NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)- The number of fast moving trains coming through the Pioneer Valley has increased over the last year.
Ridership is up 67 percent at the Northampton Amtrak station, and local community leaders would like to see the daily service expanded. But with more trains comes more risk.
It’s been almost a year since Amtrak’s high speed rail service has added stops in Greenfield, Northampton, and Holyoke. Mayors along the rail line say its been successful and want to see it expanded.
Gordon Noseworthy, of Northampton said, “I think it’s a great idea. First of all I’m a train lover so I’m glad to hear more trains are coming through But some countries don’t have level crossings like we do and they always pose a danger. People are in a hurry, they want to try to beat the gate or beat the train or what have you.”
On Tuesday Northampton police, firefighters and and Federal Railroad Administration organized a Railroad Crossing Safety Awareness Day.
Officer Dick Towle, of the Federal Railroad Administration said, “Up until a year ago had trains moving about 10 mph now at a lot of locations have them moving at 70 mph now.”
Safety and information flyers were handed out to drivers and pedestrians at the crossing on Damon Road in Northampton.
Police and Railroad safety officials urge drivers to stay at least 15 feet away from the tracks when they’re checking for oncoming trains even when that safety railroad crossing arm is down. If you’re in a line of cars, you should never pull out partially onto the train tracks.
Northampton Police Officer Ryan Tellier said, “With the higher speed trains coming through the area we want people to think safety when they see the tracks. Thousands of people drive over these tracks every day and maybe more than once a day and we want people not to get dull to the sense that they’re there and really think safety when they come across them.”
Railroad officials say drivers need to be always listen closely for oncoming trains, and with winter coming be aware snow can muffle the sound of an oncoming train.
Click here to find out about railroad crossing safety facts and tips.