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As part of Rail Safety Week, the Canadian government yesterday announced that Transport Canada will provide more than $9.2 million for improvements at over 600 grade crossings through its Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP).Under the GCIP, eligible crossings are upgraded based on factors such as traffic volume and accident history. Improvements include the installation of flashing lights and bells or gate barriers, the linking of crossing signals to traffic signals, upgrades of light bulbs to brighter LED lights, or the addition of new circuits or timing devices. Transport Canada funds up to half of the total eligible costs of a crossing project, with the balance covered by railroads and/or road authorities.Through the Grade Crossing Closure Program, government funding also is available to encourage the closure of certain crossings that are under federal jurisdiction. The program provides a $20,000 grant for a public crossing and a $5,000 grant for a private crossing.Almost half of all rail-related deaths and injuries result from accidents at crossings, Transport Canada data shows. The Canadian government aims to prevent accidents by working closely with railroads and communities to identify crossings that require safety improvements. Studies show that accident rates decline by up to 69 percent and fatality rates by up to 80 percent after crossing improvements are completed, Transport Canada officials said in a press release."A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada's economic well-being, " said Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt. "While Canada has one of the safest rail systems in the world, improvements can still be made."Meanwhile, CN is marking Rail Safety Week, which runs through May 4, with a public awareness campaign stressing the deadly risks of trespassing on tracks and railroad property.Trespassing remains the leading cause of rail-related fatalities in Canada, CN officials said in a press release. Last year, there were 58 trespasser accidents that resulted in 44 fatalities and 10 serious injuries. The proportion of trespasser accidents that were fatal, 76 percent, rose compared with the five-year average of 66 percent, they said.Crossing safety is under the spotlight in Ohio, as well. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio last week approved six crossing improvement projects in Butler, Hamilton and Hardin counties.CSX Transportation will install flashing lights and roadway gates at a crossing near Dunkirk, and Norfolk Southern Railway will install flashing lights and roadway gates at crossings in Collinsville, St. Bernard and Lockland.The Class Is must complete the projects by Jan. 23, 2015. Funding will be covered by federal dollars.
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