Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by ralphchadkirk, May 31, 2009.
I did suggest this a few posts back... But a valid point don't you think?
It has nothing to do with being "an authorised Network rail person", or having a lookout. It is everything to do with having the correct competencies and using a safe system of work.
Presumably (hopefully) if you've only just learnt that walking in the 4' facing traffic can sometimes be the safest place, you're not someone who has access to the lineside anywhere !
I think Fred's suggestion of a national scheme is an extremely sensible one. It is the lack of standardisation from railway-to-railway that causes confusion and is a source of frustration for many linesiders. They may be very familiar with the rules of their local railway and quite reasonably can't understand why similar rules don't apply elsewhere. It simply doesn't make sense that different preserved railways have different lineside rules. The risks are the same.
Yes, being lineside on the railway carries an element of risk, but so do many other hobbies that people undertake. I generally consider myself considerably safer lineside, than when pursuing one of my other hobbies and scrambling along a mountain ridge in winter. It is all about managing that risk. Up and down the country, there must be hundreds, if not thousands, of photters lineside each weekend. They get a great deal of enjoyment from that privilege, and there have thus far been very few injuries / fatalities of linesiders on preserved railways. Of course, it will happen, from time-to-time, but in proportion to the number of people enjoying the hobby, it is very small. I sympathise with the likes of Chessie, who's had to suffer a fatality, but these things happen. We do not live in a risk free world. I work in a hospital, sadly people die, and sometimes because they've taken an unnecessary risk, and sometimes that risk was in pursuit of something they love to do. I am well aware, as I'm sure most linesiders are, that being there carries an element of risk. However, provided I am careful, I do not feel my life is particularly under threat and I feel the enjoyment I gain is worth the risk, but I am well aware of the consequences if things go wrong.
So, in defining the national guidelines, it would be sad if the preserved railways decided to adopt the MHR (and national network) policy and ban all linesiders, as I feel the reduced speeds of preserved lines and the current good safety record of those enjoying the lineside privilege afforded by some lines, indicates that the enjoyment provided to those lineside outweighs the risk of injury or death. A national scheme would also ensure that the majority of those lineside would be better trained and hopefully even safer. Sadly, I suspect politics will mean that it doesn't happen, but it does make perfect sense to me.
I normally don't get involved with trespass debates as I can't bear the hand-wringing and 'holier than thou' posturing that goes on. But...
Playing devil's advocate here, every railway is different. All railways will have different (albeit in many cases similar, or derived from the same source) rulebooks. Some railways have areas that are out of bounds to photographers (areas of the Great Central spring to mind).
If a national scheme was in place, how would you ensure that photographers who may only go lineside once a year are as up to date with all railways procedures, rules etc, particularly when different railways may have their own specified emergency procedures, contact points etc? In the operational sense, its all about maintaining competency.
How would such a scheme be maintained, monitored, disciplined even?
Personally, I think that each railway is best to judge the risks and benefits from their point of view, and make an assessment on such grounds, rather than be governed by some arbitrary dictat that states people should be allowed lineside access. The Mid Hants has had some particularly bad experiences with lineside photographers; why are some people so unable to respect that?
Except I would put it to you that the risks can vary considerably from line to line, and that in consequence it makes a great deal of sense that different railways may have different rules.
You've got one thing spot on though, lineside access is a privilege. Sadly some people seem to see it as a right. I am continually surprised (and horrified) at some of the flagrantly dangerous acts I've witnessed from lineside photographers, and more than a fair few justify it with "I've bought a permit, I can do as I please !"
I have no doubt that as time goes on restrictions will grow. Insurance companies will see to that if nobody else does.
As Fred said, the visitor would check in at the railway they are visiting first to receive the 'local' rules / restrictions. I can't see any reason why these couldn't also be online or published in a 'book', so they could be viewed beforehand. However, making linesiders sign in is probably sensible, and also provides an opportunity for a local payment to be made and to be informed of any info relevant to that day. It would be up to the individual railways how they enforce the scheme, if they do at all. You will always get people lineside who aren't a part of the scheme, but having a nationally agreed training scheme ensures that there is more chance of those lineside having at least the basic training necessary. It isn't a complete solution, but it would be a step in the right direction if there was more consistency.
The majority of the postings on this thread seem to indicate that MHR would be better advised to look at their lineside policy and see if there is a way of accomodating photographers, as there is quite obviously a demand for this - and in the current economic climate getting a few £s out of people who otherwise may not have contributed to a railway is far better than having £0 from them - plus the railway can log just exactly who is out & about on their land at any one time and ensure that those who are have the necessary understanding of safety requirements & risks involved.
I am sure that a UK lineside scheme (as suggested by Fred) would be for the benefit of both railways & linesiders alike.
I'm not so sure that postings on here are disrespectful of the MHR, more that the MHR could be better listening to the ideas profferred to them.
While I don't disagree with you and I think local rules/restrictions can be covered as Fred described, I do think there is a basic level of training that is generic to being lineside on pretty much *any* railway line. Having visited many preserved lines, I cannot see what the additional risks are on the Mid-Hants compared to other lines that do offer permits. I can understand that they may wish to restrict access to the cuttings around Medstead and Alresford, just as the GCR restrict access to Swithland, etc. However, surely getting the majority of linesiders trained up to the same standard is a sensible starting point? Could you give some examples of what you had in mind when you say the risks vary considerably from line to line?
As I say, my personal opinion is that each individual railway is in the best position to judge the risks and benefits from their point of view, and make an assessment on such grounds. Using the Mid Hants as a convenient example, clearly from their point of view they have in the past taken the view that owing to the dangerous behaviour of a minority, in order to prevent a recurrence a blanket ban is appropriate.
For example, knowing parts of the MHR, while the place you are taking the photo from may be perfectly safe, how about access to it? Particularly given that they have previously referred to potentially strained relations with local landowners?
I am still far from convinced that a 'one size fits all' approach would work.
It would not necessarily have to be "one size fits all", more the idea of all railways adopting a single system that is adaptable to the railway using it, under the auspices of their own safety management system.
As I said previously, "the railway can .... ensure that [linesiders] have the necessary understanding of safety requirements & risks involved", as individual or generic as it may be to any railway.
The MHR. in common with, I suspect, most other railways has an underscribed and overworked volunteer base,and so I would think that diverting time and resource to ensure lineside safety for photographers which could be used for other more pressing matters is a non starter. As a matter of interest would any of the photographers who have not been slow to give the MHR lots of advice about their lineside policy, be prepared to give up their time to formulate, run and police a scheme so that they and others of the same interest could benefit?
This conversation makes me realise why I enjoy travelling abroad for railway photography. Also bus photographers must wonder what we're on about. They get to wander all over the shop pursuing there subject on buy roads yet the moment a railway photographer goes one inch over a yellow line the world goes mad and we get endless threads such as this.
many foreign railways are not even fenced of course
Exactly. The high speed lines in France are fenced and some are in South Africa but otherwise all the other places I've visited have unfenced railways. Wander willy-nilly around a major station or marshalling yard and you'll end up in trouble but elsewhere is never a problem.
I fail to see how anybody here has been disrespectful to the mhr, there have been genuine comments trying to help them.
The only disrespectful comment I can find in the thread is, and it comes from a MHR person.
As on the foreign thing, have a watch of this at the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-K_krJi ... re=related 2:00 mark, that was last September iirc. Note to the two police going track side for the shot!
Thanks for the link. I've attached another German example. A chap who sprinted across in front of the departing trains was gripped by the police but those of us who had moved into position in good time were allowed to get
on with it even though we did have two trains bearing down upon us.
Well, as an example, if you're used to taking photographs on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, with some nice big spaces where the Down line used to be that allows you to set up your shot in safety and get from place to place, and you decide to take advantages of your transferrable permit to go and take photographs on the Great Central Railway, you're likely to be somewhat at a disadvantage when you realise that in many places you'll have to walk on the track to get about, something you've probably never needed to do on "your" railway (witness the surprise earlier in this thread when a SVR volunteer learnt that it was permissible to walk in the 4' !).
I've lost count at the number of photographers that I've seen utterly astonished (and, amazingly, sometimes annoyed !) when they're about to get their money shot of a train on the Down line and another train passes on the Up line, coming between them and the object of their shot.
So engrossed have they been in getting things "just so" that they've utterly failed to notice 500 tons of train approaching them from behind on the line they're standing closest to ! On more than a couple of occasions though I have been forced to interrupt photographers before that happens as they'd not got themselves into a place of safety and were foul of the line. There seems to be a mindset amongst heritage railway photographers that if you're clear of the train you're photographing that you'll be safe - possibly as a result of the predominantly single line nature of such railways.
There is a fundamental (and dangerous) departure from 150 years of best railway practice when it comes to lineside photography on or about the line. As trackworkers we are taught that on seeing the approach of a train on a line we're working on that we should stop work, stand in a place of safety and give our full attention to the train until such time as it has passed and it is safe to go back to what we were doing.
Even if you're on another line and continue working, you're still watching out for the line you're on, rather than observing the one you're not. Many vastly experienced people over the years have come a cropper by watching the Down Express pass by at 90mph and getting the Up Goods in the small of their back at 45mph. It only takes one moment of forgetfulness and it 's goodnight Vienna.
A photographer, by the very nature of their craft, will be giving their full attention to the very limited image in their viewfinder at the precise moment that they should be paying attention to what's going on around them. For this reason, and the fact that they often lack anything over than rudimentary training and have little or no experience, I'm afraid I've come to see them as a liability.
I agree 100% with Chessie"s latest comments.
In the days when MHR issued Trackside Photo Permits there were, at best, half a dozen of us Working Volunteers who were prepared and available to "police" events such as Galas. Even then, we were unable to prevent some individuals from committing acts of gross stupidity; hence the withdrawal of such permits.
Believe it or not, on Gala occasions the dozens of other Volunteers and Fulltime Staff are working their butts off in order to provide a train service for PASSENGERS, not purely for photographers!
Regarding Chessie's comments on people being prepared to give up time to "formulate, run and police a scheme..." might I suggest that anyone with such aspirations contacts Colin Chambers, the Managing Director MHR...?
Any such person should, ideally, be well-versed in railway operating procedures, Health and Safety, Insurance Liability, Safety Cases, have an ability to provide an "instant" band of helpers, and be willing to negotiate with irate farmers whose crops are trampled-on.
What you are saying is perfectly sensible and I would expect to be included in any training program. I would expect such a scheme to teach linesiders how to behave on double as well as single track and also how to deal with situations of restricted clearance, etc. I would also expect the GCRs local notice to clearly remind linesiders that both lines are used and provide any special guidelines, even though these would've been covered in the original course.
In my experience, the majority of photographers use the line as a means of access to photo spots and do not actually take photographs from the four foot of either running line, although a small minority do on occasions, and some stand too close to the running line. So, I agree that photters should be taught that they should be in a position of relatively safety before actually using their camera.
On my local line, as far as I'm aware there are no lineside permits issued, and I've stood in trespass locations and spoke to loco crews and PW workers while standing in such positions, so it certainly seems as though trespass is tolerated. However, there is also no training provided for those who do go lineside in this unofficial capacity. I would welcome such training and I suspect there are many other photographers who go lineside and haven't had such training. The problem I have is that the standards of training or policy with regard to lineside access vary hugely across the country, and I believe this needn't be the case. Of course, there will need to be local variations, but I honestly believe that it would be better if the majority of photographers were trained to some national basic standard at their local line, rather than the current situation where many are completely untrained. Unless the preserved railways fence their lines with 8ft fences topped with razor wire, there will always be trespassing photographers, because many of us have been brought up with this access tolerated. The alternative is to stop lineside access for photographers altogether, like on the national network, or like the MHR are attempting. If this is policed, and implemented across *all* lines, then the next generation may grow up with an understanding that lineside access is not tolerated on preserved lines. However, this is at odds with many lines current policy, where access is not only tolerated, but encouraged as a further source of income.
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