How much ground clearance does a freight train have?

Like to the rail road ties,i was watching an old movie,and this guy hid by laying in the center,between the rails and the train went over him,is that possible? I think i’d have a heart attack to do that.

Possible 10″. Reguardless…I wouldn’t do it.

If there is enough clearance, how do you avoid the static discharge chain hanging down from under some of the cars?

Getting hit by a heavy gauge steel chain at 40+MPH is going to leave a mark on you.

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10 Responses to How much ground clearance does a freight train have?

  1. the_cheeze_cop says:

    Possible 10". Reguardless…I wouldn't do it.

    If there is enough clearance, how do you avoid the static discharge chain hanging down from under some of the cars?

    Getting hit by a heavy gauge steel chain at 40+MPH is going to leave a mark on you.
    References :
    http://railking.ca/railking_compare.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_US_railfan_jargon

  2. Turtle 6 says:

    Actually, there are some pieces of rail equipment that has NO clearance whatsoever!, So, don't do it.
    References :

  3. CoolHand says:

    There is no static discharge chain on freight trains in the US. We would have to stop and walk the train every twenty miles because the dragging equipment detector would say that we had dragging equipment. But the clearance to the ties could be as little as 6 inches, air hoses hang down, so does brake rigging. Not to mention the cow catcher, or snow plow only has three inches clearance above the rail. You could easily be killed, and then rolled up until you were unidentifiable.
    References :

  4. Rango says:

    minimum 2 1/2" above the rail, so, in "normal" circumstances, there would be 2 1/2" plus the heighth of the rail, another 8 or 10" perhaps.

    Normal being a key word, there is always the odd dragging chain or peice of brake rigging or air hose hanging down.

    In a few very bizarre cases people have been between the rails and have survived, usually incapacitated for one reason or another.

    but as stated above, fergawdssake dont do it, one low air hose and you would be done
    References :

  5. skidderback says:

    Possible to survive, yes. Probable, no.

    Not too long ago this very thing happened on a subway system that I believe was in New York. A man fell off the platform (I believe he was ill, not a suicide) and another jumped down to help the man. Both survived having the train pass over them.

    The important thing one should remember is to never get yourself into a situation where such drastic action is your only option; stay out of tunnels, stay off of bridges and trestles or anywhere else where there is insufficient clearance, should a train arrive.

    Safety question = star. Here's yours.
    References :

  6. Wolf Harper says:

    Depends on a few things. Clearance from the top of rail to the bottom of car is "supposed to" be 2 1/2 inches, per 49 CFR 215.121(a). The height of the rail itself would be between 5 and 7 inches depending on the type of rail. The rail may sit further above the tie on a tieplate. The tie may have a further depression in the middle (like concrete ties) or the rails may be sinking into the tie.

    All that's assuming you are thin enough and are able to lie down flat and stay laid down. Not be sucked up by the passing motion. Not panic. Not snag clothes. Not get clipped by something and have an involuntary reaction and raise part of your body.

    Definitely dangerous any way you slice it, and railroad people are very opposed to danger. There really isn't much call for an ordinary passenger to need to do this. Even if you fall off a subway platform onto the track, you'll usually find there is a big empty area under the platform itself, specifically to give people somewhere to go.
    References :

  7. crimson rambler says:

    Underneath a freight train there is barely a couple of feet, and even if you lie out flat in the four-feet, there is still a danger that loose chains, rods or bolts or whatever from the coupling system of the train will foul you.
    References :

  8. michaelmohrmann2004 says:

    Even if I knew the train would pass over me without the possibilty of inflicting harm what-so-ever, I'd still be way too scared to do something like that. But you do get a star from me.
    References :

  9. Andy F says:

    Man a low hanging pair of glad hands would sure ruin your day in a hurry. I'd die of fright before the train passed over me anyways. But yes i have heard of people surviving that.
    References :
    railroad engineer

  10. DEE W says:

    Rail cars have a higher clearance but the engine is what would kill or maim you. DON'T DO IT OR YOU WILL DIE!
    References :
    Hopped freights before.

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