Rail Crossing Apportionment of Costs

Res #: 13-24A
Number: 13
Year: 2024
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways

WHEREAS the Province has not provided clear guidance on the apportionment of costs for surface crossing maintenance.

WHEREAS many municipalities and rail lines have agreements for a 50/50 cost share for these expenses.

WHEREAS rail line operators have no incentive to maintain these crossings economically if they are not required to share in a portion of the repairs.

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to update Provincial Railway Guides, 2007 with clear direction that a 50/50 cost share between municipalities and rail line operators be the apportionment of costs for surface crossing maintenance.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure

April 8, 2024

The authority under The Railway Act to resolve crossing cost apportionment disputes between provincial railways and municipal road authorities was delegated to the Highway Traffic Board (HTB) in August 2003. The HTB is an independent quasi-judicial administrative tribunal that has established a process to offer non-binding mediation services and, if necessary, can conduct hearings that result in binding orders to resolve disputes.

The ministry developed the Provincial Railway Guides on Public Crossing Maintenance Responsibilities of Road Authorities and Railways (PRG2007) to clarify responsibilities and assist railways and road authorities in developing crossing maintenance agreements. In most cases, rural municipalities and short line railways have successfully developed crossing maintenance agreements consistent with the guideline and without the need for intervention and binding dispute resolution from the HTB.

Where disputes do arise, the HTB evaluates each application on a case-by-case basis. The HTB considers arguments and evidence presented by both parties and considers previous agreements between the two parties and previous decisions made in other cases.

However, the HTB is not obligated to issue the same decision for every case. Guideline PRG2007 was intentionally written to not unduly restrict possible decisions the HTB may need to consider when evaluating individual cases.

As noted, the authority to apportion cost disputes between provincial railways and road authorities has been delegated to the HTB. The ministry cannot arbitrarily change the guideline to set specific percentages of costs shared by the railways and road authorities for crossing surface maintenance without the HTB’s consent.

Any change to the PRG2007 will require broad consultation with affected municipal road authorities and railways to fully understand the impact the change may have. The ministry will consult with the HTB to determine if a formal review of the guideline is needed. After consulting with the HTB, the ministry will notify SARM of any potential decision to review the current guidelines.

Hon. Lori Carr – Minister of Highways