OTTAWA — The federal government has introduced long-awaited regulations aimed at reducing deadly train collisions at level crossings.

The regulations, to take full effect over the next seven years, establish consistent grade crossing safety standards across Canada and clarify the responsibilities of rail companies and road authorities.

Transport Canada says the regulations will improve safety at approximately 14,000 public and 9,000 private grade crossings along 42,650 kilometres of railway track.

From 2009 to 2013, collisions between vehicles and trains at crossings caused, on average, 26 deaths and 26 serious injuries a year.

Federal transportation safety officials have been urging the government for over a decade to do more to prevent level-crossing crashes, including one between a city bus and a Via Rail train that claimed six lives in Ottawa last year.

The government says the regulations address the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s concern — noted on its latest watchlist — that the risk of trains colliding with vehicles remains too high.

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