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-   -   Trespassing (http://www.railpictures.net/forums/showthread.php?t=3875)

devights 07-24-2006 11:48 AM

I'm just wondering how many of you trespass on RR property when you are railfanning (and especially taking pictures). I know it's illegal and that there are some people on the forum that speak out against it, I also know that on Stevens Pass here in the BNSF Scenic Sub in Washington that it's almost impossible to even see the tracks without being on RR property! I'm just wondering roughtly what precent of the time railfanning you spend on RR property (and I don't just mean tracks, I'm talking about the entire right of way).
Note: I am not trying to condone or defend trespassing, it is illegal and can be dangerous.

Callufrax 07-24-2006 11:56 AM

Anyone that trespasses is nuts, and is asking for trouble. Yeah, I've stood on the right of way, but only because the CP engineers (at those particular times) said it was ok.

Other than that, no way. What's more important? Getting that shot, or continuing to live?

Frederick 07-24-2006 03:51 PM

In North America, the railroad right of way extends at least 50 feet out on either side of the tracks.

Christopher Muller 07-24-2006 03:57 PM

I said 26-50%. There are a lot of semi posted service roads I use, I figured them into my number. Plus, you have to count everytime you cross the tracks at a non-crossing.

Christopher Muller 07-24-2006 03:59 PM


Originally Posted by Frederick
In North America, the railroad right of way extends at least 50 feet out on either side of the tracks.

I also meant to point out the distance from the tracks.

Niles 07-27-2006 04:06 AM

I have a few rules that I like to follow, perhaps not completly legal but they should keep me safe.
1. I never cross the tracks except at a crossing. Trains can creep up at anytime.
2. If it's posted no tresspassing, then I obey the sign.
3. Where there are no signs I make sure I'm at least 15 feet or more away from tracks. At this distance I should be able to trip and fall and still be far enough away from the train.
4. Whenever I can shoot above a train I take it. The chances of getting hit by ballest is almost impossible, the wind shouldn't suck me into the train and I feel this is about the safest spot.

Now I will admit that there is a road by my place which is for maintainance crews which I do go down often, However I can get to the place I shoot from another way too, but the road is faster and easier. Other then that I try to keep it legal. I don't really want to pay a fine for one of my shots.

hoydie17 07-27-2006 03:47 PM


Originally Posted by Frederick
In North America, the railroad right of way extends at least 50 feet out on either side of the tracks.

22 feet by survey.

busyEMT 07-27-2006 04:55 PM

I'll jaywalk all day long, but I can't bring myself to cross the rails at a non-crossing crossing. Besides the safety factor, I know I would get pinched the second I tried it.

The BNSF program of Citizens Against Rail Violence or whatever requests railfans keep free of the right-of-way, only 15 feet.

WembYard 07-27-2006 06:48 PM

Myself, hardly at all - unless you count being on duty at the time!
When not at work I keep away from the tracks - being a rail worker is not an excuse to trespass and my personal opinion is that you don't usually get the best pictures by being too close.
A few years ago we (myself & husband) paid a visit to a location that was at the start of a steep climb and surrounded by sand dunes. We settled down at the top of a cutting some distance from the tracks and had photographed several trains before we realised that we were in fact inside the boundary fence, it having been more or less totally covered by drifting sand. Technically were were trespassing though I doubt anybody official would have pushed the point.

J 07-28-2006 12:52 PM

Right of way boundaries vary from a few feet from the rail to square miles (in western areas where "sections" were given to railroads as an incentive to build.)

Common sense should govern. Standing up close where one can be clocked by a tumbling brake shoe, loose metal strap from a lumber load or a protruding plug door handle is foolish. Even experienced railroaders are ocassionaly struck.

Ken Carr 07-28-2006 06:18 PM

Interesting thread, I would have to say that technically I trespass to get my photos either along UP or BNSF right of way. I prefer being above the train when ever possible (either a small rise or embankment. I strive to take photos away from switches but at times I have taken photos near them. I have taken photos on the rails themselves, I donít recommend it to any one nor do I expect to do that in the future. But some of my photos on site were taken directly on the mainline from times past.
While out either rail fanning or just on errands I cross the tracks at crossing, on a few rare occasions I have crossed the rails on foot where I have clear views in both directions for at least 2000 feet and again never near switches. Even at crossings I slow when ever possible, lower windows, and look and listen. No matter how quiet the scanner or the rails seem to be I always expect a train. So I continually scan the track both directions. I believe our hobby is a hazardous one but can be practiced safely. Iíll be the first to admit when I started in this hobby that I made a lot of mistakes in my actions taking photos and was fortunate not to be injured or killed.
Slightly off thread, but one example how things have changed for me in this hobby, in 2005 Brett Wrick and I walked some seven miles one way to a derailment site in Meadow Valley Wash. Since the Virgin River was still just at or below flood stage the only way in was along the rails, all roads were washed out. Even with the line shut down and the first work trains unable to use the rail line due to the numerous wash outs. I still kept looking behind me every few seconds for a train.

bnsfnut4924 07-29-2006 12:22 AM

I never cross the tracks except at a crossing (with the exception of cab tours). According to a BNSF employee that said I was trespassing, he said I need to be at least 500 yards away from the tracks. From 500 yards away, I can barley see it. 500 yards away from the tracks means that 2 car dealerships, 3 shopping centers, and a whole bunch of houses are on the RR's ROW. BTW where I was standing was near a near a traffic light (wouldn't that be on public property?) The private security doesn't really care where I am. I was getting down from the locomotive with the rest of the crew after some time in the cab to do a roll by, and I was standing in the middle of the tracks and he says "Hey whats up." I guess it might help that he is a railfan too. :-)

htgguy 07-30-2006 07:31 PM

If I am on the ROW of a public grade crossing of the tracks, probably within 10 feet of the nearest rail, am I tresspassing? I certainly do not trespass on purpose, I do not cross the tracks away from a crossing, and when shooting photos I try to back well away from the tracks before the train arrives at my location so I am 20-30 feet from the tracks minimum while the train is passing. Remember this is at a grade crossing. Cars are closer than I am while the train is passing. I do not want to be any closer than that.

Most of the locations where I fan you can see a headlight and hear horns well in excess of a mile away. That is no reason to set up a lawn chair on the tracks though. I want to be able to fan well into my "golden years".


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