Important Alert :  

COASTER: As of Monday, 3/23, all weekend trains and some weekday trains suspended  Due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the North County Transit District (NCTD) is experiencing significant declines in ridership and has determined that temporary service reductions will be implemented for COASTER commuter trains. The following temporary service reductions will be in effect beginning […]


Working Around the Rails

Working Around the Rails Working Around the Rails

Maintaining Our Standards

NCTD partners with many outside agencies for construction contracting, maintenance activities, and projects that require property access. Here you’ll find requirements for permitting, RWP training, property access, and more.

NCTD Right-Of-Way (ROW)

Permits, Licenses and Leases

Right of Entry Permits

Right of entry permits allow access to NCTD-owned property for a specific period of time to accomplish a specified activity, which generally involves construction work or construction related design services. Applicant will be charged a processing fee billed for NCTD labor time at fully burdened hourly rates.

Special Event Permits

Special event permits allow access to NCTD-owned property for a specific event such as a fair or marathon. This type of permit would allow non-continuous occupancy. This is a short-form permit and cannot be used for any construction activities, surveying, potholing, boring, environmental analysis, etc. Applicant will be charged a processing fee billed for NCTD labor time at fully burdened hourly rates.

License Agreements

License agreements allow installation of a facility such as pipelines or wirelines on NCTD-owned property. All license agreements include a provision that the facility will be removed or relocated within 30 days if NCTD requires the property for transportation purposes. Under a license agreement the licensee will be charged a one-time set-up fee as well as an annual license fee and an annual administration fee in accordance with the Board Approved Cost Recovery Fee Schedule.

Lease Agreements

Lease agreements allow use of NCTD-owned property. All lease agreements include a provision that the lessee must vacate the premises within 30 days if NCTD requires the property for transportation purposes. Under a lease agreement the lessee will be charged fair market value as a monthly or annual rental payment, as well as all related costs including determination of fair market value, premises, and viability.

Property Access Requests and Submittal Requirements

Property access requests for permits, licenses and leases should be sent electronically to and must include:

  • NCTD Property Access Form
  • Signed and sealed drawings of work to be performed
  • Work plan that includes (at a minimum):
    • Project purpose
    • Project scope
    • Means and methods
    • Equipment
    • Excavation or any earth movement (boring, potholing, digging, etc.) locations and depths
    • Excavation backfill, if applicable
    • Stormwater management plan, if applicable
    • Schedule
    • Subcontractors
    • Noise, dust, or other impacts from work/equipment
    • Traffic control plan, if applicable
    • Community outreach plan, if applicable
    • How Right-of-Way will be accessed
    • Environmental issues and permits obtained
    • Emergency contacts
    • Activity Hazard Analysis and Safety Plan
    • Any on-track movement must include a specific work plan that details the equipment that will be used on the track, the on-track movement that will take place and the qualifications of all personnel that will work on, in-between, or near the equipment. The personnel qualifications must include the last 12 months of all applicable training records and certifications.
  • Exhibit depicting encroachment area, including measurements to known monuments and distances from the edge of the closest track and edge of ROW
  • All contractors performing work on the ROW whose duties include inspection, construction, maintenance, or repair of railroad track, bridges, roadway, signal and communication systems, electric traction systems, roadway facilities, or roadway maintenance machinery are required to submit a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) accepted 49 CFR Part 219 Control of Drug and Alcohol Use Plan

Additional information may be requested upon review of submission. A processing fee billed for NCTD labor time at fully burdened hourly rates will be charged for all submittals. Typical review period is 4-6 weeks. An agreement will be issued after NCTD has reviewed and approved the submittal, is in receipt of the required fees, and receives evidence of insurance as established and required by NCTD.

Amendments to existing agreements will also require a Property Access Request.

For more information, please contact NCTD’s Right-of-Way Coordinator at or (760) 967-2851.

ROW Support Services – Flagging Protection, Signal Support, and Track Protection

Work performed within NCTD’s Right-of-Way that involves personnel or equipment must have an NCTD-supplied railroad flag person for the duration of the work.

All entities requesting flagging protection, signal support, and track protection must:

1. Obtain authorization from NCTD

See Property Access Requests above to obtain authorization. For more information, please contact NCTD’s Right-of-Way Coordinator at or (760) 967-2851.

2. Complete the required forms:
Support Services Request Form
Bombardier Terms and Conditions Form
Billing Authorization Form

Three signed originals of the Terms and Conditions attachment must be completed and submitted with the rest of the forms in order to retain flagging and/or signal services. Return all Support Services forms to Bombardier Transportation.
The cost for all support services shall be paid to Bombardier Transportation by the party requesting the services.

Please contact Ralph Godinez at or (760) 975-9692 with any questions regarding the forms or process.

Roadway Worker Protection (RWP) Training

Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, class sizes are being temporarily restricted to comply with social distancing recommendations.  Cancellations must be made no later than 48 hours in advance to allow rescheduling of empty seats.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires railroads and/or their contractors to provide roadway worker protection (RWP) training to any worker whose job duties include inspection, construction, maintenance, or repair of track, bridges, roadway, signal and communication systems, roadway facilities, or maintenance machinery on or near the track (FRA 49 CFR 214).

The RWP training is a 4-hour, classroom-based training available in English as well as Spanish with prior arrangement. Participation is $165.87 per person with payment due at time of training via company check, personal check, or money order. No credit cards or cash can be accepted for payment of class fees. Re-certification is required annually.

Classes are offered at:

3700 Maritime Way, Oceanside

Classes are typically held Wednesdays and Fridays, 8:00 a.m. to Noon.
To schedule a class, please visit the RWP Class Scheduler.

Special arrangements may be made for off-site classes within a 50-mile radius of Oceanside. All off-site classes require a pre-payment at least 72 hours prior to the scheduled class.

For additional information, please call Eric Contreras at (760) 445-0187 or email

PTC Configuration Management

PTC Controlling Assets

The PTC Controlling Assets document explains what PTC critical asset changes consist of along the NCTD’s ROW.

Change Request

The Change Request Form is intended for use by anyone originating changes to PTC critical assets on the NCTD right-of-way on the LOSSAN corridor from Santa Fe Depot to the Orange County Line. Generally, the users will include designers coordinated through the implementing agency, construction management coordinated through the construction management team, and maintenance workers coordinated through their supervisors. PTC critical assets include: center line track (horizontal and vertical), insulated joints, derails, at-grade crossings (highway, street, pedestrian, private), limit signs (for example CTC, Yard), milepost marker signs, point of switch, wayside signals, speed signs, and whistle boards.

Unplanned changes that occur during construction will be managed by the Construction Management team and the Resident Engineer. Unanticipated changes that have occurred, or are occurring as a result of maintenance activities, will be used by maintenance staff to report the changes to PTC critical assets.

Unreported Change

The Unreported Change Request Form is for use by individuals who discover unreported changes. It is expected that on occasion a railroad employee will discover changes that have occurred to track or other railroad assets due to outside influences such as vandalism, accidents, severe weather, or natural disaster. These changes may also be reported to NCTD by another entity, such as law enforcement, a new agency, or a private citizen. Regardless of how the change is detected, it should be reported immediately so that the appropriate corrective action can be taken.

Model-Approved Hardware Replacement

Model-approved hardware may be replaced without submitting a Change Request; however, the replacement must be reported through the Model-Approved Hardware Replacement Form. Inventory control labels for such items (or their packaging, as applicable) will include a Model Approval tag. Questions about the Model Approval status of a component should be directed to an employee’s supervisor.

Please email forms to

Storm Water Management Plan

In July 2013, NCTD was designated a Phase II, Non-Traditional Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permittee by the State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Order No. 2013-0001-DWQ NPDES Permit No. CAS000004. Pursuant to the MS4 NCTD has adopted an Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) which is intended to serve as the storm water compliance document for all maintenance activities that occur at NCTD facilities and within the railroad Right-of-Way. The SWMP is a living document that is intended to be updated as new program elements are developed and implemented.

NCTD Storm Water Management Plan

Storm Water Prevention Plan Template 

Erosion and Sediment Control Plan

Construction Projects

Maintenance on the Tracks

To provide a superior customer riding experience with expected consistency and on-time performance, it is essential that NCTD maintenance crews perform regulatory required inspections and routine maintenance to stay compliant with federal and state railroad regulations on the railroad tracks and along the right-of-way throughout the year. Because of the varied nature of these activities, residents and business owners who live or work near the tracks may notice unusual bright lights and loud noises for extended periods of time. Many times, these maintenance activities are scheduled overnight or on weekends to allow for more efficient work schedules during times with fewer commuter trains, thereby affecting a smaller number of rail passengers and their commute times.

Ongoing Routine Maintenance Activities

Weed Abatement

Weeds and overgrown trees are more than an eyesore or inconvenience. For railroads, they’re a safety and operational issue. Uncontrolled vegetation can reduce visibility for operators, pose a fire hazard, or come in contact with trains, causing passenger-train delays.

To keep vegetation growth in check, NCTD has programs in place that aim to proactively eradicate weeds before they grow, eliminate those that already have sprouted, and control tree and bush growth. And we rely on a combination of herbicide spraying and mechanical brush cutting to do it.

NCTD’s contractor’s goal is to spray a pre-emergent herbicide on and off track in Spring, as well as a post-emergent herbicide in early Summer to eradicate pesky plants that weren’t killed off by the pre-emergent application. This is of course dependent on weather conditions as we will not spray during rain events.

Rail Grinding

The benefits of transit rail grinding include:

  • Improves ride quality and reduces noise which enhance passenger comfort and safety
  • Extends rail life
  • Removes corrugation for a smoother and more consistent running surface
  • Restores rail head profile to optimize wheel/rail interaction
  • Removes rolling contact fatigue to mitigate effects

The rail grinder may cause a high level of noise and vibration consistent with up to 18 grinding wheels spinning on the rail head surface. This function is typically performed over a 10-day period annually.


A tamping machine is used to pack (or tamp) the track ballast under railway tracks to make the tracks more durable. It can correct the alignment of the rails to make them parallel and level, to achieve a more comfortable ride for passengers and freight, and to reduce the mechanical strain applied to the rails by passing trains. Ensuring a firm foundation across the railroad system is paramount to protecting the performance of the track and the operational effectiveness of the railroad itself. This is done by finding places where the concrete or wood ties have settled into the ballast from the weight of the passing trains, causing the track to have profile deviations. The tamper lifts each tier and the rails up and packs ballast underneath. When the sleeper is laid down again, the low profile rails now sit at the proper level profile for a smooth ride. This task is performed routinely and typically performed at night when there is no train traffic.

Track Structure Repairs

Routine repairs may include mechanical cleaning of the ballast, replacement of individual components of the track structure, fixing the quality of the track structure components, and running repairs and maintenance of railway/road crossings This work is generally driven from track inspections that are performed twice a week and scheduled for repair.

Signal Maintenance

The signals team is dedicated to maintaining, inspecting, and controlling the hundreds of signals and miles of signaling cable along the tracks. They maintain and repair crossing warning systems, fiber optics, wireless communications, relays, gate mechanisms, cables, batteries, grid resistance, and more. The signals team handles a variety of different tasks from lubricating mechanisms and machines to troubleshooting code or signal failures.

Graffiti Removal

Graffiti creates an unsightly eyesore in the communities that NCTD serves. For that reason, NCTD contractors work quickly to remove the graffiti using various methods depending on the location. These might include painting over the area, wire-brushing the graffiti, or the use of environmentally safe cleaners. This task is typically performed during daylight hours.

Tree Trimming

Tree trimming along the tracks may occur due to the foliage in the area overhanging or being overgrown in areas that affect sightlines for our conductors, impede our signals, or create a safety hazard for pedestrians and riders. Contractors may use large bucket trucks, chainsaws, and other large mechanical items for this routine maintenance.

Rail Inspections

Rail inspections are the practice of examining rail tracks for flaws that could lead to catastrophic failures. There are many effects that influence rail defects and rail failure. These effects include bending and shear stresses, wheel/rail contact stresses, thermal stresses, residual stresses, and dynamic effects. Because of these, and many other possibilities, it is imperative that NCTD inspects the rails for the safety of our crews, riders, and the public. These inspections are required by Federal regulations, are required at a minimum of twice a week, and are typically performed during daylight hours on the COASTER line and nighttime hours on the SPRINTER. These inspections are performed utilizing a motor vehicle equipped with hi-rail gear to be able to travel on the rails. This vehicle will have a strobe light that may be visible from some distance away.

Switch Inspections

A railroad switch is a mechanical installation enabling railway trains to be guided from one track to another. NCTD contractors inspect these switches regularly to ensure that they are operating correctly. This is a necessary step in preventing derailments, collisions, and damaged trains.

As NCTD is made aware of contractor projects and maintenance activities, NCTD will do our best to post updates on social media. Please keep in mind that some maintenance activities are not pre-scheduled and occur at the contractor’s earliest convenience.

Follow us on Twitter for further updates: @GoNCTD