Norfolk Southern discusses dangers of walking along railroad property after man falls from trestle bridge in Lynchburg

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — A man reportedly fell to his death from the railroad trestle at Riverside Park in Lynchburg Sunday morning, which is why Norfolk Southern is reminding the community about the dangerous — as well as illegal — nature of walking on railroad property.

According to the Lynchburg Police Department, officers and first responders were dispatched to to the scene after the report came in on Sunday, April 25. Police and first responders attempted life-saving measures, but they were unsuccessful.

In addition, authorities say woman who was also on the train trestle was examined by medics on-scene and was released

The Blue Ridge Railway Historical Society tells WFXR News Sunday’s incident marks the 21st “close call or fatality” on the James River bridge.

Norfolk Southern shared the following statement with WFXR News about Sunday morning’s fatal incident:

Norfolk Southern offers its condolences to the individuals and families of those involved in the tragic incident this morning in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Norfolk Southern reminds the public that it is extremely dangerous, and also illegal, to walk on or within the right-of-way of private railroad property, including tracks, bridges, and trestles. It’s important to stay alert around railroad tracks and always to expect a train. Pedestrians and motorists should only cross railroad tracks at designated crossings and use caution at all times.  

Norfolk Southern encourages community members to visit the Federal Railroad Administration website for more information about the dangers of trespassing on railroad property and trespasser prevention.

In addition, Norfolk Southern referred to Operation Lifesaver, which offers the following safety tips to help educate the public and raise awareness about rail safety:

  • Freight trains don’t travel at fixed times and passenger trains’ schedules often change, so always expect a train at any highway-rail intersection.
  • All train tracks are private property. Never walk on tracks; not only is it illegal trespassing but it is also highly dangerous.
    • It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop. Trains cannot stop quickly enough to avoid a collision.
    • The average locomotive weighs about 400,000 pounds or 200 tons, but it can weigh up to 6,000 tons. This makes the weight ratio of a car to a train proportional to that of a soda can to a car.
  • Trains have the right of way 100% of the time over emergency vehicles, cars, police, and pedestrians.
  • A train can extend three feet or more beyond the steel rail, which puts the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the three foot mark. If there are rails on the railroad ties, always assume the track is in use, even if the track looks unused or has weeds.
  • Trains can move in either direction at any time. Sometimes its cars are pushed rather than pulled by locomotives, especially in the case of commuter and light rail passenger service.
  • Modern-day trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale “clackety-clack.” Any approaching train is always closer and moving more quickly than you think.
  • Remember to only cross train tracks at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Also, obey all warning signs and signals posted there.
  • Stay alert around railroad tracks. Refrain from texting, headphones, or other distractions that would prevent you from hearing an approaching train.

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