OAKLAND, Calif. — Amtrak and the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) are joining efforts during September to raise public awareness about highway-rail grade crossing safety and trespass prevention as part of California’s first ever “Rail Safety Month.”
Working with California Operation Lifesaver, freight and passenger railroads and other rail safety partners, Amtrak will participate in “Officer on the Train” events in cities throughout the state during the month of September. The key element of this program is to have local law enforcement officers ride in the locomotive to witness what train engineers observe daily — motorists driving illegally through rail crossings or someone trespassing on the tracks.
When the officer observes this dangerous behavior they will contact another officer who is following the train in a squad car to track down those individuals and issue them tickets for violating the law.
“Early this summer, rail systems in the Bay Area experienced a spike in fatalities due to people trespassing on the tracks despite the active warning signals,” CCJPA Managing Director Eugene Skoropowski said.
“These incidents are almost always avoidable and are devastating to the loved ones of the deceased, train crew members and the passengers onboard the trains,” Skoropowski said. “Now that schools are in session and traffic is increasing, if you have a rail crossing in your daily route, please follow safe rail practices: don’t be in a rush, leave earlier, obey rail warning signals, look both ways when crossing tracks and never, ever, walk along the tracks or between the rails.”