Did you know that a commuter train traveling 55 mph can take up to the length of five football fields to stop? A freight train can take one mile! That’s why it’s so important to be safe around train tracks.
This year in Washington state alone, 16 people have died in train-related incidents, 15 of them involving illegal trespassing. Last week a woman was struck and killed by a Sounder train near Golden Gardens Park in Ballard. Crew members reported they sounded the horn and applied the emergency brake but were unable to stop in time.
This is a tragic reminder of the importance to avoid using railroad tracks as shortcuts to recreation spots. During summertime, people frequent beaches near railroad tracks including Golden Gardens, Carkeek Park, Richmond Beach, Edmonds Lighthouse Park and Meadowdale Beach. Remember to stay off the tracks and only use approved railroad crossings, wherever you’re headed.
The power of a train can be astonishing; a locomotive weighs 400,000 pounds. The weight ratio between a train and a car is similar to the ratio between a car and a can of soda (picture that can of soda after being hit by a car).
Today’s tracks are engineered to be quieter, making train rides smoother for passengers and quieter for neighborhoods. This means that by the time a trespasser can hear a train, it’s often too late to move away. And because trains can overhang the tracks by at least three feet on each side, you can be hit by one even if you’re in the right of way next to the tracks.
A few reminders:
- Never mix rails and recreation.
- Be alert – a train is often closer and moving faster than you think.
- Look both ways – trains may come from either direction.
- Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes; you might not see a second train that was blocked by the first.
- Listen for train horns and bells.
- Don’t be distracted by texting or cell phones. Do remove ear buds.
— Submitted by Sound Transit