With regards to you advice on avoiding railroad lines except as a last resort, I will offer my observations growing up in South Dakota. A good portion of the lines have been abandoned and but still have [de-railed] right-of-ways for horses or bikes. We used to use these road beds to ride our horses or bikes to go play with friends one, two or three miles away. The main advantage was that they were abandoned and posed no threat to us kids, so it kept us off the roads. The second was that the law prevented them from being blocked in anyway. Just because these lines were abandoned didn’t mean they couldn’t be rehabilitated quickly, The train companies still owns the routes and they would be inspected periodically to see what would required to get them operational again (an abandoned line can be reopened between 6 to 18 months depending on weight and the required use).
Even an operational grain train route was no impediment. The conductors knew we used them and took the proper precautions to protect us. South Dakota being largely flat, we could see a train for miles, and we knew the horns. We were taught to get off the path and wait for the train to pass (around Christmas we would line the track at certain points and the conductors would throw candy to us kids.
Bottom line: train tracks in urban areas are iffy under the best of circumstances. But lines in the rural