Many of us cross rail lines every day, usually, but not always, at well marked, signaled crossings.
One would think the approach of a vehicle weighing several tons would make us cautious, but the crews driving these trains every day would tell you different.
"People tend to really misjudge trains when they're coming regardless of what speed they are," says Union Pacific Director of Public Relations Liisa Stark.
That's true even on the short branch line which runs from the main line through downtown Reno past the Homeless shelter at Record Street and up past the university to Stead.
Speed is limited to just 10 miles an hour on this line, but the guys in the cab are constantly on alert, watching people along the way, trying to guess reckless behavior, from impatient motorists steering around crossings, to homeless camps around a blind corner, to university students taking a short cut across the tracks.
And then there are the sightseers, drawn to trains, but sometimes standing too close.
"People don't realize trains hang out three feet from the railroad track," says Stark. "So a lot of times people will be walking along the tracks and they'll get hit because they don't realize how big, heavy and large it is."
There are a number of crossings on the few miles of this branch and seven schools generating lots of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Even at 10 miles an hour there's danger.
This train travels this track five times a week and the crew on it says they often see scary situations.
"We have a number of people either trespassing on railroad tracks or not following the law at railroad crossings," says Stark.
And that was the reason the railroad hosted a special trip up the line Friday. It served as the kickoff for a months long safety campaign..
Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver will be giving this track special attention in the coming months, holding public meetings and sponsoring art and video contests at schools along the track, contests with prizes like iPods and computers.
"What we're really hoping is to keep people safe and you can do that by staying away and staying alive"