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BLET, Operation Lifesaver condemn ‘train hopping’ article

CLEVELAND, June 26 — Operation Lifesaver, Inc. has taken the lead in condemning a recent magazine article that glorifies railroad trespassing and train hopping. Dennis R. Pierce, National President of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, said the BLET supports Operation Lifesaver’s position and also objected to the article.

Published in the June 10 issue of Outside Magazine, the article titled “My Train-Hopping Odyssey Through the American West” chronicles a trip by Ted Conover and his 18-year-old son to illegally hitch rides on railroad freight cars, frequently risking life and limb while ignoring “Keep Out” and “No Trespassing” signs on railroad property.

“The article makes it appear that train hopping is an outdoor adventure activity on the same level as mountain climbing, river rafting, biking or skiing,” wrote Operation Lifesaver President and CEO Joyce C. Rose in a June 23 letter to Outside Magazine editor Lawrence Burke. “We object to the piece from a safety perspective and are very concerned that this article could entice your readers to emulate Conover and son''''''''s journey.”

BLET President Pierce characterized the railroad trespassers as selfish and not caring about the effect that one slip or trip could have on train crews.

“Railroad workers often suffer emotional and psychological distress for years following fatal train accidents, frequently suffering from nightmares and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” President Pierce said. “Railroading is not a game, and treating it like one for a joy ride is selfish, reprehensible and deplorable.”

According to Operation Lifesaver, deaths in the United States from pedestrians trespassing on train tracks rose more than seven percent in 2013, and jumped 26 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Pedestrian-train injuries rose nearly five percent in 2013 and are up again by nine percent in 2014’s first quarter. More people die each year while trespassing on train tracks than are killed in vehicle-train collisions at highway-rail grade crossings.

President Rose urged the editor of Outside Magazine to instead work toward preventing rail trespasser fatalities.

“Operation Lifesaver, its safety partners and volunteers work every day to prevent collisions, deaths and injuries at railroad crossings and along train tracks. Our new public safety education campaign, “See Tracks? Think Train!” (www.seetracksthinktrain.org) was created to address the issue in light of the increase in pedestrian-train incidents. Won’t you help us raise awareness of the danger of illegally being on railroad tracks and property? Together, we can make a difference, and save lives.”

A copy of Operation Lifesaver President Rose’s letter is available here.

Thursday, June 26, 2014
bentley@ble-t.org

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