Safety on Northstar

Safety only takes a second

Northstar Line commuter service operates between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis, bringing thousands of people to work. It's important that if you're around a train, you know the facts about rail safety.

It’s easy to see why rail safety is so important: The weight ratio of a train to a car is similar to the ratio of a car to a can of soda. Locomotives alone weigh more than 200 tons.

Northstar trains operate on tracks shared with BNSF freight trains. Stay safe by obeying warning signs, paying attention and using common sense around trains and tracks.

Safety near commuter rail stations

  • Trains can come on any track, at any time, from either direction. Never assume you know when and where to expect a train.
  • Pay attention to your surroundings. 
  • Cross rail tracks only at clearly marked and designated crossings, and look both ways for trains before crossing.
  • Slow down and be alert near rail stations. Watch for trains, pedestrians, bicyclists, buses and cars.
  • Freight trains do not stop and may not slow down at rail stations. These trains travel up to 80 mph so stay in the middle of the rail station platform at all times.
Stay alert, stay safe – watch this video about the importance of staying focused around buses and trains

Warning Signals

  • Listen for train horns or whistles notifying you that a train is approaching.
  • Always obey warning signs and sounds. Headphones can block out these warnings.
  • Northstar trains can operate in both directions, sometimes with a passenger car on the front end. White headlights indicate a train is coming toward you; red or no taillights mean a train is moving away from you.
  • Environmental noise and wide-open spaces can muffle the sound of an approaching train, so always stay alert around tracks and stations.

Safety near the tracks

  • Cross the tracks only at clearly marked and designated crossings.
  • Tracks have powerful switches that can move at any time. Never walk on the tracks and stay away from track switches.
  • Never try to beat a train through a crossing. Commuter and freight trains can take up to a mile to stop. If gate arms are going down, stop. If lights are flashing, stop.
  • Never go around lowered gates at rail track crossings, whether in a vehicle or on foot. Trains have right of way over all other forms of transportation.
  • Trains may travel directly behind each other, or pass on adjacent tracks that may not be visible to you. Stay alert for passing trains at all times.
  • Always look both ways, listen for warning signals and obey warning signs before proceeding through designated track crossings.
  • Never place or throw anything on the tracks. Foreign objects may cause trains to derail, endangering everyone onboard and anyone nearby. Objects on the tracks may also shoot out from under the train, endangering bystanders.


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