Rail transportation has an important role in our freight and passenger movements throughout the region. New Westminster’s rail network dates back to the late 1800’s when municipalities welcomed rail expansion to ensure they would be connected to the broader network.

All rail activities are regulated by the Railway Safety Act, which is administered by Transport Canada for Federal rail operators and Technical Safety BC for Provincial rail operators. Federal rail operators in New Westminster include Canadian National (CN), Canadian Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) and Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Provincial rail operators include Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY).


  • Why are train whistles so loud?

    1. Train whistles are a necessary safety appliance used to alert motor vehicle operators, pedestrians and wildlife within or approaching the rail corridor. Train whistles must be loud enough to be heard over ambient noise, such as traffic, construction and motor vehicle audio systems.
    2. The minimum audible volume for a freight locomotive train whistle is 96 decibels measured along an arc of 30 meters radius subtended forward of the locomotive by angles 45 degrees to the left and to the right of the centerline of the track in the direction of travel.


    Why do trains blow their whistles?

    1. Train engineers are required to blow their whistles (whistling) according to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, rule 14(1). Whistling is required at public grade crossings or if there are emergent circumstances that require whistling to alert people, vehicles, or animals.
    2. Whistle sounding (“o” for a short sound and ”___” for a longer sound):
      1. to notify track forces of person, animal, or fire on or near corridor:

    sound:            o o o     o o o

    1. at public grade crossings, upon approach, and until the crossing is occupied:

    sound:            ___ ___ o ___


    Is it possible to stop train whistling at a public grade rail crossing?

    1. Transport Canada has developed a process for whistle cessation at public crossings. All steps must be completed, with agreement from rail operators.


    Why are whistles still blown at rail crossings that have whistle cessation implemented?

    1. Regardless of whether a crossing has implemented whistle cessation, train operators are required to blow their whistles if emergent conditions exist, including the requirement to alert people, vehicle operators, or animals in close proximity to rail activities.


    How many incidents happen at rail crossings?

    1. Operation Lifesaver tracks incidents, fatalities, and serious injury statistics at railway crossings. Link: www.operationlifesaver.ca/resources/statistics


    Are there guidelines for developing properties near rail corridors?

    1. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Railway Association of Canada have developed a document of guidelines for new development in proximity to railway operations, Link: http://proximityissue.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/2013_05_29_Guidelines_NewDevelopment_E.pdf
  • Federal Railway Regulator – Transport Canada – Surrey, BC

    Phone: 604-666-0011


    Website: https://tc.canada.ca/en/rail-transportation

    Provincial Railway Regulator – Technical Safety BC – Vancouver, BC

                Phone: 1-866-566-7233

                Online: www.technicalsafetybc.ca/contact/contact-us

                Website: www.technicalsafetybc.ca/technologies/railways

  • A grade crossing is where a road, driveway, or path intersects with a rail track at the same elevation. Grade crossings are inspected and monitored by Transport Canada for federally regulated tracks, and Technical Safety BC for provincially regulated tracks.

    Grade Crossing Regulations (GCR) and Grade Crossing Standards (GCS) have been developed by Transport Canada to increase safety at grade crossings, and reduce the incidence of injury, death, and property damage, and reduce environmental impacts. It is the responsibility of both the rail authority (operator) and the road authority (municipality or property owner) to ensure that each grade crossing is maintained and compliant.

    The financial responsibilities to maintain and upgrade each crossing is determined by the associated agreement between the rail authority and the road authority. Both the rail authority and the road authority are required to work together to ensure each crossing is GCR/GCS compliant.

    GCR/GCS compliance at each crossing is determined by a safety assessment report, which are performed by qualified consultants.

  • The Railway Technical Committee (RTC) was established by the City of New Westminster to bring together the associated authorities to review railway network safety. The RTC is composed of City of New Westminster staff members, representatives from each of the four rail operators, and a representative from each of the Provincial and Federal railway regulators. Here are the RTC terms of reference.

    Scheduled meetings:

    1. February 28, 2023 – introductions and review of the committee terms of reference. Reviewed train whistling and the City’s desire to implement cessation where possible. Discussed City of New Westminster website updates.
    2. May 23, 2023 – reviewed grade crossings that require safety upgrades to meet GCR/GCS and whistle cessation compliance. Discussed the TRAINFO advanced traveler information system and its possible benefits for our transportation network.
    3. August 29, 2023 – reviewed grade crossing inventory tracker, train whistle volumes, planned work along the rail corridors and CNW website updates.
    4. December 5, 2023 - reviewed crossing and corridor safety concerns, grade crossing inventory tracker, upcoming Front Street closures for the Pattullo Bridge replacement and meeting dates for 2024.
    5. March 5, 2024 - Q1 meeting
    6. June 4, 2024 - Q2 meeting
    7. August 27, 2024 - Q3 meeting
    8. December 3, 2024 - Q4 meeting

  • Southern Railway of British Columbia (SRY)


    Canadian National Railway (CN)

    • Public Inquiry (Mon. to Fri. 8 am to 6 pm Eastern Time):
    • CN Police / Emergency (24/7):
      • Phone:            1-800-465-9239
      • Email:            


    Canadian Pacific Kansas City Railway (CPKC)


    Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF)


    VIA Rail

    • Phone:            1-888-842-7245
    • Website:          www.viarail.ca/en




  • For more information, please contact:
    Engineering Department