The federal Transportation Safety Board has released its investigation report into a collision between a CN freight train and a school bus in Carlyle in March of last year.
The report indicates that the school bus driver was unaware of the approaching eastbound train. As the bus driver proceeded from a stop onto the train crossing, located at Fourth Street East in the town, the bus was struck by the train.
Seven elementary school students were aboard the train. One of them suffered minor injuries.
In accordance with provincial school bus regulations, the bus stopped at a stop sign located at the north side of the crossing before attempting to cross the tracks. However, the school bus driver did not open the door, and did not see or hear the train as it sounded its horn.
The investigation determined that the driver was likely distracted by tasks associated with road traffic and pedestrian activity, in the vicinity of the crossing, at the time of the accident. In addition, the school bus' frame and side mirror adjacent to the door obstructed the driver's view, and concealed the train.
The TSB issued a rail safety advisory letter in June 2013, suggesting that Transport Canada (TC), in conjunction with provincial authorities, review the requirements for school buses when stopping at, and traversing, the railway crossings.
The letter also indicated that train horns do not consistently provide adequate warning to school buses that have doors and windows closed when stopped at railway crossings.
In July 2013, TC responded that it had informed provincial authorities of the issue, and was following up with them on provincial requirements for school buses when stopping at, and traversing railway crossings.
Saskatchewan's government will reportedly amend the school bus operating regulations of its Traffic Safety Act to require the driver of a school bus to open the side door, and the driver side window when approaching a crossing that is not equipped with an automatic signal device.
As well, Saskatchewan Government Insurance will develop and distribute information promoting school bus and rail safety to student transportation providers, and will recommend that routine assessment of school bus routes be conducted in order to minimize the risk of railway crossing accidents.