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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Trespass Prevention

FRA works in partnership with railroads, state and local governments, and organizations to conduct outreach efforts to raise awareness about the inherent dangers and consequences of trespassing on railroad property—illegally entering or remaining on a railroad right-of-way. FRA also provides multiple resources to assist these stakeholders and the public to prevent trespassing.

Trespassing Is Dangerous and IllegalTrespassing is Dangerous and Illegal

Trespassing is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in the United States. Nationally, more than 500 trespass fatalities occur each year. The number of trespassing occurrences on railroad property each year far exceeds the number of fatalities, which means the potential for more trespasser accidents.

It is illegal to access private railroad property anywhere other than a designated pedestrian or roadway crossing. Trespassers are most often pedestrians who walk across or along railroad tracks as a shortcut to another destination. Some trespassers are loitering or are engaged in recreational activities such as taking photographs, jogging, bicycling, hunting, or operating recreational off-highway vehicles (ROVs). Riding ROVs along railroad tracks leads to the erosion of an important part of the track foundation known as ballast, or the rock and soil material that supports the ties and rail. Damage to the ballast degrades the entire track structure and can lead to a train derailment—which can cause a hazardous materials spill or damage to other people and property.

Always Expect a Train!

  • Trains do not follow a set schedule, so they can come at any time of day from either direction. 
  • A train traveling at 55 miles per hour can take more than a mile to stop. 
  • Trains overhang railroad tracks by three feet or more on either side. Even when you are not standing directly on the tracks, you risk being hit by a train by being on railroad property. 
  • Despite their size, trains are relatively quiet and do not always sound warning horns when approaching a crossing. 
  • Never attempt to walk under, around, or between train cars, even when a train is at a complete stop.
  • For more safety tips, view FRA's I am a Pedestrian/Motorist webpage. 

Community Trespass Prevention Program

The Community Trespass Prevention Guide is a program for local, state, and national partnerships aimed at reducing trespassing and its related injuries and deaths. The goal of the program is to create safer communities by fostering the development of long-term trespass prevention strategies through community problem-solving partnerships. The program incorporates a problem-solving model with a step-by-step approach for dealing with trespassing issues in communities.

Trespass & Suicide Prevention ToolkitTrespass & Suicide Prevention Toolkit

FRA has an interactive resource, the Trespass & Suicide Prevention (TSP) Toolkit, to identify effective strategies for trespass and suicide prevention and mitigation on the Nation’s railroads. The TSP Toolkit is useful for individuals who work in railroad safety and for researchers, community members, suicide prevention groups, or other individuals or organizations with an interest in preventing trespassing and suicide.


National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property

FRA’s National Strategy to Prevent Trespassing on Railroad Property is a 2018 Report to Congress that includes four strategic focus areas:  data gathering and analysis, community site visits, funding, and partnerships with stakeholders.

Data gathering and analysis of trespass incidents and close calls enables FRA to target resources to trespassing "hot spots." Conducting community site visits helps FRA to learn more about the specific local circumstances that contribute to trespassing and work with partners to help implement and evaluate targeted mitigation strategies. Requesting and providing funding supports community-based efforts to deter trespassing. Finally, building strong and enduring partnerships with communities, law enforcement, railroads, and organizations with a shared interest in saving lives enables FRA to leverage and concentrate available resources, expertise, and local knowledge to reduce trespassing.

Click here to access the report.