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PC: Tresspassing Prosecution Pros/Cons...

OK, my *personal* opinion on the tresspass issue is "No harm, no foul".
That is as long as I am not interfering with the normal operations of the
railroad, there is no problem with where I stand to watch, wave or take

Why do the RR's have a problem with this? I think it's liability issues.

RR's property is privately owned. Allowing tresspassers to wander freely
over their ROW's may open them up to all sorts of liability lawsuits
ranging from "attractive nuisance" to being forced into granting public

Also, many industrial operations are very leary of photograpers in
general. They don't want to open their house up to the public eye. Face it,
one well timed photo of an accident, or documentation of unsafe working
conditions could cost a company millions regardless of the veracity of the
photo, or it's publicly percieved message.  Problems can arise for the RR
even inadvertently. imagine if you will, you manage to take a photo that
you submit to a rail magazine. Some legal type manages to get a copy of the
magazine and sees your photo and decides there's "something wrong with this
picture" and manages to initialte some sort of suit...

Lawsuits aside, lets look at a sligtly different aspect. Crews are busy
operating their trains, and can't spend the time attempting to determine if
you are a friendly railfan, or a vandal. Yeah, the camera equipment and
scanner usually give you away, but it isn't sure fire.  Vandalism and theft
can cost a RR big, arguably more than they might benefit from the "good
public relations" gained by being railfan friendly.

So what are we to do as railfans?  One thing is to take the hint from the
hunting crowd.  Out west, there are a lot of bumper stickers urging hunters
to "Ask first to hunt or fish on private property".  In the railroad world,
this means a quick visit to the yard office. The worst that can happen is
you will be asked to leave.

Here is what I would like to see. Just as the RR employees have passes,
railroads should set up a railfan pass system. Any railfan of legal age
would be allowed to apply for a pass that would entitle them to access the
private ROW and any number of enumerated yard locations *without* the need
to secure permission each entry. Access to non-authorized areas would be
allowed with permission, to allow better tracking of your activity.  (Check
in/check out procedure) In order to obtain the pass, each applicant may be
subject to passing safety exams and signing waivers.  Violation of the
terms of the pass would subject the bearer to loss of the pass and criminal

I personally would not have a problem with this type of system. I would
expect to be required to pay my way for any costs associated with the
training/legal process to obtain the pass. 

In this manner, I think the RR's could open access to the truly interested
fans, protect themselves to some degree, and improve public relations to a
great extent.  Would it work?  I don't know.. it would certainly be a hard
sell to the RR's legal departments.  The largest problem is that waivers
are not worth much more than the paper they're written on, and the
precedent of offering legal access to the ROW may be legally more
threatening than just slectively allowing or prosecuting tresspassers.

Gene Fusco        | (970) 223-5100 x9404   Gene.Fusco -AT- Symbios.com   KB0ZMZ
S/W Development   |   Why do I take pictures of trains?
Symbios Inc.      |   Because they're too big to take home.
Fort Collins CO.  |                                                

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