MnDOT, Operation Lifesaver caution about trespassing on railroad property
ST. PAUL, Minn. – As summer approaches and warmer weather brings more people outdoors, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and Operation Lifesaver remind the public that walking on railroad property is illegal and dangerous.
In 2016, nine people were either killed or injured in Minnesota as a result of trespassing, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Trespassing along railroad rights of way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in the U.S.
“The only safe and legal place to cross railroad tracks is at a designated public crossing,” said Tim Spencer, MnDOT Rail Planning and Program Development supervisor.
Railroad tracks and surrounding land are privately owned by the railroads. On average, railroad property extends a minimum of 25 feet on either side of the tracks and could be wider.
Hiking or taking a shortcut across railroad property to hunt or fish are all illegal activities. Taking photos on tracks and railroad property is also illegal and has become popular in recent years, often with tragic results.
“It’s not only illegal, but dangerous and deadly,” said Sheryl Cummings, executive director for Minnesota Operation Lifesaver. “It’s not just the people who are killed and injured who are impacted from these risky behaviors. It’s family, classmates and colleagues, paramedics, law enforcement and others who respond to the scene. It’s also the engineer and conductor who can’t stop the train in time.”
More than 40 percent of the trespass deaths and injuries in Minnesota were people between the ages of 16 and 30. The FRA states that more than 50 percent of the trespass deaths and injuries involved someone who was intoxicated.
For more information go to the Operation Lifesaver website or the MnDOT rail safety website.