OFA would like to share a point of clarification for members who may have private grade crossings that are affected by the Federal Grade Crossings Regulations and Standards.
Several members who have private grade crossings on their properties have received letters and contracts to sign from railway companies regarding PRIVATE CROSSINGS on their properties. These letters are in response to the changes to Transport Canada’s Grade Crossings Regulations. These contracts outline the proposed maintenance work to be done by railway companies such as Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway as well as the costs to be borne by the property owner, and the need for the property owner to purchase liability insurance by a specified compliance deadline.
We would like to clarify that members may be receiving letters for private crossings from railway companies when the identified crossings may be FARM CROSSINGS. There is a misconception that all farm crossings are private crossings, when in fact there is a difference and the two are not interchangeable.
- Landowner has a statutory right to a crossing at the railway’s expense.
- Typically, there is no formal agreement for construction and maintenance between the landowner and railway.
- Crossing use is typically for seasonal and/or for agricultural activities.
- There is no public use or access.
- Section 102 Private Crossing, Divided Land of the Canadian Transportation Act will outline what constitutes a farm crossing:
- “If an owner’s land is divided as a result of the construction of a railway line, the railway company shall, at the owner’s request, construct a suitable crossing for the owner’s enjoyment of the land.”
- Conditions where the definition of a farm crossing would not apply:
- The lands were severed BEFORE 1888 by the railway line.
- A person does not own parcels of land on opposite sides of and adjoining each side of the railway.
- The title is severed into two separate parcels.
- Farm crossings are not officially covered by the Grade Crossing Regulations and Standards.
- Section 103 Other Crossings may be Ordered of the Canadian Transportation Act will outline what constitutes a private crossing:
- “Agency may order the railway to construct a suitable crossing if the Agency considers it necessary for the owner’s enjoyment of the land.”
- The crossing is not a right by the landowner; discretionary order by the Canadian Transportation Agency; therefore can be at the expense of the landowner.
- Typically includes construction and/or maintenance agreements between the landowner and the railway company.
- Typical crossing use by 3 or fewer private dwellings; private owner or company; association or groups.
- Conditions where a private crossings have been granted to landowners:
- No alternate access available to the landowner.
- No public roads bordering the landowner’s property which could provide alternate access.
- Owner is landlocked by the railway right of way.
- A crossing is the only practical access to the landowner’s property.
- The Grade Crossing Regulations and Standards will apply to private crossings.
Based on a few agreements sent to our members so far, it appears that railway companies have determined that some of these crossings are private crossings without fully considering whether this might in fact be a farm crossing (which would be at the expense of the railway to provide and maintain). We encourage members to reach out to their railway to confirm whether their crossing meets the stipulations to be deemed a farm crossing instead of a private crossing.
With respect to private crossings, if you can’t come to an agreement with the Railway Company, please contact the Canadian Transportation Agency to solve the dispute.
Farm Safety and Rail Crossings Webinar (June 17, 2021). This webinar is recommended for members who have private grade crossings that are affected by the Grade Crossings Regulations. About 10 minutes into the video, Guest Speaker Li-Lian Lui speaks to the differences between farm crossings and private crossings.