Operation Lifesaver and Norfolk Southern are hoping to increase awareness about train safety this week on their Appalachian Whistle-Stop Safety Train.

It made its way through Knoxville on Tuesday. City and county leaders, transportation officials, and emergency personnel were invited to ride the train to Bulls Gap.

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The train ride gave a behind the scenes look at what the conductor sees from the first locomotive.

"I have never made a trip as a locomotive engineer that I have not had a car pull out in front of me. I blow the whistle and they go on across or they go around the gates," said locomotive engineer Bill Clevenger.

"Sometimes you wonder how they made it across. It's that close sometimes," added Wayne Manning.

Operation Lifesaver is hoping this trip will save lives. Last year, there were two deaths in Tennessee involving railroad crossings. Another seven deaths involved incidents where people were walking on or near the train tracks.

"Our biggest problem in Tennessee and across the nation is trespassers. That's people walking on the railroad tracks, using them as shortcuts. And more people are dying by being on the railroad tracks than by being hit in a vehicle train collision," said Jill Moody with Operation Lifesaver.

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Operation Lifesaver also has a new campaign, "See tracks, think train." They want people to always expect a train when they are around railroad tracks.

Other tips from Operation Lifesaver:

  • Look both ways and listen before crossing train tracks.
  • Never race a train to the crossing.
  • Never drive around lowered gates.
  • Do not get trapped on the train tracks.

Operation Lifesaver also wants people to know it's illegal to walk , hunt, fish or ride ATVs on train tracks. The only safe place to cross is at a designated public crossing. Anywhere else it's considered trespassing.