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Brightline Railroad Ranks Deadliest in the Nation

February 04, 2020

FL- Officials are looking to find ways to curb the death toll caused by the Brightline railroad in Florida, according to GPBNEWS.ORG. The privately-owned company operates high-speed rail service running between Miami and West Palm Beach. The trains run through about 70 miles of heavily populated South Florida. In the first two years, the trains tragically killed over 40 people, leading to Brightline earning the undesirable title of the deadliest train service in the nation.*

The train line itself is not new. The tracks were put in place more than 100 years ago, but until recent years, only slower freight trains have used them. The victims, which include pedestrians, cyclists, and occupants in cars, are dying at a rate of about one every month or more. Brightline began an education campaign warning the public to stay off the tracks. A spokesperson stated that people are too likely to take risks, such as trying to beat the train by crossing when the gates are down. 

The company also points out that about three out of four of the fatalities are the result of suicides or drug use.  According to a spokesperson for the high-speed rail service, the high rate of intentional deaths on Brightline is not unique to the company, but rather impacts all railroads in the United States. However, the United States Department of Transportation cites a much smaller number of suicide-related train deaths in comparison.  

Rail safety activists are not convinced that the numerous deaths are primarily due to suicides.  The critics argue there are not enough safety features, such as pedestrian channeling, pedestrian gates, pedestrian bridges and more fencing.  They argue that the railroads simply need more protections to prevent these deadly incidents. Brightline argues that fencing is extremely expensive.

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