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CN pushes safe snowmobiling message

FORT FRANCES—With a bounty of snow in Borderland this winter, more and more snowmobilers have got their sleds out in recent months.
And CN once again is sending out the message, “Don’t put your life on our line,” to remind the public that not only is riding a snowmobile on a railroad’s right-of-way illegal, it’s dangerous.

“This year, in the west part of the Fort Frances yard, where the main switching is done, the snowmobilers overall have been excellent,” CN Police Cst. Pete LeDrew said Monday. “There’s been no issues with driving amongst where the CN employees are outside working.
“There’s been a couple incidents, but nothing that has raised any major issues.
“Overall, people have been very respectful to safety of CN employees in the yard. That’s one thing I am very happy about,” Cst. LeDrew added.
“In the west end, in the main yard down around Fifth Street, I couldn’t ask for anything better than what they’ve been doing.”
Cst. LeDrew explained there’s a worn path that is being used by snowmobilers running parallel to the ditch line on Fifth Street West. Since it does not cross the roadways within the yard used by CN crews to do switching or snow removal activities, he’s fine with that as long as they remain respectful of CN employees.
But he added there remains a problem with sledders in the east end of town.
“Basically, between Crowe Avenue and Williams Avenues, there are snowmobiles that are driving right alongside the tracks, which is
extremely dangerous for one thing because of the amount of train traffic we have,” he warned.
“But also, there’s equipment buried under the snow.
“We’ve had so much snow that normally you’d see that stuff—switches and greasers,” he noted. “And, of course, you’ve got all the rocks and that there.
“It’s really dangerous to be going down there,” he stressed.
Cst. LeDrew said that between Crowe Avenue and Williams, there is a small trail system that brings riders out to Williams Avenue that he would prefer they use as opposed to going right down beside the tracks.
“Because, like the advertisement says, you can’t hear or see a train with your helmet on, and snowmobiles are loud,” he remarked. “I’d really like people to stay away from that particular section.”
Cst. LeDrew said he’s actually caught people driving right on the tracks in the east end of town, “which is extremely dangerous.”
He also warned sledders to be aware of pedestrians using the trails in that part of town, adding snowmobilers must be aware they only can cross the railroad tracks at a level crossing, like Williams Avenue or McIrvine Road, and not anywhere they please.
Cst. LeDrew said those who ride their snowmobiles next to the rail lines not only are breaking the town bylaw, but they’re trespassing on CN property and will be fined.
But just as importantly, they’re endangering their own lives—and possibly the safety of CN employees.
In related news, Cst. LeDrew said pedestrian trespassing is down somewhat as it usually is in winter, but remains a problem in the east
end of town, specifically at Armit, Crowe, Christie, and McKenzie Avenues.
“With the cold weather, people are a lot more tempted to take a short cut,” he noted, adding that climbing through trains is even more dangerous in winter because of ice and snow, as well as the fact that, in order to avoid freeze-up, trains simply don’t sit idle as long as they might in the warmer months.
Just like at any other time of the year, trespassers will be charged without any questions.
The threat of fines aside, Cst. LeDrew said there has 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.
“I am really encouraging parents to remind the kids not to be trespassing,” stressed Cst. LeDrew, adding he continues to work with
the local OPP and Rainy River District Safe Communities to talk to students about rail safety.
For more information on rail safety, visit www.cn.ca

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