Here are a few safety tips we recommend you consider when finding a railroad on your running course. It is important to not see the railroad tracks as an outlined path for you to follow. Railroad tracks are private property. Walking or running on them is dangerous and illegal in most countries—trespassers are subject to arrest and fines. A beautiful run is not worth an experience that will ruin your vacation or present harm to you. Remember: rails and recreation do not mix!
If the gates are down, the road is closed. Stop and wait until the gates go up and the red lights stop flashing.
Many crossings have gates with flashing red lights and bells. Stop when the lights begin to flash and before the gate lowers across your road lane. Remain stopped until the gates go up and the lights have stopped flashing. Proceed when it is safe.
Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. Observe and obey all warning signs and signals.
When you are at a multiple-track crossing and the last car of the closest train passes by, stay alert. Before crossing, look and listen carefully for another train on another track, coming from either direction.
Do not walk or run on railroad bridges. They are not designed to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges – there is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass.
Do not walk or run on railroad tracks or rights-of-way or through tunnels.
Do not be fooled by the optical illusion – the train you see is closer and faster moving than you think. You cannot accurately judge a train's speed or distance. Do not take chances. An optical illusion makes a train seem farther away and moving more slowly than it is. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before you proceed across the tracks.
Be especially alert in the dark. At night, judging speed and distance is particularly difficult. Be very cautious.
Trains can't stop quickly ... you can. After fully applying the brakes, a loaded freight train traveling 55 miles per hour takes a mile or more to stop. A light rail train can take 600 feet to stop, and an 8-car passenger train traveling 80 miles per hour requires about a mile to stop.
Freight trains do not travel on a predictable schedule; schedules for passenger trains change. Always expect a train at every highway-rail intersection.
Racing a train to a highway-rail intersection is a fool's game. Never race a train to the crossing – even if you tie, you lose. And if you lose, you may never have a second chance.
These safety tips were adapted from the ones published by the Operation Lifesaver website. Operation Lifesaver is an American, non-profit education and awareness program dedicated to ending tragic collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and on railroad rights of way.