Rail Safety is a Daily Commitment

September 23, 2011

On Thursday, September 15 California rail officials came together to unveil this year’s “Rail Safety Month” locomotive wrap.  It serves as our mobile “billboard” to remind California residents that they need to keep safety in mind each and every time they approach a railroad crossing.

September 2011 commemorates the third Rail Safety Month in California, which was initiated by Senator Carol Liu (D-Glendale).  Rail Safety Month provides the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority the opportunity to team up with both public and private partners to help build public awareness about rail safety along our corridor.  I want to point out that since Senator Liu’s first Rail Safety Month resolution in 2009, incidents involving Capitol Corridor trains have declined steadily thanks to the efforts of our service partners – Union Pacific Railroad, Amtrak, and the Caltrans Division of Rail.

For me, this year’s graphic is the strongest one we’ve used so far as it illustrates how death by train is a tragedy that affects us all.  The collection of  217 handprints the Caltrans Division of Rail gathered this summer forms one large handprint.  It’s a powerful symbol that shows a trespasser incident not only strikes down the victim, it’s a horrible event that touches us all.  Such accidents also hurts the victim’s surviving loved ones and harms the psyche of the train engineer, conductors, passengers and the first responders who must deal with the tragic memory.

The 10,500 trains we run annually necessitates our efforts to promote rail safety 365 days a year. To that end, our service has reinvested your tax dollars into multiple safety and security projects throughout out system.  These safety projects include installation of:

  • video surveillance equipment at six (6) unstaffed stations along the Corridor
  • fencing to discourage trespassers from going on railroad tracks in Richmond and Oakland Jack London Square.

We are working closely with the Union Pacific and cities of Hayward and Suisun to install fencing in those cities this year as well.

As California’s Rail Safety month comes to a close, I wanted to underscore that safety and security is a top priority seven days a week, 52 weeks a year for the Capitol Corridor.  If crossing railroad tracks is part of your daily or weekly routine, please be “track smart.” Trains can’t swerve to avoid people walking, playing or illegally crossing railroad tracks.  Remember: Stay off the tracks, stay alive.