Unlocking Development Potential with Rail Safety Consulting
Urban densification and the need to create more housing and more walkable, transit-oriented communities has over the years resulted in significant development taking place on, around, or near railway infrastructure. These developments engender site-specific risks, which must be considered and mitigated in order to gain building approval.
At Entuitive, we are pleased to offer Rail Safety Consulting services, and its subset Safety Barrier Design, to our developer clients looking to build in proximity to a railway. Our integrated expertise in structural engineering and rail safety allows us to engineer holistic and safe solutions for these developments, as well as guide our clients through local approvals processes.
What Is Rail Safety?
Any development in proximity to railway infrastructure must develop risk mitigation solutions as part of its approval application. In Toronto, for example, any proposed development within 30 metres of railway tracks must be evaluated by both the City of Toronto and the adjacent rail operator.
The safety risks involved with developing close to a railway include:
- Derailed trains (both freight and passenger)
Other comfort risks include:
- Air-borne vibration or acoustics affecting the building occupants
- Propagation of ground-borne vibration into the building structure
In keeping safety as the top priority, our team engineers mitigation solutions for all these site-specific safety risks.
Understanding Developer Needs: Constructible Solutions
Our team is dedicated to meeting the needs of our developer clients. Our background in the structural design of buildings and transportation infrastructure, as well as construction engineering, blends with Rail Safety to ensure that our proposals meet safety requirements with solutions that are both constructible and integrated into the building design. This approach maximizes value along with the development potential of the site.
City of Toronto Peer Reviewers
Entuitive is one of three independent Peer Reviewers representing the City of Toronto for all submitted Site Safety Reports and Approvals. This enables our team to keep current with the views of the municipalities and the spectrum of rail safety solutions in consideration, providing our team with industry best-practice knowledge to apply on future projects for our clients.
In-House Site Assessment Tool
In keeping with our value of taking an advanced approach to solving challenges, our team has developed an in-house site-assessment tool synthesizing rail incident and activity data from the Transport Safety Board of Canada to enable a big-picture view of rail safety across Canada in answering critical safety questions. This marriage of data and technical expertise allows our team to make evidence-based decisions to improve rail safety design and take a proactive, preemptive approach to rail and crash wall safety.
The combination of big data and expertise at the micro and macro levels is a new way of thinking that provides deeper insight into where, and why, rail incidents are most common. The data-driven lens also enables us to understand the how behind the incident. Understanding these contextual factors in rail incidents helps us to deliver better value and better safety to the projects we work on, extending a sense of confidence to our clients. The approach we take is multifaceted and evidence-based to provide the most integrated engineered solution while keeping safety as the primary guiding principle.
The tool allows us to see where there are reported historical occurrences in the last 20 years. The data shows level crossings, rail ownership, and extensive interactive additional information that is displayed when clicking on a map feature to open a contextual dialogue.
On a macro scale, incidents can be heat-mapped to see the concentration of occurrences on a national, provincial, or regional scale.Zooming in allows us to drill into the magnitude and frequency of occurrences geographically. Each data point can be selected to bring up occurrence particulars reported to the Transportation Safety Board. A proximity analysis of all tracks and their respective owners can be queried to understand the railway stakeholders involved for a given location on the map.This information allows us to quickly and easily understand the stakeholders involved so we can have a conversation around safety with everyone at the table.
Keep reading to learn about a few highlights from our Rail Safety portfolio.
Fairview Drury Rail Safety Study, Burlington, Ontario
Located at the northwest corner of Drury and Fairview in Burlington, Ontario, a new development is being constructed that includes multiple residential towers, office space, and retail space with parking both below and above grade. The development will be located near the CNR – Metrolinx rail corridor, north of the property.
Entuitive was engaged to provide the Rail Safety Study for this proposed development, collaborating with Metrolinx and their Third-Party Reviewers. This project required complex design of a safety barrier to deflect derailed trains operating at 100 mph, reducing the risks to the building occupants. Due to the close proximity (less than 4m) of the tracks to the wall, a unique construction methodology was developed. We worked closely with the City of Burlington and Metrolinx and their peer review engineers, achieving required approvals.
300 Bayview Rail Safety Report, Toronto, Ontario
Entuitive was engaged to provide the Rail Safety Report for a proposed Volvo car dealership at 300 Bayview Avenue in Toronto. This site is located on the west side of Bayview immediately south of an existing Audi Dealership. On the east side of Bayview lies an existing rail corridor owned and operated by Metrolinx.
The site of the building lies within a flood plain under the review of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. A typical solution of a continuous crash wall protecting the site was discarded as it conflicted with the Conservation Board’s requirement for the unrestricted flow of flood water across the site. The final form of the rail safety barrier integrated with the building form. The building was lifted up onto stilts, elevating the main level outside of the floor level, and the safety barriers then took the form of discreet shaped elements at the base of the stilts, protecting the building structure without interfering with water movement.
Transit-Oriented Community at Mimico Station, Toronto, Ontario
The sites of the proposed developments lie immediately north of the Mimico GO Station on two blocks of land: 315 & 327 Royal York Road and 27-39 Newcastle Street. The sites are integrated with Mimico Station to create a transit-oriented community, and will predominantly consist of residential units, with some commercial space along with retail occupancy.
Entuitive is providing Structural Engineering and Rail Safety consulting services for this proposed development. A typical solution towards continuous rail safety barriers is contrary to the station’s functional requirement to have its users engage visually with the trains on the tracks from the station on the pickup and drop-off areas. As such innovative solutions to risk mitigation are being considered, meeting the safety standards for the building occupants while being compatible with station functionality.
31A Parliament, Toronto, Ontario
31A Parliament is a new mixed-use building being constructed immediately adjacent to the transit corridor in downtown Toronto. The building offers close to 600 units of residential space, along with office, institutional, and retail occupancies to add vibrancies to the Distillery Area. Integrated into the site will be a selection of affordable housing.
The project involved a review of rail safety issues affecting building development as well as coordination with Metrolinx and City requirements. Entuitive is providing Structural and Rail Safety services for the project, developing the site-specific mitigating measures and gaining the approval of both Metrolinx and the City of Toronto along with their peer review engineers.
Entuitive’s Integrated Approach
With our holistic approach to Rail Safety, including our integrated structural and transportation teams, experience as Peer Reviewers, and our in-house site assessment tool, our Rail Safety team is able to provide constructible, advanced solutions that meet all client and stakeholder needs.
To learn more about our Rail Safety Consulting service, reach out to Jonathan Hendricks.