I also bring this up now, because there is a growing level of enforcement of the no trespassing on railroad tracks law that demonstrates the incremental way in which tyranny occurs.
I get it that railroad employees don't want to have to deal with the tragedy and aftermath of stupidity, drunkenness or suicide by train. Nobody would. Cops don't like dealing with stupid, drunken or high people or those who wish to commit suicide by cop either. Automobile drivers don't like dealing with such things. Nobody does, but they happen. You could build the tracks high enough in the air to avoid people and vehicles or underground and those people would still find their way to the tracks. Because that is human nature and one of the unavoidable risks of having a railroad system.
There is also the private property argument - that this is the private property of the railroad. The thing is, railroads are seen as a necessity for the public good. Something that enables the ruthless use of eminent domain.
Eminent Domain and Railroads
"Many states have extended the right to take private lands for public use to certain companies, including railroads, because the states consider the use of such property to be fundamentally public."
Then the argument becomes why can't the public walk across the tracks or even on the tracks when they are not in use? The public has, in a way, purchased that land for the railroad companies by the use of eminent domain, giving the railroad companies a bargain. The railroad companies probably got a bargain from the government in the purchase of land that was not acquired by the use of eminent domain too.
By walking across the tracks for a purpose, when there is no train in the vicinity, the public is not damaging the tracks nor impeding the progress of the trains. That seems a fair exchange for the really enormous amount of power granted to the railroads because they are providing what the government regards as a public good. It is also prevents the reasonable objections the people would otherwise have made to giving up easy access to things across the tracks in places that are not near legal crossings.
So no,we do not own the railroads, but they are not as much private property, philosophically, as they would be were the land all purchased without the use of eminent domain. The fact is that if we did not recognize the railroads as a public good, they probably would not own that land either. It would have been far too expensive to purchase without the use of eminent domain and government cooperation. They were formed and continue to operate because of the good will of the people.
While there will always be grumblings from those who live near train tracks about the noise and inconvenience, we tolerate that because of the perceived good they do. How fast will that goodwill evaporate as more and more people are hunted down by the railroads to be ticketed for trespassing? Probably not fast enough in our current, corrupted, pseudo republic to do what should be done - restoring the exemption.
(Yes, that's 10 years between quietly dropping the exemption and enforcement, That way, when questioned about it law enforcement can say "but it's been the law for ten years, you should have objected back then if you had a problem with it." Also, it will slowly seep into the public consciousness in a way that will have our children accepting that it has always been this way. Given the rather poor education they have been/are being given regarding the founding philosophy of this nation and the exercise of rights, how would they even know to object? NOAA would be proud.)
(I was going to post a photo taken between the tracks here. The caption would have read:
"This is a photo that was taken from a public sidewalk at a marked crossing of a newly laid track which is being straightened by the slow moving piece of machinery you can see at the end of the visible track. Is it unsafe? It's a public sidewalk. Is it illegal? As a photo taken from a public sidewalk in a marked crossing, it shouldn't be."But I am finding that the stress incurred by the thought that the ever so powerful and rich railroads might choose to sue me into financial ruin just to make an example of how easy it is for speech to be chilled through lawfare and the imposition of unreasonable fines has worked. And I despise myself for the cowardice of that choice.)
Railroads work when there is cooperation. Blocking people's access to the other side of the tracks when there is no train is not cooperation. Asking for train schedules and permission if you are a professional photographer who wants to do a shoot, paying attention whenever you are around railroad tracks, checking for trains and crossing quickly and safely as a responsible person would - these are cooperation on the part of the public and just common sense too. Removing the exemption is not cooperation and is a poor exchange for the power to exercise eminent domain.
We cannot legislate away stupidity or depression. They are part of human nature. Punishing the rest of us for what those who do not have the common sense God gave a chicken do is pointless and will not stop those people from getting killed and traumatizing the railroad workers who had to watch it. As for depressed people using trains to commit suicide - suicide is already against the law.
The railroads are certainly making an effort to educate people about the fines for, and now criminality of, trespassing on the tracks. I suspect they could do the same for just plain educating people about the dangers of being on the tracks - aside from the obvious one. Things like uneven footing, the 3 feet a train extends from either side of the track, optical and auditory illusions created by hills, curves and valleys.
But quietly doing away with reasonable accommodations between the public good (railroads) and the normal and reasonable pursuits of everyday life (crossing a track to get to the other side - you know, like you do with roads) is how laws become tyrannical. The exemption needs to be put back.
"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:" ~ Romans 13:3