Your Safety Comes First !!!
The following guildlines are only for physical safety of a person wishing to venture out for railfanning. These guidelines doesnot address legal issues such as entering or tresspassing on railway properties. You may be questioned or challenged by local security personnel if you are in restricted areas. You should have appropriate permits from Indian Railway officials for rail-photography in any restricted areas, yards, sheds, inside locomotives, etc. TrainTrackers doesnot supports or encourage illegal activities in the name of railfanning.
There are certain safety measures to be taken during railfanning to keep it a safe & entertaining hobby:
~ Do not rely on hearing about a speeding train. It's a dangerous practice. Trains can be deceptively silent. Most of us have no idea about the accelearation of a moving train especially the eletric locomotive units. It can be too late when you finally notice the train & can cause multiple injuries even death.
~ Always depend on sighting the train rather than hearing to it. But keep in mind that in foggy or low-visibility areas its highly recommended to avoid the tracks. You just cannot depend on your eyes to spot a approaching train in those situtations.
~ Never ever rely on the indirect indications of an approaching train such as rail-vibrations, sounds on the OHE or the telegraphic wire alongside. It can effect adversely during rains & in foogy conditions.
~ Keep away from tracks. If possible, it's always suggested to walk along the sideways but not on the tracks. Railway tracks are very dangerous & uneven places mainly due to the presence of ballasts which are usually loosely placed & often can cause disbalance during emergencies. And also beacause of the presence of grease on rails how much ever shiny they may appear. You may twist your ankles or sustain injuries by falling down due to stumbling on sleepers, rails or ballasts which may leave you immovable during emergencies. To avoid all these you may keep on looking at the tracks while walking and end up missing the appoaching train.
~ Always read the signals. It will give you an idea about the possiblity of approaching trains (except in some of ASZ). Always keep in mind during walking on tracks you should take the tracks on which trains coming at you. You should never ever take the tracks on which trains coming from behind, it is dangerous.
~ In multiple line sections it is higly recommended to avoid loitering on tracks as you may have no idea on which track trains may come and from which direction. Also at this multiple lines juncture you often find points which are very dangerous.
~ Never ever step on the track-points. It can be life threatening. Points can move automatically & all of a sudden, leaving your feet entrapped. There were many incidents of death due to this practice of putting foot on the points.
~ Keep safe distance from a fast moving train as beacause the air-pressure may suck you towards the train (specially the electric locos or EMDs). Also there are chances of being hit by the loads on the wagons hanging outside of a goods trains. Ballasts can also cause fatal injuries which are thrown by the jerks of a speeding train in some of the newly laid sections or in a section which has undergone recent line maintenance works.
~ Always be watchfull about multiple trains in the busy suburban sections as you may be watching a train on the opposite tracks & photographing while another train my arise on the other track nearer to you or may be at the same track on which you are in. These may prove dangerous. So always be watchfull and cautious while railfanning on busy sections.
~ If caught between two trains on the adjacent tracks it best to lie down in the space betwwen the tracks. Else air-pressure may cause disbalance and you may be pushed towards the train.
~ Never try to cross rail-bridge in fog or during rain or at night. It is very dangerous as because bridges generally lacks adequate clearances or safe places to get yourself to a safe position when a train goes by. Generally, bridges do have escape platforms intended to be used by anyone who is caught in the bridge when a train is approaching. But you should never run on the tracks on a bridge when a train is approaching as you may slip, twist your ankles or even fall on tracks. Slowly went down the tracks if you are near an end or move towards the nearest escape platforms usually 100-150 m apart.
~ Always be sure about approaching trains before entering tunnels. Always keep a working torch with you for proper viewing inside tunnels. While trekking on a route where you have to pass tunnels it's always better to know schedules about all trains (both passenger and goods traffic) on that section. One can approach nearest station master on-duty for these informations.
~ If caught inside a tunnel with train approaching don't panic, just throw your bags, look-out for the nearest escape-platforms usually marked in white. If you can't find that lie down in the corner on the walls of the tunnel. Also usually there must be a rainwater drainage ditch running along the length of the tunnel parallel to the tracks, just lie inside them as flat as you can. Donot ever try to spend time inside tunnels simply for chatting or loitering. It is highly recommended to go-pass a tunnel as soon as possible but dont ever run on the tracks inside.
~ Don't get closer to the over-head equipements in the hilly areas while climbing the rocks to get a better view of trains. Allow sufficient space between your body & OHEs or else you may be electrocuted.
~ Beware of potential dangers along the track-side. It may be the debris which lies along track-side or may be some wild animals or some hazardous chemicals which may have spilled from overturned wagons/tankers.
~ While a train is at halt dont lean on them and dont try to cross tracks very near to a stopped train as it may start moving all of a sudden. On the gradiants don't ever stand at the lower end of the train as it may suddenly slip towards you.
~ While taking photos of a stationed loco it is higly recommended to be absolutely sure, while getting closer, that the loco is dead or no crew inside it nor its attached to another shunting-loco to the other end of the train it is attached with.
~ Never ever go underneath a train as you have no idea when it may start moving specially inside shunting yards or carsheds and even in stations as well. It may cause fatal injuries lead to death at times.
~ Never try to cross a train through the buffers or over the couplings as you may slip and fall on the tracks at times due to jerking during sudden movement of trains (specially when locos get attached). This may also cause deaths or major injuries.
~ It is dangerous to climb at freight trains as they are not intended for you to be in it. They donot have any handrails to grip. The riding on a goods carrier is also not soothing as they donot have buffers to resist the jolts from the tracks or due to sudden accelration. You may fall down which may results to deadly injuries.
~ Footplating at the doors of a moving train is very dangerous though very common in the crowded areas of entire north India. It is highly recommended not to hang out of the doors on a moving train as a violent jerk may cause disbalance and you may fall of the train causing death. Sometimes ballasts from the opposite tracks or coal-pieces or ore-materials from a passing-by goods train may also hit you causing injuries.
~ Throwing stone on a speeding train by childrens are often a common practice along the crowded suburbs of entire north Indian states (especially UP, Bihar). These pebbles often causes severe injuries to the passengers on-board specially to the ones standing on doors. As the momentous shock of being hit may loosen your grip which results to fall & even death in most cases. So it's highly recommended to avoid footboard travelling in those areas.
~ Do not ever entrain or detrain when it is on the move. It is highly dangerous and can be life threatening as you may stumble and slip onto the wheels of the moving train.
~ Please keep safe distance from moving trains while on station platforms just to provide necessary gaps between you and the train and to minimize the chances of being pushed or pull towards the train beacause of the air-pressure it creates. At the same time please keep in mind usually EMUs are wider than normal coaches and so it always recommended to maintain safe distance from those while crossing a station.
~ Always take a friend along with you. It is always recommended not to be alone during railfanning. It is a good idea to be in groups or have a friend accompanying you. Everyone during railfanning should keep a mobile or atleast keep a track of the nearest communication centre in case of any emergenices.
~ Wear standard footwears while trekking along the tracks. Avoid chappals, sandals, kitos & sleepers while walking on tracks as these are potentially dangerous & may led to fall or slip during emergencies. Always wear good shoes with laces and with good grips which will help you negotiating with rail-edges, loose ballasts & on uneven terrains as well.
~ Keep necessary foods, adequate water & up-to-date timetables while you are out for long treks through remote regions where there are no inhabitants or communication centres in near vicinity. Avoid intake of junk foods during railfanning which may left you thirsty very often. If you feel exhausted during long treks it is suggested to take rest a bit. Or else you may become too tired to move properly or your reflexes may slow down during emergencies. But dont ever sit down or lie down near the tracks, as you may soon fall asleep due to tiredness without realizing and may come too close to tracks.
~ Keep a fully charged mobile and a torch with you while railfanning treks. Also it is always good to have spare batteries with you for emergencies. Keep a track of your group members before entering & leaving a tunnel or a bridge while trekking. Ask each member to take necessary safety measures while on tracks to make your trip an enjoyable one.
~ Always use your common sense and be alert & aware of your surroundings. Afterall your safety only depends on how you are taking proper safety measures while railfanning keeping it the most interesting, attractive & entertaining hobby of the world.