For most people living and working along the rail corridor, the sight of Caltrain operating daily service up and down the Peninsula is common place. But complacency around a heavy commuter train can sometimes lead to tragedy. To highlight the importance of safety around trains, the Caltrain Board today adopted a proclamation for Railroad Safety Month.
For the last 13 years, Caltrain has planned or participated in an annual rail safety event in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver, an international model program for rail safety. Since 2009, California Operation Lifesaver has declared September as Rail Safety Month. As one of the nonprofit organization’s community partners, Caltrain has joined in their efforts over the years to promote rail safety initiatives.
“These trespass and grade crossing incidents have devastating effects on families and communities,” said CAOL State Coordinator Nancy Sheehan, who accepted today’s proclamation from the Board. “As a part of Operation Lifesaver’s mission to reduce deaths and injuries around trains, we urge the public to follow the laws, obey the signs and signals, never walk on the tracks and avoid distractions near railroad tracks.”
This year, Caltrain will focus its attention on rail safety around at-grade crossings. Since 2015, Caltrain has experienced an increase in train collisions with vehicles. To address this rail safety issue, Caltrain plans to launch a new rail safety Public Service Announcement on Sept. 12 that will focus on motorist safety, and will run on cable television until the end of the month.
Caltrain also plans to introduce a new Grade Crossing Awareness Public Safety Program in September, alongside the San Mateo County Sheriff Office’s Transit Police Bureau. The program will focus on targeted enforcement and education at crossings along the corridor that have experienced multiple incidents, such as collisions and near misses, over the last few years.
In addition, the agency will highlight some of Caltrain’s plans to improve grade crossings over the next year, which include installing roadway medians in front of gate arms, painting new pavement markings and improving signage.
The rail agency addresses safety through a comprehensive, ongoing program that focuses on the “Three E’s” of railroad safety – Education, Engineering and Enforcement.
Caltrain’s commitment to safety extends far beyond September, with a year-round, day-in, day-out emphasis on safety around trains and train tracks.
At Caltrain, safety is always priority number one. Accidents on the tracks are always preventable by paying attention and observing a few rail safety tips. To be a part of the conversation during Rail Safety Month, passengers and local residents can pick a favorite safety tip and share it on social media with #CaltrainSafe.
Examples of tips:
- If you encounter an emergency on Caltrain or see something suspicious, call the Transit Police at 1.877.SAF.RAIL (1.877.723.7245).
- A typical Caltrain train can take nearly a mile to stop, even when emergency brakes are applied.
- It’s never safe to stop closer than 15 feet from the rails, and a train is at least three feet wider than tracks on both sides.
- Only cross Caltrain tracks at designated crossings and when it is safe to do so. While it might not be the quickest route, it is the safest.
- When waiting to board a train, stand behind the yellow line at stations.
- Even though they might look as if they’re moving rather slowly, Caltrain trains reach a top speed of 79 miles per hour. At that speed, they cover the length of a football field in less than three seconds.
- Never drive onto a railroad crossing until you are sure the traffic ahead has left enough space to drive across without boxing you in. Do not shift gears while driving across the tracks. If your vehicle stalls on the crossing get everyone out and get off the tracks. Call 911 or 1.877.SAF.RAIL (1.877.723.7245) to report the situation.
About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain has enjoyed more than five years of consecutive monthly ridership increases, surpassing more than 60,000 average weekday riders earlier this year. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad celebrated 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor, reduce diesel emissions by 97 percent by 2040 and add more service to more stations.