Authorities are calling for caution and respect for the law after the launch of a virtual platform that lists the openings in the fences that protect the railway tracks in Montreal.
MTLTracks.ca allows any Internet user to report the opening or closing of a breach in the barriers, as well as to indicate live if it is being watched by the police.
The platform focuses on the section of Canadian Pacific railway line separating the boroughs of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie and Plateau-Mont-Royal.
“I had the idea a year ago. People were crossing the tracks and Montreal’s response was not to make it safer, but rather to impose fines of $650 on people,” explained the creator of the site, Oliver, in a telephone interview with The Press. He refused to have his last name released.
We needed a tool to know the right time to cross. People are going to do it anyway, so might as well do it without getting fined.
Oliver, founder of MTLTracks.ca
In his opinion, pedestrians and cyclists use these gaps to save up to 20 minutes in travel time.
But crossing a railway on foot outside of designated areas is illegal and can be dangerous. Last year, a 31-year-old woman was killed when she was on the right-of-way of the railway, near the intersection of boulevard Saint-Laurent and rue de Bellechasse.
Canadian Pacific did not comment directly on the launch of this new platform and did not want to say if it would try to have it closed.
“Pedestrians and cyclists should only cross railway tracks at designated and marked public crossings, always obeying all railway safety signs, devices and barriers,” spokeswoman Stacy Patenaude said. Train tracks should never be used as a shortcut. »
The City of Montreal, which owns some of the fences in which the breaches are made, also calls on citizens to be extremely careful.
“At no time is it permitted to breach the fences bordering the railway tracks and to access or circulate there, under penalty of fines, indicated the publicist Hugo Bourgoin. In this regard, the City of Montreal, in collaboration with the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, is working to seal the breaches in the fence that falls under its responsibility (Outremont junction) as soon as they appear. »
Mr. Bourgoin pointed out that the City has taken important steps in recent years to have new legal crossings created for pedestrians and cyclists.
“I don’t think it’s illegal”
Oliver is pleased with the growing, albeit modest, popularity of his site: more than 1,000 hits have been logged and reports are steady, he said. The purchase of virtual advertising, especially on the Instagram platform, surely has something to do with it.
The information on the platform is up to date. I myself used my site a few times to see if the holes were open.
Oliver, founder of MTLTracks.ca
The presence of police has been reported a dozen times since February 10.
He doesn’t fear being sued for starting MTLTracks.ca. “I don’t think it’s illegal to observe if there is a police presence or if there is a hole in the fence. It’s not like I go there and cut the hole myself,” the young man pleaded.
His site has a warning in the lower left corner of his interface: “WARNING: Crossing train tracks is dangerous and illegal. This site does not encourage pedestrians to cross railway tracks. Be careful. »