SEPTA stresses safety to halt injuries, fatalities along rails

    Crossing SEPTA train and subway tracks is dangerous.

    Authority officials took that simple message to riders Wednesday as part of its “Make the Safe Choice” Safety Awareness Day.


    “We’re hoping that, by reaching out to our riders and neighbors, we can express just how serious we are about their well-being and how safe behavior and caution can prevent these tragic events,” said Joe Casey, SEPTA’s general manager.

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    Casey spoke from a SEPTA lot in Northeast Philadelphia situated between two stops – Trevose and Somerton – on the authority’s West Trenton Line.

    People have been known to cross the train tracks that run behind the lot.

    It’s a risk that Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s director of system safety and risk management, said shouldn’t be taken. Individuals can easily overestimate their ability to stay out of a train’s way.

    “[Trains] approach at fast rates of speed. You often cannot hear them and they approach quickly and cannot stop very easily,” said Sauer. “Although they don’t realize that these trains are coming up on them, people cannot clear in time. They cannot see them and, often times, they’re distracted by other devices.”

    SEPTA’s West Trenton Line has been particularly problematic.

    Over 15 months, there have been four rail fatalities along that route.

    Sauer had some tips Wednesday for riders looking to stay safe. They include:

    always expect a train;
    cross tracks at designated pedestrian walkways;
    stay alert around railroad tracks;
    pay attention to painted and raised markings on platforms that indicate where to safely stand.

    “These incidents are preventable,” said Sauer.

    Last year, a dozen people were killed by SEPTA buses, trains and trolleys.

    Casey said the authority is on pace this year to exceed that total. Since January, there have been eight deaths involving SEPTA’s regional rail and Broad Street Lines.

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