Drivers still urged to report long waits at railway crossing

FORT FRANCES—For the second time in seven months, the town is asking motorists who have to wait more than five minutes at the McIrvine Road rail crossing to speak up so it can lobby CN to eliminate the delays.
“I have for some time, and today once again, received calls and visits from the general public regarding the CN crossings,” Mayor Dan Onichuk said at Monday night’s regular council meeting.
“McIrvine Road is an ongoing problem,” he remarked, adding if anybody sees a train wait longer than five minutes at a crossing, they should write down the engine number, along with the time of day and duration of the delay, and turn that information over to Public Works.
“It’s a growing problem. I’ve heard complaints,” said the mayor. “I’ve seen it myself where the train stops 30 feet away, the arms go down, and the train sits there half-an-hour.”
“I don’t buy, personally, CN’s crap . . . about ‘the train has to be stopped for five minutes.’ I have personally been at that crossing where that train creeps up so the arms go down, waits 10 minutes, then goes out of town at one mile per hour.
“Thirty-two minutes later, I’m still waiting there,” he added. “We know there’s a problem.”
Mayor Onichuk noted the only way to get CN to change its practices is to gather letters of complaint from the public. “We have to make a concerted effort,” he stressed.
The mayor first asked for the public to report train delays at a council meeting last June.
At that time, Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown noted Transport Canada’s Railway Signal System Inspector informed him the maximum time that vehicle traffic can be delayed at a crossing is five minutes.
In related news, Mayor Onichuk said he received another public complaint regarding the rail crossing at Victoria Avenue being blocked by snow, adding Public Works will be sure to clear a path there.