It happens quite often by geocaching: the cache is situated somewhere near the rail track, but it seems that you are on the wrong site... The legal passage is quite far, and you have still a lot of caches to get... and don't want to loose too much of it just going there and back.

Yes, many German cache descriptions contains information that you shall not pass, at least not the rails in every place you'd like to. Of course, I'm not not talking about going through rails when the policeman is in sight, neither of rails with 'third rail'. I'm talking about just normal, not heavily used rail in not heavily trafficed place.

How the situation looks like in Germany? What's the pessimistic scenario that I should count with? Let's say someone sees me crossing rails in camera, or some rail worker will be incidentally somewhere near... Would someone care to catch me or to call a police for something, that in Poland is too trivial to even deal with it?

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    Not sure what you mean. Are you not allowed to cross the railroad tracks in Germany? That seems unusual to me, but I live in rural America.
    – studiohack
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 1:49
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    @studiohack It's highly illegal to cross railway lines in the UK. 50% of them are electrified too so your also likely to die...
    – user2766
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:17
  • @Liam only if electrified in form "third rail". Traction is not a danger for tresspasser. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 20:20

2 Answers 2


It is/was a popular pastime for environmentalists to chain themselves to the rails, and worse, to throw hooks onto the catenary. Trains catch these hooks and rip the catenary down.

For this reason, the Train Police (Bahnpolizei) is sometimes on the lookout, and if they can't find real terrorists, harass normal people.

I'd avoid railway lines when atomic waste is transported somewhere in the country for that reason. Otherwise don't worry, but don't forget than Germany is the country where pedestrians wait at a red light on a deserted street in the middle of the night.

It might cost you a $20 on the spot fine or so. On the other hand, if you are a foreigner and look like a hiker, they will probably let you go.


If the police catches you walking on the rail, the fine will be small. But there are some other risks:

  • A high voltage power line above you.
  • Walking on a rail is a popular method for suicide. If someone sees you they may call an ambulance, the police and stop all trains on that track. If the railway company has to compensate hundreds of passengers for being late, they will want that money back from you.
  • Crossing the rail is dangerous: Trains are wider than the railroad tracks and there is a dangerous pressure wave around the train. Suppose you just need 10 seconds to cross the danger zone around both rails. A train at 300kph (maximum operation speed in Germany) will advance 830 meters in that time.
  • A train does not drive like a car. If fail to spot the train in time or slip while crossing the rails, the train will not be able to stop.
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    Yes, I'd be much more worried about getting killed than getting arrested.
    – user2766
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:15
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    Well, power lines are c.a. 5 meters above, so unless you're a giraffe, it's no way a real danger. Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 20:21
  • Beware in the country side as well, particularly if you don't have a line of sight down the rails. I had about a 5 second warning from "What's that sound?" that did not sound anything like what I expected to hear for an oncoming train. And that was with a train only doing about 60mph. Commented Nov 3, 2017 at 23:27

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