NCTD ramps up rail trespassing enforcement with jail time

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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The North County Transit District (NCTD) is significantly increasing enforcement activities against trespassers along both the Oceanside to San Diego and Oceanside to Escondido rail corridors.

Those crossing the tracks illegally or trespassing on the railroad right-of-way will face criminal penalties for their violation of the law by NCTD’s Transit Enforcement Division Officers, or the San Diego County Sheriff’s Transit Enforcement Services Unit. The penalties for trespassing on the railroad right-of-way can result in fines up to $500 and/or  six months in jail.

“There’s an increasing problem we are seeing, and it needs to be stopped—now,” said Jaime Becerra, NCTD Chief of Transit Enforcement. “Every day, people are blatantly risking their life as they illegally cross these tracks. What they don’t realize is that they are also risking the lives of hundreds of other people, too.

Each time 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. “A train doesn’t stop like a car, and it definitely can’t swerve like a car,” said Becerra.

In addition to the risk of injury, emergency stops require an inspection of the rail after they occur. This legally mandated inspection delays passengers on that particular train, and can adversely affect the rest of the rail corridor. The inspection and delays can result in not just a cost of time, but an economic burden to passengers unable to get to work, and to taxpayers who pay for the inspection.

“With a trespasser on the rails, the best-case scenario is that hundreds of passengers are inconveniently delayed due to an emergency stop. But far too often the results are tragic,” said Sean Loofbourrow, NCTD Chief of Safety. “There is no such thing as illegally crossing a railroad track safely. It’s always unsafe, and it’s always wrong to jeopardize the safety of others just for the convenience of crossing where you want to cross.”

NCTD operates more than 400 Sprinter trains each week along the inland corridor and more than 130 Coaster trains each week along the coastal corridor, with additional trains  operated by Amtrak, Metrolink, and BNSF Railway. It is part of the Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor (LOSSAN), the second-busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the U.S., after the Northeast Corridor.





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