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Tuesday, 10 March 2015


Re: "Venture there yourself if you want to risk your own life—photographers do take foolish risks to get photographs—but keep your clients, friends and models off train tracks. Using train tracks as a setting for photographs is an illegal, unethical, and unsafe practice."

You seem not to give much thought to the poor train engineer who gets to live with the image of running over someone for the rest of their life. It's not just risking you own life, but the mental health of those of who have to live with the ordeal afterwards.

[John, We covered that in depth the last time around, including publishing an eloquent long comment from a CN engineer provided by Bryce Lee. Please check the linked posts. --Mike]

Keeping off the train tracks-

I'm retired IATSE [International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees--union of entertainment industry technicians —Ed.], and Hollywood has always pushed the limits of safety. Good to see someone get some jail time. More importantly "He will be banned from all film-making activities that include responsibility for the safety of film-set employees for the next 10 years."

My longest day on a union job was 22 hours. The First Assistant Cameraman, on a TV series that I worked, died because he fell asleep on his drive home. More than once I've had to pull over and get some rest.

"Using train tracks as a setting for photographs is an illegal, unethical, and unsafe practice." It is also unforgivably vapid.

Mike, here is a web site of a nonprofit organization Operation Lifesaver, which "is working to change people's behavior around railroad tracks and crossings with the national public awareness campaign": http://oli.org. They say that "about every 3 hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train."

But it's okay to drive with one hand on the wheel and take pictures?

You can be in mortal danger even when you think you are at a safe distance from the tracks. This is because you can be powerfully sucked in by the low air pressure created by the passing train.

This is what struck the most in last year's discussion, especially because it is not obvious to some of us.

This is borderline OT but a couple of years ago I was covering a derailment after a bad windstorm.
A company that puts trains back on tracks was at work on the train. I was kept about a quarter mile away and when I asked to get closer the supervisor told me "we would love to get you up for a better look but last year one of our cables snapped and it came around with so much force it cut a pickup truck in half".
A quarter mile seemed a little close after that.

Similar to the comment that even getting close to the tracks as a high speed train passes could create powerful suction, another real nasty possibility is that one of the high tension steel strapping bands that hold down open cargo like lumber and pipes can snap. That results in a wildly flailing steel band that could easily take your head off. I worked as a railway signal tech for a time and my boss always stressed getting a good distance away from tracks before a train was about to pass.

Well not only people are in danger so are dogs......I remember an incident long ago at a train station in the Netherlands. A young man was jogging with a dog next to a train track (sticktly forbidden and extremely stupid)......near the station where commuters (including moi) were waiting to catch a train home. The dog on a leash was walking clearly within profile of the train. Then a freight train came along. People started to wave, scream, yell, shout and what not to catch the attention of the guy......he must have thought we were warning him and he was in no immediate danger.......regardless the dog trodded on (Mike cover your eyes here).....to get run over by the train eventually......people stood in horror. The jogger ran on. Luckyly when the train passed (Mike you can open your eyes again) the dog popped out at the end of the train (doggy had dodged the wheels and the train had ran over him not harming him). Only the line snapped.

Greets, Ed.

This sort of thing only happens to other people... until it happens to you.

Even experienced rail workers can make mistakes and end up killed. Here's a report by the UK's Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) into a fatal accident involving a rail worker on the line in January 2014.


WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board will hold a public forum March 24-25 on the dangers of trespassing on the railroad right-of-way.

While railroad tracks have long held a cultural resonance with Americans, featured in motion pictures, TV shows, music videos and photography, they are private property. And they can be a deadly place. In 2013, 476 people were killed and 432 were injured in trespassing accidents, according to preliminary data from the Federal Railroad Administration.


I just happened again out here near Seattle about 2 months ago... http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Man-struck-by-train-while-posing-for-photo-241074681.html

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