NCTD: Don’t tread on Sprinter tracks

Don't even think about trespassing on the rails, NCTD says.

The luckiest man in San Marcos spooked North County Transit District officials so much they tightened pedestrian trespassing enforcement this week.

Meanwhile, the man who got struck by a Sprinter train traveling at 40 mph at the Palomar College Station is still at large after casually dusting himself off and walking eastbound on the NCTD tracks, presumably towards home.

Transit-Watch “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,” Becerra said. “What they don’t realize is that they are also risking the lives of hundreds of other people, too.”

NCTD officials said the district was “significantly increasing” its enforcement against trespassing along its Coaster rail corridor, which runs from Oceanside to San Diego through Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar and La Jolla, and along its Sprinter rail corridor, which runs from Oceanside to Escondido through Vista and San Marcos.

Those crossing the track 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, NCTD officials said. Penalties for trespassing on the railroad right-of-way can result in fines up to $500 and/or six months in jail, according to NCTD.

Last week a man who never has been found or identified, met his match with a Sprinter train sprinting along  on the railroad tracks at Los Posas Road and W. Mission Avenue, just west of the Palomar College Transit Center, sheriff’s Deputy Jason Burk.

The Sprinter train was going 40 mph when the engineer saw a person standing on the north side of the tracks at the pedestrian crossing, according to Burk.

The train’s horn was sounded but the person did not respond, the deputy said. The train’s emergency brakes were applied, but the person did not move and then the train, unable to stop in time, hit the pedestrian, Burk said.

The pedestrian then reportedly got up and walked eastbound.

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, according to NCTD.

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

NCTD bus and train routes.

NCTD bus and train routes.

Aside from injury risk, NCTD officials say, 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, according to NCTD.

“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,” Loofbourrow,said. “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 over 400 SPRINTER trains each week along its inland corridor and more than 130 COASTER trains each week along its 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) which is the second busiest intercity passenger rail corridor in the United States, NCTD officials said.

By the way enquiring policing minds want to know. what happened to this trespassing pedestrian with a death wish unfulfilled. The Sheriff’s Transit Enforcement Unit is investigating the collision. Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call the Sheriff’s Department’s non-emergency line at (858) 565-5200.

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