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Fort Collins Police Partner with Railroad Officials for Education, Enforcement

Released on Monday, October 14, 2019
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Fort Collins Police Services is partnering with the BNSF Railway Police Department to educate community members about railroad safety and prevent track-related tragedies.

In an effort to reduce dangerous behavior around railroad tracks, police will be conducting extra enforcement around major crossing areas this month. In addition to enforcement activities, officers will be sharing safety information to encourage safe, smart decision-making. Police urge people to observe the following safety tips and have conversations with family members about this information:

  • The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights or a gate. Crossing at any other place is trespassing and can result in tickets or fines. Cross tracks ONLY at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings.

  • Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fines. Trespassers will be subject to criminal prosecution. Worse, trespassing can result in injury or death in a busy rail yard.

  • It can take a mile or more to stop a train, so a locomotive engineer who suddenly sees someone on the tracks will likely be unable to stop in time. Railroad property is private property. For safety reasons, it is illegal to be on railroad property unless crossing at a designated area.

  • Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet in both directions, and loose straps hanging from rail cars may extend even further. People in the right-of-way next to the tracks can be hit by the train.

  • Do not cross the tracks immediately after a train passes. A second train might be blocked by the first. Trains can come from either direction. Wait until the area around the first train is open and unobscured in both directions.

  • Flashing red lights indicate a train is approaching from either direction. People who fail to obey these signals can be fined. Never walk around or behind lowered gates at a crossing, and DO NOT cross the tracks until the lights have stopped flashing and it's safe to do so.

  • Do not hunt, fish or bungee jump from railroad trestles. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges. Never walk, run, cycle or operate all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on railroad tracks, rights-of-way or through tunnels.

  • Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad equipment at any time. A slip of the foot can cost a limb or your life.

    "Railroads are an integral part of our community here in Fort Collins," said Fort Collins Police Chief Jeff Swoboda. "All community members have a personal responsibility to remain alert, aware, and safe around trains."

    According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 7 train-related deaths and 15 injuries occurred in Colorado alone last year as a result of trespassing.

    For more information about railroad safety, visit the Operation Lifesaver website at Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public safety education and awareness organization dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and trespassing on or near railroad tracks.

    * Safety tips courtesy of Operation Lifesaver