US rail operator Brightline has received over $1.6m from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to develop an AI monitoring system with Wi-Tronix to collect real-time data on trespass activity along its rail corridor.
The grant, through the FRA’s Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program, will include the installation of HD forward-facing cameras on all of Brightline’s 21 locomotives along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor.
Chad Jasmin, Wi-Tronix’s vice-president of sales and customer experience, said: “Brightline’s proposed project is a major win for safety in our industry and the communities we serve.
“The ability to collect, identify and mitigate trespasser behaviour through the use of AI is a catalyst for change and it’s exciting to see the FRA and DOT [Department of Transport] acknowledge this. New possibilities for safety are on the horizon, not just for Florida but for our nation.”
The cameras installed by Brightline will collect data to develop an AI model that will identify unsafe behaviours, allowing the company to identify key areas for community outreach programmes and improved police presence or that need engineering upgrades.
Brightline’s grant is just part of the $1.4bn in funding provided to rail projects through the FRA’s CRISI Program from the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill, with the majority of the projects to receive funding focused on rail safety or rail freight supply chains.
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FRA Deputy Administrator Jennifer Mitchell noted that CRISI funding had quadrupled since the bill was signed and said: “This CRISI grant will help keep people safe, with federal investment going towards innovative technologies that will provide new data to address railroad trespassing activities, ultimately reducing the potential for collisions along the Florida East Coast Railway corridor.”
Brightline’s involvement in the project, which it said “could be used” by railroads across the US when fully developed, is particularly notable given recent press investigations into the number of deaths along the Brightline corridor, which saw more deaths per mile than any other US railroad in 2022.
The TCPalm, a regional media outlet in Florida’s Treasure Coast region, found that all but one of the 97 recorded deaths involving Brightline trains were classified by the FRA as a “trespassing” incident.