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Frequently Asked Questions

Will I still hear the train whistle after the anti-whistling by-law is implemented?

Anti-whistling only eliminates the mandatory whistling when a train approaches a public grade crossing.  There are other requirements in the Canadian Rail Operating Rules that require a train to whistle, such as in an emergency.  Therefore, you may still hear the train whistle from time to time.

How do we know that the crossings will be safe when the anti-whistling by-law is implemented?

The Transport Canada Rail Safety website states, “Train whistling is an important way to keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrian safe.”  Therefore, Transport Canada set out a rigorous eight-step procedure to eliminate the mandatory whistling.  The City of Markham must assess the safety of each crossing against prescribed requirements, and Metrolinx, as the railway company, must agree that the crossings meet these requirements.  Transport Canada may comment on these assessments and is part of the whistle elimination process.

Is the City paying all the costs to improve the safety requirements?  How much will it cost?

Since the City of Markham is initiating implementation of anti-whistling Metrolinx will not share in the related costs.  As some of the grade crossings are on Regional roads and the Region has a policy related to anti-whistling, York Region will share some of the costs.  At this time, preliminary estimates of $1.7M and $2.1M are identified for Markham’s and the Region’s costs respectively.

Why does it take over two years to implement this new by-law?

The safety assessment set out in the anti-whistling procedure is nearing completion and must be reviewed by Markham, York Region, Metrolinx and Transport Canada.  A number of discussions are required with the Region because they are a funding partner and have authority over the Regional roads, as well as with Metrolinx as the railway company.  The design and construction of the safety upgrades at each crossing will also take time.

Is it possible to implement the required safety upgrades in phases?

It is possible to implementation this project in phases if certain crossing upgrades have been completed and all the procedures/approvals are in place.

Where is Markham in this process?

Markham has retained two separate consultants to conduct the safety assessment.  Both studies are completed and are under final review by Metrolinx and York Region.  The proposed time schedule to start construction of the safety upgrades is provided on the Train Anti-Whistling webpage

Isn’t the right answer to grade separate all these rail crossings?

As part of the Metrolinx 10-year plan to implement the Regional Express Rail (RER), some of the crossings will have to be grade separated to improve safety and so they do not disrupt the road traffic by more frequent rail service.  However, because there are more than 180 grade crossings throughout the Metrolinx system and the budget is limited, grade separation projects have to be prioritized.  There are also locations where there is insufficient property or there are physical constraints that will prevent grade separation.

Is taxpayers’ money being well spent if certain safety measures are implemented now and then the rail crossing is later grade separated?

City staff will assess the safety measures and costs to determine if the expenditure can be justified for an interim solution.  It is anticipated that grade separations are not likely to be implemented within the next 10 years, and therefore it is not reasonable to wait for a long time for the grade separation if costs can be justified. 

How can I learn more about anti-whistling in general and its implementation in Markham?

Check our Train Anti-Whistling webpage, as we will be providing updates on a periodic basis.