Caltrain Board Proclaims September Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month

Media Contact: Tasha Bartholomew, 650.339.5257

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 of Directors adopted a proclamation designating September as Railroad Safety & Suicide Prevention Month during its monthly meeting.

“This proclamation reaffirms Caltrain’s commitment to provide safe and efficient daily train service between San Francisco and Gilroy,” said Acting Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. “At Caltrain, safety is our highest priority. While we recognize September as Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month, our commitment to safety is a year-round effort.”

In honor of Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month, Caltrain is launching a new, nationwide public service announcement (PSA) today, September 7, in partnership with Operation Lifesaver, an international model program for rail safety education and awareness. The video entitled “Stop Track Tragedies,” shares the powerful stories of survivors and family members to help prevent future tragedies on the railroad. The PSA is available on Vimeo and other Caltrain social media platforms.

On Tuesday, September 20, Caltrain and the Transit Police unit will be doing a Rail Safety Blitz event to educate commuters onboard trains, as well as drivers and pedestrians at specified grade crossings with rail safety educational brochures. Also, the railroad has 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 local behavioral and mental health organizations in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

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 18 years, Caltrain has planned or participated in an annual rail safety event in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver. 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 & Suicide Prevention Month, passengers and local residents can pick a favorite safety tip and share it on social media with #CaltrainSafe and #RailSafety.

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 rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with commute service to Gilroy. Serving the region since 1863, Caltrain is the oldest continually operating rail system west of the Mississippi. Looking to the future, Caltrain is set to electrify the corridor by 2024, which will reduce diesel emissions and add more service to more stations while advancing the agency’s equity goals.

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