Caltrain Board Proclaims September Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month


For most people living and working along the rail corridor, the sight of Caltrain operating daily service up and down the Peninsula is commonplace. However, complacency around a heavy commuter train and relatively open access to the rails often leads to tragedy.

To highlight the importance of safety around train tracks and the high rate of intentional deaths on the rails, the Caltrain Board adopted a proclamation designating September as both Railroad Safety Month and Suicide Prevention Month during its monthly meeting.

“At Caltrain, safety is our highest priority,” said Dave Pine, Chair of the Caltrain Board of Directors. “While we recognize September as Rail Safety and Suicide Prevention Month, our commitment to safety is a year round effort. Caltrain also is dedicated to continually identifying options and resources around our tracks for those experiencing mental health crises to reduce the number intentional deaths on the rails.”

To further advance the agency’s incident mitigation efforts, in July 2020, Caltrain received a $48,500 Federal Railroad Administration grant to fund its Right-Of-Way Trespassing Project. The initiative aims to reduce trespasser incidents and address homeless encampments along the tracks while also referring displaced individuals to specialized service providers.

The railroad has also historically collaborated with suicide prevention agencies to prevent intentional deaths on the rails by posting crisis hotline signage at points all along the corridor and partnering with the San Mateo County Suicide Prevention Committee.

Caltrain addresses safety through a comprehensive, ongoing program that focuses on the “Three E’s” of railroad safety – Education, Engineering and Enforcement.

For the last 16 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 joins in their efforts to promote rail safety initiatives.

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 is 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 when it is safe to do so. While it might not be the quickest route, it is the safest.

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About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. 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.

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