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Here is the law. There is alot in here but if you read the last section the fines say jail of up to 30 days or a fine of up to $100 or both.

I cant imagine anyone being fined much less jailed for just crossing. It would be interesting to know the histey on fines. I would have to believe anyone jailed was someone droving down the tracks or doing something ridiculous. Just my opinion.

I see hunters lining up all along the road where the tracks parallel on state land. People cross all the time. Even a mile down the road from the dnr office.

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Penalty for railroad trespass in minor compared to failure to report a deer kill within 72 hours.

 

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Friends were ticketed by a DNR CO for railroad trespass while hunting in Brighton Rec Area between Chilson Road and Bishop Lake Road a few years ago. CO said that he probably wouldn't have written tickets if they had just crossed the track to move from one parcel of Brighton Rec Area land to another on the other side of the track. The State land is low there and the tracks run on a tall gravel embankment in this area. Since they were sitting on the gravel embankment or on one of the rails, which was observed by the CO, he wrote tickets for the adults.
They hired lawyers and the lawyers went to a pre-trial hearing in Howell and negotiated the railroad trespass charges down to a civil offense with a substantial multi-hundred dollar fine per person. Cost a bunch of money for lawyers, fines, and court costs, and way too much time and worry.
They asked the CO how wide the railroad property or easement was in that area. The CO said that he didn't know but he was sure that it included the embankment.
It probably is railroad trespass if you cross a track somewhere other than a roadway or a designted crosswalk, but a DNR CO or a local LEO has some discretion. They can choose to warn or choose to ticket.
Be careful. Be discrete.
 

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Man is this regularly enforced now? Back in the day I rabbit hunted RR tracks all the time. I mean all the time and nothing was ever said.


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I would say probably almost never enforced. The railroad likely lobbied for this as a liability reason decades ago. Having train tracks on stateland could be a liability issue. Making it illegal to be on them or cross them is good for the railroad.

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When I was a kid we hunted the grade all the time. It went for half a mile through a cow pasture there was brush on both sides of the tracks and open fields just across the fence. Our dog would work one side of the tracks at a time. We almost always limited out.
 

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I used to work for the railroad in the Bridge and Building Department and got around railroad property quite a bit. I know that there was a big problem with people fishing off railroad bridges and we were instructed to notify the police if we saw anybody on railroad bridges. Some of the bridges over the Grand River, over in Muskegon, Bay City, and Sebewaing were where we had the most issues. The train crews were also instructed to report trespassers whenever they saw them.

The bridge in Sebewaing, I showed up to inspect it and there were a bunch of fishermen there worried that I was going to kick them off the bridge because they had just been told to leave a short time earlier.
 

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I used to work for the railroad in the Bridge and Building Department and got around railroad property quite a bit. I know that there was a big problem with people fishing off railroad bridges and we were instructed to notify the police if we saw anybody on railroad bridges. Some of the bridges over the Grand River, over in Muskegon, Bay City, and Sebewaing were where we had the most issues. The train crews were also instructed to report trespassers whenever they saw them.

The bridge in Sebewaing, I showed up to inspect it and there were a bunch of fishermen there worried that I was going to kick them off the bridge because they had just been told to leave a short time earlier.
That bridge in sebewaing was always packed in the spring with perch fisherman

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Michigan RAILROAD CODE OF 1993 (EXCERPT) Act 354 of 1993

MSP LE response to RR Incidents
RR incident enforcement guide for Michigan LE See top of page 9
Washtenaw Co. prosecuting Attorney 2015 presentation

U.S. DOT provides $2 million dollars for R/R trespass enforcement projects in 2022

RR trespass enforcement is a priority in some areas, less so in others. A LEO can write a ticket for it if they choose to.

Again, if you need to cross a RR or travel along the RR right of way, be careful and discrete.
 
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