Brightline announced Feb. 6 that it has launched a new rail safety campaign and safety public service announcement (PSA) to remind residents that their decisions around the tracks will impact others in the community and emphasizes the point: “Stopping a bad decision is easy, stopping a train isn’t. Be safe and stay off the tracks.”
As part of the campaign and PSA, which builds on the company’s current initiatives involving education, engineering and enforcement, Brightline is calling on community members to act by signing a digital safety pledge with an initial goal of 50,000 signatures. The safety pledge can be found on Brightline’s new safety website, which features easy-to-use tips, and highlights the importance of rail safety awareness. Members of the public, Brightline says, can easily take the digital pledge and share it on their social media channels to let others know they are “on board” with safety around railroad tracks.
According to Brightline, the campaign and the PSA will be predominantly driven through social channels and targeted digital advertising that will be ongoing through the launch of Brightline service to Orlando. Brightline was recently awarded a $20,000 grant from Operation Lifesaver (OLI) for digital advertising. Additionally, Brightline will be reaching out to local school districts and community partners to ask for their assistance in education and outreach, including showing the new PSA. PSA and safety materials on the website are available in English, Spanish and Creole.
The new Brightline PSA focuses on three different members of the public: a motorist who is considering driving around the gates, teenagers who contemplate beating an approaching train and a jogger who removes his headphones so he can hear the warning bells. All three collective parties make the right decision and abide by the law, waiting until the train passes and the gates return to the up position before crossing the tracks.
“Safety is paramount to everything we do, and our local communities are the key to helping us make a difference,” said Brightline Senior Vice President Ben Porritt. “We encourage residents, rail aficionados and social influencers to sign our pledge, share our PSA and spread the word—safety starts with you.”
The release of this safety campaign, Brightline says, comes as the company ramps up high-speed testing from West Palm Beach to Orlando in preparation for opening to Orlando in 2023. Brightline says it will continue testing up to 110 mph through Martin and St. Lucie County on Monday, Feb. 14, and will begin high-speed testing up to 110 mph on Feb. 16 in northern Palm Beach County through Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach, Lake Park, Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach.
According to the company, Brightline’s Orlando extension project will have crucial safety improvements at all 156 railroad crossings along the corridor, including new crossing gates, signal systems, pedestrian gates, pavement markings and roadway profiles. Where trains will operate at speeds over 79 mph, crossings have quad gates or medians to prevent motorists from driving around lowered crossing gates. “The high-speed testing serves as an important reminder to be vigilant about safety around railroad tracks and crossings,” Brightline said.
Brightline says it has also invested “tens of millions of dollars” in infrastructure along the South Florida corridor for enhancements on several safety initiatives, such as the addition of red-light cameras, channelization through community greening projects, and partnerships with local schools and organizations, such as 211 and OLI.
“These are just some of the many initiatives underway to enhance safety along the corridor,” said Brightline, which has partnered with local law enforcement to “educate and enforce” along the corridor. Last June, Brightline partnered with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and during Rail Safety Week in September, Miami-Dade Police Department, Broward Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office partnered for the first ever tri-county enforcement initiative. To date, local law enforcement organizations have issued thousands of citations regarding rail-related infractions.
In August, Brightline and a bipartisan coalition of congressional officials announced a grant award from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program to enhance safety along the Florida East Coast Railway/Brightline corridor between Miami-Dade and Brevard counties. The $45 million investment project will construct at least 33 miles of pedestrian protection features and supplemental safety measures at 328 grade crossings. The scope of work will include rail dynamic envelopes, delineators, raised pavement markers, edge striping, fencing and additional safety signage in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Brevard Counties.
Brightline was also awarded a Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) Grant to add additional safety infrastructure at 48 crossings between Miami and West Palm Beach. This $5.6 million program will add exit gates, digital warning signs, striping and delineators to crossings. As part of this program, Brightline says it is installing nine permanent digital message signs in Broward and Palm Beach counties that include rail safety information and suicide prevention messaging, directing those in need to call 211. The project is expected to reach substantial completion in February.
8 Rail Safety Quick Tips from Brightline:
- The train you see is closer and faster-moving than you think.
- Be aware that trains cannot stop quickly.
- Never drive around lowered gates—it’s illegal and deadly.
- At a multiple track crossing waiting for a train to pass, watch out for a second train on the other tracks, approaching from either direction.
- Do not get trapped on the tracks; proceed through a grade crossing only if you are sure you can completely clear the crossing without stopping.
- If your vehicle ever stalls on the tracks, get out and get away from the tracks, even if you do not see a train. Locate the Emergency Notification System sign and call the number provided.
- When you need to cross train tracks, go to a designated crossing, look both ways, and cross the tracks quickly, without stopping. It isn’t safe to stop closer than 15 feet from a rail.
- Always expect a train.