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Next week, Metra plans to conduct more than 40 enforcement details at several grade crossings in the six-county region it serves.The commuter railroad's police officers will be on site to issue warnings and citations to residents who illegally cross tracks after the gates have lowered, Metra officials said in a press release.Additionally, Metra staff will conduct "safety blitzes," which involve distributing rail safety informational at 20 stations throughout the system. "Safety is our number one priority at Metra — and our commitment to safety influences everything we do," said Metra Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Don Orseno. "Next week, our goal is to reach as many of people as we can with messages about the importance of being safe at rail crossings and on railroad property."As part of "Illinois Rail Safety Week," Metra will also emblazon the slogan "See Tracks? Think Train!" on select rail cars. Operation Lifesaver Inc. provided a $20,000 grant to carry out the banner campaign.In 2014, 79 people were injured or killed near crossings in Illinois, while in 2015's first half, 60 people have been injured or killed near crossings, Metra officials said.Meanwhile, the commuter railroad also has issued a request for proposals for a marketing agency to help Metra reshape its brand and support its goal of acquiring an additional 20,000 weekday passenger trips.Metra will select an agency following a competitive process, but will require 10 percent participation from a certified disadvantaged business enterprise firm."This is a new era of opportunity for Metra," said Chairman Martin Oberman. "We want our marketing agency to be part of the evolution of Metra’s brand and culture to ensure that we’re able to attract the next generation of commuter rail customers"Expected to begin in 2016, the three-year contract won't exceed $4 million, including all advertising placements, according to the railroad.
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