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City Attorney to Crack Down on Railroads

The city attorney has warned railroad companies operating in Richmond to conform to laws and regulations governing Quiet Zones and grade crossing blockages. Click here for the warning letter from the city attorney to the railroad companies.

 

Click here for information on Richmondís Quiet Zones and Click here for a complaint form.

 

Trains that are switching (stopping, starting, changing direction)are regulated by California Public Utility Commission General Order 135 (below), which impose a 10-minute limit. Trains that are passing through moving only in one direction are regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration, and there is no limit on how long they can block a crossing. If you want to complain, I suggest contacting Congressman George Miller to suggest federal regulations that limit crossing blockages.

 

GENERAL ORDER 135

REGULATIONS GOVERNING THE OCCUPANCY OF PUBLIC
GRADE CROSSINGS BY RAILROADS

Adopted September 11, 1974. Effective November 1, 1974.
Decision No. 83446 in Case No. 8949.

IT IS ORDERED by the Public Utilities Commission of the State of
California that each railroad corporation operating in the state of
California shall observe the following regulations in conducting
operations on and across public grade crossings:

1. TRAIN MOVEMENTS-Except as provided in Paragraph 5, a
public grade crossing which is blocked by a stopped train, other
than a passenger train, must be opened within 10 minutes, unless
no vehicle or pedestrian is waiting at the crossing. Such a cleared
crossing must be left open until it is known that the train is ready
to depart. When recoupling such a train at the crossing, move-
ment must be made promptly, consistent with safety.

2. SWITCHING MOVEMENTS-Switching over public grade cross-
ings should be avoided whenever reasonably possible. If not
reasonably possible, such crossings must be cleared frequently to
allow a vehicle or pedestrian to pass and must not be occupied
continuously for longer than 10 minutes unless no vehicle or
pedestrian is waiting at the crossing.

3. GRADE CROSSING PROTECTION CIRCUITS-Cars or locomo-
tives must not be left standing nor switches left open within the
controlling circuits of automatic gate protection devices unless
time-out features are provided to allow the gate arms to rise.

4. There are no time restrictions for crossing occupancy for a moving
train continuing in the same direction.

5. These time limit provisions shall not apply to any blocking
resulting from compliance with State and Federal laws and
regulations, terrain and physical conditions, adverse weather
conditions, conditions rendering the roadbed or track structure
unsafe, mechanical failures, train accidents, or other occurrences
over which the railroad has no control, except that such crossing
shall be cleared with reasonable dispatch.

6. In the event of any uncontrolled blockage involving more than
one grade crossing and a peace officer is on the scene, primary
consideration shall be given to the clearing of that crossing which,
in the peace officer's judgment, will result in the minimum delay
to vehicular traffic.

7. A crew member of a train blocking a public crossing shall
immediately take all reasonable steps, consistent with the safe
operation of such train, to clear the crossing upon receiving
information from a peace officer, member of any fire department,
as defined in Section 2801 of the Vehicle Code, or operator of an
emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165 of the Vehicle Code,
that emergency circumstances require the clearing of the cross-
ing.

8. Any agreement between a railroad and a public agency in effect
on the effective date hereof or, in accordance with Attachment A,
subsequently approved by this Commission permitting certain
crossings to be blocked for a time period other than specified
herein shall prevail.

9. Any railroad or public agency1 may, by formal application to this
Commission, request a variance from the regulations prescribed
herein or have different regulations provided in connection with
operations over a specific crossing where local conditions so
require. The contents of the application shall be in accord with
Rule 15 of the Commission's Rules of Practice and Procedure. The
application shall detail any previous steps that may have been
taken in an attempt to reach an agreement on the proposed
variance and shall list any public agencies within the geographic
area or any railroads that might be affected by the variance. A
copy of the application shall be mailed to all such public agencies
and railroads and a certificate of service regarding such mailings
shall accompany the application filed with the Commission.

10. The district attorney of the proper county or the city attorney
designated to prosecute misdemeanors in his stead shall prosecute
noncompliance with this General Order by means of a misde-
meanor complaint issued against the railroad corporation in
accordance with Chapter 11, Part I, Division I of the Public
Utilities Code.

This order shall become effective November 1, 1974.

Approved and dated at San Francisco, California, this 11th day of

September, 1974.

PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

By William R. Johnson

Secretary

Attachment A

(Agreement re Variance)

The following procedures shall be followed when Commission
approval is sought for an agreement between a railroad and a public
agency regarding any proposed variance from this General Order
that is reached subsequent to the effective date of the general order.

A letter jointly signed by the parties to the agreement shall be filed
with the Commission. Said letter shall state all information pertinent
to the proposed variance agreed upon by the parties, including a
traffic count for the crossing for which the variance is sought. In
addition to the signing parties, the letter shall specify any other
railroads or any other public agencies within the geographic area that
might be affected by the variance, including the California Highway
Patrol, the sheriff, and police and fire departments. A copy of the
letter shall be mailed to all such public agencies and railroads and a
certificate of service regarding such mailings shall accompany the
letter filed with the Commission. Any affected public agency or
railroad may file with the Commission an objection to the proposed
variance no later than 20 days after the date on which the variance-
request letter was mailed to the Commission.

Any variance granted shall be by a resolution adopted by the
Commission after the Commission has determined that such variance
would be in the public interest. The Commission will notify all parties
and specified public agencies and railroads of whatever action it may
take regarding the proposed variance, and will forward a copy of the
resolution, if granted, to the parties. If not granted the parties may file
a formal application seeking to obtain such variance.