NCTD to increase rail trespassing education and enforcement

Jan. 29, 2021
The enhanced enforcement begins Feb. 1 and aims to deter further trespassing and increase safety on the COASTER rail line.

The North County Transit District (NCTD) is enhancing trespassing education and enforcement beginning Feb. 1, along the San Diego coastal rail corridor in advance of its plans to place five new Siemens Charger locomotives into revenue service Feb. 8. 

The new state-of-the-art locomotives are diesel-electric powered engines that meet the newest emission standards, Tier 4. In addition to being environmentally friendly, the new locomotives are considerably quieter than the current F-40 locomotives, which is a benefit to the public but also highlights the dangers of trespassing on the railroad right-of-way. 

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Transit Enforcement Services Unit (TESU) will increase their presence along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo (LOSSAN) rail line between Oceanside and San Diego. Education will be a key part of this campaign with deputies educating trespassers on the dangers of the tracks and passing trains. A high percentage of accidents and fatalities that occur along the rail lines are preventable. NCTD intends to educate the public about train safety to avoid these unfortunate accidents. 

As needed, deputies can enforce penalties for those trespassing within NCTD’s right-of-way. Persons cited crossing the tracks illegally or trespassing within the rail right-of-way may face criminal penalties that can result in fines up to $500 and potentially up to six months in jail. 

“It is never a good idea to cross a railroad track unless you’re at a legal crossing,” said Sean Loofbourrow, NCTD chief of safety. “Trespassing across the rail line can result in tragic accidents that produce a ripple effect of trauma across the greater community. Witnesses, train crews, family members, friends and riders are all impacted by these tragic accidents. The momentary convenience of crossing the tracks illegally is never worth jeopardizing the safety of yourself and hundreds of others.” 

When a train comes to an emergency stop due to trespassers on or near the track, there is a risk of injury to the passengers and train crews who didn’t expect a sudden stop. In addition to the risk of injury, emergency stops require an inspection of the train, the section of rail it occurred on and an air test to ensure brakes are functioning properly. This not only delays the individual train, but also the rest of the services on the rail corridor. This can result in an economic burden to passengers unable to get to work, and a cost to taxpayers who pay for the necessary inspections. 

NCTD operates daily COASTER commuter rail service along the San Diego coastal corridor. In addition, NCTD’s rail partners Amtrak, Metrolink and BNSF, also offer commuter rail and freight service daily along these tracks. The LOSSAN rail corridor is the second busiest intercity passenger railway in the United States.