From the Ottawa Citizen 19 January 1961.|
Ruling May Lower Trains Crossing Speed
Act Sets Limit At 10 MPH
By Wilf Bell and David McWilliam Citizen Staff Writers
An Ontario - Supreme Court finding on a level-crossing accident in Ottawa may have a major impact on train speeds across the country.
A six-man jury has found the Canadian National Railways and one of its engineers 80 percent responsible for a level-crossing accident at the Smyth Road because of excessive speed.
The jury found Engineer Maurice Gaffney had violated provisions of the Railway Act which call for speeds not to exceed 10 miles per hour in "thickly-peopled portions" of cities.
An official of the Board of Transport Commissioners said this morning the board "has never interpreted the act in this way
"The railways won't let it rest there," he said. "This will have a serious impact on train operations across the country."
The Board of Transport Commissioners said that the decision was a completely "new interpretation" of the act and that it would likely bring an immediate appeal by the railways.
If the railways fail to appeal and if this ruling is upheld it will most certainly have an affect on the speed limit of trains throughout Canada.
Aid. Murray Heit, chairman of the city's Train Speed Committee, who in the past has strenuously objected to excessive train speeds through the city, welcomed the decision of the jury.
"In the light of this decision," said Aid. Heit, "we will have a new look at the whole situation here in Ottawa."
The accident occurred February 19, 1960, when a CNR Budd car from Barrys Bay hit and demolished a car owned by Dr. Alfred Crook, 1527 Kilborn Avenue.
Dr. Crook said in evidence he was driving west on the Smyth Road when he was stopped by a long line of traffic right on top of the intersecting CNR tracks.
"The jury feels that on the day of the accident the speed was excessive," it said in reply to the questions of fact submitted for its decision by Mr. Justice Spence.
No Speed Limit
There is no general speed limit prescribed by Canadian law. The Board of Transport Commissioners may, however, fix a speed limit under certain circumstances.
Recently an Ottawa city appeal to the Board to reduce train speeds was rejected, and the limit of 45 miles per hour for passenger trains, and 35 miles for freight trains was upheld.
Section 312, sub section 1, Clause (b) of the Dominion Railway Act states: "No train shall pass at a speed greater than 10 miles per hour over any highway crossing at rail level in any thickly-people portion of any city or village. . . . Unless permission is given by some regulation or order of the Board (The Board of Transport Commissioners).
The plaintiff's damages were assessed at $1,642.
The jury found that the Smyth Road was a thickly-peopled portion of Ottawa.
The jury also said the "CNR was negligent in that they would allow their roadbed at the Smyth Road crossing to become so rutted ., . rendering it impossible to move said car not even by pushing , . . Had this been done, the accident in all probability would not have happened."
Evidence was given that Dr. Crook and two friends tried to push the car off the tracks but could not do it.
The plaintiff was represented by Beament, Fyfe, Ault and Hutton. Appearing for the defendants was E. M. Lane, of Toronto.