Rail safety

There are 73,047 kilometres of railway tracks and about 55,000 public, private and pedestrian highway/railway crossings in Canada. Trains today are quieter than ever and cannot stop easily, once moving. Here are some tips to keep your family safe around railway tracks.

  • Don’t take shortcuts. If you are not crossing at a designated crossing, you are trespassing. This is dangerous and illegal. Walk to a designated crossing.
  • Cross at the right place and time. The only place to cross at railway tracks is at a designated crossing. Do not try to cross the tracks when the flashing lights have come on and the gate is down. 
  • Obey the signals. Never walk around a closed gate. At designated crossings, flashing light signals and gates activate only 20 seconds before the train reaches the crossing. This is not enough time to cross the track.
  • Make sure the way is clear. If you must cross railway tracks, stop, look and listen before crossing.
  • A train cannot stop as quickly as a car. A train needs much more time and space to come to a complete stop than a car does. Unlike a car, a train cannot swerve to avoid a collision.
  • Never try to outrun a train. Trains are closer and are moving faster than you realize. The average 150-car freight train is travelling at 100 km/h.
  • Stand five metres (16 feet) back from the rail. Objects can fall from trains. Stand at least five metres back from the tracks to avoid getting hit by falling objects.  
  • Check for a second train. If one train passes, make sure a second train isn’t following behind or approaching on another track. Wait until the first train has passed and then make sure both tracks are clear before crossing. 
  • Never ride a bicycle over train tracks. The wheels can get caught in the track and you could fall off your bicycle. Always walk your bicycle across the tracks when it is safe to cross.
  • Do not trespass. Railway property is private property. Playing on railway tracks and bridges is dangerous and illegal. It is against the law to trespass on railway property: don’t pose for photos, use tracks as a walking path, or enter railyards.


Rail safey resources


#CrossSAFE is Parachute’s social media campaign for rail safety awareness.



Rail Safety Videos (on YouTube) 

Parachute has produced a number of videos covering various aspects of rail safety.  Watch here:



Teaching kids about rail safety

Talk to your children about rail safety and the dangers of trespassing. Teach them about staying safe around trains and railway tracks. Know your child's abilities based on their age and stage of development and supervise accordingly. 

It's perfectly natural for children to be swayed by peer pressure into taking unnecessary risks, and children may not fully understand dangerous situations.

Walk with your child and discuss rail safety at a level they can understand. As your child grows and matures, making safe choices will become second nature. Railway tracks can be a tempting shortcut. If your child has to cross railways tracks on his way to and from school, he may simply be choosing the most convenient place to cross the tracks. This may mean taking a shortcut and choosing to trespass on railway land rather than at a designated crossing.

Test Your Knowledge

You and your child are walking down the sidewalk toward a railway crossing. As you approach, the lights begin to flash and the gates come down. 

  • Question: How long is it from the time the lights begin to flash until the train rockets through the crossing? One minute? Two minutes?
  • Answer: As little as 20 seconds - definitely not enough time to make it across.

Surprised? Trains often look like they are moving relatively slowly, simply because they are so big. Just as you teach your children how to navigate through traffic, teach your children safety rules for staying safe around trains and at railway crossings.