• UP/METRA Photo Ban Confirmed (later reversed)

  • Discussion of photography and videography techniques, equipment and technology, and links to personal railroad-related photo galleries.
Discussion of photography and videography techniques, equipment and technology, and links to personal railroad-related photo galleries.

Moderators: nomis, keeper1616

  by Gilbert B Norman
For the last week, there had been circulating amongst other rail forums known for their "rumonmongering" stock in trade, a story that Union Pacific has banned amateur (railfan) photography at its Chicago area METRA stations. Lest we forget, Union Pacific, as successor to the C&NW, operates service on their three lines under a purchase of service agreement with METRA and has considerably greater control over activities at stations than does, say the Norfolk Southern, where METRA operates to SW Suburban communites such as Orland Park.

The story has now been reported by the Chicago Sun Times; additionally I heard a radio report yesterday morning over WBBM 780.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst ... pix28.html

During the time that only rumormongering rail forums "carried" the story, there was always the possibility such was a hoax; however now that such has been confirmed by major newssources, I think that even ardent photographers (of which I am not - last rail photo was taken during 1984) must accept that the story is the "real deal".

  by chuchubob
The other paper had a more timely story, Mr. Norman. UP rescinded their ban on photography from Metra stations.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/loca ... 0755.story


  by Gilbert B Norman
Well Mr. Vogel, it appears that one lasted about as long as has a Britney Spears marriage. :P

  by JLJ061
Unfortunately according to the article that just gives law enforcement the greater power of "Probable Cause." :(

  by RailBus63
JLJ061 wrote:Unfortunately according to the article that just gives law enforcement the greater power of "Probable Cause." :(
But in our post-9/11 world, law enforcement already has that power de facto and it's not going away any time soon. We don't need BS photo bans like UP's to give them an excuse to just run us off, no questions asked. As long as we just answer their questions and act reasonably, we should be OK to pursue our hobby. It's not the ideal situation, but it is one I can live with.


  by mxdata
I am repeating here something that I have posted a few times in the past. If you are taking pictures in an area that you feel is clearly public and you are approached by anyone who you suspect is about to object to your taking pictures, switch on your camcorder or turn on your digital camera in the movie recording mode and leave it running, even if you cannot aim it very well. If asked what you are doing, answer "I am taking pictures" (use I AM taking pictures, not I WAS taking pictures) loud enough so it is sure to be recorded. This is fair warning to the person that you are engaged in an activity you consider to be legal and if they approach you it is obvious that they risk having their conversation filmed and recorded. Anybody with half a brain will usually get the message, and sometimes the interview ends right there. It doesn't matter if the camera is rightside up and properly aimed all the time, as long as it occasionally shows the other person and the area where you are standing (even sideways or upside down), and records the audio. If the conversation that follows is pleasant, you can erase the file afterwards. If the person is insulting or aggressive, having the entire episode recorded can be greatly to your advantage.

The vast majority of railroad employees are professional and courteous, but as is the case in any industry or society in general, there may be a few folks out there who could misuse the current security concerns as an opportunity to bully others. Any attempt by a person who is not a part of law enforcement to physically interfere with or detain another person for taking pictures in a public area has potentially serious criminal and civil consequences. If an event is recorded right from the start, there is far less question of how it developed and who said what. And most people are smart enough to know that nowadays it takes only a couple clicks of a "mouse" for a recording of their conversation with you to end up in the railroad front office or on the television news.

  by hoborich
Do they really think terrorists are going to be hanging around station platforms, taking locomotive photos, and exposing themselves to arrest? Where does common sense enter the picture. On the other hand, there are plenty of places to take train pics besides station platforms.

  by ExEMDLOCOTester
This is OT but the terrorist are winning because our civil liberties are being challanged every day !!! On the flip side... No Pain No gain....

  by alex45
Its the same here in my area. I live in Amtrak and MBTA territory. For Amtrak, they dont care as much. But they dont want you to do it from the platform. The only time that u can do that is when you are traveling on a train. They find it a security risk. But with MBTA, they dont want you to do it at all! UNLESS you have a photo permit. I think that you have to be 18 to get 1.

  by Otto Vondrak
Alex- please us whole words when posting, and not internet shorthand.

The MBTA photo permit is available to anyone with a valid picture ID issued by the government. If you have questions relating to the permit, address them to Customer Service. They are very nice people and will help you out.