Security camera video from a northbound MetroRail train shows how quickly a dangerous walk can turn tragic. Out of the darkness, between RR1431 and New Hope Road, a woman appears along the side of the tracks. She is hit by the train.
An inside camera captures the reaction from the engineer as another camera on the side records the moment of impact. The woman was not killed.
This kind of incident is a problem that just won’t go away according to CapMetro safety director Darryl Jamail. "The contact, where the train makes contact with somebody, is relatively rare, but as far as the trespassing goes, it’s almost a daily situation where people are trespassing in the right of way."
In some cases, slow speed and flashing warning lights don’t even help.
Another video clip, a woman approaches the guard arms at a crossing, ducks around the safety devices and slams right into the front of the train. As the engineer calls for help, other cameras record how the woman tries to board the train, and then walk away.
"Most of the time we are not able to contact those individuals because by the time we get the report in, and get an officer over there, they've already gone because they are walking somewhere,” said Jamail.
The reported cases of trespassing on the Red Line are in the hundreds.
339 in 2016, 400 last year and almost 150 so far this year.
There are also encounters involving people who appear to be suffering from mental illness and substance abuse. In another video, as a MetroRail train approaches the upper deck of I-35, the engineer waves to a person she spots near a crossing, then moments later, there's another man standing along the tracks waving his arms.
He did not take a direct hit, but the video shows how the train brushes him back causing him to stumble to the ground. "From the rail, to out at least 10 feet is a dynamic envelope that the train could potentially occupy that space,” said Jamail.
CapMetro has increased safety patrols along the rails.
To fill in the gaps, new sensor technology may have to be installed onto the front of the trains.
Several buses are being used to test the equipment. Sensors are able to detect people and obstructions in blind spots. Some systems can even help with breaking there is no time table set to try the new technology on trains. "Oh as soon as it is practical we want to go an implement the best technology to ensure we can operate as safely we can,” said Jamail.
In the meantime Jamail said outreach programs continue in an effort to crackdown on rail road trespassing. "We need the community's help to help us change that cultural norm that people feel like they can walk across the railroad and its ok, it’s not."