Caltrain skirtsschool’s requests to lengthen track barrier 

Caltrain has no plans to extend its fencing near the site of the second of two horrific accidents Thursday, despite requests from nearby school officials, an agency spokesman said.

Caltrain spends around $1 million a year to build and repair fencing, according to Caltrain spokesman Jonah Weinberg, who said some people do work around or cut through the fencing that exists. Officials at Redwood High Continuation School, near the site of the second death, have asked that fencing be extended past their campus.

Jóse Alvarez, 18, of Hayward, died Thursday after reportedly trying to cross the tracks at the Redwood City-San Carlos border, in an area where there was fencing on both sides, Weinberg said. The site is just a few feet away from the end of the fencing. Alvarez was not a student at the school.

Redwood High Continuation School officials said that in spite of persistent warnings to students not to cross the tracks, many are tempted to grab a bite to eat at nearby Carl’s Jr., KFC or Mountain Mike’s Pizza, all within sight of the school. An 8-foot-high fence that blocks access to the tracks for about one-quarter mile from Whipple Avenue stops directly in front of the high school. "We’ve been after Caltrain to lengthen the fence for years," said Javier Galaviz, who has taught at the school for seven years.

A security guard at the school focuses his attention on school property and doesn’t patrol the tracks across the street, where at least five "no trespassing" signs are clearly visible, officials said.
"This is a tragedy that’s not going to go away," County Supervisor Jerry Hill said. "We can prevent it as much as possible, but I don’t think we’ll ever see the end of this kind of tragedy."

Also on Thursday, Caltrain officials said the agency would offer counseling to its staff and Mountain View riders who witnessed a separate, early-morning fatality, in which a man dove in front of a Baby Bullet train moving at 78 miles an hour in an apparent suicide.
The few riders waiting on the Mountain View platform were subjected to a grisly shower by the impact, and Caltrain will be sending representatives to the tracks Friday to reach those who fled. The express Baby Bullet trains, which don’t stop at every station, move at high speeds through bypassed stations.
"We’re going to … let people know about [grief] counseling that’s being made available," Weinberg said.

Caltrain workers already receive professional and peer counseling through the Care Program, according to Ed Adams, chairman of United Transportation Union Local 1732, which represents conductors.

Caltrain spends $15,000 annually on track safety educational programs.

The staff is also working with the San Mateo County Health Department to try to identify suicide trends and prevent them, Supervisor Hill said.

It further launched an enforcement program this year to give citations for trespassing and other unsafe behavior.

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