The Chicago region’s Metra will conduct Operation Lifesaver Safety Blitzes at 49 train stations across the six-county region in 2023 as part of its ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the importance of safe behavior around its trains and tracks.
During a safety blitz, Metra employees will visit one of the railroad’s 242 stations during the morning rush hour, distributing educational materials about train and grade crossing safety, answering questions and listening to riders’ safety concerns. A short video about grade crossing safety is also available for customers to view while they wait for their trains. Local police, fire and other public officials are also invited to participate.
“Safety is always My Metra’s highest priority,” said Metra CEO and Executive Director Jim Derwinski. “These safety blitzes allow us to reach our customers directly to ensure they understand the need to stay vigilant about safety anytime they’re around the railroad.”
Illinois has the nation’s second-largest rail system with more than 7,300 miles of railroad track and 10,264 public rail crossings. In 2022, Illinois ranked third in the nation in train versus vehicle collisions at highway rail crossings and fifth in the nation in trespassing fatalities. Preliminary statistics compiled by the Federal Railroad Administration show 25 people died and 45 people were injured in grade crossing incidents in Illinois in 2022 and another 29 people were killed, and 33 people were injured trespassing along railroad right-of-way.
To help promote rail safety awareness and eliminate preventable injuries and deaths, Metra develops an annual schedule of safety blitzes throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. The complete 2023 safety blitz schedule can be found on Metra’s website.
The primary purpose of the safety blitz program is educational. However, the Metra Police Department will also conduct additional enforcement blitzes at locations throughout the region, where citations and warnings will be issued to pedestrians and drivers who ignore gates and warning devices.