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Yesterday, the Canadian government launched Rail Safety Week. Officials commemorated the occasion with a multi-million-dollar commitment to improve grade crossings, as well as a plan to implement stricter safety regulations. The government will allocate another $9.3 million to Transport Canada's Grade Crossing Improvement Program to upgraded 523 crossings throughout the country. Funds are awarded based on factors such as a crossing's traffic volume and accident history. Improvements may include installing flashing lights, bells and gate barriers, linking crossing signals to traffic signals, and adding new circuits or timing devices. Transport Canada finances up to half the total cost of the improvements, with the balance provided by railroads and road authorities.The government also amended the Railway Safety Act. To take effect May 1, the amendments will encourage railroads to create and maintain a safety culture and penalize those who don't follow rules by enabling the government to:• require railroads to obtain a safety-based Railway Operating Certificate and submit environmental management plans;• crack down on rule breakers with monetary penalties and increased judicial penalties;• create whistleblower protection for employees who raise safety concerns; • require each railroad to have an executive legally responsible for safety; and• emphasize the importance of safety management systems.
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