The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced that it will award almost $2 million in Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants and $207,000 in Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grants.
The grants will fund law enforcement trespass prevention activities and educational outreach campaigns aimed at reducing railroad-related suicides on rail rights-of-way. These awards represent the largest single funding announcement made in conjunction with FRA’s National Strategy to Reduce Trespassing, which includes targeted technical assistance, collaboration, and other engagement activities with stakeholders who have a role in preventing trespassing.
FRA targeted these grants towards communities and states with a high incidence of rail trespass-related incidents and casualties when selecting the 25 projects in 13 states that will receive funding.
“No mission is more important than saving lives, and FRA is fully committed to supporting states and communities in the collective effort to prevent avoidable tragedies,” said Amit Bose, FRA administrator. “Through these grants, we will deter railroad trespassing and suicide through coordinated responses from a broad range of local organizations specializing in law enforcement, education, and mental health.”
The ncrease in safety funding will aid FRA’s efforts to reduce the approximately 400 trespass fatalities that occur around the country each year. Rail suicides often involve railroad trespassing as well. From 2016 to 2021, an average of more than 236 people died by suicide within the U.S. rail system each year in addition to at least another 27 individuals injured in suicide attempts annually.
The Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grant Program aims to prevent these tragedies through three projects that will use targeted outreach and education campaigns. The assistance provided includes advertising of mental health services, identifying and approaching individuals in need, or other methods to recognize the signs of an individual in crisis. Grant recipients will also use grant funding to devise curriculums and train professionals to better identify and respond to crisis situations. In addition to providing funding, FRA will employ the available tools for addressing suicide prevention by facilitating collaboration among local law enforcement, communities, railroad carriers, educators, and mental health organizations.
The other 22 projects announced under the Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Activities Grant Program will help prevent railroad trespassing by funding hourly wages for law enforcement officers to enforce trespass violations at known trespass “hot spots.” Grant recipients will report their activities and the associated benefits to FRA, augmenting the agency’s data collection efforts and ensuring that these projects support key Departmental objectives, including safety, equity, and inclusive approaches to infrastructure investments.
Other competitive discretionary grant opportunities funded by the legislation, such as the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program and the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program, will also contribute to FRA’s safety goals by upgrading warning devices at highway-rail crossings and/or grade separations such as overpasses or underpasses.
A full list of projects funded by the two grant programs can be found here.