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Train Anti-Whistling

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Anti-Whistling on Stouffville GO Line

Updated September 2018

In the near future, the City of Markham will eliminate train whistles at 13 public at-grade crossings in Markham.

To eliminate train whistling, Markham has to follow an eight-step process as outlined in Transport Canada's Procedure for Train Whistling at Public Grade Crossings in order to meet the requirements of the Federal Railway Safety Act and Regulation. The procedure requires the railway companies and road authorities - in this case, the City of Markham, York Region and Metrolinx - to collaborate in finding the best option for making the crossings safe.

It is important to note that even when Metrolinx approves anti-whistling at the thirteen (13) at-grade crossings, the whistling may be required for other Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) requirements, locations, or at the train engineers' sole discretion.

Progress Update

The City of Markham distributed a Notice called the ‘Safety Awareness Program and Implementation of Anti-Whistling’ Notice to all directly affected area residents and business owners by paper copy. Schools, Places of Worship, Community Centres, York Region, Police Services and Emergency Medical Services within Markham have also received a copy of this Notice, which can be found in the following link:

Implementation of Anti-Whistling Notice

Implementation Phase:

The Phased Implementation of the Anti-Whistling is shown in the map below.

The City of Markham is working with Metrolinx and has agreed to phase the implementation of anti-whistling program at the thirteen (13) at-grade locations shown in the map and color coded accordingly.  This implementation of anti-whistling will be phased over a period of time until completion of all thirteen (13) locations.  During this time, trains will sound the whistle at some of the crossings listed and not others. 

The table below highlights the locations of the anti-whistling program, which phase the anti-whistling will be implemented in and the new features installed as part of the program.


Safety Awareness:

The Safety Awareness stage of the Anti-Whistling program promotes the new features installed at the thirteen (13) at-grade crossings. 

In addition to the aforementioned Notice, all the information provided is to inform the public of the changes at the thirteen (13) specific crossings and to be safety conscious of the signs, and visual and audible markers for safety at the rail crossing, in the absence of a train whistle, and cross the tracks in minimal time in a safe and efficient manner.

The thirteen (13) at-grade crossings have been upgraded with either new maze barriers OR pedestrian warning system gates.

What’s New?

With the elimination of the train whistling at these thirteen (13) at-grade crossings, the City of Markham has introduced the following permanent safety features to ensure accessibility is provided for the public and are compliant with Ontario legislation and regulations, for safety and awareness when crossing these locations:

  • Maze barriers (channelized pathway) or pedestrian warning signals with automated active arms; both of which will prompt the public on the sidewalk to stop, wait and stand in a designated area when trains are passing through the location.
  • New sidewalk connections to, across, and from the at-grade crossing locations will provide a safe and smooth transition when crossing the location.
  • Tactile walking surface indicators (tactile plates), compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) crossing surfaces, are installed in the sidewalk upon approach to the crossings and intended to be detectable underfoot when walking, or with assistive devices (wheelchair, scooters, walkers), strollers, or by a long white cane for visual aid support. The tactile plates will prompt the public to stop and wait behind or at the tactile plate when the bells are sounding, the flashing lights are activated and the vehicular and/or pedestrian arms are lowered.
  • “See Tracks? Think Train” logo on the sidewalk upon approach to the crossings.
  • “No Train Whistle at this Crossing” signage to advise that whistling of the train has been eliminated and to not rely on hearing the whistling of an approaching train.
  • Signage will be in place for all pedestrians, motorists and cyclists and will detail the angle of the crossing to the road and sidewalk upon approach to the crossing locations.
  • Painted lines across the tracks to direct the pedestrians to the other side of the tracks; STOP bars on the road pavement indicating vehicles to stop when required, and signs on the road “X”, in advance of the crossings to inform motorists and cyclists that tracks are ahead.
  • Bells are an existing feature included with existing vehicular gates (which are larger versions of the pedestrian warning signals). When a train is approaching and/or crossing the location, the bells will ring and the gate arm will lower to stop any traffic from entering the rail corridor. The bells will continue to ring during the gate arm raising after the train has passed, and until the gate arm is pointing straight up and the rail tracks are free of any trains.
  • Flashing lights are an existing feature included with existing vehicular gates. When a train is approaching and/or crossing the location, the lights will flash until the train has passed through the location.

What Do The Changes Look Like? 

A lot of the new features mentioned above are new to the public and so it is important for the City of Markham to inform the public of how the at-grade crossing changes look like and how they are intended to be used.

Maze Barriers

What is a ‘Maze Barrier’?

A maze barrier, is a physical barrier, channelized (like a ‘maze’) to provide a pathway and wide enough to provide accessibility to all the public utilizing the sidewalk.

How does it work?

It is located upon approach to the at-grade signal crossing, and it is intended to slow down the public upon approach to the at-grade crossing and to stop at the tactile plates, for safety and awareness while crossing or waiting to cross the train tracks.

The channelized ‘maze’ barrier guides the public to enter the maze barrier and to turn, left and right, in the direction of the railway tracks as they maneuver through the maze barrier. This will help the public see the rail tracks and be aware of any approaching trains.

What other features are included with maze barriers?

  • Tactile walking surface indicators (tactile plates).
  • “See Tracks? Think Train” logo.
  • Signage in advance of the rail crossing and “No Train Whistle at this Crossing” signage at the crossing.
  • Painted lines for pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Ringing bells on the existing vehicular gates will sound when the trains are approaching and leaving the crossing, especially in assisting the public who are visually impaired.
  • Flashing lights will be visible for the public when the trains are approaching and leaving the crossing, especially in assisting the public who are hard of hearing.


What are the locations which have been upgraded?

The list below details the upgraded at-grade crossing locations with pedestrian warning system gate locations:


Pedestrian Warning System Gate Signals

What is a ‘Pedestrian Warning System Gate Signals’?

A Pedestrian Warning System Gate Signal, also known as, ‘pedestrian gates’ is a physical standing post behind the curb, with an ‘arm’ which is automated.

How does it work?

The pedestrian gate, with an ‘arm’, is located directly before the at-grade signal crossing, it is intended to STOP the public when trains are passing the location and for safety and awareness for the public while crossing or waiting to cross the train tracks.

The ‘arm’, which is red and white, will raise to allow the public to walk along the sidewalk crossing when trains are not passing through the location and will lower to STOP the public walking along the sidewalk crossing when trains are passing through the location.

What other safety measures are included with pedestrian gates?

  • Tactile walking surface indicators (tactile plates)
  • “See Tracks? Think Train” logo.
  • Signage in advance of the rail crossing and “No Train Whistle at this Crossing”
  • Painted lines for pedestrians and vehicles
  • Ringing bells on the existing vehicular gates will sound when the trains are approaching and leaving the crossing, especially in assisting the public who are visually impaired.
  • Flashing lights will be visible for the public when the trains are approaching and leaving the crossing, especially in assisting the public who are hard of hearing.


What are the locations which have been upgraded?

The list below details the upgraded at-grade crossing locations with pedestrian warning system gate locations:


Signage

What type of signage will I see?

There following signage will be available to inform the public upon approach to the at-grade crossings, that there is a crossing ahead:


“See Tracks? Think Train” Logo

This logo will be provided on the sidewalk approaches to the at-grade crossings.

They will be yellow and black in color and approximately 0.75m2 square in shape.

They will be bold and large for the public to see.



Painted Lines

Painted lines will be provided in the form of lines across the tracks to guide the public across the crossing and as stop bars on the road pavement directly at in front of the tracks at the at-grade crossings.

They will be white in color and will direct the public as a guide to where to cross and stop and wait, when required.



Pavement Markings – “X”

Markings “X” will be provided on the asphalt pavement and will be located in advance of the at-grade crossing signage.

They will be white in color and will provide information that a rail crossing is ahead. They are to be located approximately 10m behind signage, either side of the at-grade crossing.

 


Vehicular Signage

The vehicular signage, as per the examples above, to the left, and below, will be located at all of the at-grade crossings.

They are located approximately 200m either side of the at-grade crossing and 10m in front of the painted lines “X” on the road.

They are site specific signs to indicate the angle of the at-grade crossing to the roadway.

They are to inform motorists and cyclists and all users of the roadway that an at-grade rail crossing is ahead.



Other Signage and AODA Markers


‘No Train Whistle At this Crossing’ sign

The ‘No Train Whistle At this Crossing’ sign will be erected at each of the thirteen (13) crossing locations and will be located at each side of the crossing intersection.



AODA Compliant Markers

  • Tactile Plates which are detectable underfoot when walking, or with assistive devices (wheelchair, scooters, walkers), strollers, or by a long white cane for visual aid support. The tactile plates will prompt the public to stop and wait behind or at the tactile plate when the bells are sounding, the flashing lights are activated and the vehicular and/or pedestrian arms are lowered.
  • Flashing lights are activated and visible for the public when the trains are approaching and leaving the crossing, especially in assisting the public who are hard of hearing.
  • Ringing bells on the existing vehicular gates will sound when the trains are approaching and leaving the crossing, especially in assisting the public who are visually impaired.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

  1. Although the whistle of the trains will cease at the thirteen (13) crossing locations, the bells on the vehicular arms will continue to sound as an audible marker to the public and will sound only when the train is approaching and leaving the crossing location.
  2. Engine bells on the train will continue to be sounded for the reasons specified as per the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) Rule 13 - Engine Bell.  Only the whistle is eliminated.  See https://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/railsafety/rules-tco167-163.htm

 

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