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Metra will conduct 49 "safety blitzes" in collaboration with Operation Lifesaver at train stations in six Chicago-area counties this year to raise public awareness about safe practices around train tracks.
During a safety blitz, Metra employees during morning peak travel times will distribute educational materials, answer questions and listen to riders’ safety concerns, Metra officials said in a press release. The railroad schedules a number of blitzes each year throughout the Chicago area.
Metra also will run a short video on grade crossing safety for riders to view while waiting for trains. Local police, fire and other public officials also will be participating in the blitzes, Metra officials said.
Although the program is primarily educational, Metra police will conduct enforcement blitzes throughout the railroad's system and issue citations to drivers and pedestrians who ignore gates and warning devices.
Illinois has the nation’s second-largest rail system with more than 7,300 miles of track and 10,264 public crossings, Metra officials said. In 2022, Illinois ranked third in the number of crossing train-vehicle collisions and fifth in the number of trespassing fatalities among states.
Last year, 25 people died and 45 people were injured in crossing incidents in Illinois, according to Federal Railroad Administration. Another 29 people died and 33 people were injured while trespassing on railroad rights of way.