It’s looking like it could be a very long winter. With travel restrictions, lockdowns, and curfews in place in many parts of the country, Canadians are searching for ways to keep active—and sane. Many people are turning to winter activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Please, if you’re hitting the trails, stay clear of train tracks.

“We’re all looking for ways to keep busy these days. But it’s critical for people to keep physical distance from one another, and to stay off railway tracks,” says Sarah Mayes, National Director of Operation Lifesaver Canada. “It’s extremely dangerous to hike or walk on tracks—or even alongside them. Staying clear is the only safe option.”

Train tracks aren’t public trails.

Remember, train tracks are private property. It’s illegal to walk on the tracks unless you’re crossing at a designated railway crossing. And even if tracks look abandoned, that doesn’t mean they aren’t in use. No tracks can ever be assumed to be abandoned. Tracks that have been deactivated can also be reactivated at any time.

Trains can also travel in both directions and at all times of the day and night. You never know when a train might be coming along the tracks. So, before you head off on your next outdoor adventure, follow these simple rules to stay safe:

  • Respect the rules. Stay on marked trails and off private property, including railway tracks. Only cross tracks at designated crossings and obey all railway warning signs and signals.
  • Never ski, walk, or ride on or next to train tracks. Trains are wider than the tracks, and it may be hard to hear when a train is approaching.
  • Plan your trip. Plan the route you’ll take and avoid ones that take you near or across railway tracks.
  • Tell someone your plans. Make sure someone knows your route and leave a time/date to raise the alarm if you haven’t returned.
  • Be aware of the weather. Canada’s weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes.
  • Take sufficient supplies. Make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication along with you.

If you’re hitting the trails this winter, stay safe and stay clear of tracks!