The federal government is rolling out new regulations aimed at making railway crossings safer, 15 months after an Ottawa transit bus collided with a Via Rail train, killing six people.

Transport Canada announced the changes on Wednesday, saying the rules will introduce mandatory engineering standards, clarify the responsibility of railway companies and road authorities, and improve safety features such as signage and lights.

They are also designed to spur collaboration between the 1,460 municipal authorities, 95 Aboriginal bands, 32 railway companies, and other private entities that are responsible for rail-crossings across Canada.

Between 2009 and 2013, there were an average of 26 deaths and 26 serious injuries due to collisions between vehicles and railway equipment, including the Sept. 2013, level-crossing crash of an Ottawa transit bus and a Via Rail train in the Ottawa suburb Barrhaven, in which 6 people were killed.

Rail carriers will now be required to report to the federal regulator so that safety risks can be identified "proactively" and can be targeted in audits through audits, inspections and new programs

Former president of citizen-based advocacy group Transport Action Canada, David Jeanes, said the measures are a step in the right direction.

"The railways will now have to report when they've had crossing malfunctions, so that there can be better predictions where the problem areas are, rather than waiting for an accident to happen then looking for the cause," he told CTV Ottawa.

Transport Canada says the changes have been instituted to address a report by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada Watchlist that said the "risk of passenger trains colliding with vehicles remains too high in busy rail corridors."

The regulations will affect about 14,000 public and 9,000 private railway crossings along 42,650 km of federally regulated railway track. They will take full effect over the next seven years.