Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Asks Ontario University to Find Better Rail Crossing Safety Tools

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ottawa Asks Ontario University to Find Better Rail Crossing Safety Tools

Article excerpt

Study ordered into safety of rail crossings

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OTTAWA - Transport Canada has asked experts at an Ontario university to study the safety of level crossings, but the agency insists the request has nothing to do with last week's deadly collision between a city bus and a Via Rail train.

Public Works and Government Services Canada posted a notice Monday awarding a contract to the University of Waterloo for continued research into Transport Canada's system for evaluating rail crossing safety.

On Sept. 18, six people were killed and 30 more were injured when an Ottawa bus crashed through a lowered safety barricade and slammed into an oncoming Via locomotive. All of the dead and injured were on board the bus.

Transport Canada spokeswoman Karine Martel insisted Monday there was no connection between crash and the university's research, which she said began about 10 years ago.

The agency's latest requisition for improvements to the system, known as GradeX, was signed in February 2013, Martel said.

The resulting two-year, $120,000 study will look into whether there are better ways for inspectors to assess the potential dangers of railway crossings.

It will gauge the effectiveness of GradeX, a computer program used by inspectors to evaluate risks at level crossings and identify ways to improve safety.

The contract tender identifies GradeX as "a one-of-a-kind, customized decision-support tool for railway safety inspectors to evaluate risks at grade crossings and identify cost-effective safety improvement strategies."

The department said the University of Waterloo is the intended recipient of the contract because it's the only known agency in North America with the specialized knowledge and expertise needed.

"The research team consists of both established and new researchers with extensive expertise in the fields of road and railway safety," says the advance contract award notice. …

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