September is Rail Safety Month in California. Here’s a special message from Donna DeMartino, the Managing Director of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency, which manages the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service.
I have an important message I’d like to share about rail safety.
Those who walk on train tracks or rush through rail crossings likely make a few dangerous and incorrect assumptions: trains are loud, big and slow, so there is time to move out of the way if one comes.
The sad reality is that this faulty thought process leads to 95% of all accidental rail-related deaths in the United States, with a person or vehicle being struck by a train every three hours across the county. When this tragedy occurs, lives are changed—for the people involved, their family and friends, local communities, and for the train crew members and passengers. California is unfortunately among the top states for rail crossing and pedestrian deaths, with 189 fatalities in 2019.
These accidents are preventable, and we need to come together and educate everyone about the importance of being cautious around train tracks. Always respect the rails and obey all warning signs and signals posted near the tracks.
Please help us correct some common misconceptions about train tracks by sharing these important rail safety facts and tips: 1. Never try to beat a train—any approaching train is always closer and moving faster, than you think; 2. Always expect a train—Pacific Surfliner tracks are also used by freight, commuter, and long-distance trains, day and night, and may come from either direction; 3. Look and listen for trains as you approach a crossing—obey all signs, warning lights and gates; 4. Remember that trains can’t stop quickly—it can take a mile or more to stop a train; and 5. Do not use the tracks as your own personal shortcut, jogging trail, or photo backdrop–the tracks are private property, and you can receive a ticket for trespassing with a fine of nearly $400 if you are caught on or near them.
Please join us in encouraging positive changes in public behavior so that the act of being vigilant and safe around railroad tracks is as automatic for drivers and pedestrians as buckling a seatbelt! Get important tips and resources on our Rail Safety page. Thank you!
Managing Director of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency