A spate of pedestrian fatalities along the new Brightline rail line in Florida has prompted rail safety advocates to urge caution along the tracks.
The Rail Passengers Association, the Association of American Railroads and the American Public Transportation Association are joining forces to educate the public on the importance of safe behavior around railroad tracks. Their message is simple: it is never ok to use tracks as walking paths, and tracks should only be traversed using properly marked grade crossings.
“All of us have a role to play in preventing these tragedies, including discouraging reckless behavior on and around railroad tracks,” AAR President and CEO Ed Hamberger said in a news release. “Tracks are not playgrounds or shortcuts. When you see tracks, you need to think train.”
Brightline trains have struck and killed at least four pedestrians in recent months, including two during the testing phase of the $3.1 billion project, USA Today reported.
“We ask ourselves everyday if there’s any way to make our railroad safer,” the newspaper quoted Brightline President Patrick Goddard as saying at a news conference. “What we know is education works.”
Railroad advocates contend new regulation would not have changed any of the recent “tragic yet avoidable incidents.”
“These tragic accidents are opportunities to teach pedestrians how to avoid dangerous situations, and we are committed to helping spread that message,” Jim Mathews, president and CEO of RPA, said in a news release.
Brightline in mid-January welcomed dignitaries for the inaugural introductory ride between Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and West Palm Beach, Fla.
Brightline’s introductory service features 10 daily round-trips during the weekdays and nine on the weekends to provide guests an opportunity to travel between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in about 35 minutes. Construction on Phase 2, connecting to the Orlando International Airport, is expected to begin this year.