Const. Dale Sanford of the Canadian Pacific Rail Police is astounded every time he hears about a death involving someone walking along railway tracks.
Often times, the victims had their headphones on while listening to music.
“They think they’ll be able to hear the train coming,” he said, shaking his head.
There were 55 fatalities of pedestrians on railway tracks in Canada last year, and 19 accidents that resulted in serious injuries.
One of the roles of the CP Rail police is to bring those numbers down and increase awareness that trespassing on railway property is an offence under the Rail Safety Act.
Sanford was in Abbotsford, with three other officers on Thursday afternoon, conducting a 90-minute enforcement blitz at the Vye Road crossing.
Const. Todd Langstone said the blitz is held during Rail Safety Week (May 2 to 8) across Canada, and trespassing continues to be a major concern.
“People will walk on the tracks because they believe it’s a shortcut, but it puts people at risk.”
But the tickets issued in Abbotsford this week were mainly for motor vehicle infractions such as talking on cellphones, not wearing seatbelts and failing to stop at a railway crossing.
Langstone said the latter is particularly concerning at Vye Road because trains cross there on a regular basis.
Sanford said it’s common for motorists to misjudge the speed of a train and try to beat it, sometimes even driving around the lowered crossing gate.
The CP Rail police in the Lower Mainland cover an area from Vancouver to North Bend/Boston Bar. They rotate around the region and are in Abbotsford on a regular basis, Langstone said.
In 2010, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported 180 crossing accidents, resulting in 24 fatalities and 28 serious injuries.