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Beware of snakes while viewing trains

Train Talk

Summer is here, school is out and it's time for rail fans to visit the Tehachapi Loop. Rail fans can enjoy views of the trains, but they must keep a safe distance and not go on railroad property.

Here in Tehachapi, the best places to view the trains are from the Platform along Woodford-Tehachapi road at the loop or downtown from the deck outside the Depot. You will see both BNSF and Union Pacific on the tracks. These tracks are owned by Union Pacific which has a zero tolerance trespassing policy. Trespassing is both illegal and dangerous.

According to UP Public relations, "You can take all the pictures you want but we ask people to stay off the tracks and property so they can stay safe. The UP right of way is usually about 200 feet, stay 200 feet away from the tracks and you should be in the clear; plus to get a good shot of the train you probably want to be further back."

Union Pacific, BNSF and local police remind people not to trespass on railroad property and may cite trespassers.

Some other things to remember are that freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule. Be prepared to spend some time waiting. You should expect a train at every highway intersection and be aware that not all crossings are gated. Train tracks are private property and trains have the right of way 100% of the time over ambulances, fire engines, cars, police and pedestrians. A train car may extend 3 feet or more beyond the rail, so stay at least that distance from the side of the train to keep a safety zone.

Modern trains are much quieter than in the past. An approaching train will always be closer and moving faster than you think. Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signals.

Trains cannot stop quickly. That huge weight and size of the train and its speed dictate how quickly it can stop under ideal conditions. A 100-car freight train traveling at 55 miles per hour will need more than a mile to stop, that's about 18 football fields, once the train is set into emergency breaking.

It is also wise to beware of snakes this time of year. The Pacific Rattler is common in this area and venturing away from well-traveled areas near tunnels could be quite dangerous. Be particularly careful in the late evening hours in what would appear to be open areas. They enjoy the cool evening air.

The Tehachahpi Depot Museum is located at 101 W. Tehachapi Blvd. in Tehachapi.