WALLINGFORD – The Connecticut Department of Transportation and railroad education nonprofit Operation Lifesaver visited the Wallingford Railroad station Monday morning to kick off Rail Safety Week, a series of events designed to raise awareness about the dangers of railroad tracks.
Between 2018 and 2022, 11 vehicles were struck by trains in Connecticut, resulting in 17 injuries. Over the same time, there were 42 incidents involving pedestrians, resulting in 13 injuries and 33 fatalities, according to data from the Department of Transportation.
“That’s why we’re here today. To help raise awareness about rail safety and stop track tragedies before they happen,” said Connecticut Department of Transportation Deputy Commissioner Laoise King. “These are terrible collisions and we want to prevent them. We want that number to be zero.”
- Assume that every rail line is active and a train may appear
- Never walk or drive around a lowered crossing barrier
- Don’t take pictures or videos near a railroad track
- Don’t try to outrun a train
- Use only designated crossings. Crossing at any other location is illegal.
King also read a proclamation from Gov. Ned Lamont that declared September 18-24 as Rail Safety Week 2023 in Connecticut. As part of the week, she said the Department of Transportation and Operation Lifesaver are traveling around the state and sharing safety information with police departments, school bus drivers, commuters and first responders
One of the activities for Rail Safety week is Operation Clear Track scheduled for Tuesday. The Wallingford Police Department plans to join police from Amtrak, Derby, New London, Norwalk and Stonington to emphasize the importance of obeying crossing safety and anti-trespassing laws.
“Unfortunately, Wallingford has seen its fair share of accidents, so it’s very important that our partnerships with fire and Amtrak get the message out on rail safety,” said Wallingford Police Chief John Ventura. “If you see us out there tomorrow, please smile and we’ll have some information there for you as well.”
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-CT, also attended the event and thanked Operation Lifesaver for its work and for raising awareness on trains through souvenirs like hand sanitizers, pens, keychains, and fans that said “see tracks, think train.”
“This week is very, very important because we pass laws, we have rules, But ultimately what will save people is a culture of safety,” he said. “Be aware, be wary when you approach a track. There's no way to win against a train.”
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re, To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.