Union Pacific and CSX are two of the major railroads in America to increase anti-trespassing enforcement. The Times-News.com reports CSX has stepped up enforcement with Cumberland MD police to counter trespassing around its yard in Cumberland; while Union Pacific has enacted a policy to seek removal of material taken while trespassing.
As a railroad photographer and writer, I find this enforcement action both necessarily and alarming. Recently I have begun to observe blatant acts of trespassing from wedding pictures being shot on a line to families laying in the rails and taking pictures. I also see many railroad hobbyists who respect the law and don’t tresspass.
Trespassing; aside from being dangerous to yourself and illegal, is bad for the hobby. Railfans should be seen as benevolent people just watching trains or taking pictures; never posing a threat to the railroad and respecting its operations and employees. Railfans want to show that programs like BNSF Citizens for Railroad Security are the way for railroads and railfans to work together. These actions should never have to be taken because railfans should be respecting property lines. Railfans cannot expect railroads to show them respect and allow them to enjoy their hobby when they are walking into active rail yards just to get a picture.
One website, Railpictures.net has been a leading example of how to handle this problem. Photographs taken displaying trespassing are not accepted unless the contributor can prove he had permission to take the photo.
If the railfan community continues to not stand up against trespassing, it will become harder and harder for us to enjoy the hobby. It will lead to railroads making these policies not about trespassing but about trying to stop people from taking pictures or watching trains.
Don’t allow the 1% of trespassing railfans to ruin it for the 99% who follow the law. If your with friends, set an example and say something if your friends do. If you see strangers doing it, say something or call the authorities.