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MBTA testing train routes to and from New Bedford and other cities on the SouthCoast

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As part of their Right-of-Way education program, Jean Fox Director of Community Engagement at MassDOT is sharing safety reminders on specific topics each month.

This week is Rail Safety Week, an opportunity to highlight safety and remember to take it to heart every week. With school back in session, MassDOT wants to reach out to teachers and parents specifically to encourage them to speak with students and children about putting Safety First. From classroom to home, wherever kids may come across railroad tracks, it is key to make sure they have the knowledge and tools to stay safe.

The MBTA will be testing and commissioning Commuter Rail trains to and from Middleborough, East Taunton, Freetown, Fall River, and New Bedford for the first time in decades. The test trains will travel the corridor, reaching speeds of up to 80 mph, much faster than previous freight trains at 25 mph.

As MassDOT approaches this exciting milestone, they want to remind everyone who lives by, drives, works, or crosses railroad tracks to prepare for high-speed trains to be a frequent sight in the region. It’s important to remember that only trains should be on the right-of-way. It is illegal and life-threatening to walk on or along the tracks.

Both adults and students should take the following safety information to heart:

• The ONLY safe place to cross train tracks is at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings—obey warning signs and signals posted there.

• Trains are quieter and faster than you think, and the average train traveling 55 mph can take a mile or more to stop.

• Using the railroad ROW to walk, ride bicycles, or for any other recreational purpose is trespassing and extremely dangerous. Make sure children know how to stay safe around trains!

• Emergency Notification System sign and location at the Concord Street crossing.

It is vitally important that kids know what to do in case of an emergency, such as a vehicle getting stuck on the tracks. The following steps should be memorized so that they are prepared:

Get Out: Leave the vehicle immediately. A school bus driver may open the emergency exit door at the back of the bus. If children are commuting to school in a van, the driver will assist and direct them safely out of the vehicle.

Get Away: Be sure to stay at least 15 feet away from the tracks.

Find the Blue and White Sign: Call the number on the Blue and White Emergency Notification System (ENS) sign and share the crossing ID number with the dispatcher. If there is no ENS sign posted nearby, call 911.

The startup of SCR service represents great opportunities and benefits for the region, presenting new issues requiring education and caution. To ensure the safety message is shared effectively, MassDOT asks teachers and school staff to show their safety videos as part of classes or assemblies. You can also request a presentation by emailing them at SouthCoastRail@dot.state.ma.us with “Safety First” in the subject line.

The following resources can help put Safety First:

South Coast Rail Safety Program – Elementary School
South Coast Rail Safety Program – Middle School
South Coast Rail Safety Program – High School

Operation Lifesaver’s Student Safety Guide Brochure is available in English and Spanish (Español) with an illustrated safety knowledge test.

South Coast Rail’s Safety First fact sheet with additional information and resources is excellent for downloading and sharing.

Safety First is aimed at promoting your safety throughout the railroad corridor. Presentations, brochures, videos, and conversations emphasize ROW safety for every age, occupation, and resident.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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