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Kids learn about train safety ahead of Saturday’s Hartford Line launch

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On Saturday, June 16, there will be even more trains passing by on the tracks in Wallingford.

“We’re going to go from six trains a day to 17 trains a day. Those are roundtrip trains, so actually, 34 trains passing through Wallingford,” said Richard Andreski, Bureau Chief, Public Transportation State of Connecticut.

They’ll go all the way down to New Haven and up to Springfield, Massachusetts as part of the new Hartford Line.

“When we started this project, this was a single track railroad, which meant there was infrequent service on the line. We double tracked the line, increased the operating speeds on the line, too, so trains will be operating faster,” said Andreski.

Pair that with new Amtrak service that started June 9th, and officials are trying to get the word out that with increased train traffic comes increased safety risks.

“It’s really around the grade crossings is where the safety, those risks, come to mind. The reason we’re out here, and out here in force, is to remind pedestrians when you see the tracks, think trains,” said Andreski.

The Connecticut DOT has partnered with Operation Lifesaver to reach out to communities along the rail line. Electronic signs are posted at some of the crossings as a reminder for drivers, and new fencing is up with no trespassing signs for people walking near the tracks.

“Trespassing is one of the biggest issues we have, is people walking on the tracks. There aren’t a lot of warning opportunities like train whistles when someone is walking along the railroad right of way, so they may not be aware of a train unless they are near a crossing,” said Kevin Burns, State Coordinator for Operation Lifesaver.

There’s also been a push to reach out to young children. The Operation Lifesaver team has gone into schools like Parkville Community School in Hartford with a lesson in train safety.

They were stressing to the children what not to do when they see trains in their neighborhoods.

“It’s much better to have a classroom setting, where you have a much smaller, 20-30 student population in the classroom, which gets the message to be much more effective,” said Burns.

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