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Home > Blog > Exhibit Train Blog, 2011-2012 > Providence, R.I., July 30 and 31

Providence, R.I., July 30 and 31

Posted by admin at Aug 15, 2011 08:20 AM |
Creating a safe environment for passengers and employees has always been a top priority for Amtrak, so in Providence we were happy to be joined by folks from Rhode Island Operation Lifesaver.
Train at Providence Mystic Valley RS Providence Riverfront

Exhibit Train at Providence, R.I.

 Mystic Valley Railway Society Table 

Providence waterfront 

Located at the base of the State House grounds, Providence station is only a few blocks from the popular Waterplace Park along the Woonasquatucket River. The park includes a promenade, boat landings, amphitheater, sculpture, and fountains. On select summer evenings, the river comes alive during WaterFire, an art installation that features braziers cradling flickering bonfires just above the water’s surface.

While the Exhibit Train was parked down on the tracks, our station stop partners were set up under the elegant, shallow dome that seems to hover effortlessly over the waiting room. We were pleased to have the help of the Mystic Valley Railway Society, a group of rail enthusiasts who gather together to sponsor guest speakers, watch railroad-related films, and take excursion trips across New England. One of the most popular members of the crew is a puppet owned by Billy Manning. Outfitted as a conductor in striped overalls and hat, the puppet also wears spectacles and holds a red lantern to guide the way. Volunteering on the train, the duo happily answered visitors’ questions and pointed out items in the display cases. One wonders at the stories they could tell….

We were also joined by Rhode Island Operation Lifesaver (RIOL), the state chapter of a national railroad safety program that began in Idaho in 1972. Back then, there were approximately 12,000 highway-rail grade crossing collisions per year, and Idaho had a high accident rate. In response, the governor’s office, in partnership with the Idaho Peace Officers and the Union Pacific Railroad, sponsored a public awareness campaign called "Operation Lifesaver" (OL). Although meant to be a one-time deal, Idaho’s efforts were shown to have positively changed the public mindset about how to safely interact with tracks, rail crossings, and trains, and the state’s accident rate significantly decreased.

Building on this success, programs were started around the country, and Operation Lifesaver, Inc. was founded as a national, non-profit organization sponsored by the Railway Supply Institute, Amtrak, and the Association of American Railroads. OL has developed a three prong approach towards railroad safety. Education is provided by the volunteers involved in OL; engineering by the professionals who are responsible for improving and maintaining the crossings; and enforcement by local and state law enforcement officials and railroad police officers who enforce the laws at crossings and along the railroad right-of-ways.

RIOL members are trained to provide the official OL railroad safety class, and they give presentations at fairs and school assemblies. Enforcement is provided by officers from the Amtrak Police Department. Many RIOL volunteers are also members of the “Friends of Kingston Station,” a group that watches over the nearby Amtrak station at Kingston, RI. The Friends operate the Rhode Island Railroad Museum, teach children about railroad safety through the OL program, mentor an emerging “Young Railroaders” club, and generally keep an eye on the station in order to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Well, as they say, the railroad never stops. Next weekend we head to Boston, one of America’s oldest and most storied cities. Drop by to say hello and tour the Exhibit Train at beautiful South Station!

Billy Manning and Connor
Amtrak Police Officers
Operation Lifesaver Table

Billy Manning and Connor

Amtrak Police Officers also staff
Operation Lifesaver displays, such as
this one at the New London stop.

Operation Lifesaver Table