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Federal government commits $3.3M towards improving Alberta’s rail safety

24 CN Rail train cars derailed in southern Alberta on Friday, April 10th, 2015. .
24 CN Rail train cars derailed in southern Alberta on Friday, April 10th, 2015. . Global News / Dani Lantela

The federal government has committed $3.3 million towards 18 projects aimed at improving rail safety in Alberta.

The government said the funds will be used to build fencing and other barriers to reduce trespassing around railways, install flashing lights, bells and gates at crossings, and install advanced train detection and crossing control systems.

“Rail safety is my top priority,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

“A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada’s economic well-being. We are working closely with railway companies and road authorities to identify grade crossings that require safety improvements.”

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READ MORE: Transportation Safety Board figures show rise in serious rail, pipeline accidents in 2017

Transportation Safety Board statistics suggest the number of serious incidents involving both rail and pipeline transport of dangerous substances like crude oil and gas increased in 2017 in Canada.

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Of the total 1,090 railway incidents that were serious enough to be deemed “accidents” last year, 115 involved dangerous substances, including five accidents where the substances leaked. That’s up from 100 accidents involving dangerous goods in 2016 that included only two involving leaks.

The research shows Alberta and British Columbia had the highest number of main-track derailments, at 21 each in 2017. Alberta also had 28 crossing accidents last year, which was the highest among any province in the country.

READ MORE: ‘Multiple breaks’ and ‘worn’ rails to blame for derailment of train carrying crude oil north of Edmonton

The federal government said it’s committing $20 million in 2018 to improve rail safety across the country.

Transport Canada said it’s funding two public education and awareness activities and103 infrastructure projects, including 98 grade-crossing improvements and five technology and research projects.

Rail Safety Week will take place from Sept. 23 to 29 to raise awareness of safety around railway operations and make the rail system safer.

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