Children receive a safety presentation from Metrolinx

Promoting railway safety in and around schools

Metrolinx works to keep kids safe with school visits, patrols along rail lines and new technology.

Sep 19, 2023

Rail Safety Week (Sept 18-24) is a great time to provide an annual refresher on safety, but it’s just as important to talk about rail safety throughout the year.

To promote safety, Metrolinx continues to make presentations in schools along the rail corridor, and throughout our region. It’s part of a broader safety program that includes foot patrols and new technologies that help to keep people on the right side of fences that separate rail lines from neighbourhoods.

Train time is anytime. That’s another message that gets repeated to students, reminding them there’s no safe time to cross, or even walk along rail line.

While warning signs are posted near tracks, there is no substitute for personal contact.

“We are bringing an overall awareness of rail safety to inform the students and engage them on the safest way to act around a railway corridor,” said James Burchell, a Community Engagement advisor with Metrolinx who has given several presentations in schools in east Toronto.

Children receive a safety presentation from Metrolinx

James Burchell, a Community Engagement advisor with Metrolinx, addresses students at Blake Public School. (Metrolinx image)

Between May 23 and June 15, Burchell and other Metrolinx employees addressed 1,800 students between kindergarten and grade eight in 50 classes at schools across the region.

Content provided by national safety organization Operation Lifesaver is adapted through separate presentations, so students received messages in age-appropriate formats.

Presentations are made jointly by members of the Community Engagement team, who spread the word at neighbourhood events, and Customer Protection Officers who routinely conduct safety patrols in uniform.

“We like to engage with the public in more of an educational way before we get into any kind of enforcement situation,” said Chris Gannon, a manager in Customer Protection.

Children receive a safety presentation from Metrolinx

Metrolinx customer protection officers, John Sheppard and Oliver McMayoni meet with children at Parkdale Junior and Senior Public School. (Metrolinx image)

Metrolinx uses heat map technology to find specific areas along rail corridors where patrols can make a difference.

“We know when and where people are trespassing and we work to try and stop people before they do something wrong or get hurt,” Gannon said.

He also cited the use of diamond fencing, instead of the old chain link, as another technology contributing to safety.

Construction work is proceeding inside of existing rail corridors for both GO Expansion and the Ontario Line. Gannon says this contributes to safety as extra patrols and fencing are in place around the work.

The school outreach that Gannon and Burchell have been involved with builds on a long history of community events that includes charity initiatives, backpack drives breakfasts and pop-ups, where safety messages have been delivered.

You can look for more Metrolinx safety activities in neighbourhoods across the region, during the ongoing Rail Safety Week, and throughout the year.

by Mike Winterburn Metrolinx communications senior advisor