Level Crossing Inspections – VIA High-Frequency Rail Project

Level Crossing Inspections – VIA High-Frequency Rail Project

Feasibility study to evaluate technical solutions for the construction of a high-frequency passenger railway (HFR) between Ottawa and Toronto.

The goal of the HFR Project is to provide VIA with the capacity to increase train frequency and on-time performance with the construction of a track dedicated to passenger trains.


The HFR feasibility study included the inspection and preliminary safety assessment of 10% of the crossings along the Ottawa-Toronto corridor. This assessment of a sample of level crossings allowed SYSTRA Canada (formerly CANARAIL) to determine the general condition of existing level crossings along the corridor, as well as the upgrades that would be necessary to run high-frequency trains at the targeted 110 mph speeds. This, in turn, permitted the preparation of a capital expense estimate at -15/+20% accuracy.

The specific services provided by SYSTRA Canada are as follows:

  • Identifying representative 10% sample of the 306 crossings along the Ottawa-Toronto corridor;
  • Of the 10% sample, 75% were representative of general crossings while 25% were representative of higher-risk crossings;
  • Determination of higher-risk crossings based on high-density population areas and road traffic;
  • Preliminary desktop analysis on the targeted 31 crossings to determine systems in place and geometry using satellite imagery;
  • Desktop analysis of sightlines and stop sight distances;
  • Site visit and inspection of crossings to identify:
    • Type of crossing, crossing surface, crossing angle, type of flangeways, number of tracks, profile and alignment, presence of automated warning system, presence of flashing lights, bell, gates, presence of other crossings within 400 m;
    • Road speed, number of lanes, road surface and width, presence of shoulders, sidewalks, road approach gradients, presence of curvature in roadway, advance warning signs, railway crossing signs, traffic management: traffic lights, stop signs, pavement markings and its geometry, presence of intersection within 30 m;
    • Presence of fencing, visual verification of sightlines, pictures from all quadrants;
  • Preliminary safety assessment in line with the Government of Canada Grade Crossing Regulations (SOR/2014 275);
  • Preparation of individualized crossing inspection reports;
  • Assessment of over 200 other crossings through satellite imagery;
  • Determination of upgrade requirements for each of the 31 inspected crossings as well as the remaining 275 crossings based on satellite imagery and assumptions based on inspected sample;
  • Special attention given to locations where a second track is to be constructed next to an existing operational track, as well as locations where the crossing is adjacent to a high-traffic intersection;
  • Preparation of a drawing package including typical crossing details;
  • Preparation of performance specifications for the Design-Build process;
  • Preparation of a preliminary Bill of Quantities;
  • Evaluation of capital expenses for each of the upgrade options, applied to the number of crossings by segment.
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