• "Rail Fans in Deadly Light"

  • Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.
Discussion related to railroads/trains that show up in TV shows, commercials, movies, literature (books, poems and more), songs, the Internet, and more... Also includes discussion of well-known figures in the railroad industry or the rail enthusiast hobby.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Gilbert B Norman
 
I'm surprised that the Journal's Dan Machalaba did not contribute to the reportage; at an article and video piece about Folkston, GA on the Journal's page, he essentially 'came out".

Foamer is likely part of his vocabulary; it is part of mine - and I have not actively railfanned in over twenty-five years.
  by GWoodle
 
oscapsfan wrote:
jayrmli wrote:This is true. And no blame should be placed on the teens who may have sent a text message. They did nothing wrong. If what has been reported is true, the fault lies with the engineer who should have known better than to text message or do anything with his cell phone while operating the train. As a qualified employee who passed a rules exam, he/she is to know what is wrong and what isn't. No one else.

But, as was said earlier, if railfans can pose a distraction to employees on duty, they will be looked at differently on company property. As was mentioned, it is not all, but a few immature ones who don't keep their activities to themselves, and post things publicly on forums so they may be idolized by their peers. (i.e. - Look what I did yesterday - I got a cab ride from Joe Blow.)

Jay
I agree with this for the most part. Perhaps engineers should be prohibited completely from making cell phone calls and text messaging while working, because a text message/phone call can come from anywhere at any time. I mean, I get text messages and phone calls on my personal line while I work every day. Whether I choose to check them out or respond depends on the work I'm doing at the time. I don't see why this is any different. People in positions where peoples' lives are at stake need to be able to figure out when it is appropriate to handle personal business. This accident should not in any form be blamed on railfans.

-Dan
I don't know how many real engineers may post here on Railroad.net?? Not many?

While cell phones are a legal product, there may already be rules prohibiting use while the train is in operation. If the train is in the hole, or delayed for some reason, could be an opportunity to place a call. I doubt seriously if that would allow one to run through several signals & a turnout? Something else may be up here. We need to be careful till ALL the facts have been released. Let's not jump to conclusions yet. Let the NTSB do their job.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
The Cali accident has affected everyone, especially people in the railroad industry. When watching and photographing trains, there's nothing wrong with waving to the crew, and in fact, it's polite to do that. Overall, I let the crew do their job when I'm riding and photographing. For example, I don't ask questions like is the top speed limit on the Montauk Branch 65. Us LIRR buffs know that it is correct. I know that the LIRR fans have had their share of run ins with authorities about photographing trains from the platforms, especially Jamacia. It's unfortunate, not only b/c of post 9-11, but also the Metrolink crash. Next weekend, I might do a run out to Southampton, and hope to not be hassled. I have never had issues on the LIRR, mainly because most photography, I do at stations east of the NY city limits.
  by MACTRAXX
 
LI Tool,Jay and everyone: I feel that you are both right on this topic-I am the type of railfan that stays out of the way-I do not trespass on RR property-and I do not bother the train crews in any way in their effort to do their work. I only interact with employees when it is someone I know or if it is appropriate. Other then that while I am riding I just sit back and enjoy the ride. I do not take many pictures at all and virtually none since September 2001.

In fact I do not even do things I used to like to do such as watch a morning rush hour once in a while at Mineola anymore partially because of the sameness of the equipment compared to the 90s and before and also because of the possibility of the police hassling me-even though I will take action to not stick out like a sore thumb like for example hanging around an odd spot like the extreme W end of the Mineola platforms. I will,though give a friendly nod or wave to a crew member when it is apppropriate.

It is unfortunate that it has to come to this scrutiny of some railfans but again it is the few stepping over the line that ruin it for us all! I wonder what it will take to repair the relationship between railfans and railroaders or is it as some feel permanantly broken? Have the hard-core foamers and cell phone abusers ruined it for us all? Commentary by MACTRAXX
  by Dump The Air
 
Yes the hardcore foamers ARE starting to ruin it for all of us, and make us look like a community of asbergers having, socially retarded manchildren.
  by RailBus63
 
Dump The Air wrote:Yes the hardcore foamers ARE starting to ruin it for all of us, and make us look like a community of asbergers having, socially retarded manchildren.
My thoughts exactly. I hate to sound like an old fogy (I'm in my 40's and have been a fan since I was a teenager), but the activities of some fans are really casting this hobby in a bad light. Many of us tend to keep our railfanning low-key - I've met too many fans who apparently have no social skills and no life outside of railfanning and I'd rather not be associated with those types. Unfortunately, responsible fans tend to be invisible when the media gets involved in a story like this and we get lumped in with the foamers.
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
I have seen my share of railfans who act like wise guys. For example, they block others from taking pictures. Maybe I have noticed that at the Harmon Open Houses. I have heard about ones who venture into areas where they aren't even supposed to be at, especially too close to a right of way. I will always be a railfan no matter what, but I always stop, and look not only for trains, but to where I'm taking the pics. Over on the LIRR, I know that the railroad isn't as railfan friendly as Metro North, but if we all behave accordingly by not tresspassing into areas such as rail yards, or mouth off authorities or train crew who question us about our picture taking, even if it's from the platform, that will always help.
  by MN-P32AC-DM-201-227
 
I couldn't say it any better. "The relationship between fans and train workers became strained after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Workers began turning fans away, and some began to view fans as a nuisance, even reporting them to local authorities." Its happen to me many times. For example my father and I where at Hoboken, NJ and were told by a engineer to "get a life." Even before 9-11-01, transit police do not like "Railfans" I remember A few times at Newark I was told " You can't be taking photos here." One thing I learned from those times is to take your photo and then put the camera away. I learned to blend in with the crowd, not to stand out. What do I mean when I say "not stand out", standing at the end of a platform for two hours looks suspicious. Our love for trains is great, as long as we don't get in the way of rail road operations. :-D
  by njtmnrrbuff
 
At Hempstead, would I stand a good chance of being hassled for taking pix at the station there?
  by Don_
 
MN-P32AC-DM-201-227 wrote:I couldn't say it any better. "The relationship between fans and train workers became strained after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Workers began turning fans away, and some began to view fans as a nuisance, even reporting them to local authorities." Its happen to me many times. For example my father and I where at Hoboken, NJ and were told by a engineer to "get a life." Even before 9-11-01, transit police do not like "Railfans" I remember A few times at Newark I was told " You can't be taking photos here." One thing I learned from those times is to take your photo and then put the camera away. I learned to blend in with the crowd, not to stand out. What do I mean when I say "not stand out", standing at the end of a platform for two hours looks suspicious. Our love for trains is great, as long as we don't get in the way of rail road operations. :-D
One thing that could help is if these railroad workers, conductors, security, etc., knew the law and not act as lawmakers! No one elected them to make up the rules.

I was out taking some photos the other day from a public sidewalk overlooking a rail yard and was told, "Homeland Security prevents photos from being taken here. Security will come and confiscate your camera."

If they did, they would face false arrest and harassment charges.

I smiled because this worker was terribly misinformed.

Railroad workers get this: there are no law against taking photos of trains. Period.

Read through the Photography Is Not a Crime section on Flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/groups/[email protected]/
http://www.krages.com/phoright.htm

It's also a good idea to have a copy of the Photographer's Rights in your camera bag to physically show that photography can't be restricted from public places like sidewalks and streets, despite what the so-called rail authorities spout off about.
  by B&Mguy
 
RailBus63, I agree with you entirely. I am in my late 20s now and have been a casual railfan since I was a boy. I always notice that some of the other railfans, even the grown men seem to have no social skills outside of knowing every little detail about trains. It was at a young age that I decided to keep my railfan hobby to myself and select others to avoid being lumped in with the extreme foamers. It's kind of sad that the general public has this stereotypical image of a railfan. Most of us have day jobs, and lots of friends and family, and many other hobbies. The foamers are a small fringe group that do not represent the average railfan.
  by Tom6921
 
Moderator's Note: I've deleted the post and also removed the link from the quoted message below-thanks for the "heads up".

I clicked on the link which was a page about a Viagara knock-off and absolutely nothing to do with railfanning.
responsiblerailfans wrote:I have set up a new site to help display our community in a positive light. I'm looking for people who have anything they would like to share. I am currently talking with a few Class 1's as well as government agencies to obtain some support. Stop by and check us out.

Thanks,

Mike
  by 2nd trick op
 
It might be a good time for a little more discussion of this subject in the light of Al-Queda's reported interest in attacking our rail system.

A post from a discussion a few years ago estimated the number of "hard-core" railfans at about 100,000; roughly equal to the paid circulation of Trains. That might be a reasonable figure if you're looking for people who possess a basic familiariity of the conditions under which the indstry operates, but are generally not employed within, or close to it. But the number of people who, while not following the institution on a daily basis, still hold more than a passing interest, is likely much larger.

The discussion regarding the "gray area" in which a hobby becomes an obsession is one that probably hasn't received as much attention on this side of the Atlantic as it has in Great Britain, where a somewhat more-relaxed attitude toward eccentricity has long been the norm. And I also have to point out that a component of our societal fabric which has, on oone hand always held a (usualy-) temporary fascination for children, but also occasionally touches on some of the seamier parts of our existence is a natural breeding ground for misunderstanding ... more so when the percentage of the work force involved in its operation continues to dwindle while the mainstream media become both more diverse and more feminized.

Most of the familarity with railroading which I developed whaile under the age of say, 16, was acquired al a long-gone PRR interlocking tower on a 6-8 moves/day branch that wasn't busy enough to draw much scrutiny from railroad security, and it didn't hurt that the time was the laid-back late 50's/early 60's. Developing that sort of a day-to-day familiarity isn't as easy today, but the emergence of everything from radio scanners to ATCS monitors to sophisticated simulations and games like MS Train Simulator and Signal Computer Consultants' Train Dispatcher has filled a lot of the gap.

About 15 years ago, an opinion feature called Trains Turntable{/i] ran a segment entitled "Trust Our Warchful Eyes". which raised the possibilty of recruiting and vetting the railfan community as an auxillary, organized along the lines of Operation Lifesaver or the Civil Air Patrol, which could monitor daily rail operation watching for dangerous/criminal situations such as mechanical problems (malfunctioning signals, sticking brakes, overheated journals), fires, vandalism, etc. The positive potential for such a group would be even greater in the wake of the events of 9/11/01, and just as the line between legitimate "first responders" and a small contingent of "wannabees" sometimes blurs, with dangerous possibilities, this would provide an organized means to identify the irrational few.

Finally, let me point out that, as in many other fields of human endeavor, the emergence of the Internet itself has allowed for serious discussion of issues too isolated to have gained such a scrutiny a decade or two ago. If people like Phil Hastings and David Morgan could see what's going on today at this site, and a handful of others like it, I'm sure they'd voice an enthusiastic approval.