FAQs: Private Railway Crossings

Table of contents

What is a crossing?

A ''crossing'' is a road or other way across a railway line, either at level (grade crossing) or by going underneath or overhead (grade separation).

"Private crossing" means one used by landowners – such as farmers – and "road crossing" usually means one used by the general public. 

What are Transport Canada's new Grade Crossing Regulations?

The Grade Crossing Regulations were developed by Transport Canada (TC) in 2014. The Regulations require all  grade crossings to meet new standards. In the case of existing grade crossings, certain additional requirements must be complied with by November 28, 2021.

For more information on crossing safety, including the current standards and regulations, visit TC's webpage on private grade crossings. If you have or get a crossing, you must always meet your safety obligations.

Who is responsible for crossing costs, including the cost of these new requirements?

Parliament has set the framework for who is responsible for constructing or maintaining (or upgrading) a crossing in the Canada Transportation Act (the Act).

The Act lists two different kinds of private crossings:         

  • Section 102 Crossing: When the railway line was built, it split a single parcel of land in two and there is no way to get from one side to the other without a crossing. If the landowner can prove that the land was split in this way, the railway company must provide and maintain a suitable crossing.
  • Section 103 Crossing: Building the railway line did not split the land, but the landowner needs the crossing to access their land. In this situation, the landowner pays the costs to construct and maintain the crossing.

For more information, see Railway Crossings: A Guide.

I am a landowner. How do I prove I am entitled to a Section 102 Crossing in which the railway is responsible for the costs?

To get a Section 102 Crossing, you need proof about the history of your land and the railway line. For example:

  • You need proof that the railway line that divides your land was built after 1888. This is the year landowners started having a right to private crossings. In past cases, the CTA has ruled that the railway does not have to build or pay for the crossing if the line was built before 1888.
  • You need proof that the land on both sides of the line has always  been owned as a single parcel since the time the line was built. Normally, one side must never have been sold off, by itself. 

We can help you understand more about the proof you need. To do so, please call our rail help line at 1-877-850-7148 for assistance.

How much will it cost to construct and maintain (or upgrade) my private crossing?

Our Guide to Railway Charges for Crossing Maintenance and Construction 2019 provides the CTA's assessment of rail costs and sets consistent, nation-wide schedules and guidelines for work performed by railway companies. 

This guide may be used as a reference for railway companies and landowners to assess the charges for:

  • work performed at crossings;
  • work on crossing warning systems; or
  • any other crossing-related work either agreed to by the parties or authorized by an order of the CTA.

I want a new crossing. What should I do?

Your first step should always be to contact the railway company and discuss your interest in a suitable crossing. You and the railway may be able to agree. You should discuss construction, maintenance and any other issues related to the crossing you want.

How can we help?

To find out what kind of crossing case you may have, please call our rail help line at 1-877-850-7148.

The CTA is bound by the framework set by Parliament for section 102 and 103 crossings. Within that framework, we can resolve disputes about building, maintaining and paying for crossings. This can include disputes regarding altering or rebuilding crossings.

You could start with our fastest, most informal dispute resolution processes – facilitation or mediation. Under these processes, we would work with you and the railway, often by phone or video conference, to help you reach an agreement. This is how we resolve the vast majority of disputes we receive.

To find out more about facilitation or mediation, please call our rail help line at 1-877-850-7148.

If informal means do not work, or you prefer a formal approach, you can use the formal adjudication process – a court-like process. When a dispute involves private crossings, all owners of the land usually have to apply together. The railway would have a chance to comment on your application and give its side of the dispute. CTA Members will consider both sides before making a decision. The full process may take several months.

To ask the CTA Members to resolve your dispute, send us an application in writing. It must include all the information shown in the Railway Crossings: A Guide. You can email it to secretariat@otc-cta.gc.ca, or fax it to 1-819-953-5253.

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