Commuter Train Safety Tips for Passengers

The New Jersey Transit train crash last month at Hoboken station was a chilling reminder of what can happen on our daily commutes. If you were on a train involved in an accident, would you know what to do and how to get to safety? Here’s a review of commuter train safety tips for passengers, especially in an emergency situation, courtesy of the MTA Metro-North Railroad.  Many of them are common sense, but they bear repeating.

General safety reminders

Step back from platform edges, and concentrate when stepping on or off the train. Be sure to step over the gap between the train and platform. Use the stair handrails, especially after rain or snow, when steps and platforms can become wet and slippery. When standing on a moving train, hold on to bars or handholds. Also, always use the overpass/underpass/designated walkway to get from your station parking lot to the platform, and vice versa.

Another thing to keep in mind: if you see something, say something! Reporting anything out of the ordinary to a police officer or train crew member could save many lives.

In case of emergency

Evacuations don’t happen often on trains, and are usually related to a passenger’s medical condition. Should an emergency situation occur, the most important thing is to remain calm, think clearly, and follow the instructions of the train crew.

Know the signage

  1. Familiarize yourself with safety signage. Whenever riding on a train, take time to read emergency signs and locate emergency doors and windows in the train car, so you will know how to locate and operate emergency exits.
  2. Don’t leave the train on your own. In many cases, leaving the train car is most dangerous thing you can do in an emergency. Tracks may still be electrified; other trains may still be in motion around you.
    If you can’t stay in the car you are on, walk calmly to another car that is unaffected by the emergency. Listen for instructions or help from the train crew.
  3. Report the emergency to a train crew member. If there is an emergency, or you see something out of the ordinary, report it immediately to a train crew member.
    The sooner the crew knows about an emergency, the sooner they can act to bring the situation under control. On newer cars, two-way intercom systems are located near the doors.
  4. Follow safety instructions from the crew. If an emergency occurs, it is important that you follow the instructions of the train crew, as well as the instructions of rescue, fire, or police on the scene.
    Stay calm and remain seated and wait for the train crew to inform you about the emergency either in person or through the train’s public address system. In most instances, all you need to do to be safe is to move to another car on the same train. If an evacuation is necessary, crew members will help you exit quickly and safely.

If evacuation is necessary

In most train evacuation situations, emergencies can be managed without taking customers off of a train. If a full train evacuation is necessary, crew members will provide specific instructions.

If possible, a “rescue train” will pull alongside the disabled train, and an evacuation board is placed at the exit doors to serve as a walkway between the two trains. On very rare occasions, you may be evacuated to track level with evacuation ladders that are stored on every car. If you are in a wheelchair, you might be evacuated by stretcher, with your wheelchair removed separately and returned to you as soon as possible.

If you are directed to evacuate to the track level, it is very important to follow the train crew’s directions carefully, watch your step and stay away from the third rail or any downed wires that may be on the ground.

Leaving through emergency exits

All Metro-North train cars have emergency door opening panels and emergency exit windows. Again, before an emergency takes place, look for the emergency information posted on each car and become familiar with the location and operation of emergency exits on the various train cars you ride in.

In an emergency, use the exit doors to exit the train car. They can be opened by following the instructions on the Emergency Exit panel located in the vestibule area of the car. The panel is clearly labeled with an instructional sticker on how to open it.

Once the panel is open, slide the red lever to open the doors. On some cars, the narrow windows in the vestibule doors can be kicked out. If you cannot exit through the doors, you may have to use the emergency exit windows. Each emergency exit window is clearly marked by an instructional sticker on or above the window, and the sticker will glow in the dark.

Emergency Brake Systems

In extreme cases, you may consider pulling the emergency brake. Use the emergency brake only when the forward motion of the train presents an imminent danger to passengers. Don’t activate it unless necessary, especially in a tunnel. Once the emergency brake is pulled, the brakes have to be reset before the train can move again, which reduces the options for dealing with the emergency.

Source: MTA On-board Train Emergency and Evacuation Instructions.

Fall 2016 New England Events

Ah, fall is in the air—the temperature is dropping, the leaves are changing, and pumpkin spice items are aplenty.  Whether you want to get out of the house, the office, or the city, here are some fun and festive events going on all over New England, courtesy of

Twilight on the Connecticut River Cruises – Essex, CT
When: Now through October 14
Where: Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, One Railroad Avenue Essex, CT
Fridays through October 14, enjoy sunset cruises on the Connecticut River from the riverboat, Becky Thatcher, plus the spectacular natural phenomenon of hundreds of thousands of tree swallows swarming in choreographed flock over Goose Island.
Telephone: 860-767-0103

Taste of Haymarket – Boston, MA
When: October 14
Where: Tour departs from the corner of Congress and Hanover Streets Boston, MA
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes walking tour of this historic market as it opens for the day. Learn about its history and how it has changed over time.
Registration required, please call 617-994-5920 or buy online.
8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Admission: $35
Telephone: 617-994-5920

Frightful Friday Ghost Stories and Tour at Gore Mansion
 2016 – Waltham, MA
When: October 14-28
Where: Gore Place, 52 Gore Street Waltham, MA
Get in the Halloween spirit with an evening of spooky tales and haunted activities at the 1806 Gore mansion. See the mansion at night. Tour lasts one hour.
Dates: October 14, 21 & 28, 7:00 p.m. and 8:15 p.m.
Admission: $15; children ages 5-12, $10

Nashua ArtWalk Weekend 2016 – Nashua, NH
When: October 15-16
Where: Various locations Nashua, NH
Take a leisurely stroll along the ArtWalk Route featuring participating artists, restaurants and performers. Browse the art, catch live music, enjoy craft demonstrations, tour the Abbot-Spalding House Museum, and more.
11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Telephone: 603-883-8093

Newport Historical Society Tour of the Month: Photographing Stones and Souls in the Common Burying Ground – Newport, RI
When: October 15
Where: Tours meet at The Brick Market, 127 Thames Street Newport, RI
Calling all photographers: The material, craftsmanship and aging of the stones resting in Newport’s Common Burying Ground provides a wealth of images waiting to be photographed. For photographers of all skill levels; proper footwear recommended. Walking tours last approximately 75 minutes and depart weather permitting. Reservations recommended for all tours.
Time: 11:00 a.m. Admission: $15 per person
Telephone: 401-841-8770

Vortex – Rhode Island Horror Film Festival – Providence, Newport, and others
When: October 17-22
Where: Various locations Providence, Newport, and others
Love scary movies? This festival will showcase a wide array of Sci-Fi and Fantasy cinema, the annual H.P. Lovecraft Walking Tour, a Date-Night of Horror with costume competition; two making films forums, and more. Most films intended for mature audiences; children under 14 not admitted without an adult unless otherwise noted. Parental discretion is advised.
See website for schedule and times.

“A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” – Boston, MA
When: October 18-23
Where: Shubert Theatre, Citi Performing Arts Center, 270 Tremont Street Boston, MA
Charting the rise and fall of the social climbing Monty Navarro (Kevin Massey) and his bizarre quest to off all who stand between him and the coveted D’Ysquith Earldom, this Edwardian caper is based on the classic Ealing studios hit Kind Hearts and Coronets, which starred Alec Guinness in the multi-character role.
Time: Curtain times vary; see event website for times and admissions.

Harvest on the Harbor 2016 – Portland, ME
When: October 20-23
Where: Ocean Gateway Pier, Portland Company Complex, Merrill Auditorium Portland
The three-day event will feature seminars, tastings, and exquisite dinners crafted by renowned chefs from Maine and afar. Learn from food experts, sip fine wines, beer and spirits. Maine chefs compete for the title of Maine’s Best Farm-to-Table Restaurant, and much more. Consult event website for times.
Telephone: 207-772-4994

Fall Orchid Sale – Waltham, MA
When: October 21-23
Where: Lyman Estate Greenhouses, 185 Lyman Street Waltham, MA
Celebrate orchid-blooming season with hundreds of orchid plants for sale, including many hard-to-find varieties. Visit the greenhouses and enjoy gorgeous floral colors, shapes, and scents: Staff available to offer expert advice. 9:30 a.m.  – 4:00 p.m.
Telephone: 617-994-5913

Fall Harvest Celebration 2016 at Patriot Place – Foxborough, MA
When: October 22
Where: Patriot Place,2 Patriot Place Foxborough, MA
Enjoy fall activities for all ages, including bog harvesting with Ocean Spray, pumpkin and spray painting, hayrides, live music, appearances by Pat Patriot and the New England Patriots Cheerleaders, sidewalk sales, and more. 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Pumpkin Train with Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. – Portland, ME
When: October 22-30
Where: Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum, 58 Fore Street, Portland
Ride aboard the Pumpkin Train for family fun! All visitors treated to complimentary hot cider and cookies as they travel along Portland’s waterfront. Children can explore the museum and paint a miniature pumpkin to bring home as a souvenir of the day.
Dates: October 22-23 and October 29-30. Trains run on the hour from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Museum is open 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission: Adults, $10; seniors, $9; children at 3 to 12, $6.
Telephone: 207-828-0814

The Essex Fall Craft Show 2016 – Essex, VT
When: October 28-30
Where: Champlain Valley Exposition, 105 Pearl Street Essex, VT
See and purchase fine woodworking, baskets, candles, pottery, photography, paintings, birdhouses, stained glass, calligraphy, gourmet specialties, and more.
Time: Friday, noon – 6:00 p.m.; Saturday, 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.; Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Admission: $8; free parking.

Washington Green Cemetery Tour 2016 – Washington, CT
When: October 28
Where: Gunn Museum, 5 Wykeham Road Washington, CT
Tour groups follow a magical path of 1,000 luminarias spanning a quarter-mile through the shadowy cemetery and hear the lively and dramatic stories of Washington’s past residents. The cemetery is dark and everyone is encouraged to bring a flashlight. Event is free, donations are appreciated. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Rain date is October 30.

Mysterium, the Eternal Masquerade – Providence, RI
When: October 28
Where: Providence Public Library, 225 Washington Street Providence, RI
Through the puppetry of TEN31 Productions, the story is presented with a mesmerizing combination of living art installations, theatrical and dance performances. Event will culminate with desserts and dancing. Doors will open at 7:30 p.m.; performance is 8:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. and dancing followed until midnight.
Admission: $100, includes food all night, open bar and performance.

The Haunting at Witch Hill – Topsfield, MA
When: October 30
Where: Peirce Farm at Witch Hill, 116 Boston Street Topsfield, MA
Travel back to Victorian times at the gentleman farm of railroad tycoon T.W. Peirce, where you’ll hear eerie ghost stories in the manor house, enjoy game and music in the barn, and savor a complimentary signature cocktail. Cash bar. Victorian attire encouraged. Event is a fundraiser for Essex Heritage. 6:30 p.m. Admission: $50 per person before October 1 and $65 thereafter.

Historic Craft Classes at Old Sturbridge Village – Sturbridge, MA
When: November 5-6
Where: Country Bank Museum Education Center at Old Sturbridge Village, 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road Sturbridge, MA
At these adult workshops, learn a historical craft, from blacksmithing to textiles, coopering, and more. All class registrations close three days before the event. See website for times and admission or call 508-347-0290.