A lot of people are out walking these days. From what we’ve seen, it’s even more than normal – probably due to the fact so many people are at home, riding out the COVID pandemic.
CN Rail sees people out for walks too and is concerned that some may be straying, unsafely onto railway property.
“Are you aware that walking along or over the railway tracks is against the law?” asks CN in a blurb emailed to The Leader last month. “This type of shortcut could land you a $287 provincial ticket for trespassing and in some cases you could be charged criminally under the Railway Safety Act of Canada.”
It’s not an idle threat. CN sends an enforcement officer to town occasionally, and tickets have been issued to people using the tracks as a shortcut.
Safety is one issue; another one is that when trains have to stop unexpectedly it costs the company money.
“The railway is deemed as the backbone of the economy and is a critical part of the movement of supplies across North America,” says CN.
The information from CN includes some statistics: In 2019 Alberta had 23 crossing and nine trespassing incidents which were serious. There were 158 trespassers warned and 281 charged.
When it comes to motorists, 2,223 charges were laid, in addition to 354 warnings. The number one factor in these cases was drivers not obeying signs.
“Almost every one of these incidents is preventable,” says CN. “Please do your part and obey all railroad signs and keep a safe distance from railway property.”
As far as Slave Lake goes, there have been two “serious trespass incidents” within the past year. One in August of last year resulted in a fatality. Last month another collision resulted in injury.
“I often hear ‘this is a short cut,’” says Const. Dean Solowan of CN Police, or ‘there are no trains coming,’ or ‘I didn’t know this was illegal.’
Such excuses “will not be accepted,” he says, and promises, “ You will see more of a CN Police presence in the community to address these concerns.”