Fairfax County Police joined officers from the Norfolk Southern Railroad for a two-day enforcement and education effort on and near railroad tracks in the West Springfield district this week.
Over 800 safety pamphlets were distributed to businesses and residents in the Burke area on Wednesday, September 16. Officers were dispatched to known trespassing spots on Thursday, September 17 and cited over a dozen people, mainly high school students, with warning notices. The West Springfield FCPD Neighborhood Patrol Unit rode bicycles into remote areas near the tracks and cited three people for trespass and drug-related offenses. The goal of the program was to educate the public as well as enforce trespassing laws. These areas were selected for the effort based on trespassing data, including fatalities and injuries between people and trains. (see information below)
Railroad tracks are off limits to joggers, walkers, cyclists, hunters, fishermen, three-wheelers and others. Remember the following and help spread the word:
Trains cannot stop quickly; they cannot swerve, they may or may not be on “schedule” and they can approach quietly from behind.
Joggers and walkers wearing headphones are of particular concern and may not hear the approaching train.
Trespassing on train right-of-ways is serious business. If trespassers are spotted on the tracks, report them to 800-453-2530.
For more comprehensive information about rail safety education, see Operation Lifesaver.; http://oli.org/education-resources/saftey-tips/safety-tips-and-facts/.
A brief video, produced by Norfolk Southern Railroad, provides a powerful message regarding the dangers of walking on tracks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDQOEt6nFV0.
(9/16/15) Stay off the Tracks: FCPD Pedestrian Enforcement Partnership with Railroad Police
Did you know that railroad tracks and the area around them are private property? Trespassing along them puts you at risk of more than just getting a ticket. It could cost you your life.
Officers from the Fairfax County Police Department are partnering with the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police Department (NSPD) to raise awareness of safety around rail lines in Fairfax County. The collaborative effort is part of the NSPD’s year-long Trespass Abatement Program, aimed at reducing trespassing along tracks, rights of way, and equipment to reduce the number of deaths and injuries.
Fairfax County was chosen as the location for the effort due to the number of injuries and casualties involving railroad property locations. Per the NSPD:
2014 Trespasser Casualties: Fatalities – 3; 2 involved juveniles
- 2015 YTD Trespasser Casualties: Injuries – 1 juvenile sustained multiple lacerations and a broken hand
- 2014 Trespasser/Law Enforcement Interactions:
- Warned & Ejected: 19; 15 of those were juveniles
- Arrest: 3; 2 of those were juveniles
- 2015 YTD Trespasser/Law Enforcement Interactions:
- Warned & Ejected: 15; 11 of those were juveniles
- Arrest: 4; all juveniles, 3 were involved in a train rocking incident that FCPD handled
Norfolk Southern and the Fairfax County Police offer these safety reminders:
- Trespassing on railroad tracks is dangerous and illegal. The tracks, rail yards and equipment are private property. Walking, hunting, fishing, etc. on railroad tracks is considered trespassing. You could be hurt or killed.
- The only safe place to cross railroad tracks is at designated public crossings where there are warning signals. If you cross anywhere else, you can be ticketed and fined.
- Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet on either side. If you are in the right of way near a track, you can be hit.
- Do not hunt, fish, or bungee jump from railroad trestles. Trestles only have room for a train. They are not designed to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges. Never walk, run, cycle, or drive ATVs on tracks, rights of way, or through rail tunnels.
- Never attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment. A slip of the foot could cost you your life.