FRA awards more than $2 million in grants to support trespassing and suicide prevention efforts

June 14, 2022
More than 68 percent of the grants awarded will help efforts on intercity and commuter rail lines.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will award more than $1.4 million in Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants and Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grants to 17 passenger rail related projects in efforts to reduce trespassing and suicide deaths in and around railroad property.

In total, FRA awarded $1.96 million Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants and $207,000 Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grants to 25 projects across 13 states. The passenger related grants are included in the sidebar at the bottom of this article.

“No mission is more important than saving lives and FRA is fully committed to supporting states and communities in the collective effort to prevent avoidable tragedies,” said FRA Administrator Amit Bose. “Through these grants, we will deter railroad trespassing and suicide through coordinated responses from a broad range of local organizations specializing in law enforcement, education and mental health.”

The funds help law enforcement trespass prevention activities and educational outreach campaigns aimed at reducing railroad-related suicides on rail rights-of-way. FRA explains the money awarded represents the largest single funding announcement made in conjunction with FRA’s National Strategy to Reduce Trespassing.

FRA also notes it targeted these grants towards communities and states with a high incidence of rail trespass-related incidents and casualties. FRA statistics show on average, someone is either struck by a train due to trespassing or while in a motor vehicle every three hours. FRA says the approximately 400 trespass fatalities that occur around the U.S. each year are almost all preventable.

From 2016 to 2021, an average of more than 236 people died by suicide within the U.S. rail system each year in addition to at least another 27 individuals injured in suicide attempts annually. FRA says the Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grant Program aims to prevent these tragedies through three projects that will use targeted outreach and education campaigns. The assistance provided through these outreach efforts may take many forms, including but not limited to, advertising of mental health services, identifying and approaching individuals in need, or other methods to recognize the signs of an individual in crisis.

Grant recipients will also use grant funding to devise curriculums and train professionals to better identify and respond to crisis situations. In addition to providing funding, FRA will employ every available tool for addressing suicide prevention by facilitating collaboration among local law enforcement, communities, railroad carriers, educators and mental health organizations.

The funding provided through the Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Activities Grant Program will help prevent railroad trespassing by funding hourly wages for law enforcement officers to enforce trespass violations at known trespass “hot spots.” Grant recipients will report their activities and the associated benefits to FRA, augmenting the agency’s data collection efforts and ensuring that these projects support key departmental objectives, including safety, equity and inclusive approaches to infrastructure investments.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.