Tag Archives: highway-rail grade crossings

USA: Rail industry veteran to lead Operation Lifesaver

6 Jan

Bonnie_Murphy_color1-140x186Bonnie Murphy, a former commuter rail executive and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) official, will become President and CEO of Operation Lifesaver (OLI) within the USA in late January 2016, OLI Board Chair Bill Barringer announced on January 5th, 2016.
“Bonnie’s expertise in the rail industry, her deep understanding of safety issues and track record of accomplishing organizational goals will advance Operation Lifesaver’s mission to prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings,” said Barringer. “She brings extensive leadership experience to the position, as well as familiarity with the responsibilities of state Operation Lifesaver programs from her work with the FRA,” he noted.

Murphy is a veteran of both the railroad industry and the federal government with 30 years of professional railroad experience and 10 years of executive-level government experience.

Currently a consultant with engineering and technology services firm CDI Corporation, Murphy was previously general manager with the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail (MBCR), the nation’s fifth-largest commuter rail system. From 2003-2013, before joining MBCR, Murphy served with the FRA as regional administrator for the Southwest, based in Texas, and later as deputy associate administrator for safety compliance and program implementation in Washington, DC.

Before her tenure with the FRA, Murphy was director and chief operating officer of Trinity Rail Express, the commuter rail service between Fort Worth and Dallas, Texas. She began her career with Amtrak, the national passenger rail system, serving as general supervisor and assistant transportation manager in Chicago, transportation manager in San Jose, California, and senior transportation manager in Oceanside, California.

Murphy holds a Master of Business Administration, Master of International Business and Master of Criminal Justice from Touro University, and Bachelor in Business Administration from Le Tourneau University in Longview, Texas.

“Ninety-five percent of all rail-related deaths involve drivers at a railroad crossing or a person on the tracks. I am excited about the opportunity to address these critical public safety issues, and I look forward to joining the Operation Lifesaver team,” said Murphy.

California: Operation Lifesaver to the fore in Rail Safety Month

4 Sep

California with more than 5,000 miles of railway and two level crossings for every mile of railway saw 72 trespasser and 41 level crossing fatalities in 2013 is again running a multitude of local initiatives this month, rail safety month, through to the end of September 2014.

California Operation Lifesaver is at the fore of this state-wide initiative, delivering many crossing safety blitzes and other awareness-raising events. A key component in the CAOL armoury is the See Tracks, Think Train campaign launched this year and already widely adopted.

Working closely with state, local and railway police, the CAOL initiatives centre on reducing the number of law infractions, principally the top three Vehicle Code Sections most violated:
– Vehicle/Pedestrian failing to stop for railroad crossing signal (22451[a])
– Vehicle/Pedestrian walking around lowered railroad crossing arms 922451[b]]
– Anti-Gridlock, stopping on railroad grade crossing; undercarriage clearance (22526[c]

For more information or to obtain the Law Enforcement Guide to Railroad Laws, contact your local law enforcement, the California Highway Patrol, or CAOL at +1 760 688 0588. Contained in the guide is a list of 14 vehicle code sections and 41 penal code sections relating to the railways, as well as an investigation checklist and train stopping procedures.

It’s still not too late to request a rail safety presentation during rail safety month or to volunteer as an Operation Lifesaver Authorized Volunteer, visit http://www.caol.us or call +1 760 688 0588.

Oklahoma: USD100 million to improve level crossings state-wide

4 Sep

Oklahoma’s Governor, Mary Fallin, and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (OKDoT have announced a new initiative to fast-track hundreds of projects to improve more than 300 level crossings state-wide and upgrade safety warning features at crossings across Oklahoma. Many of these crossings have only signs or faint pavement markings and no flashing lights to serve as additional warning for motorists of oncoming trains.

At a press conference Governor Fallin was joined by Oldahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley, OKDOT Executive Director Mike Patterson and rail company representatives in announcing the development of a plan for USD100 million in improvements at level crossings across the state. These improvements are being funded through combining proceeds from the recent sale ofthe Sooner-Sub rail line in addition to dedicated rail safety funds from OKDoT and other partners.

According to OKDOT, of the more than 3,700 level crossings in the state, many have some level of recognised deficiency when it comes to rail crossing safety. Most ofthe crossings are on local roads but the department remains involved because of overall rail safety.

“First and foremost, this initiative will help to save lives by boosting safety at hundreds of rail-
road crossings,” Fallin said. “It’s also another step forward for Oklahoma’s rail industry and infrastructure, which is essential to our state’s commerce and economic growth,”

Accidents involving trains and vehicles are tragic and often result in fatalities and extensive property damage, especially ifthe accident causes a subsequent derailment. The most concerning issue is these accidents are almost entirely preventable if proper safety infrastructure and warning devices are in place and if motorists heed the warnings these devices display.

“The department has long recognized the great need for improving rail crossings on the state, county and local transportation system. Now with the influx of funding available from the sale ofthe Sooner Sub, we are excited to use this money to expedite the process of improving safety along rail systems across the state,” OKDoT Executive Director Mike Patterson said.

The Oklahoma Deprutment ofTransportation anticipates the rail crossings can be modernized and greatly improved by adding rail safety infrastructure such as high-visibility signage, cross bucks, gates, hazard lighting and pavement markings. Rail funding will be leveraged with other available public and private monies to improve as many priority rail crossings as possible while also partnering with rail companies and local entities for the long term maintenance of the improvements. Historically, railroad companies have paitnered with the department because safety is extremely important not only to the public, but also to the companies’ safe operation and transportation of goods.

Until this announcement, Oklahoma has never had the funding resources to conduct the large-scale safety improvement program needed to address the tremendous backlog of vital improvements at rail crossings. Previously, OKDoT was able to spend approximately USD8 million a year in rail safety programme funds which improved about 25 crossings per year.

Depending on the needs of the specific site, crossing improvements can typically cost between USD150,000 and USD350,000. OKDoT and its state, local and private sector partners have done what they could through rail outreach and infrastructure programmes such as Operation Lifesaver, but the needs continue to far outweigh the resources available.

“With this initiative announced today, we believe Oklahoma should serve as a model for the rest of the country when it comes to proactively supporting safe rail crossings and the safe and efficient transport of products along rail corridors,” Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Gary Ridley said.

The Sooner Sub rail line sale was finalised with the Stillwater Central Railroad (SLWC), a WATCO Company, earlier this month and includes track improvements and a trial passenger rail service on the line within the next five years at no cost to the state or taxpayers.

Improvements to level crossings on highways and roads across Oklahoma will be accelerated under the new safety initiative. OKDoT expects to complete a preliminary multi-year plan of locations and improvements in early 2015.

Columbus, OH: PUCO approves four crossing upgrades

27 Jul

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has approved four level crossing upgrades as follows

– CSX will install lights and barriers at the Park Street level crossing in the Village of Prospect, Marion County.

– Norfolk Southern will install lights and barriers at the County Road 385 level crossing, near Loudonville, Washington Township, Holmes County.

– The Indiana and Ohio Railway will install lights and barriers at the Meranda Road/Township Road 57 level crossing, near Jackson Center, Salem Township, Shelby County.

The Ashland Railway will install lights and barriers at the State Route 598 level crossing, near Willard, Huron County.

All of the above federally funded projects are to be completed no later than April 23, 2015.

16 Jun

Operation Lifesaver USA, in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), announced that more than $200,000 in grants to 21 state Operation Lifesaver programmes for level crossing safety and anti-trespassing public education projects and public service announcements.

The projects and announcements will be designed in conjunction with Operation Lifesaver’s recently launched “See Tracks? Think Train!” public awareness campaign, The grants will be awarded to Operation Lifesaver organisations in Alabama, California, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

“The grants will fund a wide variety of projects to expand the reach of our new safety campaign and further Operation Lifesaver’s mission of eliminating collisions, injuries and deaths at crossings and along rail property,” said Operation Lifesaver USA President and Chief Executive Officer Joyce Rose.

The FRA provided funding for the grants.

“Our rail safety partnership with Operation Lifesaver is very important to FRA, and we are proud to be a part of the ‘See Tracks? Think Train!’ educational campaign,” said FRA administrator Joseph Szabo.

The state programmes will use the funding to spread “See Tracks? Think Train!” safety messages via television, radio, billboards, sporting events and cinema advertising. They also will create public education displays for large events; and target students, school bus drivers, Spanish-speaking populations and the news media to raise awareness and about the dangers near tracks and trains.

Operation Lifesaver plans to announce the results of a similar grant program for transit-rail safety education projects in mid-August.

USA: Strong support for iLCAD from US railroads

5 Jun

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced that North America’s freight railroads hosted events in multiple cities across the country in observance of the sixth-annual International Level Crossing Day (ILCAD) aimed at raising public awareness about safe behaviour around railroad grade crossings.

“Safety is the foundation for everything we do, and supporting ILCAD gives railroads another opportunity to help educate the public about being safe around grade crossings,” said AAR President and CEO Edward R. Hamberger. “Education and outreach are key to saving lives, so it’s up to all of us to spread the word and make people aware of the consequences of risky behaviour around railroad tracks. One accident because someone was in a hurry or looking to save time is one accident too many.”

Across North America, freight railroads, community leaders, law enforcement and Operation Lifesaver(OL) hosting level crossing safety awareness events and conducting promotional outreach across the country. This included:
•”Officer on a Train” rides where law enforcement officers are invited to ride on trains and observe motorist behaviour at crossings;
•train safety displays in passenger and commuter rail stations;
•participation in local television shows and children’s programs, and
•distribution of literature about railroad safety and a safety program targeting truck drivers.
Railroads have worked with communities and law enforcement to promote level crossing safety and commit significant resources each year to educate the public on level crossing and pedestrian safety. This includes the “See Tracks? Think Train!” campaign recently launched jointly by AAR and OL.

These efforts have helped reduce grade crossing collisions and fatalities over the years, with level crossing collisions in 2013 down 80% since 1980 and grade crossing fatalities down 70% since 1980. Level crossing infrastructure improvements also help improve safety. Since 1980, the total number of public level crossings has declined 40%, and the number of crossings with gates has increased 177%.

The ILCAD Campaign was established in 2009 by the international railroad community in conjunction with various highway organizations, the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) to raise awareness among road users and pedestrians of the risks at grade crossings. To date, more than 40 countries around the world have participated in ILCAD. For more information on International Level Crossing Awareness Day, please go to http://www.ilcad.org. To learn more about what railroads are doing to enhance safety, please visit FreightRailWorks.org.

Urbana, IL: Registration for Level Crossing Symposium now open

28 May

Registration for the Global Level Crossing Symposium (GLXS), hosted by the University of Illinois at their Urbana campus, is now open. Go to: http://ict.uiuc.edu/railroad/GLXS/conf_contact.php. Discounted conference fees are available for early registration for the symposium which runs from August 3rd to August 8th, 2014 with the last two days being technical visits.

To explore the programme for the symposium go to: http://ict.uiuc.edu/railroad/GLXS/program.php. The Symposium will feature keynote addresses from Joseph Szabo – Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration of the US Department of Transportation; and Ann Schneider – Secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

GLXS 2014 is the principal international conference on level crossing safety and trespasser prevention and is being held in North America for the first time since 2006 and the United States since 2000.

The programme will include over 100 presentations from speakers from all over the world discussing a broad range of topics, keynote addresses by private and public sector leaders, special panel discussions and an exhibition hall in Urbana, IL, plus two days of technical tours and a special reception in Chicago. It will bring together engineering, safety, security, human factors, transportation practitioners, academics and researchers from the global highway, rail, law enforcement, research and regulatory communities.

GLXS 2014 provides an opportunity to exchange information, discuss the latest research and share best practices to improve the safety of the at-grade interface between highway and rail systems, and prevent railway trespassing.

If you have questions, please email: GLXS-2014@illinois.edu

GLXS 2014 is co-sponsored by: AAR, APTA, AREMA, FRA, ICC, IDOT, OLS, RAC, RSI, TRB, UIC, and a number of other international, national, state and regional organisations. GLXS 2014 is being hosted and organized by the Rail Transportation and Engineering Center (RailTEC) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the National University Rail (NURail) Center, A US DOT University Transportation Center