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Operation Lifesaver Riverside CA May 2004

Operation Lifesaver "Officer-on-a-train"

Downtown Riverside, California

May 24, 2004

Story and photographs by Richard Elgenson


Remember this train (below left)?  It was augmented with 2 more locomotives and the private passenger car "Silver Lariat" to become this (below right)! 


On May 24, 2004, Operation Lifesaver ran a special train called "Officer-On-A-Train"  to Riverside California to work with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company Police, Union Pacific Police, Riverside Police Department and Metrolink Sheriff.   The train highballed eastward out of Los Angeles County passing through Orange County to Downtown Riverside in Riverside County via the BNSF mainline tracks.  For the outbound trip information click here.  The train departed Metrolink Central Maintenance Facility (CMF) at 07:30 with the members of the Southern California Rail Safety Team and associated volunteers.  We had heard that there  had been some type of equipment failure that morning on Cajon Pass which shut down a track.  This affected rail traffic on BNSF and UP through Cajon the rest of the day.

The Southern California Rail Safety Team is a coalition of rail operators, transit agencies and rail safety advocates.  The Team was formed in June of 2000 and includes members from California Operation Lifesaver the Federal Railroad Administration, the California Public Utilities Commission, Amtrak, Metrolink, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the Union Pacific Railroad, the Pacific Harbor Line, the Coaster, and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.


The Officer-On-A-Train program is part of a statewide rail safety awareness campaign sponsored by California Operation Lifesaver, a national, non-profit highway-rail safety education education organization.  During the event local law enforcement officers ride in the locomotive of a special train to witness what train engineers observe daily as people attempt to beat a train.  As the train moves along the tracks the officers in the train will be in contact with officers on the streets to issue citations to motorists driving illegally through rail crossings or pedestrians trespassing on the tracks. 


The Team is assisted by the La Mirada HamWatch participants Phil Glenn, Robert Wren, Charles McDonald and Robert Filter.  These volunteers donate their time and the use of their own electronic equipment in the interest of public safety.  They were honored by the Los Angeles County Emergency Preparedness Commission, only one of four Los Angeles County groups to be recognized by the Commission.  This year they were honored by California Operation Lifesaver at the May Recognition meeting.


Reaching Riverside just before 09:30, the Operation Lifesaver special train pulled into the Metrolink Downtown Riverside station.  More Team members plus local press met the train at the station.  Riverside is a Metrolink station stop on their Inland Empire Orange County Line and the 91-LA Line.  Metrolink's IEOC line is unique due to the fact that it goes from suburb to suburb.  BNSF and Union Pacific Railroad send freight traffic through this line which funnels rail traffic to the Cajon Pass, some 25 miles distant.  The downtown Riverside Metrolink Station at 4066 Vine Street has approximately 710 parking spaces and connecting transit with Orange Blossom Express, Riverside Transportation Authority (RTA) Buses and Metrolink Express, RTA Dial-a-ride and Sunline Transit Agency Sunlink Express.


The Team with the train was to patrol about a 3 mile stretch of railroad between the Metrolink station and just short of Interstate 15, therefore milepost 11.5 to milepost 7.4.  Within 20 minutes, the train went to work patrolling the area from the Metrolink station proceeding eastward and back .  Major street crossings in the patrolled area include Mission Avenue, Kansas Avenue, Escondido,  Spruce Street, Chicago Avenue, Columbia Avenue, Palmyrita Avenue, Iowa Avenue, and Center Street   The Rail Safety team inspects the crossings in question well before the event to make sure traffic flow design issues are proper, otherwise they do not do the Officer-on-a-train event until any issues are resolved.  This particular day, there was not a press conference. The local press boarded the train and rode one round trip.  This Operation Lifesaver train had work to do and it made numerous runs back and forth between the Metrolink Downtown Riverside Station up to short of Interstate 215.

Page 2 Riverside Officer-On-A-Train

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