[Tweeters] trespassing on railroad tracks

dgrainger at birdsbydave.com dgrainger at birdsbydave.com
Mon Jan 10 17:33:39 PST 2022

We have a relative who is a Conductor, the person in charge of the
entire train. He has worked on rail for all of his life. Know that no
railroad employee ever has a cavalier attitude towards accidents on the
tracks. I also know that there are many hundreds of tons of steel moving
that cannot stop on a dime.

On 2022-01-10 16:46, Gary Bletsch wrote:

> Dear Tweeters,


> Thanks to Mark Tomboulian for broaching this topic. Just the other

> day, I too noticed a party of birders (or perhaps photographers)

> standing on the railroad tracks near the Swinomish Casino. One of them

> was actually sitting on the rails. Their view of the Emperor Goose was

> at best marginally better than the one I enjoyed by standing on a

> gravel walking path. I reckon I was 300 meters from the bird, and the

> trespassers had closed the range to perhaps 285 meters.


> Common sense would tell us all that any reasonably fit person could

> easily, almost effortlessly get out of the way of an oncoming train.


> Common sense does not reign supreme in human affairs. Over 400 people

> die in the U.S. every year after being hit by a train, according to

> the FRA. From reading newspaper accounts of such deaths from time to

> time, I have come to suspect that a lot of the incidents involve

> intoxicated people and the mentally ill. Others involve clueless teens

> walking the tracks while listening to music on headphones. Then there

> is the mistake of thinking that there is one set of tracks, when there

> are really multiple rail lines running parallel; the victim hears the

> horn blast, jumps off one set of tracks, and gets hit on the other

> side.


> US News and World Report states that a 40-year-old Tacoma man died on

> New Year's Day after being hit by a train while trespassing.


> A railroad employee presumably does not wish to expend energy trying

> to ascertain whether a given trespasser has the wits to get out of the

> way. I can't say I'd blame him-once he's responded to one such

> incident, he'd rather not do it again. Clueless teen, drunken

> vagabond, die-hard birder--they all look the same to Burlington

> Northern.


> As I understand it, trespassing is a misdemeanor, so a conviction

> could involve jail time and a hefty fine.


> I doubt that any birders or photographers are going to be hit by a

> train. I also doubt that anyone in the Padilla Bay area will end up

> being cited for trespassing. However, the railroad might decide to "do

> something." Right now, it is easy to view the Emperor Goose and all

> the other birds out there at the southwest corner of Padilla Bay. I'd

> hate to get out there and find all the roadside pullouts blocked off

> and a barrier erected along the tracks!


> Yours truly,


> Gary Bletsch


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