Key safety upgrades coming to Westfield rail crossings

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Key upgrades are coming to three concerning railroad crossings in Westfield. Federal officials are blitzing the Pioneer Valley with safety information for drivers, but local railroad companies say those drivers don’t always pay attention.

Wednesday’s national news of a deadly train accident in Virginia put the spotlight on railroad safety. The Pioneer Valley Railroad told 22News, four freight trains cross the tracks each day at Lockhouse Road in Westfield at about 10 miles an hours.

The safety upgrades will be done at three railroad crossing here in Westfield. Summitlock, Servicestar and here at the crossing at Lockhouse Road. The work begins in the Spring. Upgrades include a gate that will go up and down, indicators of an approaching train on the surface of the road, more signal and bigger flashing lights.

“Overall it’s about safety,” said Amber Danahey, the Outreach Coordinator for the city of Westfield. “We’ve been working with Pioneer Valley Railroad and MassDOT to look at how we can upgrade not only those location but Westfield has a few crossings. So they’ll all been looked at with these top three being the ones to address in the immediate future.”

The Pioneer Valley Railroad told 22News the crossing is not a public way.

“People never stop for the lights. It’s a safety issue for us. It’s the railroads right of way so it puts everyone at risk when they don’t stop. We’ve had a lot of incidents of it here all the time,” explained Charlie O’Connell the company’s Roadmaster.

Safety advice for drivers includes never stop on the tracks, don’t trust the flashing lights, use your eyes instead and know that snow can muffle the sound of an oncoming train.