Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25

Thread: Railfans and the Man.

  1. #1
    Kwp Guest

    Default Railfans and the Man.

    Reading the post on `Railfanning Day` has brought to mind other posts concerning the behaviour of officialdom towards railfans. Why are rail security, police and rail employers in general so antagonistic towards train enthusiasts? Is it purely and simply due to security and/or safety considerations? We do need security in this world of ours, especialy in the light of recent events, but we must not allow ourselves to become paranoid concerning it nor let it completly dominate our lives.

    This suspicion is not limited to railfans either. As an amateur astronomer I have both seen and read about it. One humourous incident, but with a serious undertone comes to mind from an article in Astronomy magazine.

    Apparently two, (I think it was two), amateurs were setting up their telescopes at dusk in a backwoods field somewhere in the US for a nights observation and photography. Anyway it wasn`t long before they found themselves in the centre of a ring of spotlights and heavily armed men demanding to know why they were setting up rocket launchers or mortar tubes right next to a US millitary installation. Once it was all made clear I think they were just told to move on. It`s really amazing how quick you will attract the attention of the local constabulary if you go prowling around at night carrying a big tube.

    Getting back to the trains, it saddens me to think that the young rail enthusiasts of today do not have the opportunites to get up close and personal with locomotives except on open days or static displays, `Up the steps, through the cab, out the other side thank you`...`Yes madam we do have public liability in case little Johnny takes a bit of bark off his leg.`
    In previous years I found locomotive crews in general were only too pleased to indulge the interest of the enthusiast, young and old alike and I had many a ride in the cab while having the intricacies of the loco`s workings explained.

    I`m at a bit of a loss to come to terms with the way the world is going in general and concerning railfanning and the restrictions placed upon it in particular and wish that the young ones could experience it the way it was.
    Anyhow,enough of my rambling'

    Your thoughts .... ?

    Keith.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    .
    Posts
    677

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    I can't speak to issue concerning the RR Police, because I've never had a run-in with them. But as for the crews, it's pretty cut and dry around here (west central Indiana). The CP, CSX, and UP crews will usually make a special effort to wave at you, especially if the kids are with you. There's one CSX engineer that runs a local mixed freight that even tosses candy to the kids. The ex-Conrail guys are a different story. On a good day, they'll only look at you like you're scum. On a normal day, they'll flip you off for watching their train go by. Real jerks. Now I don't begin to assume that the Conrail guys' attitude toward railfans is uniform across the system. I'm sure in some areas they're very nice. But around here, a Conrail crew is a good chance for a bird sighting.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Philadelphia, PA, USA.
    Posts
    153

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    Hey,

    Railroads have been very cautious the past few years. I used to meet with some local area railfans here in Fort Worth TX, and this issue came up a lot in discussion. I also have some friends who work for the railroad and they gave me some insight to why the policies of railroads are very railfan unfriendly. The main word that keeps coming up is “Liability”. I hear lots of stories of idiots trespassing, getting hurt, and then file a suit against the railroad. In some cases the idiot won. Either way, it cost the railroads money to litigate. I was granted official permission for a cab ride on a class one railroad. I had to sign a disclaimer that must have been 5000 words long.

    Protection is another big issue. Railfans have a tendency to take unauthorized souvenirs like lanterns, timetables, or anything they can pickup. I witnessed someone run off with a coupler knuckle! Most railroad workers will tell you they will report a railfan in a minute because there a lots of them out there who overstep their boundaries. Plus, they have to because management is breathing down their necks.

    Some railroad workers are still very friendly and approachable, especially if you visit the same site frequently and get to know them. Sometimes I’ve made a chow run for a crew when they’re stuck at a signal and told by the dispatcher it will be some time before they can move. Once, the train got the clear signal a lot sooner then expected; I chased them for 20 miles! Most of the time they will not allow you on to the equipment for fear of getting caught by management. Also, my railroad friends remain very anonymous when talking about railroad issues in open forums on the net for fear of the wrath of the railroads.

    Joe Hildenbrand
    [marquee direction = “right”]
    [Link Expired]
    [/marquee]


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
    Posts
    229

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    I think a big part of it is the liability issue. Railroad property, including areas adjacent to tracks is a very dangerous place. If you have common sense and have had the benefit of a family member who worked on a railroad to terrorize you, (Man my grandpa could tell some real hair raisers about rolling freight cars in a yard) and you obey the rules, there is usually no problem. Unfortunately, there are a lot of "railfans" out there who have no common sense...who don't even seem to have any sense at all! I have seen photographers crouch down literally inches away from the rails as a train approaches. If you have ever
    known an engineer who's train has struck someone on or by the tracks, they can tell you why some train crews are so unfriendly to railfans (that is if they can talk about it at all...For most it is an emotionally devestating experience).

    Don't forget too, that the engineer might not know what your intentions are. He doesn't know for sure that you are just raising your hand to wave. From his point of view, you may be holding a rock or worse!

    The key is to be safe and be sensible. Stay off the railroad property unless you have permission to be there, and if an official or crewmwmber asks you to move on, regardless of where are, do so without raising a fuss.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    .
    Posts
    255

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    Man KWP I wish I could get a ride in a cab. Man that would be so awesome!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Watertown, NY.
    Posts
    257

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    in response to the conrail crews being not so friendly, i can say for a fact it is not systemwide. most of the conrail crews wave up by me in ny, and on one occasion, they invited meup into the cab to take pictures of a meet with an amtrak train. and as far as security goes, as long as you aren't trespassing, they won't give you any problems. which is understandable. but i have hung around railroads right next to the tracks at freight yards on csx, and they really don't care.

    joe

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Metro Washington, DC, USA.
    Posts
    6,244

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    I can speak from personal experience here in the DC area.... VRE and MARC crews are very friendly and will talk to you about anything....
    In Union Station before 9/11 (things changed after that for obvious reasons) The Amtrak crews were very friendly and open.... On one memorable trip I had two different crews invite my Grandson (5) and I in their locomotives for a cab tour... and in one case a RFE or equivelent supervisor type was in there and he conducted the tour... in the other case my grandson was allowed to sit in the engineers seat of an Acela Exp and sound the horn (it was the trailing unit pointed away from the station) while the engineer and conductor encouraged him.....
    The CSX and NS crews will generally wave and if I have one of the grandsons along they will usually give them a "toot"!

    ------Chuck Schneider---------
    [Link Expired]
    -----"Power for You"-------
    http://nalw.macfall.com
    Chuck Schneider
    Chief Cook and Bottle Washer (Virtual CEO)
    North American (Virtual) Locomotive Works

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    East Point, GA.
    Posts
    444

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    I live in East Point, GA and we have 4 tracks running through town, as well as a small yard. I have never had a any issues with exploring the track and yard, but then again I spent many a day in the San Pablo Ave. yard of the ATSF, so I know how to be on my guard. (My grandfather worked for them and had his office in that yard.) I usually get the wave, and have struck up many conversations with the yard workers. They give me the lowdown about being on the property, then look the other way.

    I have actually had more problems with the local police when I have my digital camera out and taking pictures of the local industries. Once I explain what I am doing, they usually chuckle and go on thier way.

    Just be curtious, cautious, and considerate and you should have no issues.

    ATSFDUDE

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Binghamton, NY
    Posts
    439

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    I railfanned between Altoona, PA and Johnstown, PA this past Sunday. I would sayalmost every train we saw, the NS crew waved to us. Of course, it may have been due to the fact that my wife was with me too. But everyone in general seemed pretty nice.

    John Rosh
    [Link Expired]


  10. #10
    Kwp Guest

    Default RE: Railfans and the Man.

    I see by the replies that it is not all doom and gloom and that there are still friendly train crews around and that the rail company`s restrictions are motivated by safety concerns as well as security issues.

    Speaking of the dangers around yards and such I watched a t.v documentary some time ago and part of it concerned loose shunting. I am not certain if it was a hump yard or not. There did not appear to be a control tower or any retarders and obviously no computer control (and it was black and white footage too). Some of those wagons came in at a fair rate of knots and when they hit the rest of the train there were some interesting results to say the least. I think the shunter had to jump onto the wagon as it passed him and manualy apply the brakes. Needless to say there were some pretty horrific injuries and fatalities so I suppose it`s understandable that the railways get nervous about the public getting too close. A train can be a pretty unforgiving thing if you get on the wrong side of one.

    Eagleknight,
    My cab rides occured during my early teens ( I`m 52 now ) so it was some time back and railway employees did not seem to be overly concerned about who was wandering around railway property, as long as you behaved you were quite welcome. You might not fare as well these days though, sadly times have changed.
    But hey ... we`ve got Train-Sim now !!

    Thanks for all your input,

    Keith.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •