Railway police crack down on people crossing tracks illegally

Railway police crack down on people crossing tracks illegally

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by AMY COWMAN / NewsChannel 36

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

AMY COWMAN / NewsChannel 36

Posted on June 2, 2011 at 4:21 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 2 at 7:04 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- More than 30 people in North Carolina died last year from train accidents.

Norfolk Southern says Kannapolis and Concord are large problem areas, so they've spent the past two days trying to educate and crack down on people breaking the law and putting their lives in danger.

Most people probably don't know that it's illegal to cross railroad tracks at a non-railroad crossing. Aside from being illegal, Norfolk Southern wants people know it can be fatal.

The sound of a train's horn blowing loudly is a clear warning a train is approaching, but Norfolk Southern says there's miles of tracks where people cross illegally and have no warning.

"Contrary to popular belief they can be extremely quiet. If you're not paying attention to what you're doing a train can sneak up behind you in a heartbeat," said Special Agent Joseph Talley with Norfolk Southern Railway Police.

Brandon Lee of Quick Cash pawn in Kannapolis witnessed that reality last December when his store camera caught an 18-year-old girl being hit and killed crossing the tracks.

"She looked both ways, had her hood pulled over her head. Everyday thing, -- no suicide or nothing, just total accident, train traveling 70 miles an hour," said Lee.

NewsChannel 36 rode the rail with crews looking for violators -- anything from graffiti to people hanging out to walkers.

"I'm a detective with the railroad police," said Talley as he approached a man illegally crossing the tracks.

Talley says they're trying to save lives and headache, considering every time the train has to emergency stop it can take hours before it can get moving again.

"That has a huge impact on the ability of emergency responders to go from point A to point B, for people just going to the grocery store," said Talley.

So they're hoping a citation might be a deterrent that could save a life. If you get caught crossing the tracks or hanging out on them, you could receive a $100 citation, possibly even jail time.

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