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Crossing regulations & standards


Crossing safety is a shared responsibility between cyclists, pedestrians, motorists, stakeholders and the railway. CP supports the objective to improve railway crossing safety and is committed to working with Road Authorities and crossing users to ensure compliance with the new Grade Crossing Regulations and Standards. 

During the 2006 review of the Railway Safety Act and the more recent Canadian Transportation Agency review, CP submitted that the Minister of Transport should have the sole authority to approve new crossings and should only do so as an option of last resort upon evidence of clear need and adequate safety. In the event of a new crossing opening an existing crossing should be closed so that there is no net increase in the number of crossings. A corridor view should be taken, with traffic routed to the safest crossing with all adjacent less safe crossings closed. The overall goal should be to reduce the number of crossings which will benefit overall public safety.

The safest grade crossing is no grade crossing at all.

Context and clarity on CP's discussions with the city of Montreal over at-grade crossings

Read the open letter from Keith Creel, Canadian Pacific's President and CEO

Guide to Transport Canada's Grade Crossings Regulations and Standards​​

This guide was produced by CP to assist Road Authorities in understanding how to work with CP to address the new Transport Canada regulations and standards and progress our mutual objective to improve railway crossing safety. ​

Summary of New Regulations​​

Between 2009 and 2015, there were an average of 178 incidents, resulting in 24 fatalities and 25 serious injuries per year (Source: TSB Canada). The Transportation Safety Board raised concerns that the risk of trains colliding with vehicles was too high. Mandated reviews of the Railway Safety Act emphasized the challenges of managing safety at grade crossings. As a result, Transport Canada has raised the standards and issued new regulations for railway grade crossings.

The goals of the new regulations are to:

  • ​Improve crossing safety
  • Provide consistent safety standards for new and existing public and private grade crossings
  • Clarify and define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved with improving the safety of public and private grade crossings
  • Promote collaboration between Railways and Road Authorities
  • Implement results-based regulations for a consistent level of safety for all classes of crossings

Crossing ​Standards

New crossings must meet the new regulations and standards immediately. If upgrading or changing an existing crossing, it must meet the new regulations and standards immediately. Information on any changes must be shared between parties. Other existing private and public crossings must be inspected and upgraded, or closed, if required to meet the new regulations and standards by 2021. 

Landowners with private crossings are also impacted by this regulation and should review Transport Canada’s website​ for more information.​

Crossing protection

The type of crossing protection at each grade crossing is determined in conjunction with TC. With thousands of crossings along our network, each is assessed on its own merit as to the type of protection best suited for that crossing. Having crossing arms at a location does not protect a crossing completely – crossing safety is a shared responsibility and pedestrians, cyclists and motorists need to follow the rules of the road.​ ​

Roles and Responsibilities


Under the new regulations CP is responsible for sharing the following information with the respective Road Authority for each crossing by November 27, 2016:

  • ​Location of the crossing
  • Number of tracks
  • Average annual daily railway movements
  • Railway design speed​
  • Type of warning system
  • Location of a stop sign
  • The requirement for whistling when railway equipment is approaching the grade crossing​​
​CP is also responsible for the following:
  • ​The installation and maintenance of the Railway Crossing, Number of Tracks and Emergency Notification signs
  • The maintenance of a stop sign that is installed on the same post as a Railway Crossing sign
  • The design, maintenance and inspections of the crossing warning system
  • The installation and maintenance of the crossing surface between the ends of ties
  • The maintenance of sightlines within the Railway right-of-way and over land adjoining the Railway right-of-way, including the removal of trees and brush that obstruct the sightlines

Road Authority

To meet the Information Sharing requirements of the new regulations, CP recommends that​ Road Authorities provide the following information through the CP crossing database by November 27, 2016:​

  • ​Location of crossing
  • Number of lanes of traffic
  • Average annual daily traffic (AADT)
  • Road crossing design speed
  • Road specifications and standards
  • Width of each lane and shoulder(s)
  • The design vehicle
  • Vehicle stopping sight distance
  • Average approach gradient
  • Crossing angle, referred to in article 6.5 of the Grade Crossings Standards​
  • Departure, activation, and pre-emption times
  • Any sidewalks, paths, or trails and if so, whether it is accessible

The Road Authority is responsible for the following:​

  • ​The design, construction and maintenance of the road approaches
  • The maintenance of traffic control devices, except for the maintenance of a stop sign that is installed on the same post as a Railway Crossing sign
  • The width of the crossing approaches to design the crossing surface
  • The maintenance of sightlines within the land on which the road is situated and over land in the vicinity of the grade crossing, including the removal of trees and brush that obstruct the sightlines

Implementation of New Regulations

Transport Canada has developed a phased in approach to implementing the regulations. To ensure compliance, Road Authorities and Railways must work together on the following:

Step 1: Sharing Information 

Must be completed by November 27, 2016. Applicable to all existing public crossings. To facilitate the information exchange, CP has been inspecting all grade crossings and building a crossing database, website and interactive map. CP has also been communicating with Road Authorities to develop a contact list and provide information regarding the requirements of the regulations. CP recommends Road Authorities use CP's crossing database to share the required information by the deadline. ​

To set up an account for the CP crossing database, the Road Authority must provide CP with a contact name and email address by filling out this form​.

Step 2: Inspections and Upgrades to Crossings

Must be completed by November 27, 2021. Applicable to all existing private and public crossings. CP and the Road Authorities must conduct safety inspections / audits and complete upgrades to existing public crossings by November 27, 2021. This will include an emphasis on signage, sightlines, warning devices, vehicle use and pedestrian access. CP will be working directly with landowners / private authorities to address private crossings.

Next Steps

Information Sharing

Completed by CP and the Road Authorities by November 27, 2016.


Following the Information Sharing, CP and the Road Authorities will work together to determine which crossings require joint inspections and upgrades to meet the new regulations, as well as determine how upgrades will be funded. Any crossings requiring upgrades will become part of an action plan to meet the terms of the new regulations by 2021.


Prior to making any changes at a crossing a party must provide the other party with the details of the change, in writing, not later than 60 days before the change begins. This period may be reduced if the other party advises that the crossing currently meets the requirements of the regulations with which it must comply due to the change.


Transport Canada provides:

  • ​funding for the permanent closure of Public and Private Railway crossings
  • a limited amount of funding for crossing safety improvements

Details on these programs can be found on Transport Canada's website​.


CP Community Connect
Phone: 1-800-766-7912

Transport Canada Rail Safety
Phone: 1-613-998-2985​

GradeX software

On April 13, 2016, news media highlighted Canada's 500 highest risk rail crossings, as outlined in a 2014 list from Transport Canada (TC). Prior to the list being publicized, CP had not been privy to the information in the list or to TC's GradeX software.​

CP supports calls for TC to communicate the results of crossing risk assessments to relevant stakeholders, including allowing access to the GradeX software. CP does its own risk assessments of crossings and comparing data with TC would be useful in better understanding risk. While the list referenced by media is now dated, TC has said it "would not be the same if generated today, especially if you consider that the data used is now out of date and would not reflect any recent changes to the crossings such as upgrades to signals or barriers," it has generated an important discussion about crossing safety.