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View Full Version : UP Bans Photography from Metra Stations in the Chicago Area


NicTrain35
08-18-2006, 12:36 AM
CHICAGO - Union Pacific Railroad has announced that with the recent increase in security concerns across the United States, it will no longer allow photography of trains from Metra station platforms in the Chicago area. Metra is the region's commuter-train agency.

"We recognize that railroad fans can be our eyes and ears out there," said UP spokesman Mark Davis. "But we live in different times. The number one concern for Union Pacific is the safety of everyone. Right now, and since 9/11, security has been heightened and increased. This is part of that effort." Davis added that, "This stuff about UP not liking railfans is not true. But we have to be as safe and secure as we can."

Metra was pulled into the photography-rights controversy last year when two railroad fans were detained by Morton Grove, Ill., municipal police and Metra police while photographing trains from the public train-boarding platforms at town's Metra station. That route, the Milwaukee District North Line, is owned by Metra. Union Pacific owns the property on its three commuter routes, and UP employees operate the trains under contract to Metra.

After the glare of publicity enveloped the Motron Grove incident, Metra recanted its position and publicly reversed its stance, saying it would allow photography of trains from its stations.

Metra spokesman Tom Miller today told Trains News Wire that as long as people are in areas accessible to the public, are acting in a safe manner, and are willing to provide identification if asked by authorities, that Metra has no problem with them taking photos. "But as far as the UP policy, we have no comment on that," Miller said.

UP might be on shaky legal ground if it attempts to enforce its ban. Attorney Walter Zullig, who did legal work for New York's Metro North Commuter Railroad, today told Trains News Wire, "There is nothing in statute that prohibits photography from public areas. There is no federal law on this, and nothing from Homeland Security. The U.S. Supreme Court considers photography a part of free speech protected under the First Amendment."

In a column that will appear in the October 2006 issue of TRAINS Magazine, Zullig writes that research has not turned up any state law on the subject in existence anywhere. According to Zullig, railfans have the legal and constitutional right to photograph whatever they please from locations "open to the public," which would seem to include Metra and other passenger-train-boarding platforms.

Maryland's MTA rapid-transit and commuter-train system has a photo ban on MARC commuter trains, which run on CSX and Amtrak trackage, as well as the Baltimore subway and light-rail systems, but Zullig believes there is no legal basis for the ban and is attempting to get MTA to explain its legal basis for it.

Both the New York City Transit Agency, which operates the city's vast subway system, and New Jersey Transit, which operates commuter trains and bus and trolley lines throughout the Garden State, attempted to adopt photography bans but withdrew their proposals after a flood of negative comments and threatened lawuits on constitutional grounds.

Public financial support of transit and commuter facilities may or may not have any bearing on the legality of such bans. In the Union Pacific instance, UP, a private railroad, contracts with Metra, a public entity, to provide the commuter-train service, on three routes out of Chicago. Metra uses tax money to fund the service and maintain the station facilities, including the train-boarding platforms.

This information was obtained from the Trains.com forums.

SamD
08-18-2006, 01:05 AM
Since, from what I understand, the stations on the UP-owned lines are owned by Metra, UP really can't dictate policy for them. And even if they could... well.

UP policy or no, I'm not going to stop taking pictures from my local Metra station, and if UP tries to stop me I will burry them in bad press.

NicTrain35
08-18-2006, 01:08 AM
Edited post

SamD
08-18-2006, 01:37 AM
Real interesting, but considering how fast Metra did an about-face when they tried this, I'm pretty confident in what the end result will be.

Joe the Photog
08-18-2006, 01:40 AM
The only part I don't understand is about being on station platforms. Is this an area where people who are not riding Metra or working for Metra can be? If not, then it seems on the outset that maybe UP isn't on as shaky ground as it seems. Note that UP obvisouly is not saying you can't photograph from public grade crossings or anything.


Joe

NicTrain35
08-18-2006, 01:45 AM
Edited post

SamD
08-18-2006, 01:56 AM
The only part I don't understand is about being on station platforms. Is this an area where people who are not riding Metra or working for Metra can be? If not, then it seems on the outset that maybe UP isn't on as shaky ground as it seems. Note that UP obvisouly is not saying you can't photograph from public grade crossings or anything.

You would be correct that if UP owns the platforms, they can say who can and can not be there... but (and this is why its not a cut and dry issue), I believe the platforms are owned by Metra, in which case Metra is the agency that sets policy for them. I could be wrong, and the Metra stations along the UP lines are in fact owned by the UP and operated under the same type of agreement they have for other services UP provides Metra. But I believe that they're mantained with Metra funds, and if so, UP is over-reaching with such a dictate. Since this story says Metra is not changing its policy, I'm not changing anything until I get clairification that UP isn't just blowing smoke with this.

J. E. Landrum
08-18-2006, 02:28 AM
This sounds more like a case of "CYA". If there is an attack on UP property, the finger pointing that inevitably takes place afterwards will consist of questions like "what security measures did you have in place before the attack?" UP can point at this policy and say "we tried", even if the policy is perfunctory.

CG_F45
08-18-2006, 02:37 AM
(Duplicate post) Oops...

CG_F45
08-18-2006, 02:38 AM
Honestly, I could care less if the UP or Metra bans photography from their stations. I'll just walk a block from the station to some grade crossing or something...no big deal! :lol:

NicTrain35
08-18-2006, 03:06 AM
I'll just walk a block from the station to some grade crossing or something...no big deal!
That's what I was going to say. Good idea.

fuente1
08-18-2006, 03:34 AM
Oh well.....too many Metra photos on this site anyway. They are doing us all a favor and I am sending METRA a thank you letter tommorow.

cmherndon
08-18-2006, 03:37 AM
Oh well.....too many Metra photos on this site anyway. They are doing us all a favor.

Funny you should mention that...

I was riding to Ashland with a friend this morning and we were discussing this on the way. We came to the same conclusion you did. The age old question, "How many shots of Metra does one need to see before they all look alike?" came up.

photogeek88
08-18-2006, 03:40 AM
I've been given s**t by the UP cops downtown at Northwestern Station before, especially this last winter and spring, and I don't care much about that venue being taken away from me, at least until I get that 50mm f1.8 lens! I'm gonna keep taking my pictures out in Geneva and Elburn though - and I know for a fact that the La Fox and Elburn stations were paid for with my tax dollars! Viva la resistance!

Ween
08-18-2006, 03:48 AM
A+ for UP!

BNSF: We Welcome Railfans!
UP: Piss Off Picture-takers!

Just another reason...

CG_F45
08-18-2006, 04:13 AM
"How many shots of Metra does one need to see before they all look alike?" came up.

Well, as a Chicagoan, I can honselty say I have seen and shot enough Metras to make me want to puke! :-D

Nick, thank you!

fuente1
08-18-2006, 04:20 AM
Well, as a Chicagoan, I can honselty say I have seen and shot enough Metras to make me want to puke! :-D

Nick, thank you!


NO offense to anyone who loves Metra but its friggin boring. The thank you letter is written and going out next day FedEx with Saturday delivery in the morning. :lol:

Chris Kilroy
08-18-2006, 04:44 AM
I'll agree with the general consensus here RE: Metra photos. If you're out shooting a Metra train on the racetrack west of Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter, it's pretty much gotta be perfect to get it past me when I'm screening.

Ru1056
08-18-2006, 06:21 AM
This sounds more like a case of "CYA". If there is an attack on UP property, the finger pointing that inevitably takes place afterwards will consist of questions like "what security measures did you have in place before the attack?" UP can point at this policy and say "we tried", even if the policy is perfunctory.

That is probably the best answer I have heard on this whole debate ( I even went to the forums at Trains.com...interesting). This will probably be handled by lawyers, since UP and Metra have contracts covering these areas. The "No comment" from Metra seems to indicate Metra does not totally agree with UP.

Public financial support of transit and commuter facilities may or may not have any bearing on the legality of such bans.

Public or private financing has no bearing on legality of the ban.

A+ for UP!

BNSF: We Welcome Railfans!
UP: Piss Off Picture-takers!

Just another reason...


It would really be a shame to stash all the heratige units in a Metra station. :twisted:

SamD
08-18-2006, 06:46 AM
I guess its just me, but I've loved Metra since before I can remember and don't get tired of looking pictures of Metra trains. Strip-nose F40s, cab cars, gallery cars... granted the new ones don't have half the character of the old ones, and the flat-siders are gone, but even still... I think Metra is the only railroad on the top list in the photo submission menue that I routinely search for in the database to see what new pics have been added. But that's just me.

Switched out
08-18-2006, 01:44 PM
This sounds more like a case of "CYA". If there is an attack on UP property, the finger pointing that inevitably takes place afterwards will consist of questions like "what security measures did you have in place before the attack?" UP can point at this policy and say "we tried", even if the policy is perfunctory.And the next question would be

"Did any one get any photgraphs of the attackers we can use to track them down?"

Response

"Arrrr No"

"Why not?"

"We banned the general public from taking photographs!"

http://smilies.sofrayt.com/%5E/k/peepwall.gif

CG_F45
08-18-2006, 03:08 PM
I'll agree with the general consensus here RE: Metra photos. If you're out shooting a Metra train on the racetrack west of Chicago, or anywhere else for that matter, it's pretty much gotta be perfect to get it past me when I'm screening.

Sounds good to me.... :-) Whenever I go to submit a Metra photo my dad always jokes "they should reject that for being so boring!"

busyEMT
08-18-2006, 03:15 PM
I suppose these days are long gone...

[photoid=13108]

NSFan14
08-18-2006, 05:21 PM
I Thank That Rule Is Stupid They Need To Pay More Attention To Them PUNX Out There Like Grafftist Well To Me It Seems Like Railfanz Get In Trouble More Then Graffitist We Love Trainz So Why Would We Do Something Bad Like That

rpalmer
08-18-2006, 10:13 PM
Oh well.....too many Metra photos on this site anyway. They are doing us all a favor and I am sending METRA a thank you letter tommorow.

AMEN !

Be sure and send a copy to BNSF, suggesting that they implement the same policy on their line.

fuente1
08-18-2006, 10:55 PM
AMEN !

Be sure and send a copy to BNSF, suggesting that they implement the same policy on their line.

I will do that on Monday. Shooting Metra would be similar to me going out and taking 90 pictures on a Saturday of the new Charlotte light rail system....boringggggg. There are alot better railroads out there to shoot. Seen one Metra, seen em all!

I am not sure why folks are having troubles taking photos of trains and where these bans come from, down here in the South we have no problems. I guess folks are just more friendly down here. Matter fact I have been waved too by NS and local police departments almost every weekend I railfan.

trainmonster
08-19-2006, 12:16 AM
I just keep a scanner on all the time-I get called in, I'm outta there... just don't want the hassle.

Those of you that don't care because Metra is boring miss the point. In this upcoming police state, you guys out there need to make a public hue and cry.

So far here in Pa. we've been OK but where I go is in the sticks.

Rich

Ru1056
08-19-2006, 12:17 AM
PUNX

Who's reporting marks are those?

hoydie17
08-19-2006, 12:37 AM
In this upcoming police state, you guys out there need to make a public hue and cry.


***YAWN.***

fuente1
08-19-2006, 03:41 AM
I just keep a scanner on all the time-I get called in, I'm outta there... just don't want the hassle.

Those of you that don't care because Metra is boring miss the point. In this upcoming police state, you guys out there need to make a public hue and cry.

So far here in Pa. we've been OK but where I go is in the sticks.

Rich


Im not sure where all this is going on, down South we never have any problems with this type of stuff. Must be a regional problem. NS could care less about people taking photos, they are too busy keeping their trains on time! And btw, I know I said METRA is boring, but its moreso the type of photos that are often uploaded to make it boring. There are some photos of Metra that I actually clicked on. The wedges of this above ground subway make it lame.

a231pacific
08-19-2006, 05:11 PM
Originally Posted by trainmonster
In this upcoming police state, you guys out there need to make a public hue and cry.

Posted by Hoydie17
***YAWN.***

Consider this:
The English philosopher Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing."

Ween
08-19-2006, 06:33 PM
If you're worried about the upcoming police state, just remember back to WW 2 where the amount of driving you could do was limited because of gas rationing or when you had to blackout your lights at night to avoid helping the enemy find a target. People actually sacrificed some freedoms to help the country...imagine if that mentality were around today...

hoydie17
08-19-2006, 08:10 PM
Consider this: The English philosopher Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing."


Good men are not sitting by with idle hands complaining on an internet forum. Good men are out exercising their rights as photographers and citizens of this great country. For every right you don't take advantage of is one they (The Police State) will justify taking away.

Consider your point considered.

Sean

a231pacific
08-19-2006, 08:12 PM
The constitution gives you freedom of speech and expression, it doesn't give you freedom to waste gas! In WWII, people sacrificed their material well being for the good of the country. Today, we are being asked to sacrifice our constitutional rights, but our leaders are not asking for any sacrifices that might actually make us uncomfortable.

I support real security measures that will actually make us safer, but I don't support phony measures designed just to make it look like someone is doing something. Anyone scoping out a Metra station is not going to be carrying a 35mm camera, they will have a cell phone or a palm video recorder or a lipstick cam that the guards will never see. But photos taken by a railfan just might be useful after the fact, should an incident ever occur.

Ru1056
08-19-2006, 09:02 PM
The constitution gives you freedom of speech and expression, it doesn't give you freedom to waste gas! In WWII, people sacrificed their material well being for the good of the country. Today, we are being asked to sacrifice our constitutional rights,

How is UP (a private company) banning photography from Metra stations (private property) violating your constitutional rights?

Anyone scoping out a Metra station is not going to be carrying a 35mm camera, they will have a cell phone or a palm video recorder or a lipstick cam that the guards will never see.

And terrorists will not fly planes into our buildings either.

fuente1
08-19-2006, 09:43 PM
How is UP (a private company) banning photography from Metra stations (private property) violating your constitutional rights?



And terrorists will not fly planes into our buildings either.

I agree, quit whining. Metra is probably like the majority of RP members, tired of seeing pictures of their RR on RP! Heres an idea for you guys, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE TO TAKE PHOTOS. There are 100's of miles of railroad to photograph up there. Its not illegal per-say to take a bottled coke on an airplane right now, but they wont let you do it. Things could be alot worse for photographers guys, just find somewhere else to shoot photos.

SamD
08-19-2006, 09:50 PM
How is UP (a private company) banning photography from Metra stations (private property) violating your constitutional rights?

And terrorists will not fly planes into our buildings either.


A fair point. However, I fail to see how banning photography will stop terrorists from taking pictures of potential targets. I mean, they're not exactly known for their deep respect for the law.

If there's a ban, they'll still be out there, and if they get caught they'll pretend to be ignorant tourists or (God help us) railfans, and likely no one will put two and two together until after the fact. I can understand the scrutiny placed on people taking pictures of "sensitive" subjects, which is why I have no problem with police or security personal doing field interviews of photographers to find out what they’re about, and get their information for further investigation if something doesn’t seem right. But a policy like this penalizes the innocent while doing nothing to prevent terrorism. That’s just bad policy.

Also, regarding the constitutional issue, while UP may be a private company, Metra stations are, to the best of my knowledge, public areas in which banning photography would raise a definite 1st amendment question. Furthermore, any attempt to enforce the policy using UP police would throw the “private company” thing right out the window, because railroad police are sworn law enforcement personal, and are therefore under the same rules and constitutional obligations as municipal or state police.

Again, that’s all based on my understanding of Metra stations being public areas, which is probably a fairly contentious question.

Ween
08-19-2006, 10:02 PM
The English philosopher Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for the triumph [of evil] is for good men to do nothing."

Using this quote allows the door to swing both ways:

1) For railfans, not protesting the ban leads to more 'constitutional rights' being taken away in the long run

-OR-

2) Not banning photography is UP/METRA/Whoever sitting on their laurels potentially allowing an attack that might otherwise be prevented.

Dang, I hate it when a cure-all quote can be used by both sides of an arguement!

Ru1056
08-19-2006, 10:02 PM
A fair point. However, I fail to see how banning photography will stop terrorists from taking pictures of potential targets. I mean, they're not exactly known for their deep respect for the law.

I agree too, just bringing another perspective to the table. Most of the responses seem to be that railfans are picked on, and the "Woe is us, we can't take pictures" crap. But as a former mass transit employee, I can say that people taking pictures are always looked at a little longer...right or wrong as that may be.

Metra stations are, to the best of my knowledge, public areas in which banning photography would raise a definite 1st amendment question. .

It's not the place its the person that is doing the action in question. You can be in a city park lawfully demonstrating and a private citizen can attempt to tape your mouth shut with duct tape. You can have the person arrested on criminal charges, or sue them civily, but not for a violation of civil rights. Have a police officer take you into custody for lawfully demonstrating, or try to tape your mouth shut, and you have a civil rights issue. (among all that other crap I listed)

SamD
08-19-2006, 10:47 PM
as a former mass transit employee, I can say that people taking pictures are always looked at a little longer...right or wrong as that may be.

On that, I have no problem. I in no way see it as a violation of my rights to have my activities placed under scrunity, or be (politely) questioned as to what I'm doing, be it by police, railroad/transit workers, or reguler people. And I also tend to have the eye-roll reaction when I hear people complain about this sort of contact ("the police officer ran my DL and took down my information! The police state is here!").

Ru1056
08-20-2006, 03:53 AM
And I also tend to have the eye-roll reaction when I hear people complain about this sort of contact ("the police officer ran my DL and took down my information! The police state is here!").

I think some people need to re-line the aluminum foil in their hat.

Just a part of railfannin I guess, it will happen time to time.

SD70MACMAN
08-20-2006, 04:31 AM
Here, here SamD!!!

I agree, YAY NO MORE METRA PICTURES! Maybe photography of BNSF H2 dash-9s will be banned next *crosses fingers*

This could be put in the category of progress for progress sake. As long as someone appears to be doing something, it can be called "preventative" to terrorism. Im also getting sick of hearing that "we live in different times" stuff. I may be nieve citizen, but I dont see how banning photography of commuter trains improves the safety and security of this nation.

Today, we are being asked to sacrifice our constitutional rights, but our leaders are not asking for any sacrifices that might actually make us uncomfortable.

Like hell I'm giving up any Constitutional rights and I think Americans are fools to let that happen. The Constitution is what defines America.

The USAPATRIOT is a little scary

photogeek88
08-20-2006, 04:45 AM
Apparently Metra's not THAT unpopular with the screeners...anyone seen the most recent Screener's Choice? :lol:

I leave my favorite Founding Father to give the send-off:

Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

-Benjamin Franklin

SD70MACMAN
08-20-2006, 04:52 AM
Thats because Benjamin Franklin is one pimpin' Founding Father! 8)

SamD
08-20-2006, 05:48 AM
Thats because Benjamin Franklin is one pimpin' Founding Father! 8)

I hear in France they called him "Papa Ben" :-D

photogeek88
08-20-2006, 06:34 AM
The French chicks loved him too...:rolleyes: