CN pushes safe snowmobiling

Don’t put your life on the line.
That’s the message CN is sending out to the public to hammer home the point that not only is riding a snowmobile on a railroad’s right-of-way illegal, it’s dangerous.
“It’s definitely been an issue this year. The snowmobile traffic has increased,” local CN Police Cst. Pete LeDrew said Friday morning.
“Basically, what’s happening is because the ice conditions on the lake haven’t been very good, people have been utilizing the trails a lot more than normal,” he explained.
“The problem I’m having this year is a lot of snowmobiles driving right along the tracks, particularly between Crowe Avenue and Williams Avenue, which is a pretty dangerous thing to do because there’s still equipment and all that buried underneath the snow along the tracks,” he added.
“Plus, we’re still getting our 24 trains a day, so you could come around the corner and a train could be right there, especially around Williams Avenue,” he stressed.
Cst. LeDrew noted driving along the tracks not only is trespassing according the province of Ontario and the Railway Safety Act, but it’s in violation of the Town of Fort Frances snowmobile bylaw, which states snowmobiles are not to run along the CNR’s right-of-way.
What this means is if a snowmobiler is nabbed and charged with driving along the tracks, they’ll face a total of $295 in fines.
Cst. LeDrew did note snowmobilers have been staying away from the tracks near the main yard in the west end of town.
“My concern there is there’s lot switching that’s done, where you have crews boarding trains and getting off trains, and they’re standing along the tracks to pull switches in order to put the trains on different tracks.
“They’re out there and, of course, they do have their safety gear on, but my concern is with the snowmobile traffic, someone might get hurt,” he remarked.
“But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with the way the snowmobilers have been in the main Fort Frances yard,” added Cst. LeDrew. “They’ve stuck along Fifth Street as opposed to right beside the tracks.
“If they keep doing that, then, basically, I’ll leave them alone.”
Referring to pedestrian trespassing on the tracks, Cst. LeDrew said that is always something of which he’s vigilant, too.
“Trespassing really all depends on the weather,” he noted. “You get a milder winter day, the trespassing will increase, people are out a little bit more. Of course, in the summer, you get a lot more with school being out and more people being outside.
“But there’s still definite trespassing problems in Fort Frances.
“I’m still getting a lot of people climbing through trains, particularly between Portage Avenue and Crowe. And in the Fort Frances yard, I’ve got people climbing through trains—that’s my main concern.
“If there’s a train there and people are climbing through, no ifs, ands, or buts, you’re getting charged,” stressed Cst. LeDrew.
He noted the threat of fines aside, there’s been some serious accidents resulting from this type of behaviour in the past—and that should be reason enough for people not to take their chances crossing the tracks.
“My concern is people are still doing it,” he said. “I don’t want to see that happen anymore. There’s definitely been an increase in patrolling right along the tracks, but you can only do so much.”
And that’s where education comes in. Cst. LeDrew will be visiting district schools this winter to inform children of the dangers of trespassing and rail safety.
He also wants to do “Safe Crossing Days” in Emo and Rainy River, just as he did here last fall in conjunction with the Fort Frances OPP.
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