Every three hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is struck by a train, according to nonprofit Operation Lifesaver.
In an attempt to change that statistic, the MBTA, Keolis Commuter Services and Transit Police have teamed up with Operation Lifesaver to launch Rail Safety Week.
The organizations kicked off the first Rail Safety Week with a news conference at South Station during which they announced 21 educational initiatives that will take place this week around the state, including in Mansfield, Lowell, Worcester, Salem, Lynn, Woburn and more.
“Last year alone, the United States saw more than 900 injuries or fatalities to people walking, playing or taking photos on railroad rights-of-way,” said MBTA General Manager Luis Ramírez at Monday’s news conference. “These incidents are devastating to both affected families and railway employees – and they are often preventable.”
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Through Rail Safety Week, Ramirez continued, the transportation authority and its partners will share safety tips with customers and residents, like reminding people that it can take a mile or more to stop a train, so an engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks won’t be able to stop in time.
These efforts are part of Operation Lifesaver’s national Rail Safety Week. The nonprofit, which aims to reduce collisions, fatalities and injuries at rail crossings as well as trespassing on or near train tracks, runs a “See tracks? Think train,” educational campaign.
If you think you’d hear a train before it got too close, experts warn that that’s a misconception – someone on the tracks often can’t hear one approaching until it’s too late because of how fast trains can travel.
Even if commuter trains aren’t scheduled, Keolis warns that there are also freight trains and other services that operate on the commuter rail network in Greater Boston.
Cars or people too close to the tracks are still at risk since trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet in both directions, according to Operation Lifesaver.
In Dec. 2016, there were two incidents within one week in which a car parked next to the commuter rail in Needham was overturned by the train and another was struck by a Commuter Rail train in Belmont after it got stuck on the tracks.