"Rather than fear the liability associated with permitting a trail along an active rail corridor, railroads should embrace them as a safety measure, as they help control crossings, making them safer and more predictable. "That is the biggest selling point for railroads," said Jerry Walls of SEDA-COG. Many railroads have prohibitions on new at-grade crossings that slow trains down and introduce the possibility of injury. Where trail managers can't find a way to get a safe at-grade crossing approved, they can build grade-separated crossings. While costly, these create valuable connections for pedestrians and prevent headaches for the railroads. They're perfect places to walk and bike. These rights-of-way have gentle grades that are easy and accessible for all trail users, says Kelly Pack of RTC. They also tend to be contiguous and uninterrupted, with fewer street crossings than normal trails or on-road facilities. And though nearly 60 percent of existing trails are within 30 feet of the tracks, at least 70 percent of them have physical barriers separating them from the tracks."
I'd rather walk next to a rail line than a highway any day of the week.