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www.trains-and-trains.dk : A personal view by Christian Vinaa


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USA : Trainspotting



Train-spotting - railfanning; there are many names for just watching trains and taking fotographs of trains.


While it in Europe is quite accepted and even encouraged by the railroad companies to take fotographs of trains and railroads, the situation in the USA ( but not Canada ) is quite different.

I have so far, TOUCH WOOD, never had any bad experiences myself, but from many friends in the USA I have heard stories about encounters between the railroad police forces and railroad fotografers.

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What I have experienced myself is the huge amount of "No Trespassing" signs that are put up in the USA. In my next life I want to be a manufacturer of these "No Trespassing" signs, and I want to copyright and trademark the signs. That will be easy money.

Why these "No trespassing" signs ? Well - its easier and cheaper to put up a sign than to put up a fence. But even on high fences there are the "No trespassing" signs. No doubt it has a legal twisted meaning, that will keep many legal minds at work.

But the "No trespassing" signs MUST to respected. On the other hand; if there are no signs : Go for it; - responsibly.

Terror

To an European it seems, to put it mildly, downright plain silly that ordinary railroad afficionados are ill-treated by the railroad companies. Of course 9/11 has had its effect, but honestly: A guy with a camera standing in full sight is different than a would-be terrorist, who, I presume, would hide his actions, fearing discovery.

Railroad afficionados actually prevent bad things from happening through their very existance. A would-be terrorist will be discouraged from doing something if there are photografers that can 1. take fotografs of him and 2. alarm the police.

However that is a discussion that never can be "won", and we'll have to "chalk" that one up to cultural differences.

After all; we in Europe can be just a "bad": One 69 year old man was charged and fined in a Danish court because he had gone to a pier from which he had been fishing for the last 50+ years. But after the 9/11 terror-scare all ports and piers in Denmark became "National Security" areas, so no more fishing for that guy.

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Safety

Safety is another issue; and yes there are many silly photografers and people who dont respect trains. In all fairness this is NOT a USA problem, but a problem in every country.

Take a look at these 2 youtube videos :

platform
Photografer on platform in the UK.
Even on the platform you are NOT save if you stand too close to the tracks, and if your attention is on the steamtrain on the other track.

walking on the tracks
Walking on the tracks in the USA.
Walking ON the tracks is just plain stupid, and not at all fair to the railroaders. A train cant stop like a car, and while you have NOTHING at all to do ON the tracks in the first place, its FAIR to the railroaders to leave the tracks ASAP.

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But even when politicians want to "talk about" train safety, they DONT THINK :
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D) almost get hit by train while standing on platform too close to the tracks
Senator Richard Blumenthal almost get hit by train while standing on platform too close to the tracks.
Talking about "running on a platform" - pun intended.

If links are not working :
[ Photografer on platform ] [ Walking on the tracks ] [ Politician on platform ]

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All the railroaders I have spoken to ( in Europe ) dont mind photografers, but prefer that they wear a safety-west, so the engine driver can spot them in time and know that the person is there for a reason. It is also presumed, that photografers with a safety west will behave responsibly.


In the USA, on local initiatives, there are formed rail-fanning places, where railroad afficionados can sit and watch trains. These places often have toilets and provide shelter from sun and rain.

We dont have these in Europe since most photografers go out into the wilderness and take fotografs; - since it mostly is allowed to wander around in the nature in Europe.

One of these railfanning places is in Fostoria in Ohio.

More to follow. ( Hopefully ).

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