Be careful around your favorite RR photo spot...

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by tomfassett, Oct 26, 2002.

  1. tomfassett

    tomfassett Member

    From the Newswire:
    FBI issues warning about possible terror attack on railroads

    The FBI has issued a warning to state and local law enforcement nationwide about a possible terrorist attack against railroads, which has prompted Amtrak and freight railroads to beef up security.

    The warning, issued Wednesday but announced Thursday, was based in part on information obtained from Al Qaeda prisoners who said that terrorists may try to cause derailments by destroying or damaging strategic rail infrastructure such as bridges.

    Detainees said the terror group has considered directly targeting passenger trains, possibly using operatives who have a Western appearance, the FBI said. Hazardous materials shipments also may be targeted, the FBI said.

    “Recently captured al-Qa'ida photographs of U.S. railroad engines, cars, and crossings heighten the intelligence community's concern of this threat,” the FBI said.

    The Department of Transportation security staff, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Federal Railroad Administration have worked closely with the American Association of Railroads to review the current threat data for rails and to implement enhanced rail security measures.

    “Recognizing the importance of the freight railroads to the nation’s economy and military preparedness, the Association of American Railroads last year implemented a comprehensive security plan based on a thorough risk analysis of the industry,” said AAR president Edward R. Hamberger in a statement, released today. “We continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation and federal intelligence agencies to ensure that our current security actions are commensurate with the threat.”

    “Increased security actions include a 24/7 operations center that provides a secure communications link between railroad control centers and the appropriate transportation and law enforcement agencies; restricted access to railroad facilities and equipment; heightened employee awareness, and increased surveillance of critical infrastructure.”

    On Tuesday, AAR and DOT held a security briefing for members' law enforcement chiefs about the current threat information and coordinated implementation of enhanced security measures.

    Amtrak has increased patrolling of its facilities and trains and all freight rail implemented additional security measures.

    Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge was contacting state and local officials to urge their help and vigilance in preventing such an attack. Despite the warning, the overall terror alert system remained at yellow.
  2. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    I saw a discussion of this topic on another board yesterday and the general concensus of opinion was that if you are out railfanning be prepared to be stopped, detained and questioned about your activities but don't refrain from your railfanning activities because of this and be vigilent and photograph and report any suspicious activity.

    Seems to me that considering the current state of affairs the better thing to do would be to just stay away from railroad property for the time being until things clam down and let the railroad security folks and the authorities deal with this without having to deal with railfans too.

    Just 5 cents worth from the Robber Barron:D who knows he'll probably get some "flack"!!!!!

    BTW....The above does not apply if by some slim chance there may be a steam locomotive in operation!!!:D :D :D:D
  3. WM-N-fan

    WM-N-fan Member

    I had a bad experience. I was railfanning near a coal power plant, and watching a coal drag come in, was taking pictures, and a car approached me. They told me to leave. I have Arab family, and have an Arab last name. Our phones were tabbed, and agents interviewed neighbors, and then came to me. They asked for my pictures, which were left at a hotel. I told them I was railfanning, but they still want those pics.
  4. tomfassett

    tomfassett Member

    Sorry to hear that. The general railfan community could be a great resource for "keeping an eye out," but with all the "sugary" rhetoric embracing the idea from the AAR, I personally don't think they really mean it. I have too many friends and family members in railroading and they feel the prevailing attitude from management is that this is a good excuse to reduce the "ridiculous" idea of railfanning as a hobby...:(
    I understand the idea of cautiousness, but I think it is often taken way too far. I posted this story on another forum but I will repeat it here:

    "I have been reported to the police by UP employees twice in the past year. Once, I was sitting in a park with my two 4&5 year old nieces taking pictures from 100 feet away and they called the cops on us. Now, I admit that my nieces can be a terror sometimes, but they really aren't a danger to those big strong boys runnin' the choo choos... ;- ) The cop was REALLY mad and said that the city was getting very angry with the railroad for calling them every time they saw someone with a camera. He said the department was considering bringing "false reporting" charges against them if they kept it up. He said they get more than a dozen calls a week from the local crew, mostly from their cell phones. He said they wouldn't mind if there was really something suspicious going on, but they get the same calls on the same people in the same park constantly...
    Don Phillips has written a couple of good articles about this in Trains Magazine. In the first one, he shared his "concern" for some of the over reactions of the railroads, like KCS's public statement that they were going to go after railfans and anyone they saw near their property. They figured anyone with more than a casual interest in railroading was a potential terrorist. A terrorist isn't going to drive up near a yard in a red Chevy, get out with a bunch of camera around his neck, stick around for hours and take photos of every diesel that passes by. What would be the point? Just go get a street map and some satellite photos off the internet and you've got all you need. Geez, UP even has complete yard blueprints you can download off their website... Besides that, you can spend $39 for Microsoft Streets and Trips software and have the location of every railroad bridge in the United States. Maybe they should go after Microsoft for aiding the terrorists...
    It is just an excuse to harass the "foamers" as all my RR employee family and friends insist. I have never seen a railfan spray paint RR equipment, I have never seen a railfan vandalize a switch stand to derail a train, I have never seen a railfan smash a loco window to see if there is anything to steal inside. I have, though, seen railfans call the police when they see others doing these things (myself included). Seems the railroads would be better off enlisting the railfan community to help watch for suspicious activity like a bunch or people sneaking around a bridge, stringing wire instead of a couple of cute little girls snapping pictures of trains with their "Blues Clues" camera...
    ("Looky that Clem, we gots ourselves a coupla' blonde haired, blue eyed, freckle faced terrorist child operatives takin' our pi'ture for a probable invasion of our property by their nefarious forces. Better call for backup, though I think we tough guys can take 'em--you git the 4 year old and I'll take on the 5 year old...") Sigh..."

    Sorry for the rant and thanks for listening, I left a nickel in the can...:rolleyes: ;)

    Tom F
  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Frankly,I am going to continue to railfan.I will do this my using known railfan sites and will report any and all unusual acts that I see as I have done in the past. Thankfully most cops and train crews see me and know I am not a terrorist. I did have a run in with a rookie cop here in town but another officer and follow club member explain to the rookie that I was on public property and not NS property. A misunderstanding by the rookie and his zeal to do his job. I hold no ill feelings toward this rookie officer...

    I think our local boys in blue does a fine job of keeping this small city under control..
  6. tomfassett

    tomfassett Member

    I think the "boys in blue" pretty much do a great job of keeping the peace everywhere...
    I have gotten into the habit of introducing myself to any of the local PD (or park rangers) whenever I see them (when I am out railfanning--especially if I plan to go "offroad" or out in the boonies). I offer to show them my ID on the spot for their "peace of mind" if anything should come up. They decline the offer but every one that I have spoken to says they appreciate the consideration and the "heads up" as to my intentions and whereabouts if a call should come in...

    Tom F
  7. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Here is some official CSX propganda on the issue...

    Dear Fellow Railroader,

    Yesterday, the FBI issued a warning to state and local law enforcement agencies that the U.S. railroads could be the target of a terrorist attack. We have been in contact with the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Security Administration and the intelligence community. As a result, CSX and the rail industry are operating at a heightened state of alert.

    Since the tragedies of September 11, we have periodically reminded employees to be observant about their surroundings and report any suspicious persons or activities.

    Your vigilance is now particularly important.

    No one is allowed on CSX property or locomotives without proper identification. Anyone entering our property must identify himself or herself as an employee, contractor, federal or state inspector (FRA, NTSB, Public Utilities Commission, etc.) and must have the proper identification. You should immediately report anyone without proper identification or any suspicious activity by contacting your local supervisor or the CSXT Police Communications Center at 1-800-232-0144.

    It's easy to allow current events to distract us. Now more than ever, our nation needs the transportation services we provide. Let's all stay focused on safety and service, while being vigilant about security.

    Thanks for your help,

    Al Crown
    Executive Vice-President - Transportation

    Got this off the CSX Louisville Division webpage. What do you guys think?
  8. tomfassett

    tomfassett Member

    I think this is appropriate and should have been the "norm" all along. Obviously, someone walking around in a yard or crawling on equipment BETTER have a good reason to be there...:rolleyes:
    My only beef is when railroads try to stop or inhibit activities such as train watching or photography on PUBLIC property (which has happened all too often of late...). If I am sitting in a public park (which I pay for through taxes), watching trains and taking photographs, I don't appreciate being told to "move on" by railroad police (as has happened twice now). Once, I was over 100 feet from RR property and with my two little nieces. I just think that some of the over zealous RR security people would be serving their employer's interests (as well as the interests of the country) much better if they spent more time watching sensitive areas instead of sitting in their car watching for railfans in a very public park... I am not complaining about all RR security people, the vast majority of them are highly competent and do a fantastic job. I guess I am disappointed in the railroads themselves for not discouraging more, this type of "bad public relations" and waste of limited security personnel.

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