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The Amtrak Inspection Train arrives in Gulfport in 2016. The demonstration train ride began in New Orleans, making stops at Bay St. Louis, Gulfport, Biloxi and Pascagoula before heading to Alabama and Florida. Amtrak passenger service from New Orleans to Mobile is expected to launch in 2023. Sun Herald 

For the first time in 17 years, Amtrak will offer service between New Orleans and Mobile. This is great news — but it also prompts an important reminder regarding track safety.

Here are a few tips:

Stop at railroad crossings. Obey all traffic control signals, including gates, lights, signs, pavement markings and audible warnings such as bells, lights and horns. Remember: a train moving at 55 mph can require more than a mile to stop.

Stay alert while crossing. Modern passenger trains are quieter than ever, and approaching trains are closer and moving faster than you think. That makes using headphones, talking on the phone and shooting texts potential hazards.

Cross with purpose. Don't loiter around the rails. If you're pushing a stroller or wheelchair, or riding a bike, cross the tracks at a 90° angle perpendicular to the rails; otherwise, wheels can get stuck. Once you've reached the other side, keep moving.

Avoid stopping on the crossing. Of course, never drive onto a crossing until it is clear you can get across all of the tracks without stopping.

Don't jog, bike, walk or engage in recreational activities on the tracks. Unauthorized persons aren't permitted on railroad rights-of-way and property, except, of course, at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings. That means no running or walking on the rails — and no walking under, around or between railcars, even when they've stopped.

Find another location to picnic, pose or party. Trespassing remains the top cause of rail-related deaths. Partying, making videos and taking wedding or graduation photos can turn fatal around rail tracks. Thankfully, there's an easy fix: don't trespass. Pick another spot for a selfie.


executive vice president and chief safety officer, Amtrak

Email Stephanie Grace at or follow her on Twitter, @stephgracela.