• New TSA Rules Could Affect Railfanning

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by Pensyfan19
 
New TSA rules identifies some train-watching and rail photography as possible security threat. I believe this is specifically focusing on entering restricted areas (trespassing) and taking photos of security equipment. I believe similar rules were established around 2004(?) regarding these issues, and these new ones are building upon the regulations already in place.

https://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2 ... -tsa-rules
WASHINGTON — A late 2020 deadline is approaching for railroads and transit systems to submit plans on how they plan to comply with new Transportation Security Administration rules on security training.

The new regulations require freight railroads, passenger railroads and designated “higher risk” transit systems to submit plans on how they will comply by Dec. 21, 2020.

...

Specific security threats identified by the TSA include attempts to enter restricted areas, tampering or vandalizing rail facilities, locomotives or rolling stock, and carrying suspicious items, weapons or explosives on or near rail property.

Railfans should note that watching railroad or transit operations, or taking photographs, may in some instances be considered a security threat. Part 1570 of the regulations includes as examples “taking photographs or video of infrequently used access points, personnel performing security functions (for example, patrols, badge/vehicle checking), or security-related equipment (for example, perimeter fencing, security cameras).”
  by STrRedWolf
 
Wasn't there a railfan registry with CSX or Amtrak where you were allowed along the tracks to railfan, and reporting unusual activity to the company in question? I seem to remember a news article, but it's been about a decade past. I would assume that registry would work around the TSA limitations.
  by Ken W2KB
 
The TSA regulations cannot diminish US Constitutional rights. So long as the railfan photographer is not trespassing, is not on railroad property, and engaged in photography from an area where the public is allowed, such as a sidewalk, park, and so forth, or on private property with permission of the owner or tenant, photography cannot be legally restricted.
  by wigwagfan
 
All I'll say is that nearly all of the Amtrak stations within Oregon and Washington have become downright hostile to railfans. The Salem, Oregon depot has seen its platform fenced off. At Centralia, the Amtrak employee on duty has been known to yell at railfans and to chase them off. Many stations have giant signs declaring that only ticketed Amtrak passengers are allowed. At Portland Union Station, the main entrance used to have stanchions that forced anyone entering the station to walk directly to the ticket counter; now you must see a Security Guard to use the restroom. At Albany, Oregon, a large number of "no loitering"/"no trespassing" signs have gone up.

Doesn't bode too well when you're trying to be a public service, to tell the public they are unwelcome. At least the Port of Portland has made it clear on several occasions that the public/planespotters are welcome and encouraged to spot from the top floor of the parking garage.
  by MattW
 
Come on folks, this is literally nothing new. "Photography is suspicious" has been in all the official documentation for 19 years if not actually longer. From reading all the articles floating around about this, it seems this is just finalizing compliance with a security training program. Most likely these same people have been getting some flavor of all of this for years, including the "photography is suspicious" bits.
  by STrRedWolf
 
wigwagfan wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 2:40 pm All I'll say is that nearly all of the Amtrak stations within Oregon and Washington have become downright hostile to railfans. The Salem, Oregon depot has seen its platform fenced off. At Centralia, the Amtrak employee on duty has been known to yell at railfans and to chase them off. Many stations have giant signs declaring that only ticketed Amtrak passengers are allowed. At Portland Union Station, the main entrance used to have stanchions that forced anyone entering the station to walk directly to the ticket counter; now you must see a Security Guard to use the restroom. At Albany, Oregon, a large number of "no loitering"/"no trespassing" signs have gone up.

Doesn't bode too well when you're trying to be a public service, to tell the public they are unwelcome. At least the Port of Portland has made it clear on several occasions that the public/planespotters are welcome and encouraged to spot from the top floor of the parking garage.
That's part of the COVID-19 policies now. For example, you must be an Amtrak or MARC passenger to enter Baltimore Penn Station, and there is only one set of main doors open (center section, front). So part of the hostility is very aggressive enforcement of pandemic policy.
  by wigwagfan
 
STrRedWolf wrote:That's part of the COVID-19 policies now. For example, you must be an Amtrak or MARC passenger to enter Baltimore Penn Station, and there is only one set of main doors open (center section, front). So part of the hostility is very aggressive enforcement of pandemic policy.
Except a good part of it has been going on since 2019 if not 2018. Nothing to do with COVID-19.
  by arthur d.
 
wigwagfan wrote: Sat Oct 17, 2020 10:01 pm Except a good part of it has been going on since 2019 if not 2018. Nothing to do with COVID-19.
Ever heard of Antifa?
  by mtuandrew
 
arthur d. wrote: Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:15 am Ever heard of Antifa?
/not as a moderator/

The antifascists who support the Green New Deal which includes community-funded transit and reduction of auto traffic? Sure. Ever heard of white supremacist terrorists destroying Federal property and killing hundreds of people?
  by Literalman
 
No trespassing in Fredericksburg. I took the attached photo in 2012, when the sign was brand new, replacing an identical sign. In 2012, the RF&P had been gone for more than 20 years, so I and all the other VRE commuters were trespassing. The station had additional signs that simply said, "No trespassing." I guess that would bar Amtrak customers and any RF&P patrons you could find. I no longer commute on VRE, but the last time I rode a train in Fredericksburg the signs were still there. Maybe the "No trespassing" signs keep terrorists away. As for cameras, don't they supposedly deter criminals, including terrorists? I wrote professionally for a couple of homeland security publications, especially about transportation security, and I think that a lot of the rail security talk was hooey. There have been sensible rail security measures, and I praised those. A lot of what I wrote is still on my website (http://www.stevedunham.50megs.com/trans ... urity.html), including commentary on the TSA's actions in Savannah in 2011.
Image
  by daybeers
 
I agree that railfanning being a "security threat" is ridiculous, but isn't security theater TSA's job anyway? :wink: People shouldn't be trespassing anyway just to see some trains, but I understand the policies of ticketed passengers only at some stations for COVID. In the Pacific Northwest, unfortunately I think the hostile nature is more aimed at trying to move the significant homeless population away from stations, as if that makes the problem go away: out of sight, out of mind 🙄
  by Literalman
 
Daybeers, there's something in what you say. The Fredericksburg station has long ramps leading to each platform, and sometimes I would see kids skateboarding, and the police never seemed able to catch them. One morning I went to the dentist before work and then went to the station to wait for an Amtrak train. I had a while to wait, and a cleaning guy showed up and told me I had to leave. I demanded to know why. He said they had had problems with skateboarders. I told him I wasn't a skateboarder, I had a ticket, and I wasn't leaving, And your username and NRGeep's comments remind me that once, while waiting for a VRE train, I did see a real-life hobo. I was waiting on the platform in Crystal City, and a freight train was rolling by on the other track. In the open door of a boxcar I saw a man standing there with a beer in one hand and giving us the peace sign with the other hand.
  by John_Perkowski
 
daybeers wrote: Thu Oct 22, 2020 1:58 am People shouldn't be trespassing anyway just to see some trains,
The railroad nearest my house is the BNSF, historic CB&Q to Lincoln, NE. I see foamers breaking the rules every single week. If we want TSA to play nice with railfans, we must respect the railroad's property!
  by STrRedWolf
 
I wonder if there's a market for railfanning areas not on railroad property but right next to it. A small tidy sum to come and watch trains, as long as you keep to yourself and keep the trash in appropriate cannisters...