FOLLOWING THIRD TRAIN-RELATED FATALITY IN KINGSTON AREA OVER 10-MONTH PERIOD, SCHUMER CALLS ON FEDERALLY-FUNDED OPERATION LIFESAVER INC. TO BRING TRAIN SAFETY PROGRAMS TO ULSTER COUNTY – SENATOR SAYS EDUCATION & AWARENESS ARE KEY TO KEEPING RESIDENTS SAFE AROUND TRACKS & RAILROAD CROSSINGS
Last Week, 15-Year-Old Kingston Resident Was Killed By A CSX Train – Accident Is Third Fatality In Less Than 1 Year; Fed. Railroad Administration Is Currently Reviewing Additional Safety Measures To Implement At Area Rail Crossings – But Schumer Says Education Is Also Key To Keeping People Safe Around Tracks
Schumer Urges Operation Lifesaver, Inc. – Federally-Funded Non-Profit – To Bring Awareness Programs & Training To Local Community; As Advanced Technology Helps Build Quieter, Faster Trains, Schumer Says We Must Raise Awareness About Train Safety
Schumer To Operation Lifesaver: Bring Train Safety Education Programs To Ulster County Schools To Teach Communities How To Be Safe Near Tracks
On the heels of the third train-related fatality in the Kingston area in less than a year, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer urged Operation Lifesaver Inc. to bring its train safety education and awareness programs to local schools in Ulster County. Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit organization that provides public education programs to help prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and rail grade crossings. Schumer explained that, earlier this month, a 15-year-old boy was killed by a CSX train in the City of Kingston; this was the third death in the Kingston area in just 10 months. Schumer said that while the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is reviewing the safety of railroad crossings in the Kingston area, more must be done to educate local communities, and children in particular, on the dangers of walking near train tracks. As a result, Schumer called on Operation Lifesaver, Inc. – whose programs are cosponsored by federal, state and local government agencies – to bring its programs to local schools in Ulster County.
“Many of New York’s hundreds of rail tracks and grade crossings are truly accidents waiting to happen, and it’s critical the federal government not only do more to make engineering upgrades in accident-prone areas, but also make investments to boost education and public awareness of the dangers that come with walking on or near tracks. There have been three fatal accidents in the Kingston area in just 10 months – and that is far too high,” said Senator Schumer. “I’m urging the federally-funded Operation Lifesaver Inc. to bring its programs to Ulster County schools so we can avoid future collisions, injuries and fatalities.Improved education, awareness and safety must rise from this dark tragedy.”
According to Operation Lifesaver Inc., someone is hit by a train every three hours in the United States. In addition, according to the organization’s website, as advanced technology helps build quieter, faster trains, there is a greater need to teach people, particularly young people, how to be safe around them. Schumer agreed with this sentiment and therefore asked the organization to do more presentations locally, including in local schools, in Ulster County on the dangers of walking on or near railroad tracks and crossings. Schumer said education and awareness are the key to saving lives. Schumer said these three fatalities, and over just a 10-month period, underscore the need to increase awareness and education of the potential dangers to residents who walk on or near railroad tracks.
“Our goal is simple: avoid tragedy and save lives,” said Ulster County Executive Mike Hein. “I commend Senator Schumer for his commitment and dedication to the people of New York and for taking up this issue in particular to highlight the importance of safety and education, especially in a day and age when technology such as cell phones and headphones can prove to be a major distraction.”
Operation Lifesaver’s network of authorized volunteer speakers and trained instructors offer free rail safety education programs in fifty states. These volunteers speak to school groups, driver education classes, community audiences, professional drivers, law enforcement officers and emergency responders. Operation Lifesaver’s programs are co-sponsored by federal, state and local government agencies, highway safety organizations and America's railroads. The organization promotes the three E's – education, enforcement and engineering – of train safety in order to keep people safe around the tracks and railway crossings within our communities.
A copy of Schumer’s letter to Operation Lifesaver, Inc. appears below:
Dear Bonnie Murphy and Evan Eisenhandler:
I write on the heels of a tragic incident that occurred in Ulster County, New York several weeks ago, when a teenager was struck and killed by a southbound CSX train. Tragically, this was not an isolated incident in the community; it is the third such death locally involving a CSX train in less than one year. As Operation Lifesaver is well aware, education and awareness is key to reducing deaths and injuries due to trespassing on railroad tracks. I urge you to engage with Ulster County and bring your train safety education and awareness programs to schools in the community.
As you well know, injuries and fatalities on and around railroad tracks have decreased in recent years, but a person or vehicle is still hit by a train every three hours. New York is currently ranked tenth in the nation for highway-rail grade crossing fatalities, based on preliminary 2015 Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) statistics. Earlier this month, a fifteen-year-old was killed after being struck by a train in the City of Kingston; city police say that the victim was struck on the tracks behind Barman Avenue, where paths run through the brush on either side of the tracks into the surrounding neighborhoods. According to the Times Herald-Record, this route is a popular shortcut in the area.
Tragically, this fatality is only the most recent incident in the community; in February and in November, two nineteen-year-olds were struck and killed by trains in the area. In order to prevent these senseless tragedies in the future, more must be done to educate community members, and specifically young people, about the dangers of walking on or near railroad tracks and rail grade crossings. I request that Operation Lifesaver work with community members in Ulster County to provide its educational programs on highway-rail grade crossing safety and rail trespass prevention.
Thank you in advance for your consideration of this important request. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact me or my staff.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator