Information published on 23 June 2020 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 697.

United States: Amtrak encourages safe travel during national safety month

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Safe Travel and Health Precautions Advised on the Railroad This Summer

June is National Safety Month and Amtrak wants to remind the public of the importance of railroad safety onboard trains, in stations and near tracks this summer.

“National Safety Month is an annual opportunity to remind our employees, customers and the public about the importance of rail safety,” said Amtrak President and CEO Bill Flynn. “In addition to that critical information, we also recognize that traveling this summer will come with unique challenges and we want customers to feel secure knowing that we have implemented vital safety measures for everyone’s well-being.”
For customers planning to travel with Amtrak this summer, here is what to keep in mind:

What Amtrak is doing:

  • Limiting bookings: Amtrak is limiting ticket sales on reserved services to allow for physical distancing while traveling.
  • Enhanced cleaning: Amtrak has enhanced cleaning and disinfecting frequency and retrofitted protective barriers where necessary. Commonly used surfaces in stations such as door handles, counter tops, seating areas and Quik-Trak kiosks are frequently cleaned with EPA-registered disinfectants. Amtrak has also amplified cleaning onboard trains by spraying a disinfectant focusing on highly touched surfaces.
  • Physical distancing: Signage has been displayed at our busiest stations to indicate safe distances in high traffic areas. In addition, clear protective barriers have been installed at customer counters at our busiest stations. For customers placing orders in café cars signage and markers promoting physical distancing leading up to the café counter have been added.
  • Café service: Café service aboard Amtrak trains that still offer food service will be available as carryout only. Seating in the café will be closed. Customers can bring items back to their seats or private rooms. Dining and lounge seating will remain available on select long distance routes with physical distancing protocols in place. For added protection, protective plastic barriers are being installed at café countertops.
  • Flexible dining: Amtrak is temporarily offering flexible dining service in the dining or lounge car on all long-distance routes (except Auto Train) and encouraging Sleeping Car customers to select optional room service.

What customers can do:

  • Facial coverings: Amtrak is requiring all customers and employees to wear facial coverings while in stations and on trains or thruway buses. Facial coverings can be removed when customers are in their private rooms or seated alone.
  • Preventing overcrowding: Except for the Auto Train, customers are encouraged to arrive only 30 minutes before departure and only 60 minutes if in need of ticketing and/or baggage assistance. To reduce crowds at departure boards, Amtrak app users can now receive gate and track information via push notification at select stations.
  • Contactless ticketing: Amtrak encourages boarding with eTickets, which conductors scan from the Amtrak app. Amtrak is also accepting cashless payments only.
  • Handwashing and touchless movement: Available in each car’s restroom, Amtrak strongly encourages washing hands thoroughly with soap and water. To move between cars, customers can use an “automatic door open” button with their foot.

For more information on COVID-19 updates, visit Amtrak.com/coronavirus.
In addition to station and onboard train safety, the general public is urged to be cautious and aware near highway-rail grade crossings and railroad rights-of-way. Amtrak is one of several partners with Operation Lifesaver, Inc.(OLI), a national, nonprofit safety education group working to eliminate deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along railroad rights-of-way. Motorists and pedestrians can take action to prevent injuries and fatalities from occurring this summer, as a result of high-risk behavior on or near railroad crossings and tracks. For more information on railroad safety, visit stayoffthetracks.org.

Rail Safety Tips & Facts:

  • Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fine. Walking, biking, jogging and photography are prohibited on tracks.
  • The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate.
  • A train traveling at 55 miles per hour can take approximately one mile, or the length of about 18 football fields to stop.
  • Obey all warning signs and signals. Trains can come from either direction on the same track at any time and can be very quiet. Use of headsets, earbuds or cell phones around tracks can prevent a person from hearing an approaching train and hooded clothing impacts peripheral vision.
  • Remember to always stop at railroad crossings and never drive around lowered gates — it’s illegal and deadly. In addition, there are substantial fines for attempting to go around the crossing arms.
  • Report suspicious items, persons, or activity immediately to the Amtrak Police Department by approaching a uniformed officer, calling (800) 331-0008, sending a text to APD11 (27311), or by calling 911. For emergencies, a toll-free number is posted on every grade crossing for the public to contact a railroad to report problems.

Amtrak is also encouraging employees to participate in National Safety Month with recognition of Safety All-Stars —stories featuring employees or teams who perform exceptional work in safety and special content featured on internal communications channels to highlight workplace safety.

(Source: Amtrak)