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Canada's Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced yesterday Transport Canada will provide more than $10.9 million (in Canadian dollars) to upgrade more than 400 rail crossings across the country. The funds are part of the federal Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCCP), which helps railroads and local communities pay for improving crossings based on traffic volume, accident history and other factors, according to a Transport Canada press release, which was issued during Rail Safety Week.This year, Transport Canada also will spend $125,000 to close seven crossings, in addition to $50,000 approved last year to close seven crossings. Canada's 2016 federal budget includes $143 million over three years to enhance rail safety, Garneau said in a speech yesterday. "A safe and secure national rail transportation system is important to local communities and to Canada's economic well-being," said Garneau in a prepared statement. On Tuesday, Garneau met for the first time with residents of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where 47 people died in July 2013 after a crude-oil train derailed and its cars exploded in the town's center. The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) yesterday endorsed Garneau's call for additional funding for grade crossing improvements and closures.More than 90 percent of rail-related deaths in Canada are due to motor vehicle collisions at rail crossings or trespassing on railroad property, said RAC President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Bourque in a press release."Increased investment in railway crossing infrastructure and education are the most effective ways to stop these preventable accidents," said Bourque.
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