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It’s time for Edmontonians to start watching for trains along the Valley Line Southeast LRT route set to open later this summer.

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The city and TransEd have launched a safety campaign to help drivers, pedestrians and cyclists alike prepare. This means new signs, signals, and rules in some places. Visits to schools, and community and senior’s centers are part of the campaign.

Drivers will notice right turns at red lights aren’t allowed at some intersections along the route. Pedestrians will find new signals and sounds played at train crossings along with yellow buffer strips on the ground. TransEd spokesman Dallas Lindskoog told reporters this week that sharing the road with trains is safe if everyone follows the rules of the road, including new signals and signs.

“We want people to be very aware of their surroundings… and if you have a red light, or you have a ‘don’t proceed’ as a pedestrian, please, please obey that. It’s for your safety,” he said.

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The reason for the no right turns on reds, Lindskoog explained, is to make sure drivers aren’t surprised by a train in their blind spot. Drivers turning left across the tracks also need to pay attention — it will only be safe to do so when the turn signal is green, he said.

TransEd representatives were in southeast Edmonton on Wednesday announcing the process of syncing trains with traffic signals was complete at three of 47 crossings. The remaining crossings are expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

This work co-ordinates signals for vehicles and other traffic with the train system, giving trains priority in some cases. Next, the company will move to line-wide testing and safety certification before service begins.

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‘Low-floor’ system

The Valley Line Southeast LRT line is a “low-floor” transit system with 26 trains. There aren’t any crossing arms, gates, or bells at intersections. Parts of the train route run alongside other traffic, meaning people should expect to see trains wherever there are tracks.

“It’s important for the public to be aware that we’re running trains 24 hours a day in support of all those testing and commissioning activities,” Lindskoog said. “It’s going to become very busy along the line.”

Asked if TransEd is worried about people wandering in front of trains with more pedestrian traffic and jaywalking in Edmonton’s core, Lindskoog said the entire train system has been safety tested and they are mitigating hazards.

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“Our drivers are aware that, of course, a person could jaywalk across the track … we’ll stop the train, sound the horn, but the message we want to give to the public is ‘don’t do that,’” he said.

“It’s no different than jaywalking on the road — that’s dangerous. Don’t cross the track unless it’s a designated pedestrian crosswalk.”

Trains go slower in the core — around 30 km/h — and stop more frequently so they can’t pick up as much speed, he explained

“It’s one of the areas that our drivers are going to be ultra-aware of their surroundings. The ability to stop quickly is increased because of the slower speed,” Lindskoog said. “Yes, it’s a risk but our drivers are being trained to be able to mitigate that risk.”

Lindskoog also warns people to stay off the tracks and away from the overhead lines which are always energized.

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