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Brightline fatalities prompt rail groups to step up rail-crossing safety education

Lawmakers and anti-rail groups have called for investigations and new regulations following deaths on Brightline's tracks.
Photo – Brightline's Twitter account

The Association of American Railroads, American Public Transportation Association and Rail Passengers Association have come together to emphasize rail-crossing safety following two recent fatalities on Brightline's new passenger-rail line in South Florida.

The associations issued the message after some lawmakers and anti-rail groups called for investigations and new regulations after the deaths.

On Jan. 17, a Brightline train struck and killed a bicyclist who pedaled around the gates in Boynton Beach, Florida. Five days earlier, a woman was struck and killed after she attempted to "beat the train" by walking around lowered gates and flashing signals at a crossing, according to local news reports.

"New regulation would not have changed any of the recent tragic yet avoidable incidents that occurred in Florida," the rail associations said in a joint press release. "Education does work. Crossing railroad tracks at other points and walking alongside the track is not only unsafe—it’s illegal, and trespassers can be ticketed or fined."

Earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) tweeted that Brightline leaders should "stop victim-blaming and take responsibility for the fact that your trains are killing people."

"Trains should stop running until massive safety flaws are resolved," Mast said on Twitter.

For its part, Brightline has expanded safety outreach efforts following the fatalities at its crossings. The privately funded rail venture began introductory service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach on Jan. 13.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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