Rail Safety Week is Sept. 20-26

MELROSE — The Melrose Police Department announces it will join law enforcement agencies in U.S. and Canada this year for “Operation Clear Track” — the single largest rail-safety law-enforcement initiative in North America.

On Thursday, Sept. 23, Melrose Police will be conducting targeted outreach and enforcement to raise residents’ awareness about exercising caution around railroad crossings.

According to Operation Lifesaver, a person or vehicle is hit by a train every three hours. Coordinated by AmtrakOperation Lifesaver Inc. and Operation Lifesaver Canada, Operation Clear Track aims to reduce the number of railway crossing and trespassing incidents in the U.S. and Canada. 

During Operation Clear Track, Melrose Police Officers will be stationed at the city’s railroad crossings to share safety tips with drivers and pedestrians and issue warnings and citations to violators.

“In Melrose, we have three commuter rail crossings and thousands of vehicles pass over these tracks daily,” said Chief Michael Lyle. “The safety of train passengers, motorists and bicyclists is of the utmost importance to all of us here at the department. Through this initiative, we hope to inform residents of potential railway dangers and provide them with ways to stay safe around the tracks.”

Safety Tips

As part of Operation Clear Track, Operation Lifesaver provides the following railroad crossing safety tips for drivers and pedestrians:

  • Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times, and schedules for passenger trains often change. Always expect a train at each highway-rail intersection at any time.
  • All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; doing so is considered illegal trespassing and highly dangerous. It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  • The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 200 tons. This makes the weight ratio of a car to a train proportional to that of a soda can to a car, with similar results in the event of a collision.
  • Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over all other vehicles.
  • A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, putting the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three-foot mark. If there are rails on the railroad ties, always assume the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks unused.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes its cars are pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled, which is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Today’s trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale “clackety-clack.” Any approaching train is always closer and moving faster than you may think.
  • Remember to cross train tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, and obey all warning signs and signals posted there.
  • Stay alert around railroad tracks. Refrain from texting, using headphones or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train; never mix rails and recreation.

For more safety tips for pedestrians, click here. For more safety tips for drivers, click here.

For more information about Rail Safety Week, Operation Clear Track, and other rail-safety initiatives and tips, visit www.oli.org.


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