Rail Inquiries and Requests

Rail Line Inquiries and Requests

The Santa Cruz Branch Line is an active short line railroad that travels through Santa Cruz County along a right-of-way (ROW) of varying width between Pajaro and Davenport. The RTC is responsible for maintaining the portion of the ROW outside of the railroad easement, which is defined as a 10-foot lateral width in each direction from the railroad centerline. The short line railroad operator, Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad, is responsible for maintaining the infrastructure within the railroad easement. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) imposes safety requirements for any activity within 25 feet of the centerline of track.

Preventative Maintenance Program

The RTC has a Preventative Maintenance Program that outlines procedures for RTC staff to carry out maintenance operations, with individual inquiries being tracked using ArcGIS, a mapping and analytics platform. Regular inspections and repairs to the infrastructure within the ROW will maintain the corridor for future use and limit impacts to adjacent jurisdictions and private property.

Maintenance Requests

In addition to regular inspections by staff, community members can report maintenance needs by emailing maintenance@sccrtc.org or calling the RTC office for matters such as damaged rail equipment or homeless encampments. Please include your name, email, request, and location description. Do not enter the rail corridor right-of-way to investigate any matter yourself. Access to any part of the ROW requires permission from the RTC and the short line railroad operator through a right of entry agreement.

Once the RTC receives a report, it is entered into our tracking system and a ticket number is assigned for reference. Individuals who submit reports of maintenance needs to the RTC via email will receive a reply email with their ticket number, which can be referred to for future status changes and resolution.

Right of Entry Requests

For any construction or access needed within the Branch Line ROW, public and private entities and individuals should contact the RTC well in advance of the activity to determine the type of agreement needed, and to execute the agreement prior to the activity occurring. The RTC requires a right of entry (ROE) agreement be in place prior to entering the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line right-of-way for any access or minor construction purposes (example: replacement of a fence bordering the Branch Line ROW). The ROE agreement requires the applicant to notify the short line railroad operator 30 days in advance of entry or encroachment with the date, time, location, duration, and nature of the activity in the vicinity of the railroad track and its appurtenant equipment and structures. Depending on the scope of activities, a separate right of entry agreement will likely be required from the short line railroad operator. RTC and/or short line railroad operator representatives may require a field meeting prior to consideration of an ROE agreement. At least 45 days in advance, email maintenance@sccrtc.org with the following information:

  • Reason for right of entry request
  • Proposed date(s) and time of entry
  • Scope of activities
    • Description of work
    • Location of work; include nearest address(es) and/or street crossings
  • Proposed access location of entry to right-of-way
  • Copy of existing license/crossing agreement(s), if applicable

Utilities/Construction – additional info

The RTC requires a crossing agreement for new underground and overhead utilities that cross the Santa Cruz Branch Rail Line right-of-way. The lead time for a crossing agreement or other new construction project is typically 4 to 6 months. It is important to contact the RTC well in advance of planned access in order to allow sufficient time to execute the agreement and make the necessary notifications. Any utility or other construction work that traverses the railroad infrastructure or is in the vicinity of railroad infrastructure within the Branch Line ROW must conform to the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) standards.