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Photo Charters and Photography on Heritage Railways

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by I. Cooper, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    As I commented previously - I really can't see that being a huge issue seeing as trains routinely carry a ladder to allow the safe disembarking of passengers if necessary in an emergency situation when away from a platform. To this end the railway will already (I would have thought) have written procedures for ensuring the safe evacuation of passengers from a train when not in a station - albeit often only considered as an absolute last resort. In that regard a charter simply becomes an exercise in testing the railway's existing procedures in a variety of locations along the line using a group of 'mixed ability' volunteers.

    If there are concerns about stablity of using a ladder in a non-real-emergency situation, then it can't be beyond the wit of man to come up with a situation where the ladder is secured/lashed to the carriage in some way so is unable to tip/slide. A ratchet strap is very quick to apply and release. The railway will have the same duty of care to its employees as it does to guests in the form of charter participants, so if there's a safe way for train crew to get on/off a train when out of the station, then there must be a safe way for others. If that means rigging an automatic fall arrestor in the doorway of a guard's van and use of quickly fitted rescue style strops so if someone decides to make a leap for freedom they're gifted a steady controlled descent, then so be it - arguably perhaps such systems should be used routinely by guards and train crew when getting on and off vehicles when away from platforms? Having been involved guiding members of the public in situations where they've needed to negotiate fixed vertical ladders with lifelines and rather more secure harnesses than rescue strops, you can sort out systems to handle groups of people in a swift efficient manner if the need arises. Once again, it's a case of whether you have a 'can do' attitude, or a 'can't do' approach.


    If the charter is based on a narrow gauge line then of course in many cases the difference between being in a station alongside a platform or not is measured in single digit inches, and carriages often already have a permanent stepboard to assist boarding/alighting such that the actual physical process of getting people on and off is no different to being at a station.
     
  2. Glenmutchkin

    Glenmutchkin New Member

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    I have acted as Responsible Officer for my line for several film shoots and a couple of photo charters. On each occasion we have insisted that there is a comprehensive Safety Brief at the start of the day. The film shoots were good as gold, as were 95% of the photo charter participants. A few of the latter arrived late, didn't want to listen to the repeated brief and one told me that I talked too much.

    Guess who had to be told several times to move during the subsequent shoots?

    The problem for anybody who writes or is responsible for overseeing a Railway's SMS is the 5% of know it alls who think that a Safety Briefing is an optional extra.
     
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  3. jnc

    jnc Well-Known Member

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    Indeed, that was the mindset at NASA before the Challenger disaster: 'we didn't have this problem before, so it won't be a problem this time'. (Also with Columbia, too.)

    Noel
     
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  4. I. Cooper

    I. Cooper Member

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    Yeah, I'm not gonna try and pretend that there aren't those with cameras who aren't self important pillocks which risk ruining relations for others.
    I cringe to hear photographers bellowing orders at other visitors to events as though their 'view' and wishes are more important than anybody else's.
    I have sympathies for those who have little time for photographers that ask for an road engine to be stopped or be put somewhere for a quick photo - then proceed to faff and fiddle for ages taking an eternity, rather taking advantage of the owner's generosity to try and oblige in the first place.
    I share frustrations with those who've patiently arrived early to a scene to take a photo, others who've arrived subsequently take note and ensure they find a position not in the view of those already there ....then you get those who turn up last and decide they want a view from right in the middle of everyone else's scene.
    I'm not going to criticise those I know who have played host to organised charters and decided they don't want the bother of running them again, of dealing with fussy organisers and their crowd of participants.

    ...but I try to remeber there are arseholes everywhere you look. Some event organisers/stewards are stuck up idiots as well, some preserved railways have a friendlier welcome than others - so yes, some people with cameras are going to be an embarassment to others as well.
     
  5. Seraphim

    Seraphim New Member

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    Some very wise words in this thread; as someone who is responsible for an SMS and has run charters from a railway operational standpoint. My railway has worked with charter operators who will never be invited back, and also with very good and competent operators. The words about the 5% who know better than anyone also ring very true.

    The problem is knowing beforehand which group the person who has sent you an e-mail falls into. I cannot blame the SVR and others for adopting a precautionary approach.

    Remember that Network Rail have an extremely rigorous approach to track safety, and yet people still die. The only difference between being hit by a train at 20mph and at 100mph is how much work the undertaker has to do to make the remains presentable.
     
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  6. 2392

    2392 Member

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    You make a very good point with your last paragraph Seraphim. I remember seeing one of these "Fly on the wall" Documentaries with the British Transport Police. Chatting with one Officer he remarked about a suicide incident he'd attended. The person had handcuffed themselves to the track and being hit by a 125, doing 100+ so even after the Driver had made an emergency brake application the train was a good 3-5+ miles away by the time he stopped.
     
  7. 5801

    5801 New Member

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    Not quite- an HST should stop from 125 mph in 1.25 miles.
     
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  8. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    There is a world of difference between a trespasser wandering around a high speed railway and a disciplined group of photographers on a heritage railway where the organiser is in charge of train movements
     
  9. Seraphim

    Seraphim New Member

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    Undoubtedly true, but my post did not refer to trespass. It referred to highly trained and disciplined members of staff, and yet they are still dying. It would not describe some of the charter organisers or participants as highly organised or disciplined - which brings me back to the "5%" problem.
     
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  10. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    I don't have a dog in this fight, however, its interesting you mention Didcot.

    I have not been for a few years, but the last time I went with my aged father was the GWR 175 event, which I rather depressingly see was 10 years back. My old man who is an ex Swindon works employee flew back from France especially for the event, which generally was very nice, however for us as not normals as such but not hard core enthusiasts I have to say much of it was rather soured by the actions of a fair few photographers. For much of the day most of the locomotives were lined up outside the shed as is Didcot's USP, however you could not get anywhere near anything without some sodding photographer* shouting at you to move often with some quite fruity language, now I am fully aware of the need for many to get the money shot but literally for the whole time we were there it was like a sodding minefield, and we knew what was going on so god knows what mere tourists thought about it.

    SO I would say that I hope Didcot keeps such events for the purists to hopefully avoid such conflict at other times.

    * I know its not all but its like cycling its the all the gear and no idea who are the worst ;):D (spoken as a cyclist with little gear or idea!)
     
  11. Big Al

    Big Al Nat Pres stalwart Staff Member Moderator

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    The sad reality is that in many areas, the problem with dealing with the '5%' is that the 95% has to suffer. If you cannot guarantee that there will be no problem then you often have to curtail an activity for everyone. It's the predictable down side of risk assessments.

    I'm not saying that it's right but it's simply what happens and if what you are curtailing only generates a small income then it's understandable why you wouldn't bother.
     
  12. Johnb

    Johnb Resident of Nat Pres

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    From my experience most of the 5% have been banned from charters
     
  13. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Indeed. Anybody misbehaving on one of my charters got no more invites. Fortunately I only had one that I had to throw off.
     
  14. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    the point of charters was always to allow photographers to hopefully create the images they wanted, free of the clash with the public who are happy to wonder and mooch close up to the engines . The concept of charters also created a vehicle by which a maligned group could positively contribute to the railways visited . It is a model which has worked well for many many years and certainly feels to have garnered many friends in the movement . Having done some comparisons whilst charters are never going to set the world alight commercially we do pay comparably and in some cases better than other railway experience events which are deemed worthy of continuing

    recent years has seen a malaise affecting our welcome on a small minority of lines , mixed in some cases with an almost contemptuous attitude towards our and certainly my railway knowledge . At least three organisations, or those representing said organisations deem me as a non railway person to have so little knowledge as to be not worth an honest conversation and worthy of little more than half truths

    30742 charters exists to raise funds for preservation . If the product has outlived its usefulness then so be it and I understand there are factors which challenge the operation. I will enjoy my passion for steam engines in other ways

    Alongside this I had my annual invoice from a well known heritage support organisation today . The fee is four times what I paid last year and next year will be five times . Needless to say that relationship has been summarily terminated

    Just to address a couple of other points . I try and avoid shouting on events and it is no fun for participants or crews alike . I have removed a very small minority from the list
     
  15. henrywinskill

    henrywinskill Part of the furniture

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    What you have said above proves what a very smooth and well run operation you have Martin
     
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  16. Jamessquared

    Jamessquared Nat Pres stalwart

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    My experience is that such people exist; however, generally when trying to take photos from public areas in amongst everyone else, when somehow their needs seem to trump everyone else. (Not restricted to heritage railways either: you'll see it at major stations if a steam charter is coming through and somehow the needs of the man with a foot long lens trumps the family man with a mobile phone who has bought his children to see the engine ...)

    Given that though, those are problems of ordinary running days, not on charters. My experience of watching photographers on charters is that they tend to arrange themselves to their chosen spot, at which point the train makes it's movement. I'm sure the odd person has had a photo ruined by someone else inadvertently moving, but not generally I think in a deliberately thoughtless manner.

    I hope that they continue: providing they are covering their direct cost (taking into account all factors, including any demonstrable increase in the railway's overall insurance premium) then I think they are beneficial, and I have long advocated railways having. diversity of income, of which charters represent one small part.

    Tom
     
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  17. 2392

    2392 Member

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    Reading through this thread. I can't help but be a bit amused by some of it. I say amused, as on the one hand photographers have been lambasted for taking but not giving with our collective hobby. But on the other hand, due to the actions of a minority are now being lambasted on account of their inappropriate actions at this or that Charter, granted I've only ever been to one photo charter event that I've attended at Marley Hill the HQ of the Tanfield Railway. Most of which is fairly readily available to photographers due parallel footpaths/roads, if you want to avoid the crowds on an ordinary running day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2021
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  18. 21B

    21B Part of the furniture

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    I am 100% for photo charters. Whatever issues may exist can probably be managed and overcome. The real challenge is to make the effort required worthwhile for the host railway. There has to be sufficient value to the host. That can encompass pictures that "sell" the line when published and the pleasure for volunteers of seeing the wagon fleet used. It must include an appreciable direct financial benefit as well though. At the prices currently believed to be saleable to the photographers, this is difficult. Perhaps more difficult at lines where the burden of managing and organising the railway preparations falls to paid staff.

    Sent from my SM-A405FN using Tapatalk
     
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  19. Sidmouth

    Sidmouth Part of the furniture Staff Member Moderator

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    people also forget that as an organiser I am in effect running a small business . Its not just a case of turning up and having a jolly play day . Events need to be arranged , operation planned, marketed and hopefully sold out . Participants need to be kept informed, appraised of safety and then on the day made to feel welcome and looked after and above all have an enjoyable day out that hopefully means they book again . All the cash needs to be collected, looked after and then disbursed . I have to have risk assessments , operating statements , covid protocols . I have radios to make sure are charged and available . We are subject to GDPR and other business rules . I personally run an active social media campaign with pages, groups , galleries all of which need supporting . This year Friday night socials on Zoom have been arranged to meet up with the community and help keep everyone in contact

    Now remember like Ian and many other organisers I'm not taking a penny out of this . Its done in my evenings, weekends , annual leave when I'm also trying to give time to my better half and family . There are some charters when the 4am alarm goes off that I could happily roll over and go back to sleep , I can't do that and I need to switch into organsier role
     
  20. mdewell

    mdewell Member

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    I was a shunter at Didcot during the early 80s we did try to keep out of the way of photographers as much as possible, but we did get some abuse from photographers when we did need to be in front of locos during moves around the site. It was just a small minority and water off a ducks back as far as we were concerned. Given that most of the early shunting on each weekend/open day was simply posing stock outside sheds for display (and putting away again at the end of the day/weekend) we think they got a much better deal than at many railways where everything is hidden away for the majority of the time. :)

    I did see a comment on another thread about the mixing of pedestrians with moving trains and that was certainly a main concern at Didcot for shunters and loco crews, but we managed to do so slowly and safely (despite the apparent efforts of some visitors to gain entry to the Darwin awards! :rolleyes:). I don't know what was more tired at the end of the day, my legs or my voice! :D
     
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