Fencing of Rail Lines

Res #: 32-02M
Number: 32
Year: 2002
Midterm: Yes
Expired: Yes
Responses Received: No
Departments: Transport Canada

Resolution 32-02M

WHEREAS, railway companies, both federal and provincial, have not repaired their fences for a number of years and many are in a bad state of repair; and  

WHEREAS, livestock is being pastured next to railway right of ways; and

WHEREAS, railways in many cases have the only access to these fences; and 

WHEREAS, the liability to the farmer could be costly if a train should derail due to livestock being at large;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby the Provincial and Federal Governments to ensure the railways continue to be responsible for the fences along the railway.

Reponse from Andrew Brooke, Special Assistant to Hon. David Collenette, Minister of Transport:

Railway right-of-way access control requirements were first set out in the Railway Act of 1868. Section 271 specified requirements for fencing that addressed the need to prevent farm animals from encroaching onto railway rights-of-way.

The Railway Safety Act (RSA) of July 1988, and its provisions, came into force over several years beginning in October 1988. Section 91 of the RSA, which repealed many of the provisions of the Railway Act, including its fencing requirements, came into force in October 1995. Since that time there have been no formal access control requirements in place. It should be noted that both Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railway submitted written commitments that they would continue to maintain fences under the Railway Act, until such time as new legislation was enacted.

A Trespassing Working Group is now developing proposed railway right-of-way access control regulations to establish requirements to curtail intrusion on railway rights-of-way, including control of trespassing and preventing livestock from approaching railway tracks. A key element of these proposals is the definition of parties responsible for taking action when measures are needed to protect pedestrians, vehicles and livestock.

It is expected that the proposed regulations will be published in Part I of the Canada Gazette by summer 2003. A copy of the proposed regulations can be found at the Transport Canada website.