ALDERSON, W.Va (WOAY) – It is Rail Safety Week across the country. On Tuesday, Amrtak had over 600 law enforcement agencies participate in “Operation Clear Track.” This is when police officers spend time enforcing the railroad crossing and trespassing laws. They also hand out literature to educate the public. The Alderson Police Department was one of those participating agencies as the town has three railroad tracks running through it.
“It’s a railroad town, Alderson. It’s built off the railroad. Since I’ve been here, we’ve had several incidents. We’ve actually had a fatality in Alderson related to the train,” Alderson Police Chief Jeremy Bennett said.
And Chief Bennett says he never wants to see one again which is why he and another officer handed out literature on railroad safety at the crossings on Monday evening. Chief Bennett says it’s about teaching cars, ATVs and other vehicles about what to do at a railroad crossing and teaching pedestrians that they, too, can only use the crossing.
“It’s an open area between one crossing to the next,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s okay to walk on tracks but it’s not. It’s actually trespassing.”
Pedestrians can be charged with trespassing if found on the tracks and not the crossing. For those on foot or in a car who think they can beat a train, Chief Bennett had a message:
“Don’t gamble. Don’t take a chance. Like I said, Amtrak travels a lot faster through here than what CSX does. I believe it’s around a 30 mph zone except for Amtrak can do 50-60 miles an hour through here. And it takes forever for them to stop. “
And if there’s one thing the police department wants everyone to remember this week and always, it’s this:
“Just look both ways. Stay off the tracks unless you actually have to,” Chief Bennett said. “And just because you think the train’s passed, make sure it’s clear before you pass.”
Operation Clear Track took place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday in Alderson.