UP: Special Train Focuses on Rail Safety Enforcement

PHOENIX — There is no such thing as luck when it comes to trying to beat a train. Federal Railroad Administration statistics attribute 2,373 crashes every year to driver behavior, which often involves trying to beat a train.

That is why Union Pacific is partnering with Arizona Operation Lifesaver to host an “Officer on the Train” event May 22.A special passenger train will allow community leaders, law enforcement officers and education officials to learn about highway-railroad grade crossing safety and the consequences of trespassing on railroad property.

“We want to offer community leaders the opportunity to see first-hand the risks people take every time they try to beat the train. Everyone from the new teenage driver to professional drivers need to be aware of rail safety,” said Andy Yedlick, Union Pacific superintendent – transportation services. “This is one way Union Pacific builds partnerships with the community to reduce fatalities and injuries at grade-crossings.”

“Officer on the Train” allows police officers to ride on trains and observe motorist behavior at highway-railroad grade crossings. If a motorist violates the grade-crossing traffic laws, the police officer on the train radios an officer near the crossing who can issue the motorist a citation.

“Unfortunately, some people learn only when they get a ticket,” Officer Jorge Villaescusa said. “We are also educating through people’s wallets.”

While law enforcement officers focus on the public outside the train, civic leaders inside the train will get a rare opportunity to see what train crew members see.   Video cameras are mounted in the locomotive cabs, broadcasting to television monitors in the passenger cars.

Union Pacific also works with Operation Lifesaver, a nationwide non-profit public safety education and outreach program designed to eliminate collisions, deaths and injuries where streets and roads cross railroad tracks at grade and on railroad rights of way.  Operation Lifesaver’s trained and certified volunteer speakers provide free safety presentations for various professions and for all age groups in order to increase public safety around railroad tracks.