No relief down the line

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August 16, 2016 9:09 AM

City: No immediate plans to declare resolution to fix wait times at the rails

The issue of rail crossings in Lloydminster seems to be a hot potato no one wants to burn their fingers on.
Alan Cayford, director of public works for the City of Lloydminster, reiterated the City is not responsible for train traffic, saying the situation is in the hands of Transport Canada, and the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Rail companies.
“We have the crossings in our community, but we don’t get to control when the trains come and when they don’t come,” said Cayford
“So Transport Canada sets out rules for those guys and we don’t administer that.”
Sec. 98 of the Government of Canada’s Grade Crossing Regulation, states:
“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 ....”
Cayford’s response was the working relationship between the City and the rail companies is close enough that a formal resolution wouldn’t be needed.
“I don’t think we necessarily have to declare—we call and voice our concerns and I think we have a good enough working relationship with the rail people that we’re able to come to resolution on those issues without going down a real formal trail,” he said.
“I think we do occasionally talk to Transport Canada, or the rail authority in some cases, and I think that, obviously, if you’re sitting at a crossing and there’s a moving train that’s going slowly, there’s not a lot we can do about that; if it takes 10 minutes for a moving train to go through, that’s out of our control.”
Though Cayford did say if a train were stopped at a dead halt for an extended period of time, the city would be obligated to contact the company in question.
As for the 30-plus minute delays that are a pain in the backside for many Border City residents, Cayford said they are infrequent and they may be caused by mechanical issues of the train, or other problems unknown to city officials and the general public, but the City does bring it to the attention of the proper authorities. 
“I go back and forth across the tracks at 62 Ave. and 52 St. numerous times a day and I can say I can count the number of times on one hand, in 25 years, that I’ve sat there for half an hour; but yeah, they’re always a bit of a stick in your mind kind and we have that occasionally,” he said.
“We don’t know that they haven’t had a mechanical problem with the train or there’s some issues we can’t identify, but we certainly bring those issues to the attention of the rail authority and let them know that there’s some concern about how long a train is stopped on a crossing.”
When the Source contacted CN and CP Rail, both companies refused interview offers, instead sending prepared statements via email.
Jeremy Berry, media relations representative for CP, sent information that stated the company averages between two and four trains a day through the city and they comply with all operating requirements.
CP also conducts spot enforcements to ensure the company’s “highly trained” crews are in compliance with operating rules, the email said. 
People with concerns can contact CP Community Connect at 1 (800) 766-7912.
On CPR’s side, Kate Fenske, media relations person for Western Canada and Manitoba community affairs, sent an email that said train traffic to and through Lloydminster varies, depending on customer demand for rail services.
“Typically we run three freight trains per day on the line,” the email said.
“There is no set schedule for these trains, they operate as needed, usually between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.”
There may be an increase in train activity as of late, however, because the increase of grain trains on the line while CN works to move farmer’s grain to market.
This is expected to continue through the fall.
Regarding emergency vehicles, first responders should contact the CN police emergency line at 1-800-465-9239 so proper action can be taken.
“Also, if a train will be blocking a crossing for an extended period of time due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a mechanical issue, CN will contact first responders to notify them so alternate routes can be planned,” the email said.
As far as an overall resolution to the railway crossing issue, Cayford said the City wants residents to be aware of who they should call, and when there are issues city officials should bring to the attention of the proper authorities, the city won’t hesitate to make it happen.
Transport Canada can be contacted at: 1-866-995-9737.
CN can be contacted at: 1-888-888-5909.
CPR can be contacted at: 1-800-716-9132.

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