Union Pacific to run 'safety train' today

Union Pacific Railroad will have a special safety train running this morning from Kennewick to Hermiston.

The five cars, with diesel locomotives at each end of the train, will have passengers, including the railroad's shipping customers and elected officials from the Tri-Cities on board for the short, three-hour round trip, said Jeffrey Jarvis, UP's manager of train operations based in Hermiston.

UP officials have scheduled the special train to raise public awareness about a railroad safety program called Operation Lifesaver.

Aaron Hunt, a UP spokesman, said the railroad has seen a 37 percent decrease in crossing grade accidents in the past 11 years, which is attributed to rail safety leaders working with community leaders about motorists and pedestrians making proper use of designated railroad crossings.

Accidents involving motorists and pedestrians in the Tri-City area have been infrequent, averaging fewer than one a year, according to the Herald's archives.

The special safety train can be observed on its run from downtown Kennewick going west to Columbia Center Boulevard, then returning for a crossing over the Columbia River at Finley toward Hermiston and back.