NEW: Brightline adds safety features at crossings


Brightline has placed electronic signs at some of the intersections of the FEC tracks. This sign on Lucerne in Lake Worth warns pedestrians to “stay off train tracks” and that there are “more & faster trains.”

Brightline has positioned large electronic signs at several busy rail crossings along its route to warn the public that its new express trains move faster than other rail traffic and to urge people to stay off the tracks when the guard gates go down.

Brightline officials said they plan to put 20 signs at crossings between the company’s two stations in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Those signs will be periodically moved to other crossings along the Florida East Coast Railway tracks as part of a new safety awareness campaign launched by Brightline on Friday following two recent deaths involving the private rail venture’s trains.

The company also plans to deploy a team of “safety ambassadors” to key intersections in the coming days to remind pedestrians and motorists to stay off the tracks when a train is approaching. During the weekend, officials said the ambassadors visited a number of grocery stores, community events and other gathering places to pass out safety information.

Since Jan. 12, the day before the company began shuttling paying passengers, Brightline’s trains have hit three people. In all three incidents, police said those struck did not heed warning lights and crossing gates positioned at the intersections.

On Friday, a pedestrian was hit by the train after attempting to cross the train tracks at Northeast Third Avenue and North Flagler Drive in Fort Lauderdale when the gates were down. The person’s injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

The accident occurred just hours after Brightline’s President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard, during a press conference to announce new safety and public education initiatives, urged the public to stay off the tracks.

It is illegal to go around railroad guard gates or to stop a car on the train tracks.

Drivers who maneuver around railroad barriers could be fined $166 and receive three points on their license. Pedestrians who ignore railroad warning signals can be fined $64.50, regardless of their age or whether they have a license.

It is also illegal to walk along the railroad tracks. Those who do can be charged with a misdemeanor for trespassing.

Messages placed on Brightline’s signs during the weekend warned the public that there are “more & faster trains” along the Florida East Coast Railway line and urge drivers and motorists to “stay off train tracks.”

During the week,Brightline runs 10 round-trip trains a day between its stations in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. There are nine round-trip trains on the weekends.

The company’s trains operate at speeds up to 79 mph on the FEC tracks, much faster than the freight locomotives that travel on the same line.

In the coming months, Brightline plans to extend its service to downtown Miami.

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