Is It Illegal to Walk on Train Tracks?

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Walking on train tracks is an activity that is both dangerous and typically illegal in the United States. This article explores the legal framework surrounding pedestrian access to railroad tracks.

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Railroad tracks are private property, and accessing them without permission constitutes trespassing. Trespassing laws vary by state, but unauthorized presence on railroad property is illegal under most jurisdictions.

“Railroad tracks are not public property. Walking on them or otherwise entering onto railroad property without permission is considered trespassing and subject to penalties.”

While there is no specific federal statute that declares walking on train tracks illegal, federal regulations support the enforcement of state trespassing laws, especially in the context of national transportation infrastructure security.

Each state enacts its own laws regarding trespassing, with many specifically identifying railroad tracks as protected areas. The consequences for trespassing can range from fines to imprisonment, depending on the severity and circumstances of the violation.

For example, California Penal Code Section 369g states:

“Any person who enters or remains upon railroad property, as defined in subdivision (d), without the permission of the owner of the land, … is guilty of a misdemeanor.”

The prohibition of walking on train tracks is largely a matter of public safety. Trains cannot stop quickly, and the risk of collision with pedestrians is high. Moreover, the tracks and the surrounding areas can present numerous hazards, from uneven surfaces to the presence of equipment.

It is legal to cross train tracks at designated public crossings. These areas are clearly marked for pedestrian and vehicular traffic and are intended to provide safe access across train tracks.

The enforcement of laws prohibiting walking on train tracks is typically the responsibility of local and state police, as well as railroad police forces. Penalties for trespassing can include fines, community service, or even jail time for repeat offenders or serious incidents.

In summary, walking on train tracks without authorization is illegal in the United States and is considered trespassing. These laws are in place to protect the safety of individuals and the integrity of the national transportation system.


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