Video shows people darting across train tracks against warning lights

Members of the public check out a Metrolink train at Union Station in Los Angeles that has been wrapped in a warning sign for Rail Safety Month.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

In a drive to combat pedestrian fatalities, Los Angeles County transit officials unveiled a video Tuesday showing dozens of people walking, running, bicycling -- and in one case, rolling in a wheelchair -- across dangerous railroad tracks despite flashing red lights and clanging bells that warned of oncoming trains.

The candid video was shot at the Burbank Station of Metrolink -- the six-county commuter service -- and the Willowbrook stop for the Blue Line, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s busy light rail between Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Though the videoed pedestrians look for trains before crossing and no one appeared to come close to being hit, transit officials said at a press conference Tuesday that the public should wait for trains to pass or stop if warning lights are activated.


It was all part of “Rail Safety Month,” a campaign that will include train cars decorated with safety warnings and outreach programs directed at pedestrians and motorists.

Officials for Metrolink and the MTA said they hope it will reduce unsafe incidents at street-level rail crossings and promote public safety on the region’s commuter train systems.

Transit officials noted that California has the highest number of fatalities involving grade crossings in the United States.

So far this year, the MTA has reported four pedestrian fatalities, including three classified as suicides, along its 87.8 miles of subway and light rail lines, a decline in deaths compared with 2012.

Metrolink has reported 17 fatalities this year along its 512 miles of track, about the same number as the first eight months of 2012. Six more people were struck and injured by trains.

On display Tuesday at Union Station were passenger rail cars with interior and exterior warnings in large letters that stated such things as “Heads Up: Stay Alert, Stay Alive.”

Joining Metrolink and the MTA in the effort is the Alameda Corridor East, which is building grade separations to eliminate street-level rail crossings throughout the San Gabriel Valley.


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