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
- 2023 – Q1:
- 2023 – Q2:
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.