West Palm Beach, Fla. – Sept. 25, 2017 – South Florida's passenger and freight rail providers are highlighting the importance of being safe around railroad tracks during the first annual National Rail Safety Week taking place September 24 through 30. National Rail Safety Week is being spearheaded by Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation.
With two active rail corridors traversing the region, the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) and the South Florida Rail Corridor, it is always the right time to emphasize ways to be safe. Brightline, the only privately-funded express intercity passenger rail system in the country, Tri-Rail, South Florida's public commuter rail service, Florida East Coast Railway, the sole freight provider along the east coast of Florida, and the three South Florida Metropolitan Planning Organizations are partnering to spread the word about ways to keep you, your friends and family safe around railroad tracks.
Currently, both passenger and freight service operate on the South Florida Rail Corridor, which runs primarily to the west of I-95 between Mangonia Park in Palm Beach County and the Miami Intermodal Center near the Miami International Airport. The Florida East Coast Railway operates 14 to 15 freight trains on its corridor, which is located along the eastern portion of the counties and parallels US 1 or Dixie Highway in most places. Brightline also operates on the FECR and will continue testing its trainsets as it gets closer to launching passenger service later this year.
Communities along each corridor have worked or are working to establish quiet zones, which means neither freight nor passenger trains will be required to blow their horns as they approach at grade crossings due to the installation of supplemental safety measures. However, a train engineer may blow the horn if there is an emergency on the tracks, like a trespasser or a vehicle. With the implementation of quiet zones, stakeholders along each corridor are strongly encouraged to make smart decisions, like staying off the tracks and not wearing headphones or being distracted.
While vehicle-train collisions in the U.S. have dropped by 83 percent in the last four decades, there are still more than 2,000 vehicle-train collisions annually across the U.S., and last year more than 900 injuries and fatalities occurred to people walking, playing or taking photos on train tracks. These incidents are devastating to families, communities and train crew members – and they are often preventable.
Making the right decisions near railroad tracks can truly be the difference between life and death, today – and every day. Keep yourself, family and friends safe by following Operation Lifesaver's top five rail safety tips:
1) Look and listen for a train as you approach all railroad crossings - obey all signs, warning lights and gates.
2) Trains are quieter and faster than you think - never try to beat a train.
3) Because of their size and weight, it can take a mile or more to stop a train.
4) Always expect a train on any track; avoid distractions when you approach a crossing.
5) Railroad property is private property. Walking on the tracks is illegal and dangerous.
More information on National Rail Safety Week can be found here. Follow Rail Safety Week on social media with the hashtags #USRailSafetyWeek and #RailSafety.
What the partners are saying about rail safety:
“Rail safety is Brightline's number one priority. Through partnering with Operation Lifesaver to promote National Rail Safety Week, we hope to further equip the general public with the knowledge necessary to stay safe around not just our Brightline tracks, but all other tracks and highway-rail grade crossings located throughout the country. Approximately 50 Brightline employees are Operation Lifesaver volunteers and attend community events to teach their neighbors how and why it's important to stay safe.” – Dave Howard, Brightline CEO
“Keeping employees and the general public safe as we move tons of freight and intermodal containers each year is paramount. The FEC Railway encourages people to follow the laws in place to keep them safe, like waiting for the gate arms to return to the upright position before traversing through the grade crossing after a train passes. Waiting can save your life.” – Bob Ledoux, Florida East Coast Railway Senior Vice President
"Train safety awareness is not just the responsibility of this collaborative group, it is the responsibility of the entire community. Through outreach and education, we hope to teach people how to be safe around tracks and trains and to let them know that there are alternatives to making a very sad choice that in most cases proves to be irreversible." – Jack Stephens, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority Executive Director
“Rail safety is an important topic, and we are encouraging the public to be safe around railroads and make smart decisions that can ultimately save lives. The Miami-Dade TPO encourages the residents of Miami-Dade County to be aware and alert. Safety first!” – Aileen Bouclé, Miami-Dade TPO Executive Director
“It's been about five decades since we have seen our railroad network operating at today's level, and with more freight and passenger rail anticipated on both sets of tracks, this is an exciting time for our railroads! As this is all occurring we need all South Floridians to be vigilant at railroad grade crossings and along all the tracks. In honor of National Rail Safety week, the Broward MPO urges everyone to use caution around railroad tracks, and to pay attention at rail crossings- and never try and outrace a train when the gates are coming down.” – Greg Stuart, Broward MPO Executive Director
“The two active rail corridors in Palm Beach County are about to get even busier. The introduction of Brightline service includes newly constructed tracks in the Florida East Coast Railway to allow multiple trains to use the corridor simultaneously. We need to make pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers aware that the newer trains and tracks are quieter. Also, quiet zones that eliminate the routine blowing of train horns will be implemented around the time Brightline begins operations. The South Florida Rail Corridor also operates on multiple tracks to offer passenger and freight service. The MPO welcomes the opportunity to join its partners to promote rail safety.” – Nick Uhren, Palm Beach MPO Executive Director
Brightline is the new benchmark for travel by train in America with express inter-city passenger rail service connecting Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with future service to Orlando. Providing a travel option that lives at the intersection of transportation and hospitality, the service will ease the stress of traffic, provide a simple and intuitive experience from door to destination, and foster new opportunities to explore more of Southeast Florida. Brightline is the only privately owned, operated and maintained passenger rail system in the United States. For more information, visit our website: www.gobrightline.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Mike Hicks, Lou Hammond for Brightline and FEC Railway
(561) 655-3836, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bonnie Arnold, SFRTA
(954) 788-7936, email@example.com
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