Chicago’s Metra will conduct Operation Lifesaver Safety Blitzes at 59 train stations across the six-county region in 2019 as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of safe behavior around its trains and tracks.
During a safety blitz, Metra safety employees will be at one of the commuter railroad’s 242 stations during the morning commute, distributing educational materials about train and grade crossing safety, answering questions and listening to commuters’ safety concerns. A short video about grade crossing safety is also available for customers to view while they wait for their train. Local police and fire officials are also invited to participate.
Illinois has the second-largest rail system in the nation with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,264 public rail crossings. In 2018, Illinois ranked second in the nation in rail fatalities at highway rail crossings and fifth in the nation in trespassing fatalities. Last year, 47 people were killed and 51 more were injured in incidents at grade crossings or along railroad right-of-way in Illinois. Fourteen of these fatalities involved Metra trains. Six of theses fatalities occurred at rail crossings. These numbers do not include deaths ruled as suicides or suspected suicides.
To help promote rail safety awareness and eliminate preventable injuries and deaths, Metra develops an annual schedule of safety blitzes throughout the Chicago metropolitan area.
The primary purpose of the safety blitz program is educational. However, the Metra, Police Department will also conduct additional enforcement blitzes at locations throughout the region where citations and warnings will be issued to pedestrians and drivers who ignore gates and warning devices.