Labrador West motorists are encouraged to remind themselves on train safety for this year’s national Railway Safety Week April 30 – May 6.
Cst. Stephen Fitzgerald of the Labrador West Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) said there are a number of things motorists need to be mindful of when exercising caution near railways.
“Most people have a tendency to forget that trains frequently cross roadways in this part of the province, so they are reminded of the potential dangers in trying to beat a train,” he said.
“If you see the lights are activated at an intersection, come to a complete stop. Never race a train,” he said.
Drivers should never drive around the lowered gates on crossing lights, and if a signal is suspected of malfunction the RNC should be notified immediately.
When lights begin flashing motorists are required to come to a complete stop at a safe distance and wait until the flashing has ended and the train has safely passed.
ATVs and snowmobilers should stay clear of any railroad tracks when operating their machines, and must obey all warning signs and signals. The machines must come to a complete stop at a track intersection and only cross when it’s safe to do so.
Fortunately railway tracks are not located in residential areas in Labrador West, and Cst. Fitzgerald said most children do not frequent the areas where tracks exist when they’re outside. However, they should be aware of the dangers of playing near or on railway tracks.
“Playing on railway tracks is illegal, so we advise children to stay away from them,” he said.
Accidents have happened in the area in the past.
In 2005 a snowmobiler ran into a stationary train near Labrador City. The following year a vehicle collided with a train crossing the Trans-Labrador Highway.
Recently there were two train derailments in Labrador West, one in 2006 and the other in 2009. In the latter case, the train track broke into the IOC yard of the Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway and derailed a fuel tanker.
Most recently, in October a train collided with large dump truck along the Trans-Labrador highway.