Railroad Rescinds Ban on Photos from Metra Platforms


By Virginia Groark

Chicago Tribune staff reporter


August 28, 2006, 5:43 PM CDT


Faced with opposition from railroad enthusiasts, the Union Pacific Railroad announced today it would once again allow people to take pictures from Metra station platforms on the Chicago-area routes it operates.


A month ago, the Union Pacific, which operates commuter trains under contract with Metra, decided to ban photography from platforms on Metra's UP North line to Kenosha, Northwest line to Harvard and West line to Elburn. The railroad cited passenger security

as the reason for the ban.


But the decision generated complaints from railroad enthusiasts, who contacted the American Civil Liberties Union.


Today, the Union Pacific announced it was clarifying its policy and would allow pictures taken from the Metra platforms, though it reserved the right to question photographers. On UP property itself, however, photography will only be allowed with the prior

consent of the railroad.


If railroad officials spot people taking pictures of railroad operations on public property, the employee may stop and question the photographer if he or she thinks the activity

is suspicious, the railroad stated.


Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis has said the photography ban was imposed for the safety and security of passengers. A similar ban has been in place at Ogilvie Transportation Center since the days following the September 2001 terrorist attacks, he said.


Rail enthusiasts, though, argued that banning photography from Metra platforms was a violation of their 1st Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.