The police department of US national railroad company Amtrak has joined forces with a rail safety charity to carry out the largest rail safety initiative in the US called “Operation Clear Track”.

Launched to coincide with North American Rail Safety Week, the annual initiative sees Amtrak partner with Operation Lifesaver and first responders across the country to raise awareness about the dangers of being near railroad tracks and crossings.

Amtrak Chief of Police D. Samuel Dotson said: “Through Operation Clear Track, we can help drivers and pedestrians understand that every time someone trespasses on the tracks, it can lead to devastating results, impacting someone’s life, their family and the community. 

“We cannot say this enough. Trespassing on train tracks is not only dangerous but is illegal in all 50 states.”

During the initiative, representatives of law enforcement will visit high-incident railroad grade crossings to conduct safety outreach programmes by sharing safety information and enforcing trespassing laws.

Data from the US Federal Railroad Administration shows that 90% of railroad-related fatalities in the country are a result of crossing collisions and trespassing incidents, with more than 400 trespassing fatalities occurring each year.

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Operation Lifesaver, the only national rail safety education-focused non-profit organisation in the US, has been operating since 1972 and has seen an 83% decline in train/motor vehicle collisions since then, down to around 2,100 incidents in 2021.

Rachel Maleh, the organisation’s executive director, said: “We are thrilled to join forces today with Amtrak and our incredible first responders nationwide. 

“We welcome their support in educating communities on the importance of rail safety and making safe choices all year round. Together, we can help stop track tragedies.”

While Amtrak is supporting the largest initiative, it isn’t the only North American rail company to be marking Rail Safety Week, with CSX and Norfolk Southern also among those working with Operation Lifesaver.

Meanwhile, Union Pacific has highlighted the work of its employees who volunteer to give safety presentations to schools and businesses as part of its UP Cares education programmes.

In Canada, CN’s police service has also begun its awareness campaign to share safety messages in communities across its network. 

In the UK, Network Rail additionally launched a rail safety campaign last month, using CCTV footage to show people acting dangerously around railway tracks and highlight the danger this poses to them.