crossing the crossing out?

Hamilton Spectator File Photo
Officials seek end to trail detour

The Hamilton Spectator,
(Jul 22, 2008)

Officials with CN and the Bruce Trail are continuing to work on a solution regarding a closed six-kilometre stretch of the trail that crosses train tracks.

The Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, a local chapter of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, closed the section on July 1 because a man was killed while walking on CN tracks.

The club made the move in anticipation of being asked to do so by CN. The rail company did not ask for the closure.

Last week, representatives from both sides met on the trail where it crosses the tracks to discuss the issue. Gary Wrathall, president of the Iroquoia board of directors, said the club told CN officials they would like to see the trail restored to the closed locations.

"We did look ... around the area to see what other possible options there might be, but there was nothing definitive decided upon," he said.

The club has created a 2.5-kilometre detour to make up for the closed section, which runs from near the intersection of Woodley Lane and King Street in Dundas to where the trail crosses Sydenham Road in the east. The club also closed an 800-metre side trail that ran along the train tracks.

Frank Binder, spokesperson for CN, said the track area has never been designated a crossing. If the trail is moved back there, Transport Canada will need to be involved because they decide where crossings are allowed.

"We're looking for options and there is a possibility that yes, it could go back to that location," Binder said.

Both sides plan on conducting some research and anticipate meeting again within a month.

Neither side had a timeline for when they think the issue might be resolved.



Scotcho Libre said…
It's a tragedy that this man was killed, but why did his common sense desert him? Also, was he wearing a portable audio device in which case he mightn't have heard the oncoming train? Let's hope they get something sorted so people can use this trail again.
Anonymous said…
Why did his common sense desert him??? Any chance that this was a suicide? Please comment!?
Scotcho Libre said…
I wouldn't jump to that conclusion normally, but you're right in that many people decide to end it this way. Either way it's tragic.
Randy said…
Hi all - I have only found reference to the situation in media reports, like this (but no specific answers to your questions, it seems)

Train fatality raises questions
Popular hiking trail on CN property
Craig Campbell
Published on Jun 20, 2008

Public access to part of the Bruce Trail in Dundas may be affected after an accidental death last week.

A police investigation concluded a 40-year-old man was standing on the westbound CN Rail tracks near the site of the former Dundas train station, a few hundred feet from Woodley's Lane and the train overpass at Highway 8, last Friday shortly after 1:13 p.m.

Witnesses reported the man was throwing stones at a freight train heading eastbound, when VIA Rail train 73 westbound for Windsor struck him. Police believe the man couldn't hear the approaching train.

Frank Binder, spokesperson for CN Rail, said the victim was trespassing on the rail company's private property.

VIA Rail spokesperson Catherine Kaloutsky agreed the man was in an area where both pedestrians and vehicles are prohibited.

"It occurred in an area where people shouldn't be," Ms. Kaloutsky said.

But near the scene, a clearly marked section of the Bruce Trail actually crosses the rail tracks.

A sign at the trail states the Old Dundas Station Side Trail is a 900-metre section of a 5.7-kilometre short cut trail. An access to the Bruce Trail extends to King Street West.

"I can't really comment on that particular area, but even if it's a private crossing, there has to be some sort of warning," Mr. Binder said, adding pedestrian crossings of rail lines often include bells, lights and mini-gates.

Mr. Binder said CN police will look into the issue of possible trespassing on the railroad company's private property. No safety mechanisms or warnings exist at the trail. Saturday morning, just one day after the fatal collision, a female jogger ran along the CN Rail line and several walkers were on the private property.

Beth Kummling, executive director of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, said the popular Ontario footpath has crossed the railroad tracks at that location for at least 40 years. She found the route in a 1968 guide book.

Ms. Kummling couldn't find any record of safety concerns at the rail crossing being brought to the Bruce Trail Conservancy's attention.

"Most of our agreements with landowners are handshake agreements," she said. "I don't know the status of that agreement."

Transport Canada spokesperson Tina Bouchard said the federal department, which regulates transportation safety, has not received any concerns about the rail crossing or trespassers on the private CN Rail property.

"It's the responsibility of the road authority and the rail authority to improve safety," Ms. Bouchard said. "They could come to us and we would pay up to 80 per cent of the improvements."

Ms. Bouchard said CN Rail could close access to the Bruce Trail on its private property.

The 40-year-old man struck and killed by the VIA Rail train was not a Dundas resident but was staying with family who live in Dundas. Police said the family did not want his name released.

Two engineers on train 73 bound for Windsor booked trauma leave after the fatal accident. None of the 270 passengers on board were injured.

The passenger train was delayed for two and a half hours, until the coroner completed an investigation and released the train.
Anonymous said…
I'm still wondering about the victims state of mind? Where was he staying?, He was not a Canadian citizen. If we are to believe that he was "throwing stones", then he sounds to have been waiting for something, or upset? If throwing stones, then he would have been facing the oncoming train, not away from it. Sad end alone.