West Springfield Police District – Stretching for miles and seemingly rarely traveled, train tracks can evoke a feeling of nostalgia, free-spiritedness or wanderlust. The reality is that train tracks are a dangerous area and the scene of various life-threatening and fatal accidents each year. Most recently in Fairfax County, on May 16, an 18-year-old woman was struck and killed by a train in the 9500 block of Burke Road. She was walking in the area with friends. Walking on or along railroad tracks is not only dangerous, it is considered trespassing (VA State Code 18.2-159), a criminal violation.
In an effort to reduce the number of train-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities, officers of the West Springfield Neighborhood Patrol Unit partnered with the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police last month as part of their Trespassing Abatement Program. The program aims to deter pedestrians from walking or playing near train tracks through both education and enforcement efforts.
Officers and special agents were out in the area of the Burke Virginia Railway Express on Thursday, June 16 between 2 and 4:30 p.m. They came across several people walking on or near the tracks. Twelve juveniles, between ages 11 and 17, were stopped, counseled and released to their parents or guardians. A 55-year-old man was issued a warning and a 26-year-old man was charged with trespassing.
Officers also handed out safety brochures with information on dangers associated with trespassing on railroad property. A Norfolk Southern 2015 sustainability report noted that in 2014, a person was injured while trespassing on their property at an average rate of one injury every 2.5 days. We encourage everyone to keep your personal safety in mind when driving or walking near train tracks and property, stay away from prohibited railroad property and only cross at designated areas.