Florida Transportation Officials Plug Safety as Train Traffic Increases
Friday, February 24, 2012 - 12:10 PM
Rail safety experts worry that could lead to an increase in the number of motorists or pedestrians straying into the path of oncoming trains.
According to Federal Railroad Administration figures, rail crossing accidents have risen over the past 2 years after years of steady decline. In Florida in 2010, 67 people were involved in accidents at rail crossings, up from 48 the year before.
The Florida Department of Transportation says people will have to be extra vigilant once SunRail starts running.
“These railroad tracks, that had been active in the past, are going to be even more so, and these trains are going to be coming through quicker, they’re going to be quieter, and they just could sneak up on you," says Steve Olson from the Florida DOT.
So the agency is focusing on Operation Lifesaver, a nationwide rail safety education program.
Spokesman Jim Martin says the SunRail development is a good opportunity to get the safety message out.
"We have multiple lines here in Orange County, and in the Central Florida area, so my message is much broader than just the SunRail itself," he says.
And rail traffic could increase in Central Florida even after SunRail begins: the Florida DOT is commissioning two further studies looking into the potential for other commuter rail lines, one of them extending from Orlando to Eustis, and the other linking Orlando International Airport with the city.