Friday 17 June 2022

Immensely successful ILCAD events in Denver (Colorado), USA, from 8 to 10 June 2022

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The three days of events, running from 8 to 10 June in Denver (Colorado), USA, were hosted by the Association of American Railroads (AAR), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI) and started on 8 June at Union Station in Denver.

The 160 delegates included academics, researchers, transport and safety agencies, and human factors, enforcement and awareness specialists from both the rail and road sectors and came from Europe, Argentina, Mexico, Canada and the United States.

Events were kicked off by Karl Alexy, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety & Chief Safety Officer of Federal Railroad Administration (FRA); Jo Strang, Senior Vice President of American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) & Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI); Rachel Maleh, Executive Director of Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI); and Isabelle Fonverne, UIC Senior Advisor.

They thanked Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. for inviting the group to admire a wonderful Amtrak locomotive which had been specially customised to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Operation Lifesaver and took a break from travelling across the United States railway network to come to Denver just for the ILCAD 2022 events.
The OLI striking slogan: “See tracks, Think trains!”

On 8 June, delegates gathered at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Denver for the 1st edition of the international Trespass and Suicide Prevention Session

We had the honour of welcoming three US keynote speakers:

Karl Alexy, Associate Administrator for Railroad Safety & Chief Safety Officer of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), USA:
Trespassing and Suicide Prevention is a global issue. We must target the concerned people by addressing them tailored safety messages. […] to better tackle these issues the most important thing is to involve local people (elected officials, community planners, shopkeepers, etc.) and the media. Having better and more accurate data, and better collaboration between all concerned agencies is also key to success.”


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) distributes more than $2 million in Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants and Railroad Trespassing Suicide Prevention Grants to 25 law enforcement projects in 13 states.

On 13 June, the FRA reported that the grants are targeted toward “communities and states with a high incidence of rail trespass-related incidents and casualties”, and are part of the agency’s efforts to reduce the approximately 400 trespass fatalities that occur around the country each year, almost all of which are preventable. Noting that rail suicides often involve railroad trespassing as well, the FRA reported that from 2016-2021, an average of more than 236 people died by suicide within the US rail system each year, in addition to at least another 27 individuals injured in suicide attempts annually.

Thomas B. Chapman, Board Member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), USA:
NTSB publishes all kinds of reports, studies and safety recommendations for all transport modes including on grade crossing and trespass accidents’ investigations whose results are shared with other agencies. Humans make mistakes; technologies and level crossing designs can help users to cross safely. Planners and engineers shall work all together to make a safe system. A safe system approach of the road infrastructure can be applied to grade crossings. As far as trespass is concerned, too often, those who are struck and killed by trains near or on the tracks could have avoided putting their lives in such perilous danger. The vast majority of trespass fatalities occurring each year are preventable.”

Joseph P. DeLorenzo, Associate Administrator for Transit Safety and Oversight and Chief Safety Officer at Federal Transit Administration (FTA), USA:
Collaboration between all stakeholders and agencies is the key to improve safety. FTA has a major partnership with OLI, which includes safety awareness, education campaigns, new drivers’ programmes, etc. According to the WHO: close to 800,000 people die each year as a result of suicide. This is one death every 40 seconds. Beyond this, suicide has a ripple effect that impacts others; we estimate there to be 135 people who suffer from one person who commits suicide, and these can be train drivers, family, friends, colleagues, etc.”

Then we had prominent speakers presenting in three different sessions.

The first session was moderated by Dr Ann Mills, Professional Head of LHSBR Delivery at RSSB, GB and Chair of the UIC TreSP-Network and featured the three following speakers:

  • Dr Danijela Baric, Associate Professor, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Transport and Traffic Sciences, Croatia: “Overview of the railway suicide and trespass problems in Croatia
  • Hilary Konczal, Chief Safety & Environmental Officer, METRA Commuter Railroad, USA: “Mental Health & Suicide Awareness Trespasser Prevention Initiatives
  • Dr Patrick Sherry, Professor, University of Denver, USA: “Preventing Rail Trespasser Suicide: An Ecological Approach

The second session was moderated by Danielle Hiltunen, Engineering Psychologist | Transportation Human Factors, Volpe Center (United States Dept of Transportation), USA, and featured:

  • Katarzyna Kucharek, CEO PKP Group Foundation and Vice Chair of the Global Level Crossing Network (UIC WG): “Trespassing and suicides on railway tracks in Poland
  • Robert Wainwright, Level Crossing Manager, Network Rail: “How to influence decisions to trespass in GB
  • Jennifer DeAngelis, Director of Communications & Marketing, Operation Lifesaver, Inc.: “Shifting Perspectives – Empowering Safe Choices Around Railroad Tracks and Trains

The last session was moderated by Dr Karen Elizabeth Philbrick, Executive Director Mineta Transportation Institute, USA, and featured:

  • Dr Richard Washington, District 5 Highway Grade Crossing and Trespass Prevention Inspector/Manager at the FRA, USA: “Trespassing, Vandalism and Derailments
  • Jeffery Warner, Associate Research Scientist, Texas A&M Transportation Institute, USA: “Strategies to deter trespassing on rail transit and commuter rail systems
  • Henry Posner, Chairman of the Iowa Interstate railroad and Railroad Development Corporation: “Graffiti: an industry problem with community solutions

Barbara Klein Barr, Director, International Programs at Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Chair of the UIC North American region concluded the 8 June session, sharing the striking message of the day: “All together we can be stronger!

Press releases:

ILCAD website:

For further information, please contact Isabelle Fonverne, Senior Safety Advisor at:

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