I was doing an Operation Lifesaver presentation today for new ATV operators, and heard about a cache that is "right in the middle of a railroad track." After reading one thread on this forum about crossing a track/walking on railroad property, I thought I should chime in with some information. I've been a volunteer presenter with Maine Operation Lifesaver for several years now, and have worked as a railroad employee for a little longer than that. Operation Lifesaver has chapters in every state except Hawaii. Canada and other countries also have OL organizations. OL works with railroads, government agencies, and other interested parties to help prevent highway/rail crossing collisions. Also of great concern to us is the fact that around 500 people are killed each year while trespassing on railroad property. Another 200+ were injured each year during 2003, 2004, and 2005. The Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis maintains extensive records, and a review of their Website shows that the casualties are not just kids: the 21-25 age group and the 41-45 age group had the most deaths and injuries (306 each) for that three-year period.
One of the first things a new railroad employee is taught is to expect a train on any track, at any time, in any direction. Another important lesson is that trains can overhang the track by three feet, and broken strapping (metal bands) or possibly a shifted load can "reach out and touch someone" in a very unpleasant way at an even greater distance.
The new Continuous Welded Rail (CWR, or "ribbon rail") being used more and more has eliminated the "clickety-clack" of train wheels passing over joints in the rail. A heavy freight train or a fast passenger train can take a mile to come to a full stop. The train can't steer around you, and you may not have a safe place to go to in order to get out of its path. The best way to avoid a sudden unpleasant encounter with a train is to just "don't go there" where you could be in harm's way.
The discussion in the other thread included some questions about fines for trespassing. I'll just refer you to MRSA Title 23, §7007. http://janus.state.me.us/legis/statu...23sec7007.html
(Remember, sometimes the penalty for trespassing on railroad property is death.)
I know someone's saying, "What about this old track that they don't use anymore?" Are you sure it's not being used? The "Lewiston Lower" is being rebuilt right now, for eventual resumption of service. Maine ATV and snowmobile regulations say a person "may operate within the right-of-way of a portion of railroad line that has been officially abandoned under the authority of the Interstate Commerce Commission." I don't know how you could be certain of an abandonment enough to maybe stake your life on it, especially since there's no longer an Interstate Commerce Commission.
Railroad trespassing is the leading cause of rail-related deaths in the U.S.
Enjoy geocaching and other outdoor activities, but please, "Stay Off! Stay Away! Stay Alive!"