Norfolk Southern, JCPD urge railway safety through outreach program


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL)- Norfolk Southern representatives made their way to Johnson City Wednesday morning for a safety outreach program.

The goal was to help prevent injuries and deaths from people trespassing on railroad tracks and property.

Norfolk Southern Police and Johnson City Police teamed up for this safety event, talking to people and businesses along the tracks.

According to officials, about nine trains operate every day through Johnson City.

They also said that in 2018, “NS police issued warnings to 17 people and arrested one person for trespassing on the track in Johnson City along a four-mile segment from approximately University Parkway to Woodlyn Road.”

Railroad tracks are private property, so walking or playing on them is illegal.

Last year – two people were hit and killed by trains in downtown Johnson City. In late 2017 – another person was killed.

That’s why – police are working to educate the public on how to be safe around the tracks and that you should only be crossing in designated areas.

“When we see numbers starts to rise with fatalities, injuries or a lot of contacts we come out to educate the community on the dangers of being near railroad tracks, crossing railroad tracks and the safest ways to do those,” Hugh McCormack with Norfolk Southern Police said.

Officers gathered and hit the street downtown to hand out safety pamphlets.

“Horns sounding on the train yet people still run across the track at the last minute,” Sgt. Reggie Sparks with JCPD said.

They’re also sharing tips you might noe be thinking about before crossing the tracks.

“An average train doing about 55 miles per hour will take atleast a mile to come to a complete stop,” McCormack said.

They wanted to stress that designated crossing areas are the only safe places to cross.

The first time you’re caught trespassing, you’ll be given a warning. If you trespass multiples time you could be issued a citation or be arrested.

Norfolk Southern officials issued the following rules and safety tips when you are near the tracks:

  • Railroad tracks are private property. Walking or playing on them is illegal and trespassers are subject to arrest and fines.
  • The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing with either a crossbuck, flashing red lights, or a gate. If you cross at any other place, you are trespassing and can be ticketed or fined. 
  • Trains cannot stop quickly. A freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take a mile or more to stop. 
  • Never walk, run, cycle, or operate ATVs on railroad tracks, tunnels, or bridges. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for trains to pass. Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges! 
  • Never try to hop or jump aboard a moving train, and don’t try to climb between the rail cars of a stopped train as the train can start moving at any moment. 
  • Don’t stand close to railroad tracks. A train is at least three feet wider than the tracks on each side. 

You can report trespassers to Norfolk Southern Police by calling 1-800-453-2530.

Norfolk Southern officials said in 2018, Tennessee ranked 12th nationwide in trespasser casualties.

News Channel 11’s Justin Soto tagged along with authorities during the outreach program and will have more details starting on News Channel 11 at 5 o’clock. 

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