Metrolink Hosts Railroad Trespassing and Suicide Prevention Summit During Rail Safety Week, Sept. 19-25
Federal Railroad Administration Chief Counsel Allison Ishihara Fultz and California State Transportation Agency Secretary Toks Omishakin Provided Keynote Addresses
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LOS ANGELES – Today, Metrolink hosted the Railroad Trespassing and Suicide Prevention Summit to tackle a challenging and important topic, rail safety. The summit brought together federal and state railroad representatives, as well as mental health professionals, to examine solutions for decreasing the number of tragedies along train tracks due to illegal trespassing and suicides. It coincides with California’s Rail Safety Month of September, as well as Rail Safety Week (Sept. 19-25), which is a collaboration among Operation Lifesaver, Inc., state Operation Lifesaver programs and rail safety partners across the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“People trespassing on railroad tracks is a critical topic for rail agencies in Southern California, throughout the state and across the country,” Metrolink Board Chair Ara Najarian said. "By hosting this summit during Rail Safety Week, we are not only shining a brighter light on this important issue but also making a commitment with our peers to identify solutions that will significantly reduce track tragedies.”
Topics covered throughout the day’s presentations and panel discussions included suicide prevention and education, safety strategies beyond crossing gates, innovative rail technologies, the power of community partnerships, and the role of law enforcement in trespasser prevention.
While track fatalities are a major problem across the nation, according to statistics shared by the Federal Railroad Administration, California had more railroad fatalities than any other state between 2016 and 2020. And 15 percent of all trespassing fatalities occurred in Los Angeles County. “By bringing together so many ideas and perspectives at today’s summit, we are better positioned to effectively tackle the critical safety issues of railroad trespassing and suicide,” Metrolink Board Vice Chair Larry McCallon said. “We had many thought-provoking discussions during the day, and our intention is to turn those ideas into concrete solutions that will make our railroads safer for everyone.”
Conference Speaker Quotes:
Federal Railroad Administration Chief Counsel Allison Ishihara Fultz – “It remains clear that trespassers and suicides on our railroads are urgent issues, which makes our partnership with Metrolink on today’s summit so important,” FRA Chief Counsel Allison Ishihara Fultz said. “Ultimately, combatting trespassing is a community effort, and the FRA supports those efforts in several key ways – by gathering and analyzing vital data, building partnerships with key stakeholders such as law enforcement and mental health organizations, facilitating targeted engagement in local communities, and funding local efforts and strengthening grant programs.”
California State Transportation Agency Secretary Toks Omishakin – “If I can leave you with one word today, that word is opportunity,” Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency Toks Omishakin said. “This is the most opportune time we have ever had to make our transportation system cleaner, safer, more connected and more equitable. With a historic state budget that has billions of dollars for transportation improvements, including $350 million for high-priority grade separations, we have an unprecedented level of policy alignment and resources to enhance safety and transform people’s lives.”
LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger – “Our passenger railroads do a great service for the region by connecting people to work, school, friends, and family,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who moderated the summit’s panel on suicide prevention. “However, we cannot ignore the fact that Southern California experiences more railroad fatalities than anywhere else in the country. These tragedies are absolutely preventable. As transportation leaders, we must do everything in our power to educate the public about how to stay safe around train tracks and offer resources to help those experiencing a mental health crisis.”
Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle – “If there is one thing I would love our railroad to be known for, it is for exceptional safety,” Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle said. “Of course, we want our riders to have a great experience whenever they take the train, but first and foremost, we want them to arrive at their destination safely. That is why we are here today – to gather the best ideas for how we can collectively prevent track tragedies – and why our entire staff prioritizes safety each and every day.”
Summit and speaker B-roll here
Photos from summit here
About Metrolink (metrolinktrains.com)
Metrolink is Southern California's regional passenger rail service providing reliable, safe, affordable and environmentally sustainable transportation that connects people, communities and businesses to greater opportunity. The Agency’s 538 miles of track and 62 stations across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties serve as an essential link in the region’s mobility network, enabling people to connect to their jobs and explore all that the region has to offer. Prior to the pandemic, Metrolink had nearly 12 million annual boardings from people who choose to ride the train to avoid gridlock, removing an estimated 9.3 million vehicles from the roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 130,000 metric tons each year with its fleet of Tier 4 locomotives.
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