December 12, 2015 - 10:30 AM
PEDESTRIANS CLIMBING THROUGH PARKED TRAINS, RACING TO BEAT APPROACHING TRAINS
KAMLOOPS - When a Transport Canada railway safety inspector visited the city's 3 Avenue crossing in July, 2014, he witnessed so much danger to the public, the crossing was almost closed to the public entirely.
Dennis Maskell's report kicked off a still-ongoing negotiation between the City of Kamloops and CP Rail on just how extreme their response must be to pedestrians who continually put themselves in extreme danger, either from being hit by moving trains, getting caught in stationary trains or the risk of a major derailment in downtown Kamloops.
"(Railway) yard crew personnel advised some weeks previous a young woman (got) her high heel stuck in the knuckle of a stopped train and had to call out for assistance," Maskell wrote in an email to the City. "Pedestrians were observed occupying the crossing while the crossing warning system was activated. Pedestrians were running on 3 Avenue between the crossing arms, in front of approaching trains. I observed two females in high heels trip and fall. One was carried away, and one was dragged away with a train approaching."
Despite flashing lights, arms blocking the crossing and a pedestrian bridge to avoid the crossing entirely, locals continued to ignore every effort to make the crossing safe. And that only describes the danger to individuals around the tracks.
"Pedestrians running in front of a locomotive can cause the operating crew to go into "emergency" mode, which has been known to derail a train," Maskell wrote. "The double track at this location carries both pedestrians and dangerous goods, which further highlights my concern with the current situation."
Transport Canada, the City of Kamloops and CP Rail have been negotiating since then to find a way to avoid a Darwinian answer.
They added features on the roadway to curb drivers from making illegal maneuvers, like U-turns near the crossing, but remain stumped by the pedestrian issue. They even tried giving handouts to the Shark Club to instruct people how to cross the tracks. Then they considered closing the crossing off entirely.
“I cannot think of anything to mitigate the rogue pedestrian component (at night), short of the closing of 3 Avenue. That seems to be an excessive measure and would obstruct vehicles and safety service organizations,” Maskell told the City and CP Rail in September, 2014. “Everything is optimum for the pedestrian at this location. There is a state of the art railway crossing controller, there are flashing lights and gates, with more than the minimum warning time. When there is a train crew switchover and there is a train stopped for up to five minutes, there is a pedestrian overpass."
The safety case became more of a public discussion in September, 2015 after Canadian Pacific called on Transport Canada to close the 2 and 3 Avenue crossings - a consideration administrators with the city were not in favour of.
Transport Canada eventually ordered a 24-hour flagging service, the cost of which was divided between the city and the railway, on Nov. 19, but rescinded the order two weeks later after the railway agreed east-bound trains will no longer stop west of the 2 Avenue crossing. The City agreed to install additional signage and study the issue further.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015