By Thomas Sellers Jr.
On Sept. 23, the special agents of the CN Police joined forces with members of the Millington Police Department to bring awareness to safety around railroad tracks throughout the Mid-South.
The city of Millington has seen it’s share of tragedy near tracks with cars and people being hit by trains as recent as 2017. MPD Chief Mark Dunbar joined his officers Inspectors Rita Stanback and Reggie Fields, Sgt. Bryan Childress, Lt. Chris Stokes and Patrolman Wayne Williams alongside CN Police Services’ Inspector Monica Carson, Risk Mitigation Officer Antony Dale and Special Agents Brad Wetzel and Steven Solomon for a road sign dedication.
The portion of the railroad on Easley Street in Millington has a warning sign painted on the road to give pedestrians and motorists a reminder of safety precautions.
“All of your Class One railroads have their own police departments,” Solomon noted. “Our job is not only to make sure our employees are safe, our tracks are safe and goods we transport are safe, but to make sure the community is safe that we run through. Not only are we doing enforcing at the crossing, we enforce the trespassing laws.”
Throughout the year but especially during Rail Safety Week (Sept. 21-27 during 2020) CN officers execution educational seminars about laws, safety measures and prevention to try to eliminate all property damage and civilian lives lost.
Wetzel handles railroad in Memphis and the northern portion up to Illinois. Meanwhile Solomon is in charge of Memphis and heading south. Along with Operation Lifesaver, agencies are spreading the word about how to stay alive around railroads.
Last week CN launched its rail safety awareness campaign kicking off Rail Safety Week 2020 across North America. Rail Safety Week was held out in communities across CN’s network, in compliance with COVID-19 protocols, to raise awareness about the potentially devastating consequences of trespassing on rail tracks and disregarding rail safety signs and devices at level crossings.
“2020 has been a challenging year for everybody, but it’s important to remember that the Coronavirus is not the only danger out there,” said Stephen Covey, chief of police and chief security officer at CN “As an essential service, railways have been an important part of most people’s lives and the supply chain whether it’s transporting goods, for travel or for transportation. Each year more than 2,100 North Americans are killed or seriously injured in rail crossing and trespassing incidents. Rail safety is everyone’s responsibility, year-round. We’re asking everyone to keep this in mind, not just for this week, but throughout the year.”
With work patterns disrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, CN reminds all drivers and pedestrians to be extra vigilant when using level crossings that they may not have used as frequently in recent months.
“We ask people to stay alert, even at level crossings they are familiar with, stop and take the time look and listen for trains and please be patient and adhere to the signals and warning signs,” Covey said. “Safety has been a core value at CN for more than 100 years and we want to continue to collaborate with the communities where we operate to reinforce a strong safety culture.”
CN Police marked Rail Safety Week with a public awareness campaign aimed at reducing the number of trespassing and grade-crossing related accidents. In addition, the police force is asking the public to help save lives by calling CN Police at 1-800-465-9239 to report unsafe behavior on or near railway property.
Throughout the week, CN Police conducted safety initiatives at commuter stations and railway crossings across Canada and the United States. Officers sent clear messages to commuters and motorists about the importance of safety at crossings and the deadly risks of trespassing on railway tracks and property.
*Rail Safety Week Activities
Rail safety week activities looked different this year. However, CN’s efforts to get the rail safety message out were stronger than ever. Rail safety never takes a break and, as proud neighbors, we continue to work with Operation Lifesaver, our communities and local authorities, CN Police Service officers and other CN employees to help prevent accidents and injuries at rail crossings, and ensure everyone’s safety on and around railroad infrastructure year-round. As a responsible global railroad that links communities to markets around the world, CN is taking all necessary steps to protect its employees, communities, customers, vendors and partners, in response to the unprecedented challenges associated with the pandemic. CN continues to invest into rail safety and this year, despite the pandemic, invited all the communities across its network to participate in activities, at a safe distance, to promote rail safety.
*Rail Safety is a Shared Responsibility
Together with the cities, towns and Aboriginal communities CN serves, they have created powerful allies in promoting the rail safety messages in their communities. Last year, more than 200 communities across CN’s network signed resolutions or proclamations in support of Rail Safety Week.
For more information on CN, visit the company’s website at www.cn.ca.
GENERAL CROSSING KNOWLEDGE
The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a cross buck, flashing red lights or a gate. If you cross at any other place, you are trespassing and can be ticketed or fined. Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings.
Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fine. If you are in a rail yard uninvited by a railroad official you are trespassing and subject to criminal prosecution; you could be injured or killed in a busy rail yard.
It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks will likely be unable to stop in time. Railroad property is private property. For your safety, it is illegal to be there unless you are at a designated public crossing.
Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet in both directions; loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further. If you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, you can be hit by the train.
Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction. Wait until you can see clearly around the first train in both directions.
Flashing red lights indicate a train is approaching from either direction. You can be fined for failure to obey these signals. Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing, and DO NOT cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it’s safe to do so.
Do not hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges! Never walk, run, cycle or operate all terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, rights-of-way or through tunnels.
Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost you a limb or your life.
Be aware trains do not follow set schedules. Any Time is Train Time!