The U.S. economy wouldn’t survive without the help of trains and the transport industry. There are safety rules that must be maintained by operators, pedestrians, yard workers, and anyone that deals with a rail yard or train crossing location.
The Basics of Track Safety
Pedestrians and motor vehicle operators don’t usually have a familiarity with train schedules and procedures to know how to keep safe at all times and in different situations. There are some basic rules to keep in mind that can help you avoid an accident. First of all, freight trains don’t have scheduled runs like a passenger train would. Furthermore, passenger trains may experience schedule changes. The best rule of thumb is to ALWAYS expect at train a highway-rail intersection and adhere to crossing stops and speeds. Modern trains don’t give off the warning click-clack of older trains, so it may be hard to hear is a train is approaching. Trains have the right of way all of the time, even over emergency vehicles. Never walk on the tracks, as it is both illegal and extremely dangerous. The safety rails are important, as a train can extend almost three feet over the sides of the steel rail.
The Basics of Yard Safety
For the workers in the train yard, there are special safety processes in place to minimize the risk of injury or death. Train cars are put through rigorous testing to ensure safety on the rails, including the use of yard air to test the air brakes on the train cars. Employees are required to wear the proper reflective garments, with railroad companies often requiring steel-toed, ankle-supporting work boots. Electrical equipment is visibly marked, and malfunctioning equipment or machinery in the yard are tagged with lockout devices. Safety training is conducted with employees both prior to working in the yard directly and throughout their time in the yard.
Total Compliance Measures
Railroads and railyards are considered private property, and you must have the authorization to be on the property. If that permission is granted, either through employment, as a vendor, or through a passenger ticket, total compliance to the safety rules is required and expected. Being aware of your surroundings and the hazards that are present can reduce the risk of accident injury, but this awareness should never trump compliance with posted notices and instructions. Never enter a train yard without permission, and never walk, play, or congregate near train tracks.