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Tuesday, 29 October 2013

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Cars kill people currently running at a rate of above 30,000 a year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year

I have no statistics about how many died with camera in hand.

I'm usually behind on the "things" curve (don't watch TV and have little interest in pop culture). Found out that mustaches were a thing while browsing souvenir shops on vacation at the beginning of this summer. Reading your post, I thought portraits on train tracks was on odd thing to be a thing. Then I remembered that I took a picture of my daughter on train tracks years ago. We didn't go out with that intention - we just happened to go for a walk near tracks. I'd claim to be a trendsetter, but it's one my 50,000+ photos that I've never shared online.

One of my dream photo projects is to walk the length of the UK on the train tracks, camping in the sidings and carrying everything I need in a pack. The biggest reason I've never done it is that it's so stupendously, stupidly dangerous. The private property thing doesn't bother me, but almost certain death has rather put me off.

And while you're at it, don't make portraits at any other location that you have to trespass to get to.

Hi Mike,

Here's a link to Union Pacific about Pro photography on railroad tracks:

http://www.uprr.com/newsinfo/releases/safety/2013/0416_pro-photogs.shtml

Cheers.

A friend used to work for British Railways. One task he had was to walk along the track side picking up the bits when someone had been hit by a train. Another man went with him, and they carried buckets. Once, when checking what they'd collected afterwards, they found an extra foot that had been overlooked from the previous death.

is it just me or is the phrase "U.S. Americans" a little odd. Is it people in the U.S. getting killed by the trains or only Americans....either way, who knew it was "a thing" and that it was so dangerous.

I thought everyone knew it was a thing - many people consider it quite cheesy. I personally love the look of train tracks, around a curve, especially on a foggy morning. I am so guilty of shooting on tracks - landscapes and portraits. I found out it was illegal when a cop stopped me in my own neighborhood - I was let off with a warning. I have no intention of stopping though. Sorry.

"The great book illustrator N.C. Wyeth, father of the late artist Andrew, was killed when he ran into a train in his car."
Actually, his truck was stalled on the track crossing and his toddler grandson, son of Andrew and Betsy was killed with him I believe.

I am sure that Christina's World would have been improved by train tracks.

Can you really call someone being hit by a train an accident? To me, it's no more accidental than dying while attempting to go over Niagra Falls in a barrel.

To add to Mike's warning, please stop taking pictures while standing on sidewalks or streets, or from car windows, or airplane windows, or the top of buildings. Life is very dangerous. You may die.

The ones I feel sorry for are the clean-up crews. When I was a kid several of the farm dogs got killed on the railway line chasing rabbits, and I helped the local bobby and farmer pick up the pieces, and the smell of vomit, blood and faeces will always be with me.
Our village was the first place outside the city with easy access onto the track, and there were regular suicides. We'd never know if a parked car by the unmanned crossing was a suicider's or a fisherman's. Often the police would be there a bit later and then we'd know...
People don't realise how fast trains can travel – 125mph+ on our line, and if the wind is blowing the wrong way there can be little warning.

Gave me a very realistic outlook on life.

Regards phil

Fantastic PSA Mike! This is a good service to the photographic community. Trains and vanishing point background objects are both photogenic, but the risks are definitely not worth it.

Portraits in front of a brick wall are a much bigger "thing" even, than train tracks—but less dangerous, at least.

I've 'seen' a photo while driving and made a note to return with a camera. Only one problem. The right prespective is in the middle of the road! A few times I've had friends stand on the curb to warn me of traffic. Haven't run afoul of the local constabulary yet but I'm sure I would if they saw me doing this. Not a RR track story but some danger anyway.

On walks I have to cross little used tracks several times, at legal pedestrian crossings, and have stopped to take the usual "looking down the tracks' cliche photograph. Never a portrait though.

Rowan

what about walking the disused lines that Dr. Beeching left us? The photo at the link gives you an idea of what you might find.

Regards
Roger

When I was a newspaper columnist, I did a column about a Twin Cities lawyer who every summer would (illegally) hop a freight at the switchyards there and ride all over the country, jumping on and off trains, wherever he felt like it, and dodging the railroad cops. The column really upset the railroad people, and I went off to do a *second* column about how illegal and stupid train-hopping is.

One thing they showed me is that often, in switchyards, you literally cannot hear a boxcar coming. That's because trains are (or were, anyway, and probably still are) made up with the least amount of power. They do that by having one powered engine push a line of boxcars, all going to a variety of destinations, up a rise in the track. As each car gets to the top of the rise, it is cut loose and begins rolling on its own down the other side. A guy in a switch booth will throw switches to get that boxcar to the correct train to take the boxcar to its destination. Those cars are often moving quite some distance through the switchyard, and almost silently. If you're trespassing in the night (which is most often the case, because you're sneaking around a forbidden area, and in the daytime, the railroad cops will spot you and arrest you) you can be hit and killed by one of these silently moving box cars, which, since they're often dark colors, you can't either see or hear coming.

As to people killed by cars...one of my very best friends, a fairly prominent news editor named Deborah Howell was killed a few years ago in New Zealand when she stepped out of her rental car to take a photo, and was struck and killed by another car. She'd forgotten that in NZ, the cars drive on the "other" side of the road, and she never saw it or thought about it. Her husband was in the car and never saw her hit, but heard it...absolutely dreadful.

On the other hand, life is too short not to shoot around cars and trains. You just have to take care.

The one exception I'd say is if you know for absolutely sure that the tracks in question are abandoned and no longer connected to the greater railway system.

And the only kind of 'absolutely sure' that counts, there, is verifying that fact ON THE DAY YOU'RE SHOOTING.

You still may be trespassing, of course. Caveat photographer.

The tracks "looking abandoned" most certainly does not count. Under-maintained may still be in occasional use.

I'd still not do it. Photograph off at the side, a safe clearance away from the tracks, if you want that old industrial look to your shots.

This is of course only USA. In most countries railroad tracks are not privately owned. The danger is still the same.

Unfortunately, around here most of the "walking along the main freight line with headphones on" fatalities turn out not to have been accidents at all.

According to the account of his son Andrew that I read, N.C. Wyeth's car stalled on the tracks and was hit by the train, not the other way around.

Unfortunately Chis Orwig, teacher at Brooks Institute, sets a bad example by doing portraiture on RR tracks.

I am a railroad photographer. Taking portraits on tracks, crossing tracks, standing too close to tracks is STUPID and DANGEROUS. On shared lines, ones that carry freight and passenger trains, a passenger train can come up behind you so quietly (while doing 35 to 65 miles an hour) that your dead before you know it. And on a turn with a sharp radius by the time an engineer sounds a warning it can easily be too late. With improvements to freight locomotive engines they are getting just as quiet.....I can't believe the idiots, there is no other way to describe them, that I see trackside. When I try to give cautions, warnings and education I usually get ignored. We have several people injured or killed a year on tracks in the D.C. area.

Trains and tracks are dangerous unless treated with caution and respect.
Bob

I have photographed trains as they pass by a passenger platform. Standing a few feet (three or less) from the monster as it flies by at deadly speed, pushing a whoosh of air and an impressive amount of noise and vibration is ... thrilling. Sort of like skydiving but more dangerous.

And it's legal.

I have done and expect I will do in the future, use railway tracks as a great location for portraits. Usually they are single lines in not to busy areas. But it is the same thing as any location or any type of shoot. USE YOUR HEAD. As a professional you have the responsibility to take the utmost care and safety with your clients whether your in the studio or outdoors. A portrait photographer has to wear many hats and one of them is always health and safety. If your client wants portraits on a train track then take an assistant as a spotter. If your client wants to take photos with his latest gun then you make sure you clear that weapon yourself and if you don't know how then you hire someone to do it. A photographer in Italy (I believe) was shot dead while taking a portrait of a wedding couple holding a gun. In portrait photography nothing is cliche if that is what your subject is interested in then that is what you shot. I can understand Mike saying he didnt know Railroad Portraits was a thing but surely you know just how many people (of all ages) are interested in trains. I bet Mike if I were to do a portrait of you and suggested why not do one by your new pool table, you would probably agree and would be more likely to purchase a print from that one (not trying to put words in your mouth). If your out there shooting just take care, act responsibly and professionally and then the rest of us can do our jobs with out hindrance. Photographers do not need any more bad publicity as it is getting harder and harder to take out a camera in public and take a few photos.

Think of the man or woman in the cab running the train that hits someone. Any engineer will tell you that this is the worst thing that can happen on the job, partly because a person has been killed right in front of him/her, and partly because of the utter helplessness to do anything about it. After the horn, bell and lights are activated and the brakes go into emergency mode, it's impossible to do anything more. A train can't steer and even when going slowly has huge momentum.

I belong to an organization that charters trains for special trips. On every trip, passengers can get off the train at pre-arranged locations for photo run-bys. We supervise a photo line where everyone can take photos as the train goes by without having other photographers in front of them. More importantly, we always stress railroad safety and actively monitor everyone near the tracks so nobody gets hurt and the engineer can enjoy the trip, also.

A not-so-obvious caution for train photographers: even when it's possible to legally get close to a train, such as on a station platform, do not get too close, since there may be objects projecting from a train that could hit you as a train runs through at speed, such as from a shifted load on a freight train or some object on the side of a passenger train.

My Dad worked on the railroad all his life after WWII, so I grew up around huge steam engines, rumbling and hissing with frightening power. Respect for all things rail was bred in me.

In the early '80s I did a series on the switch yards and shops of the old Chicago & Alton (then Gulf Mobile & Ohio, then Illinois Central Gulf) in Bloomington, IL, for which I had gotten permission for the project. It was not especially dangerous, though one had to be careful as most of the buildings were no longer in use and on their way to being derelict.

About 10-15 years later, another photographer embarked on his own project in the yards. While working on the second floor of a building, he fell through rotted flooring and died when a steel shaft pierced through his chest and lung. I didn't know him, but he was a good friend of one of my friends, also a good photographer.

Seems like there are a lot of railway or transportation museums that have areas that could be used for this sort of thing with appropriate permissions. While some may not want to deal with it, a few may be happy to allow it, perhaps for a modest fee (a few I know of are always fundraising).

That doesn't deal with the "it just encourages it" problem, but it does get people off potentially active tracks. And you could always document the location.

It's hard to take this sort of admonition about risky behavior (that with even a smidge of care isn't risky at all, albeit still illegal...as is speeding) from someone who posted a column about a photo he took while driving...just sayin'.

I have photographed railways and their environs for over 50 years. I find the stupidity factor of others has increased in the last twenty or so years. Suspect the populace simply has no fear, of anything.They
"know" or think they know what may be a live railway track or not. Would these same individuals sit on an airport runway or a city street, or the middle of a watercourse in flood? Maybe?
We can not legislate stupidity, mind legislating sanity is far more difficult. As much as advising these same individuals what they are doing is wrong, 'cause there is no right or wrong in their world. The world is all about them, as it has been with most of this current generation.

What a dangerous youth I had, track walking, river swimming, hooky bobbing, riding motorcycles, sledding down horribly steep hills, riding in the back of pick-ups, speeding (usually with a parent driving), breathing my mom's second hand smoke, eating grapes covered in pesticides (not recommended), swimming in irrigation ditches probably full of pesticides. Lots of fun. Glad I'm still here.

Maybe we should blame Snidely Whiplash for popularizing playing on train tracks!

I cross the tracks at least twice a day using a very controlled, gated, alarmed pedestrian crossing. Intercity trains are scheduled and predictable if you're determinedly crazy but freight trains come at any time. I've taken a few pics, composing etc approximately outside the gate, moving onto the track and hitting the button fast; but I do have the advantage of being in a position to hear the audible gate closing, train coming warning. All trains sound their horns too (every time, I've learned to sleep through most)

The train aficionados, when there is a train of interest to be photographed, like this crossing but never attempt to gain access to the tracks proper. They often bring small ladders to elevate themselves above the fence.

When I first lived here there was a memorial bouquet, renewed annually, to a young woman who had been killed at this gate; warning enough.

Current rail advert in the UK;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy-sIfsW7tg

That last scene with the railway crossing was filmed less than a mile away from my house on the Isle of Wight.

In the early nineteen seventies, I and my girlfriend lived in the Dutch country side, in the smallest farmhouse imaginable (including a darkroom nevertheless, for which I sacrificied the hallway and the use of the front door). I earned my living as a (very young) free lance photographer. Needless to say, I often had to go to one of the big cities nearby (Utrecht or Amsterdam) either by car (yes, a Citroën 2 Chevaux Van) or by train.
Seen form the train, the landscape looked much more undisturbed (and much closer as well) than from the car on the highway. To show this photographically, I thought it would be nice to walk to the nearest city along the railroad track, taking photos from that perspective all the while.
What would be absolutely unthinkable now, Dutch Railways gave me permission instantly to walk those 20 miles along the busy railway track to the city of Utrecht. I got a five minute instruction and was given a hardly visible sign to attach to my upper left sleeve. I didn't even have to tell when I would be walking. And apparantly I never frightened a train driver, as no horns were honked, and I sometimes saw a hand waved in greeting.
I can only conclude that forty years ago we were more easy-going, and there was less fear in society, and far less exertion to try and exclude every possible danger (real or imagined). This on its turn made me act much more responsibly and cautiously - I was never in danger and did not run irresponsible risks. As an afterthought, suicides by train must have been much less prevalent in those days as well, as these are the prime reason it is absolutely forbidden to walk along railway lines today. - Times have changed, and so has society.
As for the photographic reportage, sadly I couldn't find a journal interested enough to publish it. I would have loved to include a picture or a link here, but they're all 35mm slides and I don't have a scanner.

[But Hans, trains are also much faster now and also quieter. It's not just society that has changed. Also, do you know you wouldn't be given a pass today? Maybe you would be. I also doubt that back then you would have gotten a pass to pose adolescents and children sitting and lying on the tracks for portraits. --Mike]

I have a line here used exclusively for passenger trains, especially commuters.
There is a straight section of about 2 miles in which trains go at full speed and there are very few passes.
The tracks separate the beach district from the others, and it's all heavily populated, specially on summer.

People cross for convenience...
Really usual to have someone struck by a train. I once read that almost all drivers have struck someone.
And as of suicides, on the few bridges that there are, there were people who jump to the tracks before a train passes. Or people going to the tracks suddenly and getting struck.

Since they put barriers on the whole section it has been reduced, but still happens sometimes.

The city council must be blamed too, as they promised an underpass and nothing since.

I spend about 3h of my day in a train and have learnt never to stand on or very near the tracks.

I did notice the trend and saw it as quite dangerous, for the facts you mention.

I'm reminded of this video clip of a guy who was so caught up in filming a steam train that he was completely oblivious to the regular service train coming up fast.
http://youtu.be/q5x-Vux3f_c
(nobody gets hurt - but it would be a major shock for the guy who escapes death by an inch, the person filming him, and the train driver.

I know a few people who work in the railways, and they say that hitting a person on the track is one of the most traumatising things that can happen to a train driver.

Hiya.

Living, as I do, just outside Tokyo and commuting into Tokyo on an almost daily basis, trains form a central and vital part of my life, and I have to say, the more I have to do with them, the more freakout deadly they seem. I've become quite scared of them.

The railroad track thing has been a continuing theme in glamour/softcore for decades. Don't get it. Seems seriously uncomfortable/ridiculous. Models should get hazardous duty pay.

I have a family member in the rail business and I will add one more comment about this.

Railroads are *very* aggressive about prosecuting trespass and will defend themselves very vigorously against suits brought against them.

So, if your family member gets killed in their car running a crossing guard, the estate may be slapped with a lawsuit by the Railroad for damages to the locomotive, the crossing, trauma treatment for the engineers, etc.

Part of the reason for the cold-hearted aggression is that railroads go through many, many small towns, each with one or more under-employed lawyers. These attorneys can be tempted to see rail deaths as a gold mine to pursue - railroads have deep pockets and sympathetic juries would be easy to find in the county.

By taking a hyper-aggressive stance on this the railroad is sending a message to the small town legal establishment. That message is roughly (my paraphrase) "We are not your meal ticket. Come after us at your own very serious financial peril. Bring a nuisance suit against us because some drunk idiot in your town decided to race a train and we will fight big time. We will not settle and based on 100+ years of case law, we will win on appeal, eventually. The crying widow will not move us and you will be out huge costs in time and never collect dime one."

From what my family member tells me, it works. The local attorneys won't take these cases because they know they will be monster expensive to fight, and if their client was an idiot (as is overwhelmingly the case), they won't win, even if the local jury makes a big award, no money will ever be collected by the family or - and this is the critical point - the law firm taking the case on contingency.

The railroads have a lot of very well researched processes about rail crossing. Net, net: If the train hits you it is 99.999% likelihood that you are entirely and solely at fault.

Severian

Yes, "railroad police" still exist ... ask me sometime about how I learned this for a fact late one night. (shrugs)

As for photographing on train tracks, I still do it often, although typically at night, so it's easy to see/hear trains coming or going, and only where they cross a public street or sidewalk, so I'm not guilty of trespassing (see above.)

Here's a link to one of my favorite such photos: http://audiidudii.aminus3.com/image/2011-04-26.html

Although have sent the following to mike under seperate cover, it is a summation of how a CN locomotive engineer from the Province of Manitoba (and a darned good photogrpaher as well) views tresspassing. Have tidied the language to correspond with politically incorrect guidelines:

BEDTIME READING from Mark Perry
A few pointers from your friendly neighbourhood (CN) locomotive engineer
Let's start with some DON'Ts.
1) A train is really, really big. Can we all accept that? Not even your Ram/F350/Hummere is a match
for a locomotive. You say you have a Cummins diesel? Caterpillar? Detroit? Oooooooh. Well I have an EMD 567 on
a bad day, and even its pathetic eighteen-hundred horsepower will pound you and your gleaming pickup into the
fourth dimension, so please, stay behind the white line!
2) I hate blocking crossings. Seriously, I feel like a complete twit when I stop a train in the middle of the road crossing
and leave two dozen motorists to ponder their lattes and ask what the hell I'm doing. The truth is, sometimes it has
to be done, so don't honk at me, flip me off, or scream at me from the window of your Dodge Caravan as you're sitting there texting
Instead, be patient and try to believe that there's a point to what I'm doing. It's called switching, and
my conductor is depending on me to work slowly and not run his ass over. If you don't believe me, Wiki that shit.
3) Don't climb on the equipment. I hate to sound like your mother, but you're saving me a lot of paperwork and
horrifying flashbacks by staying off the equipment. To you it might look like an abandoned train or a free ride, but
when that bastard starts to move with you on it, there's a damn good chance you won't be able to hold on. As long
as you're on Wikipedia, punch in "slack action" and see what comes up. Also, the romance of riding freight trains is
total bull! They're really dark, really cold, really windy, and hobos are SCARY.
4) Don't put anything on the tracks. It's dangerous to me and my conductor, and it's ten times more dangerous for you
and everyone else on the ground. If you're wondering "can a train go over a rock?" the answer is YES. There's only
one problem. You probably haven't wondered where the million shards of rock are going to go at four times the
speed of sound, have you?
5) Stop whining about the horn. Countless accidents have been avoided because drivers missed the flashing lights
but heard the horn. You'd have to blast Miley Cyrus and Lil' Bow Wow pretty darn loud to drown out a five-chime,
and often that's the only thing that saves people. Still, that's no reason to keep your stereo at eighty decibels as
you're rolling through a crossing at sixty without looking both ways.
6) By and large, railroad cops are major idiots, so when you're trespassing on railroad property, keep your
head out of your butt. These guys didn't make it into the real police force, and they will ream your ass inside and out
to make up for it. Also, walking on bridges and in tunnels is extremely dangerous. Ask yourself: If a train comes,
where will I go? Trains are much wider than the rails they run on, so don’t be fooled.
Now for some of the DO'S.
1) If you see a large object (like a garbage can or an F350) that's about to get love-tapped by a hotshot freight train,
get in the clear. If the crap is about to fly at a railroad crossing, run to the side of the street that the train is coming
from. That way you'll be behind the point of impact and you won't have to worry about catching that beautiful pickup
and its over- confident driver square on your shoulders. If you run away from the train you're just putting
yourself in the line of fire, and the death toll could very possibly be greater than two.
2) If the gates stay down and the lights stay flashing, stay where you are. I guaran-damn-tee there's another train
coming, and speeding onto the tracks the moment the first train clears is a lot like celebrating a football touchdown too early,

3) When you're waiting for a train to pass, it's a good idea to stay back thirty or forty feet. Trains are operated by
professionals, but often they're loaded by total clowns. I've heard some real nasty stories about payloads falling
off flatcars and crushing people in their vehicles, or doors sliding off boxcars and ripping through everything in their
path. It's rare, but id does happen!
4) Always report problems or suspicious activity. If you see a photographer with a radio scanner and a big-ass
notebook, and camera ignore him. We know that guy. But if there's a dude in street clothes working a crowbar through a signal
box, hit us up and tell us what the deal is. Railroad crossings usually have signs with emergency numbers, or you
can call the non-emergency number for your local fuzz. If an accident has already occurred or a life is at risk,
call 911 instead. Pretty sure they have our number.
5) Last but not least, when you're inconvenienced by a train, remember that we're pulling for you! Trains are a great
way to conserve fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and keep North American jobs alive and green. Rail technology
is the best solution to our energy crisis, and as the rail network grows in the years to come, it's important for
everyone to stay safe.
Look, listen, LIVE.

---with thanks to Mark Perry and Don McQueen's Froth

In addition to my previous comment, I like to make it clear that I agree completely with all of Mike's warnings and advises regarding railway photography. At the time I wrote about, the railway paths in Holland were save for responsible adults, and were used legally by farmers and folks in the vicinity. Nothing much went wrong on those paths in those days, and strangers (i.e. people from elsewhere) didn't go there, so things could be dealt with without much regulations and policing. Today everyone goes everywhere without any awareness of the particular risks of a given locality (the seashore and the beaches, woods during a storm, crossing a large lake in a canoe without any previous experience &cetera).

Imagine what it will be like if high-speed rail every makes much of an appearance in the US like it exists in Europe and parts of Asia. Trains zipping along at 160 MPG and more. (In one speed test the French TVG reportedly hit 357 mph!)

My family is from a "town on the mainline" in Pennsylvania. I myself live just a few miles from the former PRR mainline, which is now owned and operated by Norfolk Southern. I've been a long time rail buff and I go railfanning quite often - to take pictures, or to just watch. I think living this close all my life has given me a healthy fear and respect of these machines - but I do think the risks of getting hit by a train are overblown.

According to this article http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-04-04-train-peds_N.htm there are under 1000 deaths per year due to trains striking either motor vehicles or pedestrians. To compare, about 30,000 people die in vehicle accidents per year. That said, it is considered trespassing, though I do think it's unfair in some ways that railroads get to immediately call any trespassing criminal. In the rest of the world (except Texas) you can trespass and not be fined or jailed unless its considered criminal trespassing. This usually requires a uniformed officer to tell you not to trespass and then you refuse to leave (or keep coming back later). Crossing the tracks to get somewhere else is not criminal IMO. Is it a tort like other trespassing? Yes. It should be our right to move about the country freely on foot if we so choose. The design of our cities is already an affront to most pedestrian traffic, let alone trying to navigate any sort of interstate (lower case I) routes.

But I think a spoonful of common sense is in order. The real reason the railroads have these rules is to avoid liability. Unless they take this stance, they could be found liable for the safety of others. What really irks me is that in some parts of the country, this has adversely affected railfanning. Railroad police have been known to run people off even when they stand at a safe distance and are merely taking photos. I'm not even going to delve into the parallel problem with law enforcement targeting those photographing infrastructure - trains included.

All that said, I think taking photos on the tracks is royally stupid and unprofessional.

Just recently here in New Zealand a man was killed by the train he was photographing http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9141056/Train-victim-named

I did photos on a rail line....but it was a no longer used line. The only kind I would ever consider using.

If you want to take a picture on a railroad track, ask for permission first. Otherwise take a picture along side the tracks far enough away where the person(s)aren't in immediate danger.

As a railfan, I'll take pictures of trains from a distance, but stand between the gauge? WTF? Some people seem to have a death wish....

Operation Lifesaver http://oli.org also monitors trends which involve tresspass on railroad property.

1.2 Seconds... That's all the time I had to respond to someone on the tracks in front of me the first time I ran someone over... Luckily, this man was so drunk that he never knew the train had gone right over the top of him and survived. But when that route was my territory, my had was on the brake handle through the whole Indian Pueblo, every day. Or rounding another corner at 79 mph to find a group of college students photographing themselves... Even though a passenger train can stop quicker than a freight train... It would have taken me at least a good half mile to slide to a stop.

I'm a photographer, but I'm a locomotive engineer first and foremost, and the idea of hitting someone crosses my mind about once every 10 seconds, during an 8 hour shift, that adds up.

In my honest opinon, the best place to go if you want railroad track photos is to go to a railroad museum, and ONLY after you get permission from them (some railroad musuems acutally run their trains!).

One of the oldest rules on the railroad is: Expect a train at ANY TIME, ANY DIRECTION, and on ANY TRACK.
Or, as I always say, it's the train you don't hear that will kill you.

If your town is like mine it is scattered with miles and miles of unused rail and rail yard. While it might be cliche, if the client wants a portrait of himself holding his guitar standing on the rails it's well within my ability to insure it happens safely.

I'm an actual train driver, so I give a huge +1 to the article.
Sometimes when you saw a person in the exit of a curve at 75mph it's just not easy to brake in a short distance.

Guilty as charged as the below link shows. In my defense, it is actually a pedestrian crossing, albeit with no lights or warning sounds, at Sanosaka ski field in Hakuba, Japan, and I had my wife watching the other direction. For us it was such a strange site for as Australia has got so Nanny State careful over the last few decades that if a similar thing happened here the ski field would be forced to put in a pedestrian over/under pass.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bagone-images/8453679163/in/set-72157632714262822

If you do a little research, you can probably come up with a safe and legal place to take photos on railroad tracks. There are several train museums around my area where I take pictures on the tracks.

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