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News | News Release Contact: Emily Kirsner, (804) 371-9141
For Immediate Release: Septemeber 20, 2019

RICHMOND — Every three hours in the United States, a pedestrian or vehicle is hit by a train. During Rail Safety Week September 23-29, 2019, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) reminds Virginians to stay alert and always practice safe behavior around railroad tracks and trains.

A joint effort of Operation Lifesaver in the U.S. and Canada, Rail Safety Week is designed to raise awareness and highlight the importance of rail safety education. The goals of the effort include reducing collisions, fatalities, and injuries at highway rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

Upon the SCC’s creation in 1902, railroad regulation was one of the original areas of responsibility assigned to it by the Virginia Constitution. Today, the Railroad Regulation section of the SCC’s Division of Utilities and Railroad Safety works closely with the Federal Railroad Administration to ensure the safe operation of railroads within Virginia. The Division of Utilities and Railroad Safety investigates citizen complaints of blocked rail crossings; conducts accident investigations; and performs railroad track bridge, rail car, and locomotive inspections. Its oversight includes two major railroads, nine short line railroads, and more than 6,700 miles of track.

Renée Salmon, Operations and Rail Safety Manager of the Division of Utilities and Railroad Safety said, “As the Commission’s Rail Safety Manager, I look forward to further expanding our rail safety outreach program. Rail Safety Week is an integral part of that outreach.”

The SCC offers Virginians the following rail safety tips:

  • Be aware. Trains do not always follow set schedules. They can approach from either direction of the tracks at any time. When you are near train tracks, stay alert and remain a comfortable distance away even if you think trains aren’t coming.
  • Trains have the right of way. To avoid collisions, yield to trains because they cannot yield to you. Even if you think you have time to cross railroad tracks, trains travel faster than they appear. Err on the side of caution. Before crossing, wait until the train passes, the warning gates rise, and lights signal to proceed.
  • Always obey train crossing signals. Although you may not see a train coming, never cross when there is an active warning, such as flashing lights or a lowered arm, at a railroad crossing. Trains can be quiet and move more quickly than you expect. Do not risk your life by assuming that you can make it across the tracks before a train arrives.
  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Never play, stop, or walk on the tracks.

For more information, visit the SCC Division of Utilities and Railroad Safety website at http://www.scc.virginia.gov/urs/rr/ or call 804-371-9980 or go to Operation Lifesaver’s website at www.Oli.org.

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