Skip to content

CN apologizes for whistles in Chilliwack, but cites safety after train death

'Never walk, cycle or drive along railway tracks,' CN says. 'It’s hard to judge how far away a train is.'
A CN Rail train crosses Broadway Street in Chilliwack on Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

The recent train fatality in Chilliwack led to a "slow order" being issued by Transport Canada, with whistling, to reduce the speed of trains travelling the eight kilometres through Chilliwack.

CN Rail is now apologizing to the Chilliwack community for any inconvenience caused by the train whistles, emphasizing the importance of rail safety and enforcement given the heightened awareness of the community since the fatal incident on June 5.

“Safety is a core value at CN," said CN spokesperson Ashley Michnowski, senior manager of media relations in a statement to the Chilliwack Progress.
"Following a recent incident where someone was tragically struck by a train in Chilliwack, Transport Canada issued a slow order for trains which also includes whistling."

The "slow order" with whistling from Transport Canada, is actually separate from the whistle cessation agreements that CN signed with City of Chilliwack.

"CN apologizes for any inconvenience this is causing for residents and is in communication with the city of Chilliwack to come to a solution that improves rail safety in the communities we travel through while also continuing to provide reliable service to our customers."

The anti-whistling, which was negotiated years ago with city officials, will continue.

CN officials are actively reviewing ways to improve safety along the CN right of way "by adding signage, repairing fencing that continuously gets cut, fortifying fencing, enhancing public awareness efforts" with the community, the spokesperson said.

The crosses and memorials left near the tracks at several locations in Chilliwack make it clear there is a history of tragic train incidents, which include accidental strikes, as well ones where people put themselves at risk.

In the wake of the whistles, and the slow order, CN is asking the public to report any safety concerns to the CN Emergency line at 1-800-465-9239.

"Stay off tracks" is their main recommendation, among the safety tips.

"Never walk, cycle or drive along railway tracks. It’s hard to judge how far away a train is or what speed it’s travelling at. Trains can go as fast as 160 km/h and can take up to two kilometres to come to a complete stop. That’s the length of 18 football fields."

It's crucial that people "keep off of railway property," in general.

Railway yards, tunnels and bridges are all private CN property. Anyone caught trespassing could be fined up to $50,000.

"But it isn’t just illegal to trespass on railway property, it’s extremely dangerous."

Railway tunnels and bridges are often only slightly wider than the rails, leaving little or no room for anyone if a train does come along.

The public is asked to always use designated railway crossings.

"Always cross railway tracks at designated crossings. Trying to cross tracks anywhere else could be deadly. Remember, trains can come at any time, from either direction, and on any track. They also don’t always run on a set schedule."

The last one is about keeping enough distance to stay safe.

"Trains can overhang the tracks by as much as one metre on each side. They can also carry loads that are wider than the railway cars themselves.
"So, stay clear. You could also get hit by chains, straps or other equipment swinging loose from the train if you are too close."


Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering city hall, Indigenous, business, and climate change stories.
Read more