BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), the MBTA, Keolis Commuter Services, MBTA Transit Police (TPD), and others in partnership with Massachusetts Operation Lifesaver will participate in a series of educational initiatives to take place during the nation’s 2nd annual Rail Safety Week.
Developed by Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a public safety non-profit dedicated to rail safety education, this year’s Rail Safety Week is September 23-29.
“We’re committed to helping prevent these kinds of devastating tragedies through continued outreach and education, especially during Rail Safety Week,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Manuel Ramírez, in a press release. “With safety as the T’s top priority, MBTA staff and our partners will be in many parts of the MBTA system this week to share important rail safety information and to promote a safe environment that benefits our customers, our employees, and our vendors. Through these efforts, we hope to convey the importance of rail safety for anyone who interacts with the MBTA system, from the motorists coming into contact with crossings to the passengers we serve to the employees we value.”
“Across the United States, the tragic reality is that every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train,” said MBTA Transit Police Officer and State Coordinator for Massachusetts Operation Lifesaver Dana Nye in a media release.
“The goal of Operation Lifesaver is to raise awareness among the general public to ensure that they more clearly understand the dangers to be aware of on or near trains, tracks, and rail property. Though the program runs throughout the year, we will highlight our efforts during Rail Safety Week. It is my sincere hope that we can drastically decrease the number of individuals, families, and rail employees that are affected by rail tragedies, not just here in Massachusetts, but throughout the country through this national awareness and education campaign,” said Nye.
“With the MBTA we have invested $20 million to further improve passenger and employee safety,” said Keolis General Manager and CEO David Scorey. “These investments include new technologies like a state-of-the-art locomotive simulator, a revamped safety department and enhanced training programs for employees. Safety of our passengers and employees will always be our first priority at Keolis and I am grateful for the opportunity Rail Safety Week provides to remind the broader community to exercise responsible rail habits.”
Too often in both the MBTA system and nationwide, individuals walk along tracks or cut across rights of way without realizing the life-threatening risks of trespassing along railways.
Many times, individuals on commuter rail tracks don’t hear a train approaching until it is too late due to a train’s high speed.
Even when a commuter rail train is not scheduled, there are also freight trains and other services that operate on the commuter rail network around the Greater Boston area.
Subway trains also operate at high speeds with immediate braking capacity limited in the event of an unexpected individual found to be along the track area.
Additionally, incidents have occurred in which motor vehicle drivers attempt to pass through crossings when warning lights are flashing and/or crossing gates are descending across the roadway with devastating results.
The MBTA is committed to ensuring a safe environment for its passengers and employees and recognizes the risks associated with rail travel.
“See tracks? Think train” and “Stop Rail Tragedies” are a part of Operation Lifesaver’s educational campaign aiming to inform the public about the severe risks associated with trespassing on rail tracks or not heeding warning signals at railway grade crossings.
The MBTA, Keolis, and TPD have partnered with Massachusetts Operation Lifesaver to educate passengers and the public.
The MBTA Safety Department, Keolis, and TPD have significantly increased the numbers of employees trained in the Operation Lifesaver program in an effort to further spread safety messaging through presentations to schools, civic groups, driver education programs, school bus companies, professional driving schools, trucking companies, and first responders. Massachusetts Operation Lifesaver State Coordinator Nye also hopes to connect with School Resource Officers throughout the Commonwealth in order to educate youth within these communities of additional rail safety measures.
Throughout the week of September 23-29, MBTA customers will be made aware of Rail Safety and Operation Lifesaver messaging via audible public announcements as well as displays on in-station digital panels, signage onboard subways, commuter trail trains, and on the mTicket app.
With a continued commitment to employee safety, rail safety messaging will also be promoted through continued safety briefings and materials given to MBTA and Keolis staff promoting the importance of situational awareness, adhering to rules of the rights of way, hazard identification, the MBTA Safety Hotline, and the employee injury and assault reporting processes.
The campaign comes one day after a man was struck and killed by a CSX train in Ashland.
On Sunday, rail safety announcements were made onboard MBTA subway trains, encouraging passengers to stay alert, stand away from the platform edge, to hold on to poles while standing onboard, and to be careful when boarding and exiting the train.
Today, September 24:
- During the morning and afternoon Providence/Stoughton Line commutes, MBTA Safety Officials will ride commuter rail trains between Wickford Junction and South Station to speak with passengers and disseminate rail safety literature.
- Amtrak Police and Rhode Island Department of Transportation staff will also be present with educational materials at Providence Station during the morning hours.
- MBTA Safety, Keolis, and TPD will be joined by Mansfield Police and School Resources officials at an Operation Lifesaver booth at Mansfield Station to interact with commuters and pass out promotion material.
- An Operation Lifesaver booth will also be staffed by Amtrak personnel and TPD from 10 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at North Station.
Tuesday, September 25:
- With a focus on Law Enforcement Partnerships, awareness exercises, community outreach, and public education will take place with participation from Framingham Police, Salem Police, and TPD. Special focus will be paid to Operation Clear Track and enforcing motor vehicle offenses at railroad crossings.
- TPD and Framingham Police will be available with educational materials during the morning commute at Framingham Station with staff passing out safety materials throughout the day.
- Keolis, TPD, and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) representatives will be available with safety and educational materials at the Salem Transportation Open House.
Wednesday, September 26:
- Efforts will be focused on Trespass Prevention with the MBTA Safety Department, TPD, MBTA Railroad Operations, FRA, and the Keolis Safety Department performing community outreach at previously identified trespass “hotspots” in Fitchburg and Chelsea. Teams will inform pedestrians about the dangers of trespassing on rail property and cutting across tracks.
- TPD and Boston Public Health Commission Police will be present with educational materials at Newmarket and Andrew Stations.
Thursday, September 27:
- Dedicated to Transit Safety, rail safety teams will be present at South Station, Downtown Crossing, Back Bay, and Park Street Stations, passing out rail education pamphlets and speaking with passengers about staying safe while on platforms and trains.
Friday, September 28:
- To promote Grade Crossing Safety, the MBTA Safety Department, MBTA Railroad Operations, TPD, FRA, and the Keolis Safety Department will hand out literature and speak with motorists about safely operating vehicles near the rails at the Union Street Grade Crossing in Holbrook, which is located in close proximity to the Middleborough Line’s Holbrook/Randolph Station. This crossing is heavily used due to its proximity to multiple industrial businesses and trucking companies.
- Area trucking companies will be visited to increase awareness regarding the high volume of trucking incidents and “near misses,” and to offer the Operation Lifesaver presentation to the drivers affiliated with each.
Saturday, September 29:
- The MBTA Safety Department and TPD will staff an Operation Lifesaver booth at the Annual MBTA Bus Roadeo.