JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Florida Department of Transportation is announcing a statewide rail-safety initiative to help curb injuries and fatalities on or near rail crossings.
This comes less than two weeks after a West Palm Beach woman and her two grandsons were killed when they were hit by an Amtrak passenger train at a crossing without gates or flashing lights in Palm Beach County.
Locally, we’ve seen eight train-related incidents this year in Jacksonville. Train safety officials said about 2,100 people are killed or injured in train-related accidents every year.
A study of Florida’s passenger rail system from a year ago for the Legislature’s Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability expressed concern that the state transportation agency wasn’t using its authority to regulate high-speed rail.
It suggested creating a team to oversee railroad safety in Florida as well as establishing “harsher” penalties for people caught trespassing on grade crossings and conducting a review of statewide suicide prevention activities.
In August, JSO said a car was unable to stop when it hit a train at West Moncrief Road and Federal Street. In July, a bus driver was injured after colliding with an Amtrack train in Murray Hill. There were also four people killed by trains this past year.
According to the Associated Press, the Brightline rail service in South Florida that is being rebranded as Virgin Trains USA had the worst per-mile death rate of the nation’s 821 railroads.