CN warns against trespassing on its property

Fines increased this year by federal government

Fines have been increased to deter trespassing and other illegal activity within CN tracks and property. (Photo courtesy CN)

Fines have been increased to deter trespassing and other illegal activity within CN tracks and property. (Photo courtesy CN)

James Thorne has a word of advice for Houston dog owners out exercising their pets.

Stay off CN’s trestles in the area, says the veteran CN police officer who patrols the company’s tracks and property in the Houston area.

People walking their dogs are probably the most flagrant examples of trespassing along CN’s tracks and property in the area, he said during a recent interview.

Any trespassing is not only illegal but also dangerous to the person or persons, Thorne added.

He acknowledged that level crossings such as Benson and Tweedie are a concern when it comes to trespassing but that trestle trespassing tops his list in the Houston area.

“It’s just very dangerous,” Thorne noted.

Thanks to a federal grant approved this year, and after years of lobbying, the District of Houston has the financing to place lights and gates at the Benson Ave. crossing.

It’s work that will be done by CN crews and it will take place next year.

With more than 30 years of experience as a police officer, Thorne is based in Prince George where, with another officer, is responsible for CN policing from Prince George east to Tete Jaune Cache and west of Prince George to Houston.

Thorne said information provided by citizens and close cooperation with the RCMP is also vital in curtailing trespassing and other illegal activities.

“There are lots of times we rely on the RCMP,” he said.

While Thorne can pinpoint particular problem areas in Houston, it’s Burns Lake that is tops on his list of trouble locations between Houston and Prince George and he can even pinpoint the day of the week and the time when trespassing is the worst.

“Burns Lake on a Tuesday,” said Thorne, pinpointing the time period from late morning until early evening when track trespassing on that day is the most prevalent.

Intoxicated local people make up the greatest number of trespassers, he added.

CN does erect fencing at some locations where there’s been a lot of trespassing and where there’s a lot of CN activity.

That’s the case in Terrace where there’s a significant railyard in the middle of the city.

Still, there have been two deaths this year and one injury in Terrace resulting from people being struck by trains. That’s on top of two deaths in 2016, another death in 2017 and one injury in 2017 within the Terrace CN railyard.

Fines can act as a deterrent as well as education and reinforcing the message that injury and death can be the result of trespassing, Thorne said.

This past June, the federal government used provisions within the Railway Safety Act to raise fines for both trespassing on railway property and for not giving way at railway crossings when trains approach.

“It’s important to get that message out,” said Thorne of the updated $500 trespassing fine as well as the $750 fine for not giving way.