AMTRAK: Do you know what to do if you’re ever stuck on train tracks? (Video)

AMTRAK: Do you know what to do if you’re ever stuck on train tracks? (Video)

Quick Summary

Train deaths aren’t very common. Because these types of deaths are so rare, it becomes very tragic, especially given that these deaths are completely preventable. So if you were stuck on train tracks at a railroad crossing, would you know what to do? Luckily, we have professional advice from the AMTRAK Police Department on what to do. We take a look at the three possible scenarios and how to handle each one safely.

Scenario #1:

You’re stuck on the tracks and a train is NOT coming.

In this scenario, you need to find and call the Emergency Notification System (ENS) 800 number at the crossing if a train is NOT arriving on the tracks in order to stop any oncoming train. Every crossing has an ENS phone number with a 6-digit reference number followed by a letter that tells train dispatchers exactly which train crossing you are at. A train dispatcher will respond immediately and take care of the situation from that point on. At this point, you just need to stay clear of the train tracks.

Unfortunately, calling 911 will NOT stop the train from coming because they have no control over the train itself. The first responder in this case is the train dispatcher, according to Jim Dellapietro (AMTRAK Superintendent of NEC Operations). Calling the ENS phone number on the sign will connect you with a train dispatcher. The dispatcher will notify that particular train with enough time for it to come to a completely safe stop in an emergency situation.

Where are the signs located?

It can vary. It can be shown on any of the following:

  • the crossbar,
  • directly out on the crossing, or,
  • the silver box that’s usually located adjacent from the crossing

When should you call the emergency notification system?

  • When there’s suspicious activity,
  • You see something that’s obstructive in the tracks,
  • If you suspect that the gates are malfunctioning,
  • You see a vehicle stuck in place

Scenario #2:

You’re stuck on the tracks and a train IS coming.

In this situation, you need to get out of your vehicle and run as quickly as possible because you may only have seconds to leave the tracks. It’s important to run in a 45 degree angle away from the tracks in the direction that the train is coming. Running at an angle will prevent you from running into the gates that come down when a train is on its way.

DO NOT try to save your vehicle! Many people lose their lives trying to save their vehicles when there is an oncoming train. Waving down a train will also not help the train operator from stopping the train because they cannot stop the train that quickly.

Scenario #3:

Your vehicle is on the crossing and the gates come down around you.

In this case, you would drive through the gates. The gates are meant to breakaway so that drivers can get through to the other side. There are signs near railroad tracks that tell drivers not to stop on the tracks.

However, if you find yourself in a stopped vehicle on the tracks then you need to drive through the gates. If you cannot drive through the gates because there are cars in front of you in traffic, then get out of the car and run at an angle away from the oncoming train as quickly as possible. DO NOT try to salvage your car.

Let’s hope that you’ll never encounter any of these situations. But if you do, we hope that you’ll remember these solutions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. We would like to say “Thank You!” to the AMTRAK Police Department for providing us with this helpful information to keep our communities safer.