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MBTA, Keolis, Transit Police, and Massachusetts Operation Lifesaver Raise Rail Grade Crossing Safety Awareness during National Safety Month

Posted on June 1, 2021

Today at South Station, MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak, MBTA Chief Safety Officer Ron Ester, MBTA Transit Police Chief Kenneth Green, and others kicked off the beginning of National Safety Month with an event highlighting efforts to raise awareness of the risks associated with rail grade crossings. Developed in partnership with Operation Lifesaver, Inc., a public safety non-profit dedicated to rail safety education, this month’s Rail Grade Crossing Safety messaging campaign will take place from June 1 through June 30, and includes educational digital displays within MBTA stations on in-station digital boards, on MassDOT digital highway billboards, on RMV Branch Digital Displays, and on social media. 

“Safety continues to be the MBTA’s top priority and we’re committed to helping prevent potential tragedies associated with rail grade crossings,” said MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak. “We’re pleased to collaborate with our partners at Operation Lifesaver, Keolis, TPD, and more to share and echo the important message on the MBTA’s in-station digital displays: Always Expect A Train at a Rail Crossing. Educational efforts like these are one of our greatest weapons in avoiding the devastating consequences that come with these kinds of potential track tragedies.”

“Working with schools and community groups throughout the greater Boston area, our MBTA and Keolis teams help raise awareness around railroad safety,” said Acting CEO and General Manager for Keolis Commuter Services John Killeen. “Today’s event helps achieve the same goal. We want to remind pedestrians, drivers, bicyclists, and passengers to pay attention when near train tracks, only cross at authorized areas and never trespass on train tracks because it can prove to be a deadly mistake. If you see tracks, think trains.”

MBTA In-Station Digital Display appearing in stations systemwide June 1-30, 2021.
MBTA In-Station Digital Display appearing in stations systemwide June 1-30, 2021.


Nine people or vehicles in the United States are struck by a train daily. Many times, individuals on rail tracks do not hear a train approaching until it is too late due to a train’s high speed. Even when a commuter rail train is not scheduled, freight trains and other services operate on the commuter rail network around the Greater Boston area. Subway trains also operate at high speeds with immediate braking capacity limited in the event of an unexpected individual found to be along the track area. Additionally, incidents have occurred in which motor vehicle drivers attempt to pass through or around crossings when warning lights are flashing and/or crossing gates are descending across the roadway with devastating results.

The MBTA is committed to ensuring a safe environment for its passengers and employees and recognizes the risks associated with rail travel. The Rail Grade Crossing Safety messaging campaign is an educational opportunity aimed at informing the public about the risks associated with trespassing on rail tracks or not heeding warning signals at railway grade crossings. 

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