Railroad Crossing Safety

There are 119 active public railroad rail crossings in the three counties that make up the Pioneer Valley.¹

All of these crossings are marked with various forms of passive signage — and most of them are also marked with active traffic control devices, e.g., flashing lights, gates, and bells.

There are also 121 private railroad crossings in the Pioneer Valley¹ — e.g., farm crossings and crossings for private roads.

¹According the highway-railroad crossing inventory records on file with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

A sampling of railroad crossings in the region

Location – Damon Rd, Northampton | looking West
Railroad line – Connecticut River Main Line / owned by MassDOT

The crossing also has a set of flashing lights mounted on a gantry structure over the road. The active and passive warning devices at this crossing were replaced in 2015 as part of the Knowledge Corridor Restore Vermonter project.

There have been no reported accidents at this crossing since 1975 when the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) started collecting accidents reports related to highway-railroad crossings.

Location – Bridge St, Amherst | looking North
Railroad line – Palmer Subdivision / New England Central Railroad

The crossing also has a active warning devices (flashing lights and bells) as well as passive signage.

FRA accident records show that there have been a total of five collisions at this crossing since 1975.

Location – Springdale Rd, Westfield | looking North
Railroad line – Pioneer Valley Railroad

This crossing has passive signage which consists of crossbucks and yield signs.

FRA accident records show that there was just one accident at this crossing since 1975.


Federal Railroad Administration accident reporting

From the FRA’s Office of Safety Accident/Prediction website it is possible to generate a report (shown below) of all public highway-rail crossing in our region, ranked by predicated accidents per year.

Public Highway-rail Crossings Ranked by Predicted Accidents (PDF)
Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties in Massachusetts as of 12/31/2020
Source: FRA Office of Safety Accident Prediction System

Notably, the report shows that there were no reported accidents at public railroad crossing in the Pioneer Valley during the most recent two year period, from January 1, 2019 – December 31, 2020.

The report shows that there were a total of seven (7) reported accidents at public railroad crossing in the Pioneer Valley during the five-year period from January 1, 2016 – December 31, 2020.

The number of railroad crossing accidents in our region is exceedingly low compared to the approximately 75,000 reported vehicle crashes that occurred in the Pioneer Valley during the same five-year period. (Source: MassDOT Crash Portal)


Railroad Emergency Notification System

This video teaches drivers and the public how to stop a train if something is obstructing the tracks. The Emergency Notification System has a toll free number to call at every grade crossing.


Further information

Railroad Crossing Safety & Trespass Prevention
Federal Railroad Administration

Crossing Inventory and Accident Reports
Federal Railroad Administration

Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook – Third Edition (PDF)
Federal Highway Administration | 2019

Public Blocked Crossing Incident Reporter
Federal Railroad Administration

::

The Train Horn Rule and Quiet Zones
Federal Railroad Administration

Sherman Street Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Upgrades
City of Cambridge | Cambridge, MA
Details of the process followed in Cambridge to establish a quiet zone.

Page last updated: November 12, 2021
Page last reviewed: November 12, 2021