When a pedestrian gets hit by a train it is almost always fatal. The size and speed of the train means that even if a conductor is able to see the pedestrian and apply the brakes in time, it takes the train a long while to completely stop.
This was the case yesterday when a man, James Harty was struck and killed by a commuter train about 50 yards east of the station on the Franklin/Forge Park line in Boston, Massachusetts (MA). We are not sure why he was on the tracks, however many different federal regulations impact the responsibilities of the warnings that must be provided by a railroad.
Also, many states have "vegetation" clearing requirements which mean trees, shrubs and obstructions should not block visual access at crossings. The human toll of railroad crossing deaths is terrible, not only on the family's of those injured or killed, but places an enormous emotional toll on the railroad engineer who may witness a tragic crash-and may be powerless to avoid it. Even the railroad unions have been pushing the railroads and government for improved railroad crossing safety