Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

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Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

Postby marcusp81996 » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:28 pm

This is my first post, Not sure if I'm breaking any rules by posting a question like this. I'm well aware in any form of forum, the quote "Naming and shaming" is a rule most forums take seriously on a moderator level.

The reason why I chose this section is because it happened on a class 1 rail-line.

Anyways, don't want to say names nor give out a location, but just to give you guys a scenario, this is real of course, it really happened, but lets look at it this way.

My friend and I were at the table, he had his scanner. It was starting to get dusk out, he didn't have proper nightly wear. So he told me if a train does come, he's going to put on a vest so cars can see him. Me being a railfan myself I did concern him a little, asked him if the train crews will mind him wearing one. He told me he filmed over 30 trains in that area, not one engineer or crew said anything about his vest they were cool with it, as well as a hi-rail crew that got off the crossing he filmed at.

While we were talking, his scanner went off, a track warrant was issued from the yard, to a town 10 miles up track, he said He'll be back in a few mins to go film that train.

So as he was out there, I was cooking dinner and making food for him and I, and I heard two short blasts on the horn, I immediately recognized it as a departure signal, not a horn salute given to railfanners because after that, I heard the long long short long. The train went by our place at 15mph. I was like "Thats odd." trains out here do 30-35. Trackspeed in the area we were in. Within a few mins my buddy comes back inside and the first thing I noticed was he was a little pale.

I asked him, What was wrong? he said the train crew reported him as a "Trespasser" I was like "WHAT!? Tell me what happened."

He said he saw the headlight 3 or 4 miles down the track, it was a long straight track.

He stood 10 feet away from the tracks, behind the gates, off the road but by it. As the train got closer, he said he crawled to a stop, a couple hundred feet from the crossing, the train crew actually talked to him via scanner. He the engineer said, *someone's name* "Is that you?" to in which he looked at his scanner, and nodded No slowly to in which they departed. And as the train passed him he made the call.

CN #3118 to 43 dispatch over. 43 dispatch go ahead, We've been having weird signals since we left "Last known location" We're at the crossing at MP 190.27, there's a guy out there with a vest wandering by the tracks. Okay CN 3118 could you describe him? Yeah he's wearing a class 2 vest, black pants, blonde hair, approx 30 years of age. CN #3118 are you reporting a trespasser over? Yes We're reporting a trespasser."

He didn't hear anymore after that, He told me he turned off his camera, and walked back to the house, he panicked. I've seen his videos, he does everything by the book.

Any thoughts or opinions? He told me already he doesn't plan on ever wearing a vest again. So you guys can rule that out if you planned on saying that.

Thanks guys.
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Re: Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

Postby John_Perkowski » Fri Oct 12, 2018 9:57 pm

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Re: Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

Postby Wayside » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:45 am

I doubt if the vest has any relevance to the crew's behavior other than it made your friend easier to see. Train crews are encouraged/required to report trespassers. It's a good policy. In addition, they are subject to random observational testing for rules compliance. My guess is they suspected that the person in question was staging a test to see if they would report him as a trespasser. If your friend was actually back behind the crossing gates, then he was not trespassing. I agree it's a good plan to be highly visible when on an active road after dark.
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Re: Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

Postby marcusp81996 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:31 pm

Wayside wrote:I doubt if the vest has any relevance to the crew's behavior other than it made your friend easier to see. Train crews are encouraged/required to report trespassers. It's a good policy. In addition, they are subject to random observational testing for rules compliance. My guess is they suspected that the person in question was staging a test to see if they would report him as a trespasser. If your friend was actually back behind the crossing gates, then he was not trespassing. I agree it's a good plan to be highly visible when on an active road after dark.
That's right, He was behind the gates. He was off the road too so traffic was not on top of his list of concerns. I just found it kinda odd despite doing everything by the "Railfanner's book" he still got reported. We even stood outside waiting for the cops to come if he the engineer really reported him, because he told me it wasn't his first time with the police, and he had no problem of clearing things up with them. Because of the amount of footage he has of him routinely doing the same thing, commentating that there's a train coming, he says "Cleared the gates" as the gates are lowered, he usually railfans at the gates, but on this occasion, he was 10 feet away from the crossing on the side of the road. The crossing is rather spaced. There's about 8-10 feet from the gates to the rail. The cops never came.
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Re: Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

Postby John_Perkowski » Mon Oct 15, 2018 9:51 am

If you’re on private properties, the ROW is typically 25 feet from the centerline of the outermost track.

If you’re on Federal property, it’s 100 feet.

In this post 9-11 world, the more relationships you build with local police, the better off you’ll be. In my neck of the woods, being a “photographer” has been a way for thieves to case a location.
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Re: Do Engineers mind Railfanners wearing vests?

Postby marcusp81996 » Mon Oct 15, 2018 1:47 pm

John_Perkowski wrote:If you’re on private properties, the ROW is typically 25 feet from the centerline of the outermost track.

If you’re on Federal property, it’s 100 feet.

In this post 9-11 world, the more relationships you build with local police, the better off you’ll be. In my neck of the woods, being a “photographer” has been a way for thieves to case a location.


That's certainly what he did, he certainly improved relations with the police. We were up there for 9 days, it was a vacation spot, literally on the first night, somebody called the cops on us. We never had any intention of breaking the law, nor did we ever want to concern people in the town we were staying at. Small town, pop. of 900 people.

Anyways avoid getting sidetracked here, So anyways on our first night, we were both railfanning, We were listening in on the Scanner, and we heard a track warrant being issued, from the town to the yard 10 miles away. It was pitch black out, we both had vests on so cars could see us better at night. and this guy looked at us funny, and I actually looked at him, very shady character. My friend told me don't worry about it. he's the least of our concerns. It was rather quiet out so we headed back to the house. We were outside, talking and it wasn't until the train got very close we heard it. it was night time, it was rather cold out, so the chances of hearing a "Distant" horn was very likely. But the engineer never blew the horn, I only way I knew I heard the train coming, was because I heard the GE "Whoop" sound the train makes. At night they go at restricted speeds. which is half of the trackspeed in that area, 30mph. So he was crawling.

I heard the "Whoop" and I told him, "Did you hear that!?" He and I literally panicked, the train came around the curve which was about a quarter of a mile from our place, we had a long driveway, about 100 feet long or so, and it's another 100 feet to the crossing, So Me and him Sprinted at the crossing, We have our ways of filming a train.

The directional orientation of the track layout, the town is west, and the yard is east. Trains heading west, we film on the right side of the road filming away from the crossing signal, so at the most the gates are in the shot. If a train was heading east, we'd be on the other side of the crossing on the right side of the road.

So anyways this train was heading east. So we had to get on the otherside of the crossing for a better shot, We heard the roar of the engines, We heard the whoop. Then we heard the Bell on the locomotive, We knew he was right there and my buddy and I Sprinted. We saw some headlights from a car and we didn't give it much thought, then we looked to our right we saw the locomotive's headlights. He was just around the distance to trigger the crossing, We were just about to go over the crossing, and it was triggered as we were crossing it, we heard "STOP! STOP! Why are you running?" We snapped out of it, we realized we were standing in front of two women that were officers of the the PD. We were pale, scared. And My friend was like I'll talk to them. We were so angry, we were "Denied" of a train to film Because we had to clear things up with the officers.

So My friend said, "Did someone call about us? Because We weren't intending on doing anything bad, we're just railfanners trying to film a train."

The women were so nice, I swear to god. They said, "We got a report that there were people on the tracks, was that the two of you?" We strongly denied it because we were never on the "Tracks." And my friend is more familiar with the law than I was, he knew how to talk to cops to get out of certain things And he told them, "We weren't on the tracks, We're smarter than that, if anything we were crossing the road which is "Public Property". I'd never walked on the actual tracks, I'm aware of the fines given to trespassers, about $500." The officer said "You're right and that is alot the railroad demands for, We just wanted to make sure no one was going to commit suicide, self harm, so We came out here, Do you have an ID or anything?" We gave them our ID's we were a long way from home, 184 miles to be exact. and We told them that we were staying at a vacation house just down the tracks, We heard the train coming, we wanted to film it, we just weren't expecting officers to be laying in wait for us.

After the train passed, two more squad cars drove up. there were 4 squad cars at the crossing, so from what me and I told the two women, We had to tell the other officers that showed up the same stuff, And I was like You know what, I want to speed this up, I asked the officers If I can pull my phone out, she said sure, go ahead, I remembered recording some trains via phone on Instagram, and showed her. She took a look at it, and told us, "Okay, You're behind the gate, you're doing everything by the book. Okay, We're sorry to bug you two, Code four everyone. "Then that guy that reported me showed up, He told his side of the story which was all BS of course, We told the officers, "Don't believe what that guy said, I swear we did nothing wrong." The woman, calm again said, you two got nothing to worry about, We just wanted information, you're not in trouble, we're not giving any of you tickets. So me and my friend both gave the four officers hand shakes, told them have a goodnight and god bless them. And one of the cops that was there after the train asked us where were we staying, I told him, just by the tracks and pointed at the property, in which he said have a good night. All the cars drove off.

It was scary, but at least the cops knew who we were now. But he my friend strongly advised me to keep an eye out for the guy who reported us, because he might do it again.
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