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Thursday, 31 October 2013


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Just wanted to add my thanks and maybe add something to the "why" people do it. Several years ago my wife and I were approached by a state policeman, gun in hand, while photographing birds on the tracks through the NJ meadowlands. The only thing that kept us from being arrested for trespassing was that I had with me the Audobon Society book with detailed directions on how to get to the tracks and use them. The roots of the problem run deep.

Footage from one of my employer's trains in Adelaide, Australia.


Our driver nearly had a heart attack.

This may sound crazy, but I wonder if it would be worth mounting a water canon (or something similar) on the front of the train, to spray people before the train hits them.

At the very least, it would get their attention in time to move off the tracks.

Hell, even a paintball gun would be better than nothing.

I wonder how many photogs are killed standing in a roadway each year? Shooting eerie abandoned buildings in Motor city? Leaning out over cliffs in national parks?
Trampled to death while photographing a bull moose in rut?
The list can go on and on. While the greatest threat to most that read this blog is heart disease and cancer. With the easiest way to avoid them ,a good diet, and exercise daily. But we'll obsess over causes of death that will rarely overtake most of us. Isn't death an interesting subject?

British 125 MPH trains can apparently suck you under from about 10 feet away as they pass.

If railroad tracks were not bad enough, there are people who get into subway tunnels and many other prohibited and dangerous places for photographic purposes (for example: http://dedmaxopka.livejournal.com/71750.html). Just google 'urban exploration', it's a whole subculture.


Safe Railroad filming

Just to add a note of cheer.

This story is third hand, a friend of mine worked for the railroad and related the story as told to him by the engineer in question, so, grains of salt to taste!

The train was running in to Winnipeg from the south, at night, when up ahead the engineer saw a seated figure on the tracks. Intoxicated locals would, from time to time, rest awhile on the tracks. The usual drill, hit the brakes and the noisemakers and hope for the best. No good, definitely got a piece of the guy. Some time down the track, the train comes to a halt, and the engineer runs back to see what the hideous result was.

The most definitely intoxicated local is stumbling around, apparently, miraculously, unharmed. And yelling.

"F***ing Railroad! Think they own the tracks!"

Living in Chicago in 1970, I was rushing to the El train for downtown, when the train conductor shut the doors in my face. He waited until I got to the doors before closing them. I was greatly PO'd and did a U turn on the platform to get back to shelter from the Febuary weather. While walking back with my hands in my pockets, my elbow was struck by the incoming Northbound train. It was the grab handle by the door of the first car. I didn't hear the second train, due to the noise of the outbound train. The train dislocated my elbow and earned me a ride in a Chicogo Police Squadrol to the hospital.

Dear Walt and others,

The issue is not how many people get killed, it is how risky/stupid the activity is. To put it another way, comparing auto with rail deaths doesn't tell you a thing that's useful, because so many, many more people drive.

pax / Ctein

What Walt says. Also the belief that you can be sucked under a speeding train due to Bernoulli's principle is a myth.

Years ago I used to work in a major trauma center. I remember one of the worst cases I ever saw was a guy who had been hit by a train. The poor guy survived for several hours before expiring. Let's just say, several of his major organs were not where they were supposed to be.

I'm now well aware of the danger of trains and street cars. I was filming my daughters high school parade from the neutral ground on St. Charles and had moved back too close to the street car track to get a better shot. Lucky for me the driver was very observant and slowed down to a crawl in case I moved. It would have only taken one or two steps back an I would have been on the track. These things are noisy and have bells and I failed to hear it because I was concentrating on the wrong thing...BE WARNED IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. Not to be crude but it scared me.....

The horn and proper education are the most effective tools for keeping people from dying on the tracks. Sadly, people choose to ignore basic common sense, such as not looking both ways before crossing, or listening to their music.

...shot a picture of a band on a railroad track we knew was "live", back in the 80's. It was a "guerilla" effort, no permission, but, this was back in the day when it was cheap to live and assistants were a dime a dozen. I had one assistant watching in each direction for on-coming train traffic. Still, I wouldn't do it today. BTW, there are plenty of dormant tracks in most large cities anyway, any rail buff will let you know which ones are, and rail buffs are EVERYWHERE!

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