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Chargers Siemens
Several Siemens Charger locomotives are entering rail service on Feb. 8. The trains are significantly quieter than older models. Screenshot/YouTube
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Quieter locomotives prompt North County Transit District to step up education

REGION — Starting today, the North County Transit District will enhance trespassing education and enforcement along the San Diego coastal rail corridor in advance of its plans to place five new Siemens Charger locomotives into service on Feb. 8.

The locomotives are diesel-electric powered engines meeting government emission standards. They are considerably quieter than the current F-40 locomotives, which could be a benefit to the public — but also highlights the dangers of trespassing on the railroad right-of-way.

“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.”

Pedestrians frequently cross railroad tracks illegally to access the beach. Photo by Dan Brendel

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Transit Enforcement Services Unit will increase its presence along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo 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.

According to an NCTD statement, a high percentage of accidents and fatalities that occur along the rail lines are preventable and unrelated to suicide attempts.

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.

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 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.

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