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Sep 20

Practice safety habits during Rail Safety week

Posted on September 20, 2021 at 8:48 am by Lisa Atwood

As you begin to drive, bike, or walk more around Menlo Park, please be vigilant and be aware of train tracks in the City and around the Peninsula. In coordination with railroads and local agencies, Operation Lifesaver helps to highlight the annual Rail Safety Week, which will take place Sept. 20–26, 2021. 

It is safest to cross train tracks where there are crossing arms/lights. There are eight at-grade crossings in Menlo Park, these are locations where the roadway meets the tracks. Along the Caltrain corridor, there are at-grade crossings at Encinal Avenue, Glenwood Avenue, Oak Grove Avenue and Ravenswood Avenue. Along the Dumbarton Corridor, there are at-grade crossings at Marsh Road, Chilco Street, Willow Road and University Avenue. Please assume any trackway is “active,” do not trespass or walk along trackways and only cross at designated crossings. 

When using at-grade crossings, please be extra aware of your surroundings using both your eyes and ears. These crossings will activate its flashing lights and a crossing arm before the train passes through, and a train will also sound its horn as a backup in case the lights or crossing arm fail. Whether you are driving, biking, or walking make sure you clear the crossing, especially during traffic backups. If you are not sure if you will clear the crossing, it is best to just wait.

Safety tips: 

  • Do not stop on the tracks for any reason. If you can drive off the tracks do so immediately, if not get out of the car immediately and as far away from the tracks as possible. 
  • Do not go around the gates for any reason.
  • Make sure you clear the tracks by at least 15 feet. Even if you think you cleared the tracks, trains are at least 3 feet wider than the tracks on each side. 
  • If you see a train stopped at the station and the gates are down, do not assume the gates are down for that train. There may be a train coming from the opposite direction at full speed. 

With the latest Caltrain schedule that debuted August 30, 2021, there are more trains than ever traversing the corridor. Here are a few facts on why it is best to stay aware and safe:  

  • There are four trains per hour in each direction during peak times, and two trains per hour in each direction during the midday. 
  • Limited/Baby Bullet trains that bypass Menlo Park station travel full speed through the City at 79 mph. 
  • A typical Caltrain train set weighs almost 1,000,000 pounds. If emergency brakes were applied, it would still take 1 mile to come to a complete stop.

For more information and resources on rail safety, please visit Operation Lifesaver. If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24/7. The service is available to anyone and all calls are confidential, or find other local resources on the Caltrain website.