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Carstairs train whistle cessation report considered

In the case where the crossings do not meet these requirements, upgrades must be completed
MVT locomotive-110
The previous town council had requested a report to address the possibility to cease routing train whistling from CPR trains that use the main north-south line. Photo courtesy of CP

CARSTAIRS - Town council has received a lengthy assessment report into the possible cessation of train whistles in town and forwarded the matter to the Legislative and Emergency Services Committee for further consideration.

The move came during the Nov. 8 council meeting, held in person and by Zoom. 

The 98-page Town of Carstairs Whistle Cessation Assessment report was prepared by administration in September and October in regard to the public crossings at Gough Road and at Centre Street and presented to council.

The previous town council had requested the report to address the possibility to cease routing train whistling from Canadian Pacific (CPR) trains that use the main north-south line.

The federal Canadian Rail Operating Rule 14 requires each train to signal its approach to each crossing with a high decibel whistle or horn sounded repeatedly for one quarter mile in advance of each road crossing. 

“Although much of the closest development in this area is commercial, there is an impacted residential area immediately south of the southernmost crossing and throughout a major portion of the downtown area and noise complaints have been raised,” the report states.

In preparation of the assessment report, a professional engineer with HDR and the CPR manager of public works for the western region visited the crossings in September and another professional engineer visited the sites later that same month.

The two crossings are themselves quite different: the Centre Street crossing is a three-track crossing on a two-lane paved road and experiences less traffic than Gough Road, which is a single-track crossing in close proximity to a road intersection with Highway 2A.

“For a municipality to achieve whistle cessation, the area in question must meet the requirements stated in Section 104 of the Grade Crossing Regulations and Grade Crossing Standards,” the report states.

“In the case where the crossings do not meet these requirements, upgrades must be completed before the resolution is passed and whistling can be stopped.”

Information that would assist parties in making a decision to remove train whistling would include local use of wheelchairs or other assisted devices over the crossing, guide fencing to prevent/reduce incidents of trespassing, copy of bylaw documents that support whistle cessation, when applicable, and proof that relevant associations or organizations in the town have been notified, the report states.

The report makes a number of recommendations for the Town of Carstairs to consider for implementation prior to cessation of train whistling, including reducing the road and sidewalk gradients on the west side road approaches, and painting double bar stop lines and X markings in advance of crossings.

It also recommends the construction of fencing along the western railway right of way boundary along parking areas north and south of Westview Co-op to prevent trespassers from crossing.

The report also makes specific recommendations for each of the two crossings. 

For the Gough Road crossing, recommendations include cutting any brush that may obscure view of signs, warning lights or trains, and constructing a fence along the south west quadrant of the CP right of way to link with the existing fence and prevent longitudinal trespass.

For the Centre Street crossing, recommendations include realigning the roadway to the north, and repairing the rubber flange ways of the concrete surface of the main track.

The Legislative and Emergency Services Committee will report back to council after considering the assessment report.

The complete 98-page assessment report is available for viewing from the town office.