SACRAMENTO — Caltrans, California Operation Lifesaver and its partners today announced that hundreds of Caltrans employees have joined together with individuals affected by rail crossing incidents to decorate two locomotives in honor of California’s Rail Safety Month. The graphics-wrapped locomotives highlight the importance of safety and vigilance near railroad tracks and honor the memory of individuals affected by rail crossing incidents.
“Rail crossing fatalities and injuries can be prevented and Rail Safety Month reminds us to remain vigilant and stay safe at railroad crossings,” said Acting Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “We decorated these
locomotives to honor those affected, raise awareness, and increase public safety.”
Pete Aadland, State Coordinator for California Operation Lifesaver, the non-profit organization dedicated to informing the public about the responsible and safe conduct around rails spoke as well: “These locomotives graphically portray the fact that many people are touched by these unfortunate incidents. It also goes to show the partnership and solidarity of the rail industry and their mission to bring awareness and change—to eliminate these preventable tragedies.”
The two wrapped locomotives inscribed with the safety message, “Be Track Smart – Tragedies Touch All Of Us,” used more than 200 Caltrans employees’ hand prints to create a multi-colored wrap representing those who have been touched by rail crossing incidents. One of the prints belongs to Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor Frank Ornelaz II, whose father was killed by a train.
Caltrans partnered on the campaign with Amtrak, Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, Operation Lifesaver, Union Pacific Railroad, Burlington and Northern Santa Fe Railway, to showcase locomotives with the safety message along the San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor and Pacific Surfliner routes over the next several months, to remind motorists and pedestrians to be vigilant when approaching all railroad crossings and tracks.
California is working hard to reduce railroad crossing fatalities, a goal all passenger and freight railroad agencies share. According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, nearly 300 Californians lost their lives to rail incidents between January 2008 and May 2011. A bill authored by state Senator Carol Liu from Glendale (District 21) created Rail Safety Month in 2009.