We fear that train a-comin'


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August 11, 2016 10:47 AM

Scenes like this on 50 Ave. are common in Lloydminster. The city does, in fact, have the power to do something about all the delays caused by rail traffic.

Rail delays not necessary

Ever find yourself heading to an important meeting, on the way to work or to just pick the kids up after school only to be stalled and wind up late because a train blocked your path for a seemingly ungodly amount of time?
Well, you’re not alone.
These situations are daily occurrences for many Border City residents who have to travel across the tracks each day for any given reason, and some, like Annette Kobsar, said they’ve been stuck for up to 40 minutes at a time.
“I’ve been late for picking up kids at school, I’ve phoned chiropractor appointments, I’ve phoned orthodontist appointments, saying I’m here behind the train,” said Kobsar, a lifelong Lloydminster resident.
“I just don’t understand why they don’t do something.”
With respect to obstruction of public grade crossings, Canadian law states: “It is prohibited for railway equipment to be left standing on a crossing surface, or for switching operations to be conducted, in a manner that obstructs a public grade crossing—including by the activation of the gate of a warning system—for more than five minutes when vehicular or pedestrian traffic is waiting to cross it.”
The City of Lloydminster apparently received so many similar grievances that it put out a press release July 26 advising citizens to direct complaints to Transport Canada, saying the municipal government isn’t responsible for regulating railway crossings, which are operated by the CN and CPR rail companies.
That’s true, but the city does have options.
Since the release was put out, Transport Canada has indeed received complaints about delays because of the trains, and said our city is on its radar screen.
“The department has received six formal complaints regarding blocked crossings in the area and will monitor the rail activity at crossings during our next inspection in the Lloydminster area,”  Sean Best, regional communications officer for Transport Canada, said in an email to the Source.
“Grade crossing safety is a shared responsibility between railway companies, road authorities, and private authorities.”
However, Best then directed attention to section 98 of the Grade Crossing Regulations, which says despite the responsibility not being Lloydminster’s, the city’s hands are far from tied in addressing the situation.
Section 98 states the following: “If railway equipment is operated in a manner that regularly causes the obstruction of a public grade crossing, including by the activation of a warning system, and the municipality where the grade crossing is located declares in a resolution that obstruction of the grade crossing creates a safety concern, the railway company and the road authority must collaborate to resolve the safety concern.”
The city did not immediately respond to Source requests for an interview.
Other than being an annoyance, some residents have reported seeing emergency vehicles stuck at the tracks, which is definitely a cause for concern regarding the safety of Lloydminster’s citizens.
“I turned myself around and went all the way to the east side of town and I saw an ambulance stuck there and they had to come around as well,” said Kobsar.
“Then by the time we got to the tracks, the train started going and it blocked us there again for about five more minutes.”
Jason Tuck, who lives on the south side of town and works in the industrial park located on the north side, said he gets held up two or three times a week and has missed important work calls because of it.
He said he’s been stopped for up to 45 minutes at a time, and working in the industrial park, he also has concerns about safety vehicles not being able to drive freely from one side of town to the other.
“The whole industrial park down there is pretty much on the north side, and if an industrial accident happens down there and you need emergency vehicles on the other side, everything is kind of situated on the south end, so that’s kind of the biggest issue I believe.”
Anybody with complaints regarding the railway crossings are directed in the city’s press release to call Transport Canada at either 1-613-998-2985 or toll-free at 1-844-897-7245.
Have a complaint, a grievance or kvetch about trains in Lloydminster? Drop Jaime Polmateer a note at jaime@lloydminstersource.com.

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