It can take a SEPTA train traveling 55 miles per hour more than a mile to come to a complete stop. “Our trains weigh approximately one million pounds. You can’t slam on the brakes and expect a vehicle that large to stop instantaneously,” said Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s Chief Officer of System Safety. “And trains can’t swerve around a person or object in its path. If someone or something is in the train’s right-of-way, the results could be catastrophic.”
SEPTA is warning the public to “Respect the Train” by not walking or playing along train tracks. “No one should ever assume that there is a time when tracks are completely clear of train traffic. A train can come on any track at any time,” said Sauer, who is also a board member for Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national organization dedicated to rail safety.
In 2014, four people were injured and eight others killed while walking in the SEPTA Regional Rail right-of-way.
“The majority of train related incidents are preventable,” said Sauer. “By crossing the tracks instead of using a dedicated overpass or underpass, people are putting themselves in imminent and unnecessary danger.”
According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), nationwide, 945 people trespassing in the track area were killed or injured by trains in 2014. Pennsylvania ranked fourth among all states, with 53 casualties (27 deaths and 26 injuries).
To remind the public that train tracks are not the place for people, SEPTA is making “Respect the Train” the focus of its third annual system-wide Safety Day, which will be held on April 29. During the morning rush hour that day, hundreds of SEPTA employees will be located at stations across the authority to educate the public about rail safety. SEPTA has also partnered with Operation Livesaver on the organization’s “See Tracks? Think Train!” initiative. This public service campaign is aimed at reducing the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities around railroad tracks by highlighting risky behaviors. System Safety officers will feature information from the program in the many Operation Lifesaver rail safety presentations they make across the Authority’s service area.
For more information about SEPTA safety and to download PDFs of safety tips for all SEPTA modes, click here. For information about SEPTA’s Operation Lifesaver presentations and to schedule a presentation, call 215-580-7800. For more information about Operation Lifesaver, click here.