Ontario didn’t correctly oversee railroad security in 2019 when pregnant mother, 6-year-old hit by practice: TSB

Ontario didn’t correctly oversee railroad security in 2019 when pregnant mother, 6-year-old hit by practice: TSB

A Transportation Security Board of Canada investigation into an incident involving a GO Transit practice that struck and significantly injured a pregnant girl and a six-year-old youngster in 2019 in Kitchener has discovered Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation does not present efficient security oversight of provincially regulated railways.

In its report launched Thursday, the TSB mentioned the ministry has no general provincial regulatory framework in place, and depends on inspection agreements with Transport Canada (TC) and Metrolinx to assist in complying with federal security requirements. The MTO additionally does not have workers with technical railway information, expertise and experience, the report discovered.

The findings come over three years after the GO Transit practice hit the lady and youngster at a Kitchener crossing, leaving them critically injured. They have been airlifted to a neighborhood hospital. The lady was launched from hospital in December 2019. The standing of the kid is not instantly recognized.

Metrolinx commuter trains, Through passenger trains and CN freight trains all function at the crossing, in accordance with the TSB.

The lady and youngster have been struck on tracks owned by Metrolinx, an company of the Ontario authorities. 

1 million passengers trip GO trains weekly

TSB chair Kathy Fox instructed CBC Information on Thursday that the Ministry of Transportation hadn’t been receiving inspection stories from Transport Canada as a result of the ministry does not have workers with the background to correctly consider these stories.

“The [MTO] has the authority to direct Metrolinx by way of its board of administrators to take sure mitigating actions,” Fox mentioned.

“However the difficulty is that if MTO is … not receiving inspection stories from Transport Canada and do not have the experience or the folks to confirm or validate what they’re listening to from TC and ensuring Metrolinx is taking the suitable motion, then there is a hole within the oversight.

“Due to this fact, [MTO] can’t present efficient oversight of provincially regulated railways in Ontario,” Fox added.

Roughly 337 kilometres of railroad tracks are owned by Metrolinx, which operates GO Transit commuter trains and buses. GO Transit is the regional public transit service for the Larger Toronto and Hamilton areas. Roughly a million passengers trip GO trains each week, in accordance with GO Transit’s web site.

MTO wants ‘correct regulatory body work’

Fox mentioned whereas the MTO has the proper to outsource inspections to Transport Canada inspectors the ministry cannot outsource the duty for the security oversight of its railways.

She mentioned regardless that Transport Canada inspectors can level out areas of non-compliance or requirements, they can not compel Metrolinx to take motion as a result of the observe is regulated by the MTO.

“Whoever does the inspections, even when it was a 3rd social gathering, MTO continues to be chargeable for efficient oversight and to try this, they want a correct regulatory framework with rules overlaying safety-related provisions and the flexibility to take enforcement motion if these provisions aren’t revered,” Fox mentioned.

For the reason that 2019 incident, the TSB’s report says, the MTO has “recognized a must replace the oversight framework for city and regional rail transit that may higher help the province’s rising rail community and the range of operators.”

In January 2022, the ministry up to date its agreements with Transport Canada and Metrolinx, and labored carefully with Transport Canada to strengthen the ministry’s accountability function relating to  Metrolinx, to “confirm that non-compliances and deficiencies that will come up are appropriately addressed.”

In an emailed assertion to CBC Information, an MTO spokesperson mentioned Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney directed employees to conduct a evaluation to “strengthen and improve provincial rail security oversight” previous to the discharge of TSB’s report.

“Actions taken to this point embody amending the method for a way we obtain inspection stories, and persevering with to work with Metrolinx and municipalities to make sure security at grade crossings,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“As a part of our ongoing work, MTO will proceed to work carefully with its companies, together with Metrolinx and the Ontario Northland Transportation Fee, to guarantee the security of our regulated railways.”

CBC reached out to Metrolinx by e-mail however hadn’t heard again at time of publication.

Lady and youngster hit in 2019

On Nov. 13, 2019, the 30-year-old pregnant girl and the six-year-old boy from Guelph suffered life-threatening accidents after the GO practice, which had been travelling westbound, struck them as they have been trying to stroll throughout the tracks on the Lancaster Avenue and Victoria Avenue intersection in Kitchener.

An image of a rail system map.
This map reveals Metrolinx’s GO Prepare map throughout southwestern Ontario. (Metrolinx web site)

The boy is not associated to the lady. She labored for BitKIDS Behaviour Consulting, a centre that gives autism remedy for youngsters, and he was beneath her care on the time of the incident.

The intersection is made up of two tracks going eastbound and westbound, and is owned by Metrolinx, in accordance with the report.

Metrolinx officers mentioned employees have been notified simply earlier than 3 p.m. ET that two folks have been hit by a GO practice coming from Guelph.

The lady was later charged by regional police in December 2019 with failure to “give technique to railway tools at a highway crossing.”

On the time, the rail crossing had crossing indicators, flashing lights, bells and gates. It is also designated as an anti-whistling crossing, that means trains aren’t allowed to sound their horns upon method, the TSB mentioned.

The TSB added there have been no pedestrian gates to guard pedestrians or alternate warning units to alert them of a second practice coming on the time of the accident.

The report additionally discovered the MTO, CN, Metrolinx and the Area of Waterloo weren’t conscious of the hazards that existed on the Kitchener crossing.

A map showing a satellite image of train tracks.
The Lancaster Avenue West crossing over the Metrolinx Guelph subdivision is proven. The GO practice on the centre of the 2019 incident investigated by the TSB had been travelling westbound. (Transportation Security Board of Canada)

By means of its investigation, the TSB discovered Metrolinx put in two east-facing cameras focusing on the gates in June 2020. Officers reviewed footage taken between June 23 and June 29 throughout 4 a.m. and 11 p.m., and located the crossing’s warning units have been triggered 195 occasions, of which 129 have been carried out by CN freight trains or switching assignments. 

Of these 129 occasions, throughout 17 occurrences, automobiles, pedestrians and cyclists have been delayed greater than 5 minutes, which fits towards Grade Crossing Laws, mentioned the TSB. On three events, delays have been longer than 10 minutes, with 18 minutes recorded because the longest delay.

From the evaluation of the footage, Metrolinx additionally famous pedestrians and cyclists entered the crossing whereas crossing arms (additionally known as crossing gates) have been down virtually 25 per cent of time. 

Since 2019, Metrolinx has added extra security measures on the Kitchener rail crossing, in addition to extra indicators warning of a second practice.

Metrolinx additionally lowered the pace for GO trains to go the crossing, from 48 km/h to 24 km/h, and have instructed crews to sound their horns when a second practice is within the neighborhood of the crossing.

Two officials by a GO train
Metrolinx officers mentioned they have been notified simply earlier than 3 p.m. ET in regards to the November 2019 incident involving a GO practice placing a pregnant girl and youngster. (Carmen Groleau/CBC)