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City of Markham to build safety features
at level crossings to prevent GO train whistles



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The City of Markham intends to eliminate train whistles at 13 public at-grade crossings in the city on GO Transit’s 71 Stouffville line.

To eliminate train whistling, the city has to follow an eight-step process to meet the requirements of the Federal Railway Safety Act and Regulation. The procedure requires the railway companies and road authorities — in this case, the City of Markham, York Region and Metrolinx — to collaborate in finding the best option for making the crossings safe.

Even if Metrolinx approves “anti-whistling” at the 13 crossings, GO trains may still whistle there to meet other Canadian Rail Operating Rules requirements, locations or at train engineers’ sole discretion.

Markham is working with Metrolinx and has agreed to phase in the anti-whistling program at the crossings. During this time, trains will sound the whistle at some of the crossings and not others.

The map and table highlight the locations of the “anti-whistling” program, during which phase anti-whistling start and the new features — either new maze barriers or pedestrian warning system gates — that the City is installing as part of the program.

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Metrolinx will install the safety features at Kennedy South and Denison as part of its project to widen the rail corridor.

  • Maze barriers (channelized pathway) or pedestrian warning signals with automated active arms prompt pedestrians on the sidewalk to stop, wait and stand in a designated area when trains are passing through the location.
  • New sidewalk connections to, across, and from the crossings provide a safe and smooth transition when crossing the location.
  • Tactile walking-surface indicators (tactile plates) in the sidewalk are compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). When members of the public approach the crossings they can detect the plates if walking or using assistive devices such as wheelchairs, scooters and walkers or strollers or with a long white cane. The tactile plates prompt the public to stop and wait behind or at the tactile plate when the bells are sounding, the flashing lights are activated and the vehicular or pedestrian arms are lowered.
  • “See Tracks? Think Train” logo on the sidewalk near the crossings.
  • “No Train Whistle at this Crossing” signs to advise that trains will not be whistling.
  • Other signs will be in place for all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists and will detail the angle of the crossing to the road and sidewalk upon approach to the crossing locations.
  • Painted lines across the tracks to direct the pedestrians to the other side of the tracks; STOP bars on the road pavement indicating vehicles to stop when required, and signs on the road “X”, in advance of the crossings to inform motorists and cyclists that tracks are ahead.
  • Vehicular gates already include bells. When a train is approaching or crossing the location, the bells ring and the gate arm lowers to stop any traffic from entering the rail corridor. The bells continue to ring while the gate arm raises after the train has passed and until the gate arm is pointing straight up and the rail tracks are free of any trains.
  • Vehicular gates also already include flashing lights. When a train is approaching or crossing the location, the lights flash until the train has passed. Maze+BArrier+with+text.jpg

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Although train whistles will stop at the 13 crossings, the bells on the vehicular arms will continue to sound as an audible marker to the public — but only when the train is approaching and leaving the crossing location.

Engine bells on the train continue sounded for a number of reasons that the the Canadian Rail Operating Rules requires. Only the whistle is eliminated.

Markham expects to finish installing the safety features and [mostly] eliminate train whistles by fall 2018.

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