The Coast News Group
Amtrak Siemens Charger
Amtrak's newer Siemens Charger diesel-electric engines are quieter and pose a greater risk for pedestrians illegally crossing the tracks. Photo courtesy of Amtrak
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Transit district plans rail-trespassing crackdown

COASTAL CITIES — Beginning Monday, the North County Transit District will enhance trespassing education and enforcement along the San Diego coastal rail corridor in advance of putting five new state-of-the-art locomotives into service the following week.

The Siemens Charger diesel-electric engines, designed to meet the latest emission standards, are significantly quieter than those they replace — a sound-reduction benefit to communities they travel through but a change that underscores the importance of avoiding trespassing on railroad right-of-ways, district officials said Wednesday in announcing the enhanced education and enforcement efforts.

In an effort to reduce train-related public hazards, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Transit Enforcement Services Unit will increase its presence along the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo rail line between Oceanside and San Diego prior to the Feb. 8 introduction of the improved locomotives, according to the district.

During the outreach period, deputies will work to educate the public on the dangers of venturing onto the tracks and, when appropriate, enforce penalties for anyone caught trespassing within the NCTD right-of-way.

Citations for such violations can carry 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, chief of safety services for the transit district.

“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 halt due to trespassers on or near the tracks, there is a risk of injury to passengers and crew members.

Additionally, unplanned stops require an inspection of the train and the section of rail it occurred on, as well as tests to ensure brakes are functioning properly.

Those procedures lead to a chain reaction of delays along the rail corridor, economic burdens to passengers unable to get to work and costs to taxpayers, who pay for the necessary inspections, NCTD officials noted.