Railroad Safety Campaign

When it comes to the sound of the horn from a train, railway officials say, unfortunately, it's often ignored.

As part of a two-day educational and enforcement program in Meridian, representatives from Norfolk Southern have been working with local law enforcement, handing out safety literature to people who work or live near the tracks, while also cracking down on people trespassing.

"Last year, in 2011, we had one trespasser that was injured by a train and we had 36 trespasser contacts here on this approximately five mile line segment here," says said Hedgepath, manager for special investigations with the Norfolk Southern Police Department.

On the final day of the local campaign, members of the WTOK news team were with railroad and law enforcement officials when they caught two people illegally crossing tracks. This time they were released with a warning. Rail officials say next time they might not be so lucky.

"There were 427 people killed nationwide as a result of trespassing on a railroad right of way," said Hedgepath. "There were 346 injuries. When you take those numbers, if you have contact as a result to you trespassing on a railroad right of way, you're more likely to die than to just be injured and a lot of the injuries are catastrophic when they do occur."

Norfolk Southern officials say one of the biggest things to remember about trespassing on railroad tracks or property is that the deaths and injuries caused from doing this are preventable.

Unlike a car, a train can't swerve to avoid something in front of it. Equipped with up to 15,000 tons of weight, rail officials say trespassing can lead to the unfortunate loss of a limb or life.

"It can easily take some trains up to one mile just to stop," said Hedgepath.

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