Transport Canada wants the City of White Rock and BNSF to review the safety of train-whistling rules that have restricted overnight use of the warning signal for more than two decades.
The request was made early this month, in connection with the July 14 death of jogger Anita Lewis. The 42-year-old was struck and killed by a passenger train as she ran across the tracks at a pedestrian crossing in the 15600-block of Marine Drive at about 9:45 p.m.
A Transport Canada spokesperson confirmed by email this week that the joint review “involves reviewing signage, signals and fencing to protect pedestrians and vehicles, and to determine if any changes are needed to mitigate public safety and rail safety risks.”
Routine train whistling – used to alert pedestrians that a train is coming – at White Rock crossings was restricted between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. in August 1992, at the request of the city. That request was prompted by a Transport Canada order to BNSF the month before to sound the whistles at every pedestrian crossing along the waterfront. The order was given in the wake of an incident on the tracks in Ocean Park involving a rail brush cutter.
The result prompted numerous complaints from area residents.
The whistling-restriction rule does not prevent a train engineer from sounding the whistle any time it’s felt there is a threat to safety, nor does it override guidelines mandating that the train’s engine bell ring continuously through the White Rock area. Engineers must also emit a succession of short sounds as a warning upon entering and leaving the waterfront.
Transport Canada’s Sara Johnston said the agency’s review of the latest White Rock fatality determined that the operation of the train involved and signage at the crossing are “in compliance with the Railway Safety Act and associated rules.”
City officials were not available to comment on the request by Peace Arch News deadline Wednesday afternoon.