Code Section Group

Public Utilities Code - PUC


  ( Division 4 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

CHAPTER 1. Railroad Corporations [7503 - 7727]

  ( Chapter 1 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )

ARTICLE 2. Powers and Duties [7526 - 7538]
  ( Article 2 enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764. )


Every railroad corporation has all of the following powers:

(a) To make such examination and surveys as are necessary to the selection of the most advantageous route for the railroad. The officers, agents, and employees of the corporation may enter upon the lands or waters of any person, for this purpose, subject to liability for all damages which they do thereto.

(b) To receive, hold, take, and convey, by deed or otherwise, as a natural person, such voluntary grants and donations of real estate and other property as are made to it to aid and encourage the construction, maintenance, and accommodation of the railroad.

(c) To purchase, or by voluntary grants or donations to receive, enter, take possession of, hold, and use all such real estate and other property as is necessary for the construction and maintenance of such railroad, and for all stations, depots, and other purposes necessary to successfully work and conduct the business of the road.

(d) To lay out its road, not exceeding 10 rods wide, and to construct and maintain it, with one or more tracks, and with such appendages and adjuncts as are necessary for the convenient use of the road.

(e) To construct its roads across, along, or upon any stream of water, watercourse, roadstead, bay, navigable stream, street, avenue, or highway, or across any railway, canal, ditch, or flume which the route of its road intersects, crosses, or runs along, in such manner as to afford security for life and property. The corporation shall restore the stream or watercourse, road, street, avenue, highway, railroad, canal, ditch, or flume thus intersected to its former state of usefulness as near as may be, or so that the railroad does not unnecessarily impair its usefulness or injure its franchise.

(f) To cross, intersect, join, or unite its railroad with any other railroad, either before or after construction, at any point upon its route, and upon the grounds of the other railroad corporation, with the necessary turnouts, sidings, and switches, and other conveniences in furtherance of the objects of its connections. Every corporation whose railroad is intersected by any new railroad shall unite with the owners of the new railroad in forming the intersections and connections, and grant facilities therefor. If the two corporations cannot agree upon the amount of compensation to be made therefor, or the points or the manner of the crossings, intersections, and connections, such matters shall be ascertained and determined as is provided in Part 1 (commencing with Section 201) of Division 1.

(g) To acquire lands, timber, stone, gravel, or other materials to be used in the construction and maintenance of its road, and all necessary appendages and adjuncts.

(h) To change the line of its road, in whole or in part, whenever a majority of the directors so determine, as provided in Section 7531, but the change shall not vary the general route of the road, as contemplated in its articles of incorporation.

(Amended by Stats. 1975, Ch. 1240.)


Every railroad corporation also has all of the following powers:

(a) To carry persons and property on its railroad, and to receive tolls or compensation therefor.

(b) To erect and maintain all necessary and convenient buildings, stations, depots, fixtures, and machinery for the accommodation and use of its passengers, freight, and business.

(c) To regulate the time and manner in which passengers and property shall be transported, and the tolls and compensation to be paid therefor within the limits prescribed by law and subject to alteration, change, or amendment by the Legislature at any time.

(d) To regulate the force and speed of its locomotives, cars, trains, or other machinery used and employed on its roads.

(e) To establish, execute, and enforce all needful and proper rules and regulations for the management of its business transactions usual and proper for railroad corporations.

(f) To purchase, lease, or acquire the franchises, rights, and property, or any part thereof, of any railroad corporation, leasing or owning any railroad outside of the State, to operate it and use the franchises of any such road, and to build and operate extensions thereof.

(g) To purchase, acquire, and hold the stocks, bonds, or other securities of any railroad corporation organized under the laws of this State or of any other state or territory, with full power to sell them.

(Amended by Stats. 1951, Ch. 1028.)


Every person or corporation authorized to operate a railroad is authorized to use steam, diesel, electricity, compressed air, or any other suitable motive power, for the purpose of propelling cars or trains on the railroad or upon any portion thereof.

(Amended by Stats. 1951, Ch. 1027.)


Railroad corporations doing business in this State and organized under any law of this State or the United States, or of any state or territory thereof, may enter into contracts with one another, whereby the one may lease of the other the whole or any part of its railroad, or may acquire of the other the right to use, in common with it, the whole or any part of its railroad.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


Every railroad corporation in this State shall, within a reasonable time after its road is finally located, make a map and profile thereof, and of the land acquired for the use thereof, and the boundaries of the several counties through which the road may run, and file it in the Office of the Secretary of State. Every railroad corporation shall file like maps of the parts of the railroad located in different counties in the office of the clerk of the county in which such parts of the road are, there to remain of record forever. The maps and profiles shall be certified by the chief engineer, the acting president, and the secretary of the company. Copies of the map and profiles, so certified and filed, shall be kept in the office of the secretary of the corporation, subject to examination by all parties interested.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


If, at any time after the location of the line of the railroad and the filing of the maps and profiles thereof, it appears that the location can be improved, the directors may alter or change the location of the line, and cause new maps and profiles to be filed, showing such changes, in the same offices where the originals are of file. The directors may proceed, in the same manner as the original location was acquired, to acquire and take possession of the new line, but shall sell or relinquish the lands owned by them for the original location, within five years after such change. No new location, as herein provided, shall be so run as to avoid any points named in their articles of incorporation.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


Upon receipt by it of an application, filed with either the federal Surface Transportation Board or the Public Utilities Commission, to abandon a line of railroad, the Public Utilities Commission shall forward a copy of the application to the Department of Transportation within 10 days.

(Amended by Stats. 1999, Ch. 1005, Sec. 89.4. Effective January 1, 2000.)


The board of directors of any railroad corporation may at any time after the original location and construction of its railroad, in order to provide better facilities for the public service, construct an additional main line track or tracks either adjacent to the located and operated line or otherwise, but always in whole or in part between the same termini. The railroad corporation may, without abandoning the original location, acquire such rights of way as are necessary for the additional track or tracks, with their appendages and adjuncts, of a similar width as provided in Section 7526 for the original location, either by purchase or condemnation, as therein provided, and may operate the additional tracks in conjunction with any tracks previously constructed, as additional facilities for the railroad system. Nothing herein supersedes or repeals any law relating to the regulation of railroad corporations by the commission, or any law requiring railroads to obtain franchises from the cities or counties through which the additional tracks may pass.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


Whenever the track of one railroad intersects or crosses the track of another railroad, whether it is a street railroad, wholly within the limits of a city, or other railroad, the rails of either or each road shall be so cut and adjusted as to permit the passage of the cars on each road with as little obstruction as possible. If the persons or corporations owning the railroads cannot agree as to the compensation to be made for cutting and adjusting the rails, the condemnation of the right of way over the one for the use of the other road may be had in proceedings under Title 7, Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and damages assessed and the right of way granted as in other cases.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


Whenever the track of a railroad crosses another railroad or a highway, such railroad or highway may be carried under, over, or on a level with the track, as is most expedient. Where an embankment or cutting necessitates a change in the line of such railroad or highway, the corporation may take such additional lands and material as are necessary for the construction of the road or highway on the new line. If the necessary lands cannot be had otherwise, they may be condemned as provided in Title 7, Part 3 of the Code of Civil Procedure, and when compensation is made therefor the lands become the property of the corporation.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


The owner of any lands along or through which any railroad is constructed or maintained, may have such farm or private crossings over the railroad and railroad right of way as are reasonably necessary or convenient for ingress to or egress from such lands, or in order to connect such lands with other adjacent lands of the owner. The owner or operator of the railroad shall construct and at all times maintain such farm or private crossing in a good, safe, and passable condition. The commission shall have the authority to determine the necessity for any crossing and the place, manner, and conditions under which the crossing shall be constructed and maintained, and shall fix and assess the cost and expense thereof.

(Enacted by Stats. 1951, Ch. 764.)


At every farm or private grade crossing of a railroad where no automatic grade crossing protective device is in place there shall be installed, as a means of protecting the crossing, one or more stop signs of the type described in Section 21400 of the Vehicle Code or of such other design as the commission may prescribe unless, after a hearing, the commission shall find that the installation of such sign or signs at a particular crossing would create a hazard or dangerous condition that would not otherwise exist. At any grade crossing where stop signs are installed or in place, before traversing such crossing the driver of any vehicle shall stop such vehicle not less than 10 nor more than 50 feet from the nearest rail of the track and while so stopped shall listen, and look in both directions along the track, for any approaching train or other equipment using such rails. The vehicle shall remain standing while any train or other equipment using such rails is approaching the crossing and is close enough to constitute a hazard. A driver of any vehicle who fails to keep his vehicle standing while any train or equipment using such rails is approaching the crossing and which is so close as to constitute a hazard is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(Amended by Stats. 1968, Ch. 351.)

PUCPublic Utilities Code - PUC2.