CP Rail police patrolling to prevent injuries, deaths

CPR Police constables Larry Parsons and Darren McCabe write out warning tickets to drivers who have parked vehicles on railway property by the Narcisse crossing near Churches Thrift Shop. CP Rail has been stepping up enforcement with an eye to keeping pedestrians and motorists safe.

CP Rail police will be handing out tickets this week in an attempt to keep people safe at railway crossings.

Const. Larry Parsons with the Revelstoke detachment of the Canadian Pacific Police Service says people are often in a hurry and make bad decisions like trying to beat a train.

“I have stopped people and have been horrified to find an infant in the back seat of a vehicle who has no control and is at the mercy of the driver. I have no problem issuing tickets to those people.”

Officers will be handing out tickets throughout the Interior, including Salmon Arm. One of the crossings of concern to CP Rail police is the Narcisse crossing.

“Sometimes there’s a congregation of vehicular and pedestrian traffic who attend the thrift shop; sometimes people don’t make good decisions, crossing when trains are coming.”

In Sicamous, the Sicamous Solsqua Road crossing, with no gates, but lights and bells only, can be a problem as people take chances trying to beat the train.

Another issue for CP Rail is people who take shortcuts through railway property instead of using crossings.

“I think a lot of time, people in general don’t realize railway property is private property,” Parsons said, noting it’s an offence to trespass under the BC Trespass Act and the federal Railway Safety Act.

A person in contravention can be subject to arrest and a court appearance  or a violation ticket, usually $115. Under the Railway Safety Act, if police feel the action is significant enough and the matter goes to court, a person convicted can be fined up to $10,000 and receive a maximum prison sentence of one year – or both.

“We’ve seen people cut holes in fences…They’ll damage the property to have a short cut. If we find those persons we’ll charge them criminally.”

Parsons notes there is an identification number, a five-digit code, at each railway crossing. If people notice any issues with a crossing, the code is what should be used to help railway personnel quickly pinpoint the location.

Currently about 30 trains go through the Shuswap per day and can reach speeds up to 80 km/hr. An average freight train travelling at 100 km/hr requires about two kilometres to stop – the length of about 20 football fields.