Federal Railroad Administration announces more than $500,000 to deter trespassing

Written by Press Release
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Nuria Fernandez is the new administrator of the Federal Transit Administration.
U.S. Department of Transportation

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) awarded more than half a million dollars in Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grants to law enforcement agencies today to support life-saving trespass abatement in multiple states.

“This money will help local law enforcement agencies deter people from taking unnecessary risks around railroad tracks, while continuing the focus on those specific populations that are known to subject themselves to such risks around railroad tracks,” FRA Administrator Ronald L. Batory said.

The Federal Railroad Administration will provide law enforcement grants to cover officer wages for the following projects:

California – Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board Reducing Trespassing on Caltrain Right-of-Way
Up to $48,500
This partnership among law enforcement agencies supporting the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board will help deter unsafe behaviors on Caltrain’s 77-mile-long right-of-way between San Francisco and Gilroy. The allied law enforcement officers will increase public awareness, refer people to specialized services, and assist the homeless residing along the rail right-of-way. This project addresses a documented trespassing problem. From 2017-18, 123 trespassing incidents were reported in this area, resulting in 1,180 hours of train delays.

California – San Bernardino Police Department Operation Safe Rails

Up to $80,000

The San Bernardino Police Department will focus on a 30-mile section of track, identifying vulnerable locations and pedestrian behaviors likely to contribute to trespass-related injuries or deaths. Officers will increase surveillance efforts and maintain a visible presence at hotspots, and utilize the department’s all-terrain vehicles to reach areas that are not easily accessible otherwise. The target area includes the Santa Fe Railroad Depot, which serves Amtrak and Metrolink lines, including a downtown Metrolink. BNSF Railways and Union Pacific also operate in the area.

California – Southern California Regional Rail Authority Metrolink Trespasser Reduction Task Force
Up to $50,008
The grant will help fund a six-month pilot, Special Operations Trespasser Reduction Task Force. Four Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies will work with rail authorities and local law enforcement to deter trespassing activities between Chatsworth Station and Burbank Airport South Station. Authorities in 2019 identified the area as a trespassing hot spot.

Florida – Broward Sheriff’s Office Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grant
Up to $80,000
The grant will help pay overtime for officers conducting education, outreach, and enforcement to reduce trespassing along the railroad tracks. After using predictive analytics and geospatial data to identify trespassing hot spots, officers will employ foot patrols, drones, and all-terrain vehicles to access remote areas. The sheriff’s office will coordinate activities with its Homeless Outreach Team. Florida East Coast, Brightline, and South Regional Transit Agency operate in this area.

Florida – City of Jacksonville Railroad Trespassing Education and Enforcement Project
Up to $20,100
Officers will conduct education and enforcement, targeting approximately 16 miles of railway. The enforcement campaign will focus on three major railways in Duval County and multiple freight and Amtrak stations. Duval County has 242 public grade crossings where trespassing risk is greatest, and research shows 75 of those are trespassing hot spots. The city will measure the project’s success based on educational contacts, verbal warnings, written warnings, and citations officers issue. Railroads operating in the project area include CSX Transportation, Florida East Coast Railway, and Amtrak.

Florida – Hollywood Police Department Trespassing Pilot Grant Program Operation Fast Track
Up to $50,000
This six-month enforcement and educational campaign will combat trespassing by maintaining a visible law enforcement presence along 6 miles of railroad mainline track. In partnership with Operation Lifesaver, the Hollywood Police Department will provide educational materials in several languages to improve awareness of trespassing dangers. The project relies on data analysis of trespassing incidents to identify hot spots. Over the past two years, more than 175 trespassing incidents have been reported to the Hollywood Police Department. The railroads operating in the project area include Florida East Coast Railway, Tri-Rail, Brightline, and Amtrak.

Florida – Tampa Police Department Trespassing Prevention Program

Up to $41,920

The Tampa Police Department will address trespassing along 55 miles of the railroad right-of- way, using enforcement and education activities. Officers will investigate trespassing incidents and issue warnings or arrest those violating rail-related trespass laws. Homeless liaison law enforcement officials will provide information about community resources, including substance abuse and mental health care. CSX tracks in the area have multiple entry points where trespassing and other criminal activity occur. CSX Public Safety Coordination Center dispatchers logged 469 calls about the area during the past year.

Massachusetts – City of Fitchburg Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Program
Up to $7,500
This rural project in a qualified opportunity zone includes enforcement activities in hot spots that have the highest concentration of rail trespassing incidents in Fitchburg. The project’s education focus will also address the motivations for trespassing in the area and connect residents with social services. Along 2 miles of railway near the Intermodal Train Station, assigned officers will issue citations and warnings, and arrest people for trespassing. The City’s trespassing problem is well-document, particularly at hot spots. Railroads operating in this area include MBTA, Pan-Am, and Amtrak.

Montana – Billings Police Department Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grant
Up to $50,000
The Billings Police Department, Yellowstone County Sheriff’s Office, Laurel Police Department, Montana Public Safety Commission, and BNSF Railway Police formed a task force to combat trespassing near BNSF Railway and Montana Rail Link properties in Billings and Yellowstone County. Activities include meetings, training events, trespass and crossing enforcement blitzes, and homeless camp identifications. Officers will use marked police vehicles, all-terrain vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, wireless security cameras, and police dogs. In 2019, the task force issued 357 trespass warnings and 52 citations. Officers arrested 34 for trespassing and 57 for violating other laws related to railroad property.

North Carolina – Greensboro Police Department Railway Trespass Initiative
Up to $40,000
This comprehensive trespass prevention program includes directed law enforcement patrols at railroad trespass hot spots. Greensboro’s railroad trespass enforcement target area encompasses a 3-mile railroad corridor in a densely populated area, one of five major trespassing locations in the State identified in research conducted by the North Carolina State University, Institute for Transportation Research and Education. Additionally, officers will focus on educating the public on the dangers of rail crossings, collecting data on trespassers, and enforcing trespass laws. Officers will also utilize the department’s all-terrain vehicles to reach areas that are not easily accessible otherwise. Railroads operating in the project area include Norfolk Southern and Amtrak.

New Jersey – New Jersey Transit Police Department FY19 Railroad Trespassing Enforcement Grant
Up to $60,000
The project helps develop a rail trespassing program to track, share, and report incidents; identify hot spots; and enforce trespassing laws to deter trespassers at five hot spots along the New Jersey Transit rail line. The six-month project includes quick deployments to hot spots and establishes protocols, data collection, analysis, and reporting. New Jersey Transit’s Communications Department Marketing Division and Safety Department will distribute trespassing materials in problem areas, increasing public awareness of trespassing dangers. Increased enforcement and interactions with trespassers is expected to reduce trespass incidents and minimize accidents and fatalities in this project area. Railroads operating in the project area include New Jersey Transit and Amtrak.

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