2016 Guelph Junction Railway weed control activities

Updated June 8, 2016

To prevent weeds, grass and other plants from interfering with railway operations and to comply with federal regulations, the Guelph Junction Railway (GJR) will be working with contractor Green Stream to perform weed control along GJR tracks between Woodlawn Road and Victoria Road on Thursday, June 16 between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. (rain date June 17).

Map of weed control zone along Guelph Junction Railway tracks

Map of weed control zone along Guelph Junction Railway tracks and Downtown Trail closure

Weed control being applied June 16 between 1-4 a.m.

The weed control being used is a low-concentration mixture of Round-up, Karmex and Overdrive. These substances have been evaluated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency to be safe and are approved for use in parking areas, school yards, parks, golf courses and other public areas.

The weed control mixture will be applied at night, will not be applied within 60.96 metres (200 feet) of waterway crossings and a skirt will be used on the application equipment to prevent overspray.

Public Notice – Pesticide Use

Testing non-chemical alternatives

GJR will continue to test alternative non-herbicide options, such as starch.

GJR will also evaluate the viability of using emerging alternatives, such as Foamstream application, currently used in the United Kingdom.

Downtown Trail closed June 16

All public trails in close proximity to the railway, including sections of the Downtown Trail, will be closed ahead of weed control activities and will remain closed for at least 12 hours after spraying. Signs will be posted to notify trail users.

Controlling weeds along railways

Transport Canada requires GJR to maintain tracks to federal safety standards by removing vegetation on and around the railway tracks. Grass, weeds and other plants can impede railway safety in a few ways:

  • Plants growing over the tracks can cause slipping, which causes a train to take longer to stop in the event of an emergency
  • Plants growing too close to the tracks make it difficult for operators to see around curves
  • Dry plants can catch fire
  • The rail bed and tracks deteriorate more quickly when surrounded by plants and moisture
  • Plants makes it difficult to inspect the tracks for potential problems

Questions and Answers

Why does Guelph Junction Railway need to remove weeds and vegetation along its train tracks annually?

Weeds and vegetation along railway tracks can cause fire, rail bed and track damage due to poor drainage, signal failures at road crossings, longer train stopping distances and/or poor site lines at trail crossings and roadways.

Weed removal is required to keep railway tracks safe as well as to allow inspections, repairs and maintenance to Transport Canada standards. 

Has Guelph Junction Railway tried any non-chemical weed control options in the past, such as starch or weed whacking? Have they worked?

In the past GJR has tried to use a bio-friendly liquefied starch to control weeds and vegetation, however this proved to be unsuccessful due to a combination of equipment problems and erosion of the starch due to rain. Additional testing will be conducted to ensure starch is a viable option for weed control.

GJR has also used weed cutting/whacking in the past to control weeds, but this does not remove the roots, and is not an effective long-term solution for weed removal along railway tracks.

Why can’t Guelph Junction Railway use a vinegar only solution to control weeds?

High concentrate vinegar does not control and eliminate weeds but temporarily burns the vegetation above the soil. The vinegar does not destroy the weed’s root system, which causes maintenance and drainage issues leading to track failure.

Many backyards back onto the railway, are Karmex, Overdrive and Roundup safe to use in close proximity to people and pets?

Used according to label directions, Karmax, Overdrive and Roundup have been evaluated by Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to be safe. PMRA has the toughest regulatory requirements in the world in approving and deeming products safe for use within Canada. All three substances are approved for use in parking areas, school yards, parks, golf courses and other public areas.

Where and when will the 2016 weed control take place?

The weed control activities will take place Thursday, June 16 between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m., with a rain date of Friday, June 17. The weed control substance will be applied to a 14 foot wide area directly over the tracks over a distance of 3.5 miles from Woodlawn Road to Victoria Road, excluding a section of tracks from Norwich Street East to just past Macdonell Street in Downtown Guelph. 

When was the last time chemical weed control was performed along railways in Guelph?

Weed control spraying was last completed in 2010 on the GJR portion of Guelph’s railway tracks. Canadian National (CN) rail lines are sprayed annually. The CN rail lines are not owned or maintained by GJR.

What do other Ontario municipalities use as part of their weed control programs? 

Guelph is unique in that it is the only Ontario municipality to own a railway line. CN and Canadian Pacific (CP) are the only other two railways that operate in Ontario, their vegetation control plans can be found in the following plans:

For more information

Les Petroczi, General Manager
Guelph Junction Railway