It’s common to hear stories about people wandering onto the tracks and getting hit by trains, but what people don’t see are the close calls, and there are a lot of them.
The surveillance videos from the Rail Runner are pretty frightening, showing example after example of people who had no idea what was about to hit them.
“It’s ridiculous that people get that close to the track that they could actually risk getting their life taken by a train,” Augusta Meyers with the New Mexico Rail Runner Express said.
The organization says close calls with their trains happen all too often.
In one example in Santa Fe, train security footage shows what looks like a morning commuter running late with his coffee in hand rushing to beat the train on foot, but then stopping right before it passes.
Meyers explained another instance south of Albuquerque: “We see a young woman laying on the track. To me, that looks clearly like it’s some kind of a dare or she’s playing chicken. Absolutely ridiculous.”
In downtown Albuquerque, the Rail Runner passes through nearly a dozen times a day. People who work and live around the area say it’s common for people to not pay attention while crossing the tracks.
It was near Lomas and First Street where a pedestrian looks as though she doesn’t notice the 236-ton train barreling down the tracks toward her before she suddenly looks up and sprints away just in time.
In Los Lunas, a man is seen racing up to the train and stopping suddenly as the engineer put the train into emergency status.
“Trespassers – people who are within that 25-foot of way,” Meyers stated. “It’s just horrifying, tragic to think of what could happen.”
It’s a warning the Rail Runner Express continues to push after seeing too many people push their luck.
In years past, train cameras have caught people taking selfies; another man in no hurry to get out of the way flipped off the conductor; even a school bus breaking the crossing arms while rushing to beat the train.
The trains can go as fast as 79 mph and can take up to a mile to stop in an emergency. In downtown Albuquerque, the trains move closer to 20 mph.
Rail Runner officials said these close calls happen at least once a month, but not just involving people. They also see drivers trying to beat the trains across the tracks.