Saturday, September 2, 2017

Red & White Crossbucks

Today, we take for granted the international red and white crossing warning signs that guard level crossings, alerting drivers and pedestrians to watch for approaching trains. The signs were still white with black lettering, protecting CN's Counter Street crossing in 1985 (top photo). The lettering in English was: Railway Crossing, or in French: Traverse de Chemin de Fer, as appropriate for the region. An April 1986 newspaper clipping spread the word of the impending changes:
Some history: on February 2, 1982, the Railway Transport Committee decided to implement crossing gate arms with red & white stripes. The committee determined that the red & white gate provide 'an improved degree of safety for the public to the alternate diagonal stripes of black & white required by para 16(g) of the Highway Crossing Protective Devices Regulations'. The new signs would also reflect more light after dark than the older version.

In mid-1985, the Railway Transport Committee notified railways under its jurisdiction that lettering on crossbucks may be replaced with one bearing no wording, red with white reflector tape and "two tracks" replaced with a stylized track symbol and number "2" above it. The ruling initially applied to 223 CN and 115 CP crossings. And with good reason - in that year, 58 Canadians were killed and another 336 injured in railway crossing accidents.

Transport Minister Don Mazankowski introduced the signs in South Edmonton, AB describing them as 'a new weapon in the war on railway crossing accidents'. Eventually to be installed on Canada's 31,308 level crossings. The nationwide replacement project was scheduled for completion by March 31, 1988. Moving from the West to the East, signs protecting Alberta's 4,300 and BC's 1,600 signs were to be completed by early-1986. Saskatchewan, with more crossings than another province (7,000), would be completed in 1986; Manitoba and Northern Ontario by April, 1987. The Canadian Transport Commission contributed more than $3.2 million for the purchase and installation of the new signage, with the unstated balance borne by the railways.

CN planned to cut down current 172-cm crossbucks to a length of 121-cm, re-drill holes and remount them at 90-degrees compared to the current 65-degree geometry. A mobile van, with two men recycling crossbucks that were not bent, warped, twisted or made of wood, would scrape off old decals, clean the metal and apply new decals. In January 1986, CN 9901 passes a red-and-white-striped gate, but black & white crossbuck prevailed, just west of Ernestown:
The Railway Transport Committee also extended requirements to Class 2 and shortline railways to replace crossbucks with the new international style. Included were DEVCO, Napierville Junction, Quebec North Shore & Labrador, C&O, Arnaud Railway, Essex Terminal and Conrail. Operation Lifesaver reminds us what to look for, while Transport Canada's current regulations are quite detailed


U.S. railway industry trade publication ads from 1949:                                            
Running extra...    

'Tis the Last Rose of Summer - the little ones prepare to tread the familiar path to the school door, we consider the daily walk to work and the fruits of our labour. Years of Labour Day weekend tradition ended with the manic voice of Jerry Lewis stilled, and we only have this version to remember that with hope in your heart,  you'll  never walk alone.
The last thistles of summer bloomed and butterflies swooped as eastbound CN potash train B730 passed slowly through Kingston on August 26.
The monochrome monotony of putty-coloured potash cars let me focus on majestic monarch butterly foliage-flitting (above) and pole-dancing (below) between the head-end, the DPU and the tail-end DPU!
Here's hoping you've had an enjoyable and relaxing summer. 
Watch for Trackside Treasure's upcoming September Sale - Eric.


Michael said...

Well timed post, Eric. Talking about an important transition during our annual transition from breezy summer days to the nose-to-the-grindstone days of fall. I remember that changeover to the red and white signs well. I recall that there were a few old signs in and around the CN yard in Sarnia that were not changed over for quite a long time, mainly because they were on private property.

Eric said...

You must have back-to-school on your mind, Michael. (My b-t-s days are now over!)

This crossbucks post will likely be the first of a series. Still looking for a title for the series, but it may be "When Did It Happen?" because enthusiasts are always posting, "When were ditchlights first used?" or, "When were cabooses phased out?".

Thanks for your comment,

Graham said...

Thanks Eric. I'd like to see a mention of the rural crossings on CN's Kingston sub. Some appear to have a very simple signal that may indicate the direction the train is approaching from.

Eric said...

Would you happen to mean the mirrors posted in recent years at unsignalled crossings, Graham?

phoenix'ed said...

You got CN 9901 in that one picture, before the renumber!

Eric said...

Yes, phoenix'd, that photo was about more than crossing protection. Watch for an upcoming post!