By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
A person is dead after being hit by a VIA Rail Train in Barrhaven.
The incident occurred around 1:00 pm at the tracks on Jockvale road near Barrhaven United Church.
The person, who has not yet been identified, was declared deceased on scene, according to Ottawa Police.
Jockvale remains closed from Weybridge to Tartan Drive as the investigation continues. The Transportation Safety Board is investigating.
In a tweet sent out around 4:00 pm Saturday afternoon, the TSB said they “deployed an investigator to Ottawa, Ontario, following a fatal crossing accident. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence.”
Passengers are still aboard the train and say they were arriving back to Ottawa from Toronto. Many didn’t know what was happening until being told.
“I didn’t really feel an impact but we did come to a relatively abrupt stop,” said one passenger who spoke with the Barrhaven Independent. “I did notice we were slowing down before the intersection and they were blowing on the horn.”
The train passenger said they noticed several people exiting their vehicles and screaming as the train crossed Jockvale.
Train passengers have been given full refunds and were initially told the delay would last three hours. They have now been told another investigator needs to arrive on scene, and that could be another hour and a half.
Those who live in the neighborhood tell the Barrhaven Independent that the train “leaned on the horn hard” before coming to a stop. The sound of sirens soon followed.
Longtime Safety Concerns
A number of community groups have long called for an underpass to be built along the pathway so tragedies such as this don’t occur.
In May 2019, a community meeting was held at the Walter Baker Centre to discuss the issue. The price tag for the project then was $6 million, which many said was too expensive. They would have rather seen the funds be invested in other community projects, such as the Greenbank Road realignment.
City council approved the design for the underpass, but did not hand over any money for it to be built. It went no further.
Others would have liked to see the project built on the north side of the tracks on Jockvale, to provide easier access to Barrhaven United Church and the community housing.
The Barrhaven Independent has also obtained a copy of an email sent to Mayor Jim Watson’s office in April 2021, again stressing the need for safety improvements at the site. They again noted the importance of safety for Steepleview Crossing residents, many of whom have mobility issues and other impairments.
“The Steepleview community is on the east side of Jockvale Road but the multi-use pathway and southbound bus stop are on the west side of the road,” part of the letter read. “There is no pathway along Jockvale on the east side. Residents want a safe crossing to the pathway and bus stop on the west side of Jockvale that allows them to get to local services and activities. The high traffic volume (we understand City figures indicated 10,000 vehicles/8 hours at one point in 2018) and average speeds well over the posted 60 km/hr make this crossing very dangerous. This crossing location, with its north and southbound bus stops, is also used by others in the neighbouring communities – including high school and middle school students, seniors, and families.”
It’s still unclear what unfolded during this latest incident. More to come…