shortcomings in respect of the level crossing configuration. damages are sought for alleged physical and psychological injuries as a result of the collision.

Ottawa, ONT: City doing little in advance of safety report

26 Nov

The City of Ottawa has responded to Transport Canada’s concerns that an incident on November 6th, 2014 when a bus overran the stop line at the Fallowfield level crossing was indicative of a threat to safety. The City’s response has been to repaint the stop line and then wait for a safety review report expected within weeks. The report commissioned jointly with VIA Rail is likely to recommend a specific study of the case for grade-separation of one or more level crossings, including the Fallowfield crossing, in the Barrhaven area of the City.

But, until then, the existing controls to secure safety will remain unaltered. While this position is tenable in the short-term it is clear that there are concerns within the community that remain of the view that more should have already been done to prevent a recurrence of a bus or other vehicle entering a crossing closed to road traffic with fatal consequences.

Indeed, in 2001, Canadian National which at the time owned the railway right-of-way (it was sold to VIA Rail in 2010) made it clear that it considered the volume of road traffic over both the Fallowfield and Woodroffe level crossings and the resulting traffic moment (rail x road traffic) justified grade-separation. However, the then CAD110 million estimate for grade-separation was too high for the City of Ottawa to justify grade-separation.

Ottawa, ONT: More safety concerns raise the costs of grade-separation

14 Nov

The decision taken some years ago that busways and railways would continue to intersect at grade was brought into sharp focus in September 2013 when a train and bus collided with fatal consequences on a level crossing n South Nepean. The decision to shelve plans for grade-separation was one of cost of engineering grade separations in an essentially urban-suburban context.

Last week, there was a further incident which saw a bus narrowly avoid being hit by a train after it collided with a lowered level crossing barrier. This incident has led to Transport Canada informing the city that the Fallowfield level crossing is a “threat to safe railway operations,” and that the previous week’s event put “bus passengers, train passengers and the operator could have been at risk.”

The City now has until November 21st, 2014 to develop a way to “resolve these hazards or conditions.”
This is of note as much because of the wider history as the specific circumstances surrounding the most recent incident having led to assurances that all involved parties had been addressed and no further investigation was required.

Simplistically, the continuing pattern of incidents and accidents has challenged the basis of the original decision not to grade-separate. However, what is needed is a decision to reverse that decision and press ahead with grade-separation say activists. This is, they say, implicit in the Transport Canada position. Who pays is a key question that has to be answered before any grade-separation project can be progressed.

The 2004 decision not to grade-separate Woodroffe and Fallowfield level crossings came on the back of the estimate for the project ballooning from CAD40 million to CAD110 million. So, some serious thinking is needed a decade on to reduce the costs of grade-separation and at the same time build a coalition of those willing to help fund the grade-separations that the community now sees as necessary.

Ottawa, ONT: City to spend CAD2 million to eliminate only crossing on O-Train corridor

30 May

The City of Ottawa is planning to spend CAD2 million to eliminate the only level crossing on the O train corridor along which an intensified service is to be introduced. The passive level crossing in question is on the Brookfield multi-use pathway which is to be diverted. The diversion will take the pathway under the railway at the existing bridge over Sawmill Creek. The alternative of upgrading the level crossing to active status has been considered but given the headway of eight minutes associated with the enhanced O-Train service this option has been dismissed.

Ottawa, ONT: VIA Rail sets out plans to address issues atsix Barrhaven level crossings

21 May

VIA Rail Canada has laid out its action plan related to Barrhaven-area railway crossing signals and submitted the response from its experts on May 15th, 2014. 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 http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/information-ottawa-area-residents.

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 has taken, 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 a study conducted by RailTerm, Hatch Mott MacDonald and Siemens into issues with Automatic Warning Devices (AWDs) systems at six Barrhaven-area rail crossings have been 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”: http://www.viarail.ca/en/about-via-rail/information-ottawa-area-residents.

Ottawa, ONT: VIA Rail posts staff at troublesome crossings

9 Apr

VIA Rail has posted staff on a 24/7 basis to monitor the operation of the level crossing controls at three level crossings near the Fallowfield railway station in Ottawa. The level crossings of concern are those on Fallowfield Road, Woodroffe Avenue and the OC Transpo Transitway at which a fatal collision with a bus occurred in September 2013.

Ottawa’s Mayor, Jim Watson, has said that the crossing equipment has failed to operate correctly on at least eight occasions in the last three months.

VIA Rail staff will in addition to monitoring the operation of the level crossing controls and also take necessary measures to ensure public safety and effect repairs as required.