Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Suppose you hitch a ride in an empty unlocked box car that is a part of a freight train, for example in the continental US. Do railroad companies actually care about that? Do they have people looking for you? If they catch you, what can they do to you?

share|improve this question
    
so is this question US Specific? Because I'm sure the results differ in every country that has trains... –  Mark Mayo Feb 7 '12 at 5:18
    
@MarkMayo: That's why I specified the US. That's the country I am most interested in at the moment. –  Jan Hlavacek Feb 7 '12 at 5:51
2  
yeah, you'd said 'for example', so just wanted to make sure. Will try and do some research for it later on. –  Mark Mayo Feb 7 '12 at 6:28
1  
not sure, but at the very least they could get your arrested for trespassing and/or force you to pay the fee and fine for traveling the route without a ticket. "unlawful entry" also comes to mind, breaking and entering, home invasion, would likely depend on the local and state laws involved. –  jwenting Feb 7 '12 at 6:38

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Well, let's look at whether it's possible first, to be Blind Baggage in a Box.

You'll want to enter one of the cars that's empty, obviously, otherwise you run into other problems (being accused of tampering or theft). This means you'll want to do so out of sight.

You could do this along the tracks, if you know the train stops at a signal, or in the changing yard - both tricky, and the latter probably trespassing - given you're not allowed off passenger platforms by law.

Train jumping in Russia

Metafilter has a great page on this, but repeats time and again - if you get caught, you're in trouble. Not "we'll kick you off the train" trouble, but we're talking arrests.

Possible charges include:

  • Tickets (fines)

  • Warrants WILL be issued if you don't pay the fines in the county issued

  • wilful trespassing (train tracks and yards are federal property, so you WILL get charged)

  • breaking and entering (although if it's unlocked and open you could probably contests that one in court)

It also amuses me that this society exists...

Another thing to remember, from anecdotal experience. Two friends and myself were on an overnight train from Bucharest, Romania to Istanbul, Turkey. The train was fairly full, and we wandered through looking for more space. We found three empty boxcars at the back. We have NO problem with lack of comfort, but we thought space could be pretty good. It then turned out we'd been allocated two seats each somehow (they seemed to actually have a backpacker class) so gave up on that idea and enjoyed our seats.

Mid-way through the night we stopped in Bulgaria to change engines. We got off, and then realised what could have gone horribly wrong - the boxcars were no longer attached, and had long since gone somewhere else...

share|improve this answer
2  
Also if you do break any laws and you're on a train crossing state lines, you then crossing into the realm of federal law enforcement. –  Stuart Feb 7 '12 at 12:21
    
Fun experience I must say, Mark... –  John Doe Feb 7 '12 at 12:49
1  
Nitpick: I don't think tracks and train yards are actually federal property (i.e. belonging to the federal government) in most cases; rather, they belong to whatever railroad company owns them. But it may well be that trespassing there is a violation of federal law. –  Nate Eldredge Jul 25 at 16:12

This has a more detailed description of the possible trouble you could get into: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freighthopping

This one has some hobo / railroad stories from the author's time on the trains - also has warnings why it's a bad idea: http://www.northbankfred.com/austin.html

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.