Press release - Police crack down on railroad trespassers

Published 9/13/2010 (all press releases for this day)

John Crombach
Chief of Police
Oxnard Police Department

R. Jason Benites
Assistant Chief

Scott Whitney
Assistant Chief



INCIDENT: Police crack down on railroad trespassers
DATE/TIME: September 2, 2010 6:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M.
LOCATION: City of Oxnard railroad tracks
PREPARED BY: Officer James Langford
Officer James Langford, 805-385-7650


On September 2, 2010, from the hours of 10:00 AM to 1: 00 PM, Officers from the Oxnard Police Department teamed with Special Agents from Union Pacific Police Department, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Homeland Security for a selective enforcement sweep of the railroad tracks running through the City of Oxnard from Camarillo to Montalvo. The goal was to look for trespassers on the private railroad property belonging to Union Pacific Railroad. Also, all vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists who failed to yield the right-of-way or obey train crossing signs/warnings for the train at grade crossings.

During the operation, officers witnessed 60 various violations. As a result, 4 persons were arrested for trespassing on Union Pacific Railroad property and 20 motorists were issued citations for various railroad related violations. Violators face fines and penalties ranging from $200.00 to $500.00 and possibly even jail time.

California was ranked # 2 in the United States for Highway-Rail grade collisions in 2009 with a total of 121 collisions. Out of the collisions, 91 were fatalities, 61 were trespass-related collisions with fatalities and 42 were trespass-related collisions with injuries.

The public is reminded that trespassing on Union Pacific Railroad property, or any railroad property, is a misdemeanor offense. It is also life-threatening endeavor considering the speed and size of any train. Any one found trespassing on railroad property is subject to arrest. In addition, it is illegal for any pedestrian, bicyclist or vehicle to travel around or under a railroad arm once the red warning lights and alarm are activated and the gate arm is closed or closing.

Listed below is some general rail safety information:

  • Freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule; schedules for passenger trains change. Always expect a train at every highway-rail intersection.
  • Train tracks are private property, no matter which railroad owns them. Trains have the right of way 100% of the time — over ambulances, fire engines, cars, police and pedestrians.
  • If there are rails on the railroad ties, assume that the track is in use, even if there are weeds or the track looks "rusty."
  • A typical locomotive weighs approximately 400,000 pounds or 200 tons. When 100 railcars are added to the locomotive, the train can weigh approximately 6,000 tons. The weight ratio of an automobile to a train is proportional to a soda can and an automobile.
  • A train may extend three feet or more outside the steel rail, which makes the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the rails themselves.
  • Trains cannot stop quickly. It is a simple law of physics: the huge weight and size of the train and the speed of the train dictate how quickly it can stop under ideal conditions. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour will need more than a mile to stop — that's approximately 18 football fields — once the train is set into emergency braking.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Trains are sometimes pushed by locomotives instead of being pulled. This is especially true in commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Modern trains are quieter than ever, with no telltale "clackety-clack." Also, an approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think.
  • Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
  • Never walk down a train track; it's illegal and it's dangerous. By the time a locomotive engineer can see a trespasser or a vehicle on the tracks, it is too late. The train cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
  • Remember: Rail and recreation do not mix!
Funding for this enforcement is provided to the Union Pacific Police Department by Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization to educate the public about railroad safety and making the community safer. More information about railroad safety can be found by go to:


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