From Sound Transit: There’s no summer vacation for safety


RiderNews_072015_Tracks_BeachDid 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

3 Replies to “From Sound Transit: There’s no summer vacation for safety”

  1. Thanks for putting this up — I yelled at a teenager sitting on the tracks at Picnic Point a few months ago when a train was coming and what would have happened if I didn’t is something that kept me up a couple nights afterwards. Please be careful around tracks and tell your kids to stay away from them!


  2. The Sounder commuter trains running between Seattle and Everett, as well as Amtrak’s Talgo trains running between Seattle and Vancouver BC, have the diesel powered engine at the rear of the train on some of the runs. This results in a train which makes very little noise as it quickly approaches from behind a bend.


  3. I agree up to a point. Traveling down the rails, racing trains, ignoring crossing guards and sitting on them is dumb. On the other hand it is also dumb to have huge tracts of land cut off from people because there is rail line running thru it. Where I live there is often several miles if not dozens or more between any actual rail crossings. It only takes common sense and vigilance to cross over ten feet of tracks safely. I am guessing that once you look at the vast majority of those rail incidents you will find that common sense, patience and basic observation skills are flowers that don’t grow in everyones garden


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