Stay Off Train Tracks: It’s Trespassing and Deadly

Trespassing on train tracks is against the law and has led to deaths in our county. About every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the U.S. and Fairfax County wants to end that trend.

Many residents are not aware that our modern trains are much quieter and faster – and can have a stopping distance of one mile or more. What may seem to be a harmless selfie opportunity or crossing tracks to get home faster can be very dangerous. It is also considered trespassing, a criminal violation.

“Part of what we do as a police department is prevent tragedy through education campaigns, like railroad safety,” Chief Roessler said. “Trespassing on tracks is a crime.”

train chief

To highlight the county’s commitment to train safety, Chief Roessler and county officials joined with the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) for a rail safety media event at the VRE station in Burke today. In addition to Roessler, speakers included:

  • Braddock District Supervisor John C. Cook
  • Lee District Supervisor Jeff C. McKay
  • Virginia Railway Express (VRE) CEO Doug Allen
  • Fire and Rescue Chief Richard R. Bowers Jr.

train bike team

Police officers regularly patrol the train tracks in the county.

What to know:

  • Train traffic through the county is higher than many other parts of the United States. Eastern Fairfax County hosts a heavily used freight corridor that is also used by VRE and Amtrak. Western Fairfax County hosts Norfolk Southern’s Washington District mainline used by VRE and Amtrak.
  • The county has made great progress at closing and eliminating at-grade roadway crossings. Roberts Parkway, Burke Lake Road, Rolling Road and others have all been reconfigured over the past several years to safely bridge roadway and pedestrian traffic over the railroad tracks.
  • In 2016, 980 deaths and injuries occurred nationwide because of trespassing on railroad tracks and 2,039 vehicles were struck at grade crossings. Virginia accounted for approximately 17 trespass and 30 grade crossing incidents.
  • Rail Safety Week is Sept. 24 -30.