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State Transit Officials Adopt New Rail Safety Rules Following BART Fatalities

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Crews inspect the scene near the Walnut Creek BART station where two workers were hit and killed by a train on October 19, 2013. (CBS)

Crews inspect the scene near the Walnut Creek BART station where two workers were hit and killed by a train on October 19, 2013. (CBS)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The California Public Utilities Commission has unanimously adopted new rail safety regulations, less than two weeks after two Bay Area Rapid Transit workers were killed while working on the tracks.

The first of its kind rail safety rules, governing BART and other transit agencies statewide, have been in development since 2008. Officials said the rules were put on the fast track following the deaths of 58-year-old Christopher Sheppard and 66-year-old Laurence Daniels on the afternoon of October 19.

CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman said the new rules now require three-way radio communication among central command, train operators and wayside workers.

“No train may enter the work area until all three individuals confirm one, their locations, two, the safety provisions being used and three, the actual implementation of those safety protections,” said Peterman.

BART spokesperson Alicia Trost said the three-way communication will be in effect within 90 days. “Additionally, we are going to put back-up alarm beeping on our maintenance track vehicles,” she said. “This is something that we have a little concern about because it’s very loud, and if you live near a BART track, you’re going to hear it in the middle of the night.”

The resolution was crafted in a way that allows for further adoption of rules, following the results of the National Transportation Safety Board investigation into the BART worker’s deaths.

Sheppard and Daniels were working on tracks between the Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill stations during the BART strike, when they were struck and killed by a train.

They had been working under the “simple approval” practice, where workers would communicate their position over the radio, but then be responsible for their own safety while working on BART tracks. Workers were required to work in pairs, with one acting as a lookout for any oncoming trains.

BART has since eliminated the practice.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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