DENVER (CBS4) — Every year, thousands of people are injured or killed as the result of unsafe behavior near railroads around the country. RTD has partnered with Operation Lifesaver and Amtrak for national Rail Safety Week.
Throughout the week, these organizations will work to bring attention to the need for increased safety near our rail systems.
“When operators see someone on the tracks, they’ll try to stop the train. It’s an emergency brake system. However, it’s a million-pound train. You don’t stop those very quickly,” said Mike Meader, Chief Safety Officer at RTD.
RTD train conductors say they witness close calls every day; from pedestrians running across the tracks to vehicles maneuvering around crossing gates. The result of this risky behavior can be devastating for witnesses, passengers and especially train operators.
“In an eight hour shift, I normally have about two or three near misses with people trying to cross a track or try to beat a train. You don’t know what’s going to happen in that situation. If they’re going to get out of the way or not,” said train operator John Luke Sargon, “It really wakes you up and scares you.”
RTD provides its employees immediate support, medical attention and later counseling after fatal incidents. Meader said train operators don’t return to work for at least a week, but some have chosen not to return at all.
“I’ve been to some scenes where the operator is hysterical. They just hit a person. A lot of people go into shock. It doesn’t just hit them right away. It’s grief. It’s shock. It’s guilt. Every single situation is different,” Meader explained.
In addition to events throughout the week, RTD is also using this time to remind riders to be aware of their surroundings. The public can work together to improve safety by reporting suspicious activity by calling 911 or through RTD’s Transit Watch Program.