[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

PC: RE: warning (Long)

>  Also, for any of you rail fans that go on CSX property to watch or
>  photograph trains. Be very careful, a special notice has been issued
>  that any unauthorized personal will be removed and prosecuted for
>  trespassing.

"With things the way they are nowadays, it's understandable."

No, it's not, unless you call paranoia understandable.  I doubt many
terrorists would sit trackside with a camera, in broad daylight, for hours.
This is just like being back in the second grade, where the teacher hears
some talking in the back of the class.  Instead of singling out the kid
responsible, he/she simply punishes the whole class.  Why?  (1) Because it's
easy, and (2) Because he/she has the power to do it.  That doesn't make it
right.  If a railfan does something crazy/illegal, then he should be
punished accordingly.  There is no excuse for stealing railroad equipment,
climbing up signal bridges, or dashing accross busy tracks in engine
terminals.  But simply sitting trackside on an access road or parking lot,
waiting for a photo op?  Where is the harm?  And the railfan might even
benefit the railroad, notifying them of malfunctioning equipment or the
presence of people who really might want to harm the railroad.

Earlier this summer, an article appeared in a Canadian Pacific RR newsletter
on this topic.  It is the only rational examination of the issue by any
railroad that I have seen in my 30 years of railfanning.  I highly recommend
that you read it, as attached below, and hope that some day sanity will
prevail (although I wouldn't bet on it).

Gary Stuebben
Dayton, OH

-----Original Message-----
From:	John Godfrey [SMTP:semaphor -AT- ican.net]
Sent:	Wednesday, July 04, 2001 8:36 PM
To:	(Recipient list suppressed)
Subject:	FWD: Railway Fans

HI all,

Thought this might make interesting reading.  It appears in the July 4th
edition of Canadian Pacific's "Inside Track" newsletter.....believe it....or

>Flame the fans, or fan the flames?
>The image of a small child waving at a passing train is an enduring
>one,captured in art and literature, or often in personal experience.
>There is something fascinating to the childhood mind about the danger
>and the noise, the speed and the movement, a fascination not much
>diminished by the transition from steam to diesel. We all understand,
>even if just a little,the thrill the child feels when rewarded by a
>wave from the crew or a blast from the whistle.
>The company employee for whom working in and around railway equipment
>is a way of life, often quickly loses his childhood fascination. There
>is nothing wrong with this, and it's perhaps a good thing he comes to
>respect the dangerous aspects of the environment in which he finds
>himself. One false move can mean injury or death for himself or
>It's with bewilderment and sometimes anger that railway employees
>encounter adults near railway facilities who are there because of
>their fascination with trains. Known as "railfans", or other less
>complimentary names applied by some company employees, these people
>are often viewed as dangerous to rail operations and railway property,
>a group to be discouraged and chased away by every means available to
>the railway.
>But who are these railfans? This collection of adults constitutes a
>diverse group. They can be of any age, but are often middle-aged or
>older males. Some may be retired, some may be students. They can come
>from any professional background: accountants, musicians, technicians,
>business executives, tradesmen, or civil servants to name a few. The
>Federal Transport Minister is reported to be a railfan. And yes, there
>are even some railway employees in the railfan ranks.
>Many railfans carry cameras. For some, photography is the reason
>they're there. Getting the ultimate photograph of an interesting
>locomotive or piece of equipment in a picturesque setting may be the
>goal, possibly to submit to a magazine, or just for the personal
>satisfaction of the artistic merit of the result. Others carry cameras
>only as a support for their real interests.
>They could be gathering information for creating detailed and accurate
>models, and need the precise paint colours, paint schemes, or details
>of equipment or bridges, for example. Others are interested simply in
>the operational aspects of how the railways function. A refuelling
>operation,car setoff, track work or complicated switching movement may
>be a big thing for them. Still others are interested primarily in the
>historical aspects of the railways, looking for evidence of railways
>long gone, or recording on film certain structures and operations
>before they disappear.
>Some railfans carry radio scanners. This is not to eavesdrop on crews.
>Since freight train schedules cannot be predicted with any accuracy by
>a railfan without inside information, radio reports of trains clearing
>certain points or talking hotbox detectors give advance notice of
>arrival. The radio traffic also helps those interested in operations
>to understand better how parts of the system function together.
>Railway employees have been sometimes surprised by the level of
>knowledge of railfans. Often the railway worker concentrates on his
>own specialty while the railfan may have studied and followed the big
>picture of how the whole system works together.
>Not everyone seen near railway property is a railfan, however. There
>may be the inattentive trespasser taking a shortcut. There may be the
>graffiti artist waiting to spray paint a parked rail car. Some may be
>young vandals intent on doing whatever nuisance they can on the spur
>of the moment, or in rare extreme cases, a saboteur equipped with the
>malice of forethought there to do some real damage. Generally, though,
>people with malicious intent tend not to stand out in the open with a
>cameras around their necks and radios on their hips.
>Most railfans are very supportive of the railways and understand many
>of the risks that the railway environment presents. It is true that
>there are some railfans who put themselves or railway crews at danger
>in the pursuit of their hobby. These are a very small minority,
>however, who are quickly disowned by the rest of the fraternity. Even
>so, railways have legitimate liability concerns about injuries or
>deaths that may occur on railway property. The risks of having
>railfans on the property used to be accepted to a degree generally
>determined at the local level, sometimes covered by a signed waiver of
>liability. Recently, however, in most cases companies apply the full
>weight of trespass regulations to any and all non-employees regardless
>of their motivation, activities, or level of sensitivity to the
>dangers present. Given the many railway facilities in the country,
>the tens of thousands of kilometres of track, and the hundreds of
>thousands of pieces of equipment, this is impossible to enforce with
>any consistency given the small number of railway eyes on the lookout
>for problems, and the even smaller number of railway police available
>to do something about it.
>The young child today has a more difficult time finding a train to
>wave at than in previous generations. His parents, and more likely his
>grandparents, have probably ridden on passenger trains or gone to meet
>visitors at the station. They probably knew someone who worked for the
>railway and lived in a community where the arrival of the train really
>mattered to life there. Today, for many Canadians, the train is simply
>part of the landscape idly noticed from the window of a passing car,
>or an annoyance encountered at a level crossing when in a hurry. In
>general, most people in Canada have no link with the railways, and
>they believe that railways just don't matter any more.
>The railway industry in Canada has gone through some significant
>changes since the parents and grandparents waved at trains. After a
>number of difficult years, the operating companies are having some
>success using innovative ideas and new equipment to win back traffic
>lost to the trucks. However, the industry has an image problem. If
>people think of the railways at all, they imagine them as they were in
>the good old days. This image of large, stolid companies and old
>brute-force smoke-belching technology doesn't play well in today's
>social and business context. The railways understand the problem and
>have been trying to do something about it outside their marketing
>efforts directed to potential customers. CP Limited ran a series of
>ads in general consumer magazines and on TV some time ago starting
>from children's dreams of trains and ships, explaining what modern
>organizations the CP companies really are. CN had a series of consumer
>ads featuring CN employees as a major component of the modern
>company's strength. Consumers have to some extent become hardened to
>companies blowing their own horns however.
>The railway industry has a long way to go to build the support outside
>the business community (and, to some extent inside the business
>community). Where to find the advocates to help spread the word about
>the modern railways to all levels of Canadian society?
>Responsible railfans constitute a group of people who are already
>pro-railway. They are distributed across the country and have roots in
>the community, industry, business and government. They are
>knowledgeable, at least superficially, on railway operations and
>equipment. In many cases they are the torch-carriers for the railways'
>history. Instead of actively discouraging them, the railways might do
>well at least to tolerate railfans if not to encourage them outright.
>Consider some of the possible advantages:
>* The army of railfans deployed along the right of way provides many
>extra eyes on the lookout for operational problems such as shifted
>loads, dragging equipment or locked brakes. Encouraging them to phone
>in any problems they see and facilitating the process would supplement
>trackside detectors, potentially to fix problems before they became
>expensive or even fatal.
>* In a similar manner, railfans notice people who are out of place in
>the railway environment. If they felt welcome to report trespassers or
>unusual activity around railway facilities, this would help prevent
>injury or wilful damage to railway equipment, subjects of continual
>concern for all companies.
>* Railfan members of the community could make excellent Operation
>Lifesaver presenters in local schools with the proper training. This
>could greatly extend the reach of the program and have a beneficial
>long-term impact.
>* Railfan members of community or of local businesses would be
>well-placed to assist in presenting changes in railway operations that
>impact the community, or in helping to moderate disputes. This is a
>natural follow-on to CPR's agreement with the Federation of Canadian
>Municipalities to sort out differences at the lowest level without
>resorting to legal action, and would avoid the appearance of an
>outsider "coming in to tell local people what's good for them".
>Using local railfans as "missionaries" is potentially an effective,
>low cost means of spreading the good word the railways may wish to
>broadcast, and to form a pro-railway nucleus in the community. It
>certainly would make the companies more concrete in the eyes of
>potential investors. The Pacific Wilderness Railways in Victoria has a
>Safety Watch program which uses local volunteers with donated cell
>phones to patrol the right of way for trespassers, hand out
>information pamphlets on safety, and report any dangerous conditions.
>Yes, there are a number of bridges to cross for the railways to use
>this untapped resource effectively. No one advocates opening the gates
>wide to the general public or giving railfans the free run of railway
>facilities, especially after all the good work that has been done in
>educating potential trespassers to the real dangers involved. The
>challenges include:
>* safety and liability issues. Instead of the blanket
>"no non-employees on company property" which seems to be de rigueur in
>most situations, companies should objectively consider the potential
>payoffs versus safety training or the real risks involved in some
>controlled access.
>* determining who's a railfan. Since railfans come in all shapes,
>sizes and motivations, knowing who is useful and who is dangerous is
>somewhat of a challenge. However, the closer the railway integrates
>itself with the community, the easier this becomes.
>* organizing the group. Depending on the role envisioned for the
>railfans, they will need to be organized to some extent if only to
>make a list of who's who. In many cases there already exists formal or
>informal organizations on which the railways could easily piggyback
>with little administrative effort.
>* the payoff. The volunteers don't need to be paid in cash, but there
>should be a payoff of some kind for service they provide. This could
>include safety training, supervised facilities tours, or simple
>toleration. This needn't be expensive, and any expenses incurred could
>be written off against operations savings or as public relations.
>Thus a small investment by the railways in working with the railfan
>community instead of against it has the potential for a big payoff in
>the direct improvement in safety, operations and community/investor
>relations. To get this payoff, the companies will have to make the
>first step to get the fans onside and reverse the anti-railfan stance
>that seems to be the current policy in many cases. This is a chance
>for the railways to show some innovative thinking for a definite
>payoff, rather than simply business as usual.
>The small child waving at the train... Is he waving goodbye, or will
>the railway be an important part of his community when he's older?
John Godfrey

Home | Main Index | Thread Index