Railfanning could get you arrested

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Heard the FBI arrested a couple of guys last week in north Georgia taking pictures of railroad tracks. They had schedules and equipment list on them. ,,,What no scanner? Sounds like railfan tools to me. Hmmm better be careful when railfanning not to be mistaken for a terrorist.

-- Barrett Bowden (barrettbowden@juno.com), November 15, 2001


The great attitude of the posting by Walt Rogers is what I hope as true railfans can see is most cases. I fully understand that railroading is a business and we cannot and should not just go running around like free spirits on private and dangerous property. At the same time, officials, please use some common courtesy and commnon sense. TRUE railfans are not the railroads' enemies!

Raymond Smith

-- Raymond Smith (aclrr7@hotamil.com), November 20, 2001.

Just a small note along these same lines: Here in Tampa Terminal we have been put on notice to report "any" activity of a non-rail type, people close to tracks, buildings, locomotive,equipment, etc. I have, on several occasions, notified local pd to check out a vehicle/persons close to tracks by switch crews. The eyes are everywhere.

Guys (ladies, too), if you want to get pics of the equipment, buildings, etc, "please, please, please" first check with myself (or another yardmaster on duty, or the trainmaster, if available),let us know what your intentions are, even get a release signed, for proper permission, to take your pics, etc. Always remember to follow good safe practices when around moving rail equipment, do not walk across tracks, climb on "any" equipment, or otherwise jeopardize your safety or the safety of others in the performance of their work.

I can't emphasize this too strongly, any type of activity observed without proper authorization, will be handled as a trespass. I want you all to be welcome on the property, but a little time taken to let us know will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

-- Walt Rogers (wjriii@verizon.net), November 20, 2001.

A message to all our members. We do not condone activities that may be unlawful, but more than that, if you are one of our longer term members and still have a membership card DO NOT USE IT for identification or with the intent to pass it off as some sort of license to trespass on railroad property. One of the reasons we discontinued membership cards is that they were being flashed around as some sort of "pass" .

Not true.

Buck Dean, Membership Director ACL&SAL HS

-- Buck Dean (bdean@jngray.com), November 16, 2001.

I fully understand the concerns that our railroads have and the precautions that they must take as a result of the events that we have seen over the past 60 days. I understand, as well, the enormous responsibility that the railroad police have. I also understand that while some of them may let their egos and authorities control their logic and common sense, most of them are great people just doing their jobs. I can point to one railroad special agent (now retired) whom I had the priviledge of having a great railfan/special agent relationship with. That individual is Kent Hicks of Hamlet, NC.

I guess I am writing this with the hopes that maybe the "right" persons will see it; railroad authorities that is. I will, therefore say this: "Most of us railfans are very responsible, careful, and wish to do nothing to cause any problems. We are not thieves and vandals. We also understand the dangers of railroading and we understand that railroading is a business, not a game. It just happens to be a business that alot of people (railfans) have a sincere love for. True railfans can make the jobs of special agents a little easier. How? Well, you can bet that if I see something "strange" going on near or on railroad property, I will be on the phone to proper authority QUICKLY. With the support of true railfans, there are many more eyes watching than any special agent can do. Their territories are just too vast. How can one agent be in Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and Florence at the same time? Think of us true railfans in the light of community watch."

While I have alsways been and always will be careful, respectful, and rsponsible when close to or around trains, I WILL NOT stop shooting train pictures whenever and where ever I please as long as I am not trespassing or violating someone else's rights.

I am formerly from North Carolina and have spent many hours watching trains on the A Line, S Line and most of their branch lines. I now live in east TN on the KD Subv about 700 feet from the Defect Detector at MP 292.

I apologize for this rambling here but I guess it just reminds us all of what a group of low life terrorists have attempted to do and I refuse to be "ruled" by it. If I want to or need to, I will catch a flight to any destination I choose. I will also watch trains and shoot pictures whenever and from whatever location I choose. I will not trespass while doing so but at the same time, I will not be intimidated while doing so.

-- Raymond Smith (aclrr7@hotmail.com), November 15, 2001.

There was an article in the latest issue of Trains magazine concerning the Kansas City Southern in a similar regard. The KCS has issued a memorandum to all of its employees to report people taking pictures of trains on or off company property. Sign of the times I'm afraid.

-- Eric Rickert (au_tiger777@hotmail.com), November 15, 2001.

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