Caltrain Recognizes September as Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month


Media Contact: Mahmoud Abunie, 650.730.6201  

Trains have been running service on the Caltrain corridor since 1863, making the sight of trains going up and down the peninsula a regular occurrence. However, complacency around heavy commuter trains can lead to tragedy if one fails to use common sense and comply with safety guidelines. 

To highlight the importance of safety around train tracks and the high rate of intentional deaths on the rails, Caltrain participates in Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month. A proclamation to that effect goes before the Caltrain Board of Directors at its meeting on September 7. 

“Safety is paramount at Caltrain, and ensuring our daily train service is safe from San Francisco to Gilroy is our highest priority,” said Caltrain Executive Director Michelle Bouchard. “At Caltrain, safety is a core value that we practice every day, and while we use this month to get the word out about how to stay safe around our trains, we stay committed to making this railroad safe year-round.”  

In honor of Rail Safety & Suicide Prevention Month, Caltrain will be promoting rail safety tips and suicide prevention resources on its various social media platforms. Caltrain also is planning two rail safety events in September to engage community members. 

On September 19 Caltrain and the Transit Police unit will be doing a Rail Safety Blitz event to educate drivers and pedestrians at specified grade crossings with rail safety educational brochures. In addition, Caltrain will be hosting a rail safety booth at the agency’s next public Electric Train Tour event Saturday, September 23. 

Also, the railroad has historically collaborated with suicide prevention agencies to prevent intentional deaths on the rails by posting crisis hotline signage at stations and points all along the corridor. Caltrain has been partnering with local behavioral and mental health organizations in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties for years. 

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 20 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. 

  • Caltrain’s new electric infrastructure carries up to 25,000 volts, so you should never interfere with the overhead wires and avoid any downed wires you see. This is another important reason to never be on the tracks other than at a designated crossing, as a downed wire could energize another object such as a rail or fence without your knowledge, making them highly dangerous. 

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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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