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Watch your ass! Benching post - 9/11

Discussion in 'Metal Heads' started by Ski Mask, Oct 23, 2001.

  1. Ski Mask

    Ski Mask 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Apr 11, 2000 Messages: 11,114 Likes Received: 209
    Good article on www.trains.com today. very relevant to what we do. It applies alot less to us up here in canada (thankfully), but its somthing to consider:
    September 11 changed the world, and train-watching too
    Fans should act responsibly in a security-conscious era
    by Bill Stephens

    Terry Juuti
    If the world changed dramatically on September 11, then so did the pastime of train watching. Just how dramatically, and for how long, remains to be seen.

    But for now – given heightened security and the ever-present concern about trains becoming terrorist targets – the best advice is for railfans to lay low for a while, exercise extra caution, and, above all, be prudent.

    There’s no general rule of thumb for what train-watchers can expect when they venture trackside.

    Based on conversations I’ve had with railroad industry officials over the past several weeks, it’s clear that train-watching isn’t taboo. Yet these officials rightly emphasize that fans must be mindful that the very act of watching, photographing, or videotaping trains can draw the attention of law enforcement.

    Police are on the lookout, and train crews have been asked to report anything unusual.

    These days – when the unimaginable term “homeland security” has been coined – just about anything and everything is being considered unusual, in the name of national security.

    Trespassing: zero tolerance

    Trespassing always has been an issue the railroads have had regarding train-watchers, and for good reason. Railroads are inherently dangerous places.

    Long before the terrorist attacks, most railroads had adopted zero-tolerance trespassing policies aimed at anyone who ventures onto railroad property, not just fans. Now, with railroad police patrols increased in terminals and other strategic points, and state and local law enforcement taking notice of activity around tracks, fans should expect that zero tolerance means exactly what it says.

    As we all know, these anti-trespassing policies were enforced to various degrees across farflung railroad systems before September 11. Some railroad locations were “friendlier” to fans than others, and railroad police might tolerate train-watching on, say, a yard access road, as long as fans behaved themselves. Ditto for scenic spots out on a rural main line, where police may rarely venture.

    This may no longer be the case. Fans who drive into yards or other sensitive locations are asking for trouble. The railfan grapevine and Internet chat rooms are filled with stories of previously fan-friendly areas becoming mighty unfriendly as police, both railroad and local, asked fans to leave or issued citations. Even railroad-sanctioned videography, as one video producer found out, can lead to questions from police and even the FBI.

    And some fan haunts on public property, such as overpasses, may be off limits now. Police near CSX’s Selkirk Yard, outside Albany, N.Y., reportedly have ordered fans off overpasses, for example.

    Certainly taking pictures of trains from public property is perfectly legal. It also can be perfectly suspicious to law enforcement officials who are not familiar with our pastime. And a lot of them aren’t. Who hasn’t raised eyebrows at one time or another when an acquaintance learns that you like to watch trains or subscribe to a magazine called Trains?

    At a time like this, when security concerns demand a police response to any report of white powder, packages left unattended, or any kind of activity deemed suspicious, it makes sense for train-watchers to be cautious about where, when, and how we pursue our avocation.

    Train-watchers also should keep a few things in mind about police. Railroad police were always stretched thin, with far too few people to guard far too many miles. Now on some systems, they’re working 12 hours on, 12 hours off, as railroads beef up security. Having to chase fans off the property only adds to their workload. So give the police – and yourself – a break by acting responsibly. If questioned, be polite and cooperate fully. Fans also can help police by reporting anything out of the ordinary to local law enforcement and the railroads.

    Lessons from World War II suggest new possibilities for railfanning

    So where can fans turn and not wind up arousing suspicion?

    Railroad officials I’ve talked to say responsible fans probably won’t encounter problems when they head for the usual spots on public property. You know, the Rochelles, Fostorias, Folkstons, and Altoonas of the rail universe. Places where people are accustomed to seeing train-watchers.

    Not everyone shares this view, though. Last month, a spokeswoman for the Federal Railroad Administration suggested that fans put down their cameras for a while. I don’t think that’s necessary. But it does show how attitudes have changed in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

    Words of wisdom come from Bob Lewis, a noted rail photographer who was working for the Pennsylvania Railroad when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941. World  War II was the last time security was this tight around railroads. (His work was featured in the Summer 2001 issue of Classic Trains.) Lewis enlisted in the Navy, but spent three years stateside, which gave him the opportunity to make train pictures during the war years.

    “I honestly do not remember ever running into problems anywhere, but that may be because I didn't take pictures of troop trains or trains handling tanks or other obvious wartime equipment,” Lewis wrote in an e-mail to me. “Neither did I hang around major installations – yards and repair shops.”

    Back then a photographer might raise suspicion of being a spy for Germany or Japan. Now a photographer may raise suspicion of being a terrorist. It’s a point Lewis, the former publisher of Railway Age, has noted.

    “I suspect things may be a whole lot tighter in the present situation,” he writes. “The continental U.S has been attacked and not only transportation people but even ordinary citizens are alert to possible acts of sabotage or terrorism. I would guess if you were taking train pictures from a highway overpass, for example, some passing driver, probably with a cell phone, would report you long before anybody on the railroad would.”

    My advice, aside from watching trains on public property at noted hot spots, would be for fans of mainline action to redirect their enthusiasm for a while.

    Visit a railroad museum or two. Better yet, volunteer at one. Ride an excursion train. Take a pleasure trip aboard Amtrak or that commuter line you’ve yet to ride. Even spend time getting all those slides organized and labeled. (No one needs to do this more than me!)

    The rules of train-watching have changed. Let’s try to follow the new rules, even though at times they may be as unclear as the new type of war the nation is waging.

    And remember that the unwritten restrictions on train-watching are but a minor inconvenience, if you could even call it that, compared to the sacrifices made September 11 in New York, at the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania, and those yet to come as the armed forces take aim at terrorism based in Afghanistan and around the globe.

    Each Friday, Trains.com News Editor Bill Stephens takes an in-depth look at today’s rail industry.

    Got a tip for news wire editor Bill Stephens? E-mail him at [email protected]


    Also on the news update was a related, more frightening story:

    As security concerns mount, AAR asks for fans’ patience and understanding


    The Association of American Railroads is asking railfans to understand the need for heightened security after a list of “Indicators of Terrorism” was posted on another industry Web site last week.


    The list, apparently prepared by the AAR but posted on the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association site, encourages railroad employees to be on the lookout for seven types of suspicious activities. Train-watchers typically engage in most of the cited activities, such as taking an interest in railroad operations and showing up immediately before a train arrives and leaving right afterward.


    “While the AAR has not asked its member railroads to ‘profile’ individuals near or around railroad property, railroad fans should be aware that the rail industry – along with the rest of the nation – is operating at a heightened state of alert that recognizes the dramatic change Sept. 11 brought to our nation. That includes more scrutiny of activities and people in and around rail yards and tracks,” the AAR said in a statement released late Friday.


    It was unclear whether the “Indicators of Terrorism” list was merely a draft or was a final recommendation for the industry. Spokespeople for the AAR today were unable to determine which was the case.


    But AAR spokeswoman Peggy Wilhide stressed that the industry does not seek to infringe upon civil liberties. The only aim, she said, is to assist in national security efforts.


    As part of those efforts, police – railroad special agents, and federal, state, and local authorities – reportedly have been questioning some train-watchers, including those on public property. Railroads, meanwhile, have put teeth in their zero-tolerance policies against trespassing, particularly at yards and other sensitive locations. And as a security precaution, for three days the industry suspended shipments of certain hazardous materials after the retaliatory strikes on Afghanistan began.


    “Everybody is being subjected to increased security, whether boarding an airplane or walking near a railroad or going into the halls of Congress,” Wilhide said.


    “We appreciate and value railfans' interest and support, and sincerely hope railfans understand that everyone is experiencing inconveniences as a result of the war on terrorism,” the AAR statement said.


    The last time restrictions – written or unwritten – were put on train-watching was during World War II.


    The “Indicators of Terrorism” list, as posted on the ASLRRA site, reads:


    The Association of American Railroads (AAR) is putting together a list of "Indicators of Terrorism" to help railroad employees increase awareness of suspicious activities on railroad properties.  Employees are encouraged to look for:


    € 25-35 year old males extremely interested in specific railroads and resources


    € People soliciting detailed railroad information in casual situations


    € People showing up immediately prior to a train arriving and departing immediately [after] it leaves


    € People who are in the wrong place or dressed inappropriately along the rail line


    € Suspicious vehicles, motorcycles or mopeds at crossings and along right-of-way


    € Automobiles that move with you along your route


    € Unusual occurrences like disconnected brake hoses and abnormal signals



    prepare to be confronted by workers and cops while benching if your in the US.....
  2. bear

    bear Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 1, 2001 Messages: 2,930 Likes Received: 0
    thanks man, interesting stuff
  3. dukeofyork

    dukeofyork Guest

  4. wakassOATH

    wakassOATH Guest

    bumped on up there
    good info
  5. cracked ass

    cracked ass Guest

    The degree of response to the terrorist thing is wack. Sorry, but I will watch trains where and when I please. What am I supposed to do, hide my face if a train goes by? And what the fuck does "dressed inappropriately" along the rails mean?
    I hate overreactions. The only legitimate concern for railroads should be hazmat shipments, although I suppose the dispersed nature of hazmats throughout different train consist means that a lot of trains need childcare. They could save manpower and civil liberties by focusing on yards with a high hazmat concentration, such as those near refineries and chemical plants.
  6. 23578

    23578 Elite Member

    Joined: Jul 2, 2000 Messages: 2,521 Likes Received: 0
    man that list blows. i'm going to have to take a train excursion before the weather goes and they don't give them. maybe i'll go to a railroad museum this weekend as well, yippee.
  7. Fox Mulder

    Fox Mulder 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Nov 23, 2000 Messages: 12,434 Likes Received: 86
    i don't think there is a major threat that trains are going to a tool used by terrorists because we have had hazmat spills and some people may have died, but there are much more destructive things that could be used. and i think the whole anthrax scare is showing us that anthrax is not as easy to contract as we thought. i'm more worried about some communicable disease like small pox. i don't know when they stopped giving vaccinations but i know i don't have one and i heard the people who did get them that they are probably no good anymore.
  8. T.T Boy

    T.T Boy Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 18, 2001 Messages: 21,803 Likes Received: 41
    i would have thought most of the stuff on tat list would have been standard practice

    EL MASKO Elite Member

    Joined: Jan 30, 2001 Messages: 4,733 Likes Received: 0
    Just like the other day when I went ot Borders to get the November Trains mag. Emo. death says "he probably thought you were a nerd cause you're buying a magazine about trains"

    Good info ESE.
  10. *see-phore*

    *see-phore* Senior Member

    Joined: Jul 7, 2001 Messages: 1,182 Likes Received: 0
    bump cuz someone else should have to read that too!

    my normal lay of usually 30 cars has been reduced to maybe 3 max since 9/11 hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
  11. mopius

    mopius Guest

  12. Southern kid

    Southern kid Elite Member

    Joined: Apr 19, 2000 Messages: 3,965 Likes Received: 0
    trust me..they have. i think its an increase in security especially around tanker shipment yards. this truely does suck. for a year i've been working and refining my town/yard/train situation and i finally got it down to the best painting its ever been..then this happens. this 9/11 mess really did screw up my world..and just when i thought things couldnt be much worse. i think that article is a bit of an overreaction in some places..but in any state..you guys stay safe..keep the paint hidden..and if you havent already..its time to beef up those ninja skills.
  13. me IS cool

    me IS cool Guest

    my head hurts now.... :(
  14. Steely Dan

    Steely Dan Guest

    Lastest news reports advise that a cell of 5 terrorists have been claiming to be railfans. 4 out of the 5 have been detained.

    Security stated the the terrorist Bin Videoin, Bin Scannin, Bin Chasin, and Bin Tresspassin have been detained. Police advise that the fifth terrorist Bin Foamin is still at large. Police are very confident that Bin Foamin will be very easy to spot at any popular railfanning site.
  15. SmellyCouch

    SmellyCouch New Jack

    Joined: Sep 6, 2001 Messages: 76 Likes Received: 0