Caltrain to Hold Rail Safety Virtual Townhall To Answer Questions About Safety Near Trains
In the wake of extensive news coverage resulting from a frightening video showing a person ducking under a gate and running across the tracks, narrowly avoiding being struck by an oncoming train, Caltrain will host a virtual townhall to discuss Caltrain safety initiatives, safe behaviors near tracks and answer questions.
Caltrain took advantage of a “teachable” moment by highlighting a YouTube video of a “near miss” in Peninsula Moves, the agency’s transportation blog. The frightening video, which was shot by a bystander, shows six pedestrians ignoring warning lights, bells and downed pedestrian gates to cross the train tracks at the Redwood City Caltrain Station. The sixth person runs across the tracks just seconds in front of an oncoming express train.
Caltrain is following up the blog post with a Reddit: Ask Me Anything (AMA) discussion, from 2 to 3 p.m. April 1. The link to the discussion won’t go live until the day of the virtual townhall, but participants can sign up here for details and reminders. Members of the public with specific questions can also use the link provided to submit questions and issues in advance of the discussion.
Transit Police Chief of Protective Services Dave Triolo, Communications Manager Jayme Ackemann and Community Affairs Officer Tasha Bartholomew will be available for the Q&A. “This is your chance to ask anything you ever wanted to know about Caltrain’s Rail Safety program and how you can help maintain a safe environment when you or your loved ones are near the track,” said Ackemann.
The pedestrian crossing captured in the video is equipped with pedestrian gates similar to the gates typically found at vehicle crossings. As the train is approaching the crossing, lights flash and bells clang. The gate comes down before the train reaches the crossing. The crossing is equipped with a yellow emergency exit gate designed to allow people who may become trapped on the train tracks to get out of harm’s way. In the video, the pedestrians pull the emergency gate open in order to cross the tracks illegally. The pedestrian gate remains down during the incident.
Last fall, Caltrain capped off Rail Safety Month with a film festival featuring the work of young student filmmakers from Fresh Takes, a youth digital arts program. The messages in the videos were consistent – when near an active railroad, be aware, be cautious, and be safe. To view the videos, visit Caltrain’s blog Peninsula Moves.
Caltrain has an ongoing commitment to safety that uses a multifaceted approach to address safety issues on three fronts: engineering, education and enforcement.
Engineering improvements include upgrades to crossings, such as pedestrian gates, and grade separation projects that separate vehicle and pedestrian crossings from the train tracks.
Caltrain is a member of Operation Lifesaver, an internationally renowned organization promoting rail safety. Members of the public who like information about scheduling a free rail safety presentation can call 650.508.7927. In the past, audiences have included students, community groups, police and fire officials, elected officials and civic leaders.
Caltrain’s Transit Police represent the enforcement component of Caltrain’s rail safety program. The Transit Police Bureau, comprised of San Mateo County Sheriff’s officers, is responsible for policing Caltrain property, including stations, parking lots and railroad right of way. These highly-skilled law enforcement professionals are familiar with railroad operations and the conditions at rail grade crossings.
Anyone who needs to report an incident or suspicious activity along the Caltrain rail line can call the Transit Police at 1.877.SAF.RAIL (1.877.723.7245).
More safety tips and information are available on Caltrain’s safety and security page on its website: http://www.caltrain.com/riderinfo/safety_security.html