Mission & Purpose

Every year in Canada approximately 240 collisions and trespassing incidents occur at highway/railway crossings and along railway tracks resulting in the death or serious injury of more than 100 people. Virtually all of these incidents could be avoided.

Operation Lifesaver saves lives by educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding rail property and trains. Our mission is to prevent collisions between trains and motor vehicles. We also work to prevent trespassing incidents that lead to serious injury or death. We make over 500 presentations per year to schools, youth clubs, driver associations, snowmobile clubs, and other community groups. We work with the rail industry, government, police, unions, the media, other organizations and the public to spread the word.


Operation Lifesaver has a proud and unique 35 year history. Railway companies and government agencies have long been concerned about the needless loss of life and rail-related injuries. As a step towards reducing these incidents, railway companies joined forces with the federal, provincial and municipal governments in Canada to build lasting and aggressive programs to improve railway-related safety. The result was Operation Lifesaver.


Operation Lifesaver is a unique public-private partnership that promotes awareness to help save lives and reduce suffering from injuries incurred at highway/railway crossings and from trespassing on railway property. Funded by The Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada, this partnership initiative is guided by a National Operation Lifesaver Advisory Committee, which provides advice to the national director regarding the development and implementation of the program. This Advisory Committee is chaired by representatives of Transport Canada and the Railway Association of Canada. Other members of the committee include representatives from the Canada Safety Council, CN, and CP, VIA Rail Canada, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec, GO Transit, and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference.

The Program

The four areas of concentration are education, enforcement, engineering and evaluation:


Operation Lifesaver’s success lies in educating people of all ages about the dangers of highway/railway crossings and the seriousness of trespassing on railway property. The methods used to reach the public include the production and distribution of related educational material, early elementary and driver education curriculum activities, civic presentations, as well as media coverage.


Laws are in place governing motorists’ and pedestrians’ rights and responsibilities at highway/railway crossings and on railway property. Without enforcement, however, they will be ignored and incidents will continue to happen. Therefore, provincial and municipal law enforcement agencies are urged to deal with motorists and pedestrians who disregard these laws and jeopardize their lives as well as the lives of others.


Highway/railway crossings, railway property and pedestrian crossings must be kept safe, both physically and operationally, and improvements must be made when needed. To ensure a high level of safety, the administrative process of improving railway rights-of-way needs to be reviewed and changed when needed. At the same time, the public needs to be made more aware of federal, provincial and other programs aimed at improving railway safety.


To maintain the quality of Operation Lifesaver, its effect should be measured against its stated goals. Such evaluation is to be performed under the supervision of the national director. Funds are available for technical and program assistance.