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Don't Shortcut Life: Safety Tips from Caltrain

A Caltrain train is almost 2 stories tall, weighs close to a million pounds, has flashing lights, and takes more than a half-mile to stop. Please stay out of its way. The tips below will provide you with the knowledge you need to stay safe when you are near or need to cross train tracks. In addition to 98 weekday, 32 Saturday, and 28 Sunday trains, Caltrain also operates extra trains for Giants baseball games and other special events. Union Pacific Railroad runs freight trains along the Caltrain line. So you can expect to see a train at any time on any track.

  • Cross Caltrain tracks only at designated crossings and when it is safe to do so.  While it might not be the quickest route, it will be the safest.

  • Know that if you are on foot and not using a designated crossing – marked by a sign or gate – then you are trespassing and are subject to a citation and fine.

  • Even though they might look as if they’re moving rather slowly, Caltrain reaches a top speed of 79 miles per hour. At that speed, they cover the length of a football field in less than three seconds.

  • Watch out for a second train. Between San Francisco and San Jose, Caltrain operates on two tracks, with four tracks in select locations. When you see the last car of a passing train, don’t cross until you’re sure that no other trains are coming on either track.

  • A train will be through a crossing in less than a minute. It is better to lose one minute in life than your life in one minute.

  • Be aware that Caltrain operates in “push-pull mode.” The locomotive usually pulls southbound trains. However, on northbound trains, the train is “pushed” from behind by the locomotive with a passenger car leading the train. Trains can travel in either direction on either track.

  • Despite their size, trains can be difficult to hear, especially in the “push” mode.

  • When you’re at the station with children, keep them close to you at all times.

  • When waiting at a station, be aware that approaching trains may not be stopping at the station and can pass near you at 79 miles per hour.

  • When waiting to board a train, stand behind the yellow safety line at stations and don’t cross to the center platform until the train stops.

  • Don’t sit on the edge of the platform. All trains overhang the rails and require that space to operate.

  • Never drive onto a railroad crossing until you are sure the traffic ahead has left enough space to drive across without boxing you in. Do not shift gears while driving across the tracks. If your vehicle stalls on the crossing get everyone out and get off the tracks. Call 911 or 1.877.SAF.RAIL (1.877.723.7245) to report the situation.

  • Transit Watch: You can help keep the rails safe by reporting dangerous situations, such as children playing on the tracks or people hanging out along the rail right of way. Call 1.877.723.7245 to report dangerous situations.

  • School and transit buses carrying passengers, as well as trucks carrying hazardous materials, are required to stop at all rail crossings. Be prepared to stop if you are following one of these vehicles.


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