TSB Concludes Investigation Into Deadly Barrhaven Train Incident

By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent

The Transportation Safety Board says their investigation into the Jockvale road train collision is over. 

In a statement sent to the Barrhaven Independent newspaper, TSB communications advisor Marc-Antoine Brassard said the crossing is safe. 

“Following the deployment and the data and information collection in the field, the TSB determined that further investigation would have little likelihood of identifying new safety lessons that will advance transportation safety and has classified this occurrence as a class 5 investigation in accordance with the TSB Policy on Occurrence classification,” he said. 

Brassard said their conclusions are that the Jockvale Crossing does not require additional safety measures. 

“It was determined that the crossing, which was safely and adequately protected, was not a factor in this accident nor any action of the rail crew or train rolling stock,” he said. 

On Feb. 12, a man in a wheelchair was struck by a VIA train at the rail crossing at around 1:00 pm that afternoon. He was pronounced dead on the scene, however a passerby was able to save his dog, a female golden retriever. 

A memorial has now been started at the site, including flowers, teddy bears, and a picture of the victim, with a sign reading “I love you daddy.” 

A memorial has been started after last month’s deadly train incident. (Charlie Senack Photo)

A New Crossing

The area where the incident occurred includes a walking path on one side of the tracks, and Barrhaven United Church on the other. It’s also home to Steepleview Crossing residents, who live in the 41-unit affordable housing complex next to the church. 

Steepleview residents have long called for safety improvements to be made in the area, especially to cross the busy Jockvale Road. Barrhaven is now home to 100,000 residents, and sees about 20 trains a day roaring through the suburb. 

Between the train tracks and traffic, there have been fears for decades that accidents could happen. 

In September 2013, six people died just a few kilometers away when a VIA train struck a double-decker OC Transpo bus. The tragedy sparked calls for action. 

Decades earlier in the summer of 1992, a young boy, only aged seven, died after being struck by a train on Dolan Avenue. At the time, the coroner said something needed to be done. 

Now all these years later, there is a renewed call for safety improvements to be made so future tragedies are avoided. 

A resident working group has been started to make Jockvale Road safer for locals. (Charlie Senack Photo)

Barrhaven resident Neil Smith sits on the Board of Directors for Steepleview Housing. He said residents have long called for a safe crossing, but their voices went unheard. 

In 2019 plans were brought forward to build an underpass on the south side of Jockvale, near Barrhaven Christian Fellowship Church. Drawings for the $6 million design were approved, but no money was ever provided. 

Many members of a working group set up to make the road safer said they feel the underpass should be moved to the north side, because under the current plans, it doesn’t meet the needs of what they are trying to achieve. Smith says while it’s better than nothing, it’s not a solution for a safer crossing. 

“Although what I think they are trying to do is right, it doesn’t have the biggest value for the (Steepleview) residents because they have to get over to that walkway,” he told the Barrhaven Independent. 

“Anyone from the city who came out there within a minute or two said it’s a no brainer, you need a crosswalk here, but that was basically it,” Smith added. “They said they would look at it but nothing has happened since.”

The COVID-19 pandemic then hit, and city priorities shifted. Smith and his group have contacted Coun. Jan Harder’s office, but she told them her hands were tied. 

Having a crossing built would benefit those who are walking to bus stops on either side of the road, and for students of nearby John McCrae High School, who travel down Jockvale. High schools in the neighbourhood frequently use the walking paths. 

The group has been told previously a crossing couldn’t be put near the bus stops, because it was too close to the tracks. But Smith says that no longer makes sense because what the city is proposing on the opposite side is situated even closer. 

Some members of the working group would also like to see a pathway built on the Barrhaven United Church side of Jockvale, to make it easier for the Steepleview Crossing residents. That would also see the expansion of a bike path which runs along the train tracks, and currently stops near Antler Avenue. 

That could also include a medium being placed in the middle of the road, to act as a buffer when crossing. 

Smith says while all of that would be nice to see, he doesn’t feel it will come into fruition, especially because it would mean travelling over another rail crossing. 

“That would certainly be good, but again you’re introducing another rail crossing and that will be knocked down because the plan was to only have a grade separation crossing on the fellowship church side,” he said. “I think the residents are in full support of only having a walkway on one side and utilizing it, but they want a safe way of getting across Jockvale. Traffic has definitely been picking up over the years.”