Make Them Safe! High speed train briefing February 26 with Senator Mayfield


State Senator Debbie Mayfield

Join State Senator Debbie Mayfield for a briefing on train-related issues next Tuesday, February 26, 1 pm, at the Heritage Center in downtown Vero Beach.

State Senator Debbie Mayfield will be joined by a number of other elected officials and grassroots organizations to bring attention to the issues of higher speed rail operating in our region and potentially throughout the state.  Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari, representatives from Citizens Against the Trains, Florida Not All Aboard and the new Florida Alliance for Safe Trains will discuss the Florida Office of Public Policy and Government Accountably findings on train safety and what FDOT must do to Make Them Safe!

 “The issue of safety needs to be addressed immediately. As noted in the OPPAGA Florida Passenger Rail Study, Virgin Trains USA is operating in high density urban areas.  A high number of at grade crossings means increased risk at over 120 intersections in the region. Ensuring the safety of our citizens is my greatest priority.” Mayfield explained.

The OPPAGA study revealed passenger rail systems in Florida are the most deadly in the country. Worse yet, it found a glaring lack of regulations governing trains operating at 80 mph to 125 mph including Virgin Trains USA, which plans to top 110 mph through four counties.

The Florida Alliance for Safe Trains is a new and growing grassroots movement of everyone who understands the perils of SoftBank’s Virgin Trains USA. 15 People have died on the Virgin Trains USA tracks. From deadly at grade crossings to liquefied natural gas tankers sharing the rails to  millions of taxpayer dollars in federal subsidies and local fees, the project should not move forward with its plans to reach Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville.

During the 2018 legislative session, Senator Debbie Mayfield sponsored legislation requesting the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability (OPPAGA) contract a third party consultant to examine all existing and planned passenger rail systems regarding regulatory jurisdiction and safety.

The Florida Passenger Rail System Study, conducted by CPCS Transcom Inc., identified key issues:

• High rate of severe injuries and fatalities and high levels of trespassing incidents on railroad right of way due to rail services operating in dense urban areas.

• Gaps in regulations that are specific to higher-speed rail operations and a series of rail expansion projects.

• The need to clarify Florida Department of Transportation’s mandate on oversight of passenger rail with respect to maintenance, safety, revitalization, and expansion.

• The lack of resources for local governments for planning rail projects

Susan Mehiel, Florida Alliance for Safe Trains, pointed out, “It’s no small coincidence that the future plan for Virgin Trains is to reach Tampa and Jacksonville.  This will mean the owner of FECR, Grupo Mexico will have double freight capacity to all of the major ports in the state.”

The Alliance wants to alert Florida residents around the state they will be the next threatened communities when these unsafe trains continue building their project using taxpayer subsidies.  “Averaging nearly 1 death per month since testing began in phase one, Virgin Trains have yet to reach the Treasure Coast where they are planned to achieve the even higher speed of 110 mph. When they do, one can only imagine the nightmare,” the Alliance president explained.

The briefing will be held Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 1 pm at the Heritage Center in Vero Beach, Florida, 2140 14th Avenue, Vero Beach, FL 32960. It is open to the public and the media is encouraged to attend for on-on-one interviews with our elected officials.

For more information on the event, please call Susan Mehiel, The Alliance, 828-606-5369

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