© 2022 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Brightline Stresses Public Awareness, Safety In Wake Of Rail Deaths

Peter Haden
Brightline COO Patrick Goddard told reporters the company will expand its education campaign about rail safety in the wake of fatal accidents. Boca Raton, Fla. Jan. 19, 2018.

Brightline officials addressed safety concerns at a press conference in Boca Raton Friday. Four people have been killed by the company’s trains, two within the past week.

While tragic, Brightline executives said the recent fatalities were completely avoidable. Both individuals went around safety gates and flashing lights in attempting to beat the speeding trains.

Brightline will expand its education campaign about rail safety, according to Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard.

“We need to amplify that message about safety,” said Goddard, “and encourage all members of our community to obey the bells, lights and gates, and to never try and beat a train.”

"When the gates are down and the lights are flashing, it means stop. Respect the gates. Look, listen and live" - Keith James, West Palm Beach city commissioner

Brightline will post more signage and safety ambassadors at train crossings, increase safety announcements on radio stations and send safety street teams to local events, Goddard said.

Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have called on the federal government to review the company’s safety protocols.

Brightline’s Goddard says the company is in full compliance with regulations. He said he hopes the senators will tour the company’s operations and help amplify the message of rail safety.

“We need their help,” said Goddard.

Goddard was joined at the news conference by half a dozen elected officials, all emphasizing the message of public awareness and safety.

A high tech tool to improve rail security was floated by Steven Abrams,  chair of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA): drones.

“The concept is to send drones in specific cases along specific portions of the track that we know are problem areas in advance of a train to alert the train crew if there’s someone on the tracks,” Abrams said.

Other officials stressed common sense.

“When the gates are down and the lights are flashing, it means stop,” said West Palm Beach City Commissioner Keith James. “Respect the gates. Look, listen and live.”

Brightline continues to run on schedule.