It’s been said many times before, but it’s worth a reminder; that strip of land running through the middle of town with railway tracks on it is not public. It’s private and the owner doesn’t want anybody trespassing on it.
The law is on CN Rail’s side. Tickets for trespassing can be (and have been) issued; the fine is $287.
Of course CN’s main concern is safety. Trains are big, heavy things and can’t stop on a dime.
“Always cross tracks at a designated and marked crossing and at an angle as close to 90 degrees as possible,” says Dean Solowan of CN, in a safety message emailed to The Leader last week. “Attempting to cross tracks at a place other than a designated crossing could be life-changing.”
‘Life-changing’ is a nice way of saying, ‘life-ending.’ Or maybe ‘life-maiming.’
If you think that is over-stating it, consider the following statistics. According to Transport Canada, in 2018 there were 236 incidents, 53 fatalities and 72 serious injuries on railways in this country.
Solowan makes a couple more points. A snowmobile can fit nicely between the tracks; “however, getting out quickly is not as easy.”
Trains are noisy, but certain conditions can muffle the sound, so you shouldn’t assume one isn’t coming just because you haven’t heard it. Blowing snow, the sound of your machine’s engine and your helmet may all make it hard to hear what’s coming.
“Any time is train time,” says Solowan. “Please set the example of safety to yourself and others. Inexperienced riders, especially children, learn by example.”
Another bit of advice: if there is an incident at or near a crossing, look for the yellow stickers on the railway sign posts. They have emergency phone numbers.
Solowan says he’ll be bringing his rail safety message into schools in the area, as well as to first responders.
“We just don’t want an incident to occur,” he says.