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August 21, 2006
For Information Contact: William M. Shapotkin, President
Railroad Fans Upset over New Rules on Photography
William Shapotkin, President of The Railroad Club of
Chicago, said, “For almost 75 years we have been photographing every aspect of
railroad operations in the city and its suburbs, and present monthly programs of
photographs taken by and for our members, usually during the summer months. UP is targeting those who are most
likely to observe, and report something out of the ordinary. We have always agreed to stay off of
railroad property, which could be unsafe, and stay in a public location.” Charles Paidock, another member who was
unaware of the new rules, said, “I was out photographing UP, and other trains
over the weekend at a rail junction on the southwest side of
Other railroad fans point out that quality photographs can easily be taken using handheld camera telephones, which make such rules unenforceable.
Similar bans have been tested in
The Railroad Club of Chicago in particular and the railroad fan community in general is seeking a change in the rules so that there is not another episode such as took place last year, when two railroad fans were detained in Morton Grove, IL, while photographing trains from that town’s Metra station platforms.
Union Pacific bans photography from
August 16, 2006
"We recognize that railroad fans can be our eyes and ears
out there," said UP spokesman Mark Davis. "But we live in different times. The
number one concern for Union Pacific is the safety of everyone. Right now, and
since 9/11, security has been heightened and increased. This is part of that
Metra was pulled into the photography-rights controversy
last year when two railroad fans were detained by
After the glare of publicity enveloped the Motron Grove incident, Metra recanted its position and publicly reversed its stance, saying it would allow photography of trains from its stations.
Metra spokesman Tom Miller today told Trains News Wire that as long as people are in areas accessible to the public, are acting in a safe manner, and are willing to provide identification if asked by authorities, that Metra has no problem with them taking photos. "But as far as the UP policy, we have no comment on that," Miller said.
UP might be on shaky legal ground if it attempts to enforce
its ban. Attorney Walter Zullig, who did legal work for
In a column that will appear in the October 2006 issue of TRAINS Magazine, Zullig writes that research has not turned up any state law on the subject in existence anywhere. According to Zullig, railfans have the legal and constitutional right to photograph whatever they please from locations "open to the public," which would seem to include Metra and other passenger-train-boarding platforms.
Maryland's MTA rapid-transit and commuter-train system has a photo ban on MARC commuter trains, which run on CSX and Amtrak trackage, as well as the Baltimore subway and light-rail systems, but Zullig believes there is no legal basis for the ban and is attempting to get MTA to explain its legal basis for it.
Both the New York City Transit Agency, which operates the
city's vast subway system, and New Jersey Transit, which operates commuter
trains and bus and trolley lines throughout the
Public financial support of transit and commuter facilities
may or may not have any bearing on the legality of such bans. In the Union
Pacific instance, UP, a private railroad, contracts with Metra, a public entity,
to provide the commuter-train service, on three routes out of