Alberta has approximately 310 industrial railways, five heritage railways and two public railways, making railways a vital and important part of Alberta's transportation system.  Where these railways meet with roadways, the risks associated for drivers and passengers crossing are immense. Whenever crossing a railway it is important to remember the basics- look both ways to be sure that there is no train approaching. 


The safety of railway crossings in rural Alberta has been a significant issue over the past years with rail-related deaths and serious injuries on the rise. According to statistics by the Safety Transportation Board of Canada, "Alberta's rails are the most dangerous in the country and have the second highest total with 21% crossings accidents" (Government of Canada, 2019). 

Railway Crossings

Safety Tips

  • No matter what, do not get trapped on the railway tracks at a railway crossing.

  • NEVER drive around a gate, no matter how long the wait is.  If the gate is down, it is down for a reason and there is usually another train approaching near by. 

  • Keep your distance away from the train tracks while waiting to cross.  

  • Be sure another train is not coming after one passes.  A second train can come on another track from a different direction. We may not always be able to hear the second train because of the noise made by the first one. 

  • Be specially careful at crossings without gates, flashing lights or bells. Even if there are active warning signals, and they do not indicate that a train is approaching, you should still look and listen to be sure it is safe to proceed.  Be cautious when approaching an uncontrolled rural railway crossing at night. A train may be crossing in front of you. The presence of a train may appear like a black, dark object against the background of a dark road.

  • If your vehicle happens to stall on a railway crossing, quickly get everyone out of the vehicle safely and away from the train tracks. The greater the distance between you and the train tracks the better, as there could be flying debris from the collision of the train and the stalled vehicle. 

  • Be extra cautious and alert during poor weather conditions and while driving through railway crossings at night.  As always, poor weather such as snow, fog and rain as well as night driving can play a significant role in our ability to see clearly.  Always drive slow and proceed with caution.  


Additional Resources

  • Drivers should check for trains at every crossing, even those equipped with automatic signals. Always proceed with caution when crossing railway tracks. Stop, look and listen.  

  • Safe habits start young.  Little Obie, a scale model of a CN locomotive, helps educate kids about the dangers of playing near the railroad tracks — in a fun and informative way.

  • Statistics on rail-related deaths and serious injuries throughout Canada, collected by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

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