September is Rail Safety Month and the nearly completed VTA BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension (Phase I) provides a platform to drive home an important safety message...stay off the tracks!
This week, Santa Clara County saw it's first BART train running along the new 10-mile extension. Test trains like the one below, not carrying passengers yet, will be used to test the communication systems, tracks and software. This is known as the static testing phase and one of the milestones VTA and BART must achieve before safely opening for passenger service.
Static testing will continue into 2018 which means the public should expect to see trains sporadically on the BART tracks during this testing phase. Trains will run along the entire 10-mile extension with speeds ranging from as low as 5 mph to upwards of 80 mph. Testing will occur during the day and night.
A number of measures were built into the project to mitigate noise and vibration for the neighboring communities during service operation. Soundwalls along the trackway and vibration and noise absorbing products under the tracks, such as “tire-derived aggregate” (rubber pieces) or “floating slab” (a concrete slab supported by a resilient layer), are just a few examples.
Stay off the tracks!
While new BART service in Santa Clara County will operate in the same manner as the current BART system, the public should be aware of key differences between VTA’s light rail system and the BART system.
VTA’s light rail vehicles draw power from an overhead electrical system. In contrast, BART vehicles use a different system that draws power from a contact rail on the ground, better known as the third rail, which is powered by 1,000 volts of electricity. For that reason, all tracks throughout the BART system, including those in Santa Clara County, are fenced-in. The tracks are also entirely separated from roadways and walkways, providing faster train service, no impact to auto traffic and a safer, more accessible environment for the public.
It is important that the public obey all safety signage and stay out of all fenced-off areas of the project. The system is electrified and during the testing phase should be considered “live” at all times. The two station areas are still active construction sites and are patrolled by law enforcement officers and private security.
VTA “Solutions That Move You…Safely”!