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Ontario Northland acknowledged for safety initiative

North Bay-headquartered agency recognized by Railway Association of Canada
(l-r) Marc Brazeau, president-CEO of the Railway Association of Canada; Shawn Harman, signal maintainer, Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC); and Paul-André Lajeunesse, ONTC's director of rail infrastructure, collect the Safety Award from the Railway Association of Canada on Nov. 28.

Ontario Northland has received an award from the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) for a recent safety initiative.

The Crown agency was one of three rail companies to receive safety awards during the RAC’s annual seasonal reception and awards ceremony in Ottawa on Nov. 28.

Award recipients are chosen by the RAC’s Safety and Operations Management Committee, which reports to the RAC board of directors, for extraordinary efforts in the field.

“Safety is job one for Canadian railways,” said Marc Brazeau, president and CEO of the RAC. “Every day, in communities across Canada, more than 33,000 railroaders work to deliver goods to market and people to where they are looking to go, safely.”

Ontario Northland was cited for its Operation Lifesaver decal initiative, which outfitted all Rail Infrastructure Department vehicles with decals reminding people to “Look, listen, live.”

Operation Lifesaver is a national public education campaign dedicated to preventing collisions at railway crossings and railway trespassing incidents in Canada, funded by RAC and Transport Canada.

An Ontario Northland employee came up with the idea to apply decals with the safety message to the backs of ON vehicles.

“The decals provide a dynamic, far-reaching, and low-cost opportunity to spread Operation Lifesaver’s message of ‘Look.Listen.Live,’” RAC said of the idea. “Operation Lifesaver loved the idea so much, they shared the idea with their network and included it in their annual report.”

“Ontario Northland is proud to increase awareness about rail safety in the communities we serve by highlighting Operation Lifesaver’s message on our infrastructure vehicles,” said Paul-André Lajeunesse, Ontario Northland’s director of rail infrastructure, in the release.

“Signal maintainer Shawn Harman enthusiastically brought forward this idea recognizing that adding decals was a low-cost and effective way to reach people as these vehicles are highly visible in Northern Ontario.”

Other winners of the 2022 awards are CN, for its electronic track authority verification tool; Southern Railway of British Columbia, for its field level risk assessment forms; Metrolinx, for its system safety assurance program; and VIA Rail Canada for its simulator training program and facilities initiative.

The RAC represents close to 60 freight and passenger railway companies in Canada, advocating on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable, and safe.