KIYC: A look at train safety

This past year, New Jersey has seen a spike in the number of train fatalities.

Today, an Amtrak train struck and killed a pedestrian just west of the station in Hamilton. This past October, two teens were killed by a train on an overpass on Route 46. The next day, a 13-year-old died after ducking under the railroad gates in Garfield. Witnesses say he waited for one train to pass, unaware another train was on its way.

Research by News 12 New Jersey shows that NJ Transit has consistently had higher fatality rates than nearby railroads. Over the last ten years, the fatality rate has been almost twice as high as the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), almost three times as high as Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, (SEPTA) and more than four times higher than Metro-North.

NJ Transit uses what is known as half-quad gates, meaning the gates cover one lane in each direction. Federal railroad officials say many rail systems have gone to full-quad gates, which makes it harder for people to weave their way around the tracks.

The state's Department of Transportation and NJ Transit have set up a committee to look into making the tracks safer. The transportation commissioner says the committee will look at ways to educate the public, prevent trespassing and improve grade crossings.

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