Let's hear from enforcers

Your recent feature article "Boxcar Willies" [June 19 cover story] (http://www.readthehook.com/93611/cover-box-car-willies-modern-hobos-defy...), while a very well-written piece on the mostly invisible subculture of freight-hopping, nevertheless does a public disservice by glorifying an activity that is first of all illegal, second dangerous, and third costly to society.

Trespassing on railroad property is not only against the law, but every year results in hundreds of untimely deaths (http://safetydata.fra.dot.gov/officeofsafety), which have saddened even citizens of our own area on occasion. There are dangers– too numerous to list here (but check out Operation Lifesaver at oli.org/safety_tips/index.html)– just from stepping into the industrial environment which characterizes a railroad. And the perils are magnified when one boards a freight train– especially risky for life and limb if it's moving– and then clings to a precarious perch for an unknown distance and duration at a speed that precludes safe alighting.

Trespassers add to the cost of goods sold because railroads must hire security to prevent vandalism and thievery (a well-organized activity in some areas). And in these days of heightened security against terrorists, I would have little sympathy for a trespasser who ended up in jail after what he or she thought would be just a here-to-somewhere lark. (Not to mention the itinerant existence of violent criminals who are known to prey upon naive riders.)

I look forward to your follow-up article featuring the views of railroad police and those local constabularies in certain areas who have had to deal with victims thrown from moving trains after an on-board rape, robbery, or murder by a gang of newfound "friends."

Jerry Deily
Transportation Consultant
Charlottesville