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Rail Rights - Our Wrongs
Jeff Barnouw | Amphitheatre Drive

Train collisions with pedestrians around 11th and 12th Street in the last months have revived concerns about safety along the bluffs. A jogger “running onto the tracks” was thrown down the cliff some 40 feet into rocks and brush but not seriously injured. Was he actually hit? Or could the force of concussed air have such an effect? A women walking on the tracks was hit by a Coaster and hospitalized.

Perhaps we find out only when the accident is fatal, as in the tragic case of former Del Mar Mayor Lou Terrell who was struck northbound train and killed trying to get his dog off the tracks in 2014. The shock of that event is still being felting the community.

The Sheriff’s Office (SO) reports there have been 17 train collisions on the tracks in their jurisdiction since February 2015. The SO also reports 37 “near misses” for Coast Boulevard and 32 for the Bluffs since 2014.

The two recent accidents do not constitute a pattern, but there is an implication that the bluffs are becoming ever more dangerous for pedestrians as our walking and running space is eaten away by the erosion of the cliffs. The legal limit of the railroad right-of-way extends 100 feet in either direction from the center of the tracks. The SO has been issuing trespassing citations to pedestrians on the bluffs at the behest of North County Transit District (NCTD), not the City of Del Mar, after a first warning . The warning includes a printed list of “Rail Safety Tips” which concludes, “Stay Off the tracks Stay Away from railroad property and Stay Alive!”
NCTD reports that it has “an entire Safety Department that ensures investigations are performed and findings are reported to proper regulatory agencies. You can learn more about safety and security on our website.”



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