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Things To Know: Caltrain Wins Safety Grant

Caltrain Wins Rail Safety Grant; Launches New Awareness Program

August 13, 2013

Emphasizing its ongoing commitment to safety, Caltrain has been awarded one of eight national rail safety grants and will use the funds to sponsor a youth film festival featuring videos on rail safety.

The $18,875 grant, awarded by Operation Lifesaver and matched by Caltrain to equal $25,250, will be used by the rail agency to launch a campaign to increase awareness of the dangers associated with an active rail corridor. 

The grant will focus on raising issues related to pedestrian awareness through a series of video dramatizations that highlight dangerous behaviors around trains. 

With the grant from Operation Lifesaver, Caltrain will team up with Fresh Takes, a local youth digital arts organization, to produce a series of rail safety videos targeting teens, commuters, distracted walkers and drivers and other potential unsafe behaviors.

The innovative program kicked off earlier this month at the Fresh Takes studio in Redwood City with a rail safety presentation to familiarize the teens with the railroad’s major safety concerns.

“Using the youth based digital arts program to create and produce messages on rail safety is a great concept,” said Peter Aadland, state coordinator and executive director of California Operation Lifesaver. “The creative product should really resonate with other youth and that is what it’s all about—delivering the points that will help someone make the right decisions when they are around railroad property.”

The video project will make its public debut during a “Caltrain Film Festival” set to celebrate Rail Safety Month in September.

The innovative grant program is the to outcome of a partnership between Operation Lifesaver, a national non-profit that specializes in railroad safety awareness programs, and the Federal Transit Administration.

For the past 20 years, Caltrain has partnered with the California branch of Operation Lifesaver to carry safety messages to the communities neighboring the 150-year-old rail corridor in the Peninsula. Caltrain places tremendous emphasis on safety messages because it operates through backyards, downtowns and across busy streets in the Peninsula’s densely-populated metropolitan regions.

In concert with Operation Lifesaver, Caltrain has undertaken a number of rail safety initiatives, including installing bright “Tracks are for Trains,” safety banners at key locations along its corridor and adding “There is Help,” suicide prevention hotline signage. Caltrain has also hosted a “Rail Safety Relay” to raise the issue of awareness and launched “Railroad Watch” as an effective neighborhood watch-style safety campaign.

About Caltrain: Owned and operated by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, Caltrain provides commuter rail service from San Francisco to San Jose, with limited commute service to Gilroy. Caltrain has enjoyed nearly 33 consecutive months of ridership increases, surpassing more than 50,000 average weekday riders earlier this year. While the Joint Powers Board assumed operating responsibilities for the service in 1992, the railroad will celebrate 150 years of continuous passenger service in 2014. Planning for the next 150 years of Peninsula rail service, Caltrain is on pace to electrify the corridor by 2019, reducing diesel emissions by 90 percent and adding more service to more stations. 

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