Train Whistle Cessation

Whistling in emergent conditions and at public grade crossings is a requirement by train operators under the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR). Whistling in emergent conditions (persons or animals on or near the tracks) is a succession of short sounds. Whistling at public grade crossings starts a 1/4 mile from the crossing or 20 seconds prior to train occupation of the crossing. This whistling consists of two long whistles followed by a short whistle and ended with a long whistle, which is prolonged or repeated until the train occupies the entire crossing. 

New Westminster has both public grade crossings and private grade crossings throughout the transportation network. A public designated crossing is where railway tracks intersect with a road or path that is owned and maintained by a public authority, and is used by the public. This typically includes municipalities, provinces, and other organized communities. A private grade crossing is one where railway tracks intersect with a road or path that is typically owned and used by private authorities, such as farmers, commercial or industrial businesses or private individuals. Whistling is not required at private crossings, unless emergent conditions exist.

The City Of New Westminster is committed to achieving train whistle cessation city-wide. While this is an intricate and lengthy process involving multiple rail companies and various government agencies, we have made significant progress towards attaining cessation. So far, we have achieved cessation at four crossings. 

 

What is the City doing to reduce Train Whistling?

Most railways are federally regulated, so the City of New Westminster does not have the authority to restrict or regulate train whistles. Following processes established by Transport Canada, the City is working with the rail companies to cease whistle blowing at specified locations. The City is actively pursuing these measures at several crossings and will keep residents and businesses informed of the progress.

Whistle Cessation Process

The required volume and frequency of train whistles at public crossings can have a negative impact on residents, businesses and institutions in close proximity. To help address these negative impacts, Transport Canada has developed a process for communities to pursue the cessation of non-emergent train whistling at select public crossings. 

Step 1: Interest for whistling cessation is expressed.

Step 2: Municipality consults with the rail companies that operate at the crossing about whether the request is feasible.

Step 3: Municipality gives public notice of intent to ask the rail companies to stop whistle blowing.

Step 4: Municipality and rail companies assess the crossing(s) against the prescribed requirements in the Grade Crossings Regulations and Standards and construct the necessary improvements.

Step 5: Municipality and rail companies agree that the crossing(s) meets the prescribed requirements of the Grade Crossings Regulations and Standards.

Step 5A (optional): Municipality and rail companies request a final decision from Transport Canada.

Step 6: Municipality passes a resolution declaring that it agrees that whistles should not be used in that area.

Step 7: The rail companies notify Transport Canada, issue special instructions to train operators to stop whistling, and inform the municipality within 30 days that the arrangements have been made for whistling to cease at the crossing(s).

Step 8: Municipality and rail companies share the responsibility for monitoring and maintaining the conditions that support the cessation of train whistling at the crossing(s).

When will cessation be obtained at all crossings?

The City of New Westminster is committed to achieving cessation city-wide, but it will take a number of years, cooperation from all the rail companies that operate at a crossing, and assistance from other levels of government in order for this to occur. As part of the process, the City has undertaken safety audits at all crossings. Each crossing comes with its own set of challenges and safety requirements, and cessation can only be obtained after any required upgrades are made.

Update Reports to Council

  1. 2023 – Q1:
    1. Report: Train_Whistle_Cessation_Update_Q1.pdf
  2. 2023 – Q2:
    1. Report: Train_Whistle_Cessation_Update_Q2.pdf
  3. 2023 – Q3:
    1. Report: Train_Whistle_Cessation_Update_Q3.pdf
  4. 2023 – Q4:
    1. Report: Train_Whistle_Cessation_Update_Q4.pdf
  5. 2024 – Q1:
    1. Report: Train_Whistle_Cessation___2024___Q1_Update___2024_262.pdf

 

Crossing Information and Current status

New Westminster has a total of 27 public at-grade railway crossings in the city; 11 on the mainland and 16 in Queensborough. 

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Crossing audit complete: Underway
    Design complete: TBD
    Construction status: TBD
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    In order to be eligible for whistle cessation, this crossing will require major improvement work.

    This crossing is currently being assessed as part of the Rail Crossing Safety Assessment project, which will provide more detailed information for achieving compliance at this crossing and further action items towards whistle cessation eligibility.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Underway
    Design complete: TBD
    Construction status: TBD
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    In order to be eligible for whistle cessation, this crossing requires major improvement work to create enough area for an automatic signal system to be installed. The City continues to work with SRY Rail to upgrade this crossing in order to achieve compliance and be eligible for whistle cessation.

    This crossing is currently being assessed as part of the Rail Crossing Safety Assessment project, which will provide more detailed information for achieving compliance at this crossing and further action items towards whistle cessation eligibility.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Underway
    Design complete: TBD
    Construction status: TBD
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    In order to be eligible for whistle cessation, this crossing requires major improvement work to create enough area for an automatic signal system to be installed. The City continues to work with SRY Rail to upgrade this crossing in order to achieve compliance and be eligible for whistle cessation.

    This crossing is currently being assessed as part of the Rail Crossing Safety Assessment project, which will provide more detailed information for achieving compliance at this crossing and further action items towards whistle cessation eligibility.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Underway
    Design complete: TBD
    Construction status: TBD
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    In order to be eligible for whistle cessation, this crossing requires major improvement work to create enough area for an automatic signal system to be installed. The City continues to work with SRY Rail to upgrade this crossing in order to achieve compliance and be eligible for whistle cessation.

    This crossing is currently being assessed as part of the Rail Crossing Safety Assessment project, which will provide more detailed information for achieving compliance at this crossing and further action items towards whistle cessation eligibility.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: N/A

    Whistle Cessation has been achieved and has been in effect since December 18, 2020. The City and Railway will continue to monitor and maintain the conditions that support this initiative.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CN, CP & SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 2
    Safety audit complete: Yes
    Design complete: N/A
    Construction status: N/A
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    The City is working with consultants, the railway companies and the neighboring business, to review options for the crossing.

    We are currently in discussions with all stakeholders involved.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Yes

    Whistle cessation came into effect at this crossing on December 18, 2020. The City and railway will continue to monitor and maintain the conditions that support this initiative.

    There will be some minor upgrades in 2024 to improve the safety for all users. These are expected to include the addition of more flexible bollards on Quayside Drive and Laguna Court and some additional signage.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CN, CP, BNSF, & SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 3
    Safety audit complete: Yes

    Whistle cessation has been achieved at this crossing. The City and railway will continue to monitor and maintain the conditions that support this initiative.

    A new pedestrian crossing is being constructed  on the East side of Begbie Street, similar to the one on the West side of Begbie Street.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CN, CP, BNSF, & SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Yes

    Whistle cessation has been achieved at this crossing. The City and railway will continue to monitor and maintain the conditions that support this initiative.

    Proposed work in 2024 is the removal of the flexible bollards along the center line of Front Street and refreshing of the line markings and stop bars.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CN, CP & BNSF
    Number of tracks at crossing: 2
    Safety audit complete: Yes
    Design complete: Underway
    Construction status: TBD
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    The City is in the process of finalizing the conceptual design for this crossing.

    Increased safety measures include: more pavement markings; updated signage; modifying adjacent driveway access and pedestrian pathways; adding more rail signal equipment; and more.

    These improvements will put the crossing in a better position to be able to apply for whistle cessation, though the improvements alone may not be enough to make the crossing eligible for cessation. We will continue to work with the Railways to finalize a design that satisfies all involved parties.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CN, CP & BNSF
    Number of tracks at crossing: 3
    Safety audit complete: Yes
    Design complete: No
    Construction status: TBD
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    The City is in the process of finalizing the conceptual design for this crossing.

    Increased safety measures include: more pavement markings; updated signage; modifying adjacent driveway access and pedestrian pathways; adding more rail signal equipment; and more.

    These improvements will put the crossing in a better position to be able to apply for whistle cessation, though the improvements alone may not be enough to make the crossing eligible for cessation. We will continue to work with the Railways and TransLink to finalize a design that satisfies all involved parties.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CN & BNSF
    Number of tracks at crossing: 4
    Safety audit complete: Yes
    Design complete: Yes
    Construction status:  Underway
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    Upgrades to this area includes a new MUP connection, signage and pavement markings, additional rail signal equipment for pedestrians and cyclists, and repaving the roadway.

    A recent safety assessment has identified that a Signalization Review is required, which started in April and is expected to be complete in July. 

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: CP
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Yes
    Design complete: Yes
    Construction status: Underway
    Whistle cessation process: Step 4

    Upgrades to this area included a new MUP connection, signage and pavement markings, additional rail signal equipment for pedestrians and cyclists, and repaving the roadway.

    A recent safety assessment has identified that a Signalization Review is required, which started in April and is expected to be complete in July. 

    Planned work for 2024 is the installation of a sidewalk across the rail tracks on the North side of Braid Street.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

  • Primarily operated by: SRY
    Number of tracks at crossing: 1
    Safety audit complete: Yes
    Design complete: Yes
    Construction status:  Complete
    Whistle cessation process: Step 6

    Upgrades to the crossing include road re-alignment, new pedestrian path and an active warning system.

    Information last updated: April, 2024

     

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  • For more information, please contact:
    Engineering Department
    604.527.4592