At UCR, there is a tradition where students hike up to the “C” on the Box Springs Mountains. It is rumored that students can earn a 4.0 grade point average by kissing the C. Whether the mentioned rumor is true or not, many students and local residents venture up the mountain for the fun experience. Usually, hikers would walk through Islander Park to gain access to the trail, because this is the closest route to the C. However, it may soon be too risky to cross the tracks, and an alternative route should be taken.
According to The Press Enterprise, Metrolink will start running Perris Valley Line train tests in order to prepare for the completion of the new line in December. Many are now concerned for the safety of hikers, since the tests and the completion of the train will bring more train activity. Anticipating the possible risks, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) took several measures to deter hikers from crossing railroads. Based on a recent report by The Press Enterprise, “No Trespassing” warning signs have been put up, and there have been discussions of other deterrents and a safety campaign, which includes social media posts, fliers and outreach to hikers. While deterrents are deployed, RCTC and local groups are discussing the construction of a bridge or tunnel for safe travel across the trail, but the process is still in the beginning stages.
Some people wouldn’t hesitate to risk crossing the tracks because the route is proven to be reliable. Additionally, it can take mere moments to cross the train tracks. It could be said that some hikers would rather minimize the amount of time and effort required to get to the C than be safe.
However, there are several new factors to consider. John Standiford, who is the deputy executive director of Riverside County Transportation Commission, states that “lighter Metrolink trains, which will run on weekdays on improved tracks, are quieter.” Additionally, trains would not be required to sound its horns around various streets near Islander Park if the City of Riverside decides to establish quiet zones. Soon, it will be more difficult for someone to hear a train coming, and if or when they do, it might be too late.
Additionally, one should consider how the train tracks curve around Islander Park, making it difficult for the train conductor to spot someone crossing the tracks and even if the train conductor spots the track-crosser in time, they would not be able to stop the train in time. According to the Operation Lifesaver site, which is about rail safety education, most trains need around a mile for a complete stop. More trains from the testing would significantly increase the risk of an accident taking place.
While there has not yet been a train track accident around the trail, it is hard to say that accidents will not happen in the future. Life is precious. Is it worth risking your life for saving an hour of time? Undoubtedly, it is safer to find an alternative route to bypass the train tracks.