Rolling Into Rail Safety Week With Operation Lifesaver Canada

Published: September 16, 2022

RSW

Operation Lifesaver Canada’s annual Rail Safety Week is September 19 – 25 2022, and GO Transit is proud to support their goal of public awareness and education about transit safety. We do everything in our power to keep our customers and residents safe, but when incidents occur, they can be fatal. 

Safety is always our top priority, but Rail Safety Week is a great opportunity to further emphasize our commitment to safety and to remind our riders of important safety tips. Together, we can #STOPTrackTragedies.

We are also very excited to be a sponsor for Operation Lifesaver Canada’s new activity and storybooks, Stay Safe with Thomas, featuring Sodor’s Number 1 Engine. It’s never too early to teach kids about rail safety, and the safety of our littlest passengers is of the utmost importance to us. Bring your little ones to an interactive event in the SkyWalk at Union Station on September 17 and 18, 2022 to learn more, and join us at our Rail Safety Week kick-off event on September 20, 2022!

What’s Rail Safety Week?

Operation Lifesaver Canada’s Rail Safety Week takes place from September 19 - 25, 2022. This weeklong event has been happening annually since 2017 with the core goal of saving lives by educating Canadians on the dangers surrounding rail tracks and trains. 

Operation Lifesaver Canada believes that the public awareness is the best way to #STOPTrackTragedies. GO Transit supports this mission and we want to  encourage our customers and our community members to always use caution around our tracks and use designated crossings. Safety is always our number one concern and we are proud to partner with Operation Lifesaver Canada to help spread their message and promote the importance of transit safety.

Safety Is Our Top Priority

Transit safety is a year-round, every day focus for everyone at GO Transit. We have many transit measures in place and we’re proud of our safety record, but we’re still always working to improve. For us, Safety Never Stops.

These are some of our GO Transit safety measures:

  • We have a Level Crossings and Safety Framework to ensure that all level crossings are safe for customers, drivers, and communities. This includes a long-term plan for maintaining level crossings and building awareness about how to stay safe around those crossings.
  • Our Customer Protection Officers conduct community rail safety outreach programs throughout the year, often partnering with local police, fire services, and other community safety groups.
  • We have signs located throughout our rail network, directing individuals in distress to mental health support services.
  • Our Customer Service Ambassadors are on the ground, keeping you safe every day.

What does a Customer Service Ambassador do?

  • Oversees all door operations on the GO train.
    • The CSA verifies the train has been positioned properly on the platform, and then inspects the platform to make sure it’s safe for passengers.
    • The CSA will decide if it’s best for only some of the doors to open, in order to create the safest route possible for passengers.

  • Communicates with passengers, the Locomotive Engineer and Conductor, and the main communication hub that oversees the movement of all trains.
    • The CSA makes important service announcements to passengers.
    • The CSA is the only crewmember positioned on the train with the passengers, so they keep an eye on what’s happening on and off the train, and they communicate with the engineer, conductor, and communication hub to ensure that any issues are dealt with quickly and effectively.

  • Identifies and reports equipment malfunctions.
    • The CSA checks all on-board equipment before their shift begins, and ensures that all emergency equipment is present.
    • The CSA identifies, reports, and resolves issues that occur during transit in order to prevent major delays to their train schedule.
  • Responds to medical emergencies.
    • The CSA is the first person to respond to all medical emergencies.
    • CSAs are certified in First Aid, and have many times saved the lives of passengers due to their quick response.
    • The CSA controls the situation until medical personnel arrive and maintains communication with other crew members.


How You Can Help

Our Customer Service Ambassadors work hard every day to keep passengers and community members safe, but certain issues make their job much harder. Transit safety is a shared responsibility, and we want to bring awareness to these issues so that we can all work together to ensure everyone’s safety. 

Top 3 Issues Faced by Customer Service Ambassadors

1. Misuse of the Accessibility Coach

Our Accessibility Coaches were designed for our accessible passengers and to keep GO Transit in line with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. It’s important to us that everyone can use our services with ease.

However, sometimes able-bodied passengers use these spaces for socializing with friends, or as a place to leave strollers unattended. CSAs will sometimes need to get involved and ask passengers to vacate these seats so that accessible passengers can be seated. This can create stress for all parties and unnecessarily delay train departures.

2. Passenger Distractions

The CSA works out of the Accessibility Coach, which is located near the middle of the train. It is important that the CSA has access to all the equipment in this area, including ramps, door control stations, the public address system, and the emergency equipment.

Many passengers congregate in this area, and sometimes even take the operator’s seat. This blocks the CSA from accessing important paperwork and the onboard computer system, and it interferes with the CSA’s job. 

3. Misuse of the Yellow Strip

The yellow strip is an important safety feature in our vehicles, but misuse of the yellow strip is a common reason for train delays. Our yellow strips are for emergencies only.

Passengers often assume that the yellow strip is used for requesting a stop, like on TTC streetcars. Sometimes passengers will push the yellow strip just for fun, or because they want to complain that someone is taking too long in the bathroom.

We understand that mistakes do happen, but misuse of the yellow strip is stressful for our CSAs because they are expecting to deal with a medical emergency.

Public Transit Safety Tips

Now that you understand some of the issues that CSAs face, here are some ways that you can help keep our trains running safely and smoothly for everyone:

  • Keep accessible areas open for those with accessibility needs.
  • If you’re looking for the courtesy seating for families, expectant mothers, and elderly passengers, you’ll find those seats at either end of every coach.
  • Keep your strollers and other personal belongings with you at all times.
  • Remember that CSAs are train operators first, and they need clear access to the operator’s seat and all of their equipment in order to focus on safe train operations and effective communication to passengers and other crew members.
  • Remember that the yellow strip is for emergencies only, not for requesting stops or other non-emergencies.
  • If you do witness or are involved in an incident on our property, call Safety Dispatch at 1-877-297-0642 (24 hrs/day). 

Stay Safe With Thomas & Friends

Thomas

As part of Rail Safety Week, Operation Lifesaver Canada is holding Thomas the Train events to promote two new Thomas & Friends story and activity books that aim to teach rail safety rules for kids. The books were produced in collaboration with Mattel and sponsored by Canadian Pacific (CP) and Metrolinx. We’re excited to be part of this project to teach rail safety to children. 

About the Stay Safe with Thomas books

  • Children will follow along with their favourite Very Useful Engine as he learns about the dangers of not stopping at rail crossings and standing too close to the platform edge at rail stations.
  • Thomas the Tank Engine is a beloved and iconic character that children will recognize and relate to.
  • Learning about rail safety from a young age, helps to keep kids safe even as they get older.
  • Operation Lifesaver Canada is offering these books FREE to parents, educators, and community groups while supplies last.
  • It’s never too early to teach your kids to Look. Listen. Live.

When is the Thomas the train event?

  • Date: September 17 and 18, 2022
  • Time: September 17 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and September 18 from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Location: In the SkyWalk between Union Station and the Rogers Centre. Travel by GO train or bus to Union Station. Proceed to the upper level of Union Station and follow the signs to the SkyWalk.

What’s happening at the Thomas the train event?

  • Readings of Operation Lifesaver Canada’s new Stay Safe with Thomas storybook
  • Games and giveaways with a rail safety theme
  • Chug on over with your kids and join in on this fun and interactive event!


Rail Safety Week kick-off event

To kick off Rail Safety Week, Metrolinx, TTC and Operations Lifesaver will be at Union Station to talk about transit safety. Come by and learn about how you can stay safe.

  • Date: September 20, 2022
  • Time: 7 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • Location: York Concourse inside Union Station.