New CTA campaign emphasizes rail-customer safety

September 16, 2013

“It’s Not Worth Your Life” messages highlight dangers of being on tracks

As part of its continuing focus on customer safety, the Chicago Transit Authority has launched a new informational campaign reminding ‘L’ riders about the dangers of trespassing on CTA railroad tracks.

The campaign, featuring the tagline “Stay Off the Tracks, It’s Not Worth Your Life,” features a series of messages highlighting the dangers of activities such as trying to retrieve items dropped onto the tracks, standing too close to the edge of a platform, or trespassing along the railroad right of way.

“Safety has always been and will always be our No. 1 priority, in every facet of our operations,” said CTA President Forrest Claypool.  “We created the campaign as an important reminder to our customers, and we believe it will help further promote safe behavior on our rail system.”

The CTA has long had a very strong safety record related to rail service.  In 2012, the CTA provided just over 230 million rail rides, with 11 fatalities reported resulting from customers on the tracks.  In 2011, there were 221 million rail riders and nine fatalities.  Since 2009, there have been between six and 12 rail-related fatalities annually, many of which involve intentional acts by customers.

“Though the number of fatal incidents on the CTA is extremely low, one incident is one too many,” Claypool said.  “We continue to work to ensure the safest system possible, and to both remind and encourage our customers to take simple steps to keep themselves safe.”

Customers who enter CTA tracks, known as the rail right of way, face not only the danger of oncoming trains, but also that of the third rail, which carries 600 volts of electricity used to propel trains—a level of electricity that is almost always lethal.

In 2012, CTA received more than 300 reports of customers entering the right of way, ranging from riders jumping off a platform to pick up a dropped mobile phone to trespassers walking on tracks between stations.  The vast majority involve people making a conscious decision to go on the tracks, officials said.  Alcohol has been a factor in many incidents, according to both CTA and Chicago Police records.  Very few of those reported incidents involve customers accidentally falling or tripping onto the tracks.

Anyone caught trespassing on the right of way will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, CTA officials said.  Unfortunately, very few arrests are made each year, because most individuals leave the right of way shortly after they enter, CTA officials said.

“No customer should ever enter the rail right of way, for any reason,” said Araceli De La Cruz, CTA’s Chief Safety and Security Officer.  A customer who drops an item can inform a CTA station employee, all of whom have received proper safety training and can communicate with CTA’s Control Center to slow or stop trains or remove power as needed.

This latest campaign complements CTA’s existing rail safety information, including signs along the tracks, at every rail station and in every rail car, as well as safety brochures, website information and other materials.  “This campaign will expand and reinforce the important safety messages we provide our customers every day,” Claypool said.

The new safety campaign’s car cards and posters will appear on rail cars and at rail stations throughout the CTA system starting this week, and will also be used on digital signs at stations. 

More information is available at www.transitchicago.com/safety

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