CHARLESTON — Railroad safety inspectors from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia will be manning railroad crossings in three northcentral areas of the state this month to highlight railroad safety in the Mountain State.
Gov. Justice has issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 18-23 as “West Virginia Rail Safety Week.”
John Perry, manager of the PSC’s Railroad Safety Section, said his inspectors will be present at crossings on Sept. 19 at Grafton, Sept. 20 at Fairmont, and Sept. 21 at Buckhannon as they participate in Operation Lifesaver.
The section also will showcase its award-wining model train display on Sept. 18 at the PSC headquarters at 201 Brooks St., Charleston.
“The biggest issue we see are people walking along railroad tracks, trespassing,” Perry said. His staff turns over those types of complaints to local law enforcement.
“The item we are primarily concerned with is people not paying attention to the flashing lights at railroad crossings and trying to beat the train at crossings,” Perry said.
His agency performs various inspections to ensure warning devices are operational at crossings, and his staff also tries to make sure trains do not unnecessarily block railroad crossings.
In 2022, the state had 14 train/highway user incidents with no fatalities and eight serious injuries at highway rail grade crossings. The state had 12 trespassing incidents that resulted in eight fatalities and four serious injuries.
A total of 2,195 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred nationwide in 2022. There were 274 crossing fatalities and 810 crossing-related injuries last year, according to federal statistics.
“The Commission’s Rail Safety Section is small in size, but mighty in its efforts to promote rail safety,” PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said. “I am proud of their work.”