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Old 01-26-2010, 01:19 PM   #1
Scolagiaco
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 11
Default Railfanning gone totally bad.

Amtrak Police and station personel are not letting visitors(non-ticketed passengars) near the trains at most stations. I found out the hard way over the weekend during my once a year major railfanning expedition. I started out at my hometown in kissimmee and headed north to Folkston and then back over the span of 4 days.
Just last year, I had no problem at all being on Amtrak property both at Jacksonville and the Sanford Auto-train stations. At the Jacksonville station, I usually camp near the south end of the station platform with a good view of the trains leaving Moncrief going north. It took less than 30 seconds after I passed through the waiting room and out the door when a station employee came running after me and chased me out. He told me that nobody is allowed on the platform until the train pulls into the station, and then you must have a ticket to be on the platform...PERIOD! I didnt challenge him at all, I just said, "Sorry sir, I didnt know" He then recognized me and his mood backed down a bit. "You come by here once in a while, right?" and I just replied yes. He calmly mentioned that the rules have changed here in JAX, no longer railfan friendly no matter who you are. All passengars must wait in the waiting room, the conductor will meet ticketed passengars in the waiting room where the conductor will then check your ticket and send you out to board the train.
Same goes for Sanford Auto train station, but my visit became alot worse. Its been a few years since I visited the autotrain station in Sanford, and I left Folkston early enough to where I would be in Sanford around 3pm, just in time to catch the switching action and departure from the station. When I first pulled in, I told the employee at the check in booth I was just here to do some railfanning and he let me through and instructed me where to park as usual, no biggie. I was excited to be there cause it has been a couple years, I know some of the station train crews that work at Sanford, and If im early enough, they let me ride in the engine as they are putting the train together. I scoped out the switch engine for a second and didnt recognize the engineer, so no cabride today. I did know the conductor but I couldnt get his attention. I then walked away and started heading to check out the 2 P42's at the north end of the station as usual. Now, get this. I walked passed 5 station employees, 1 Seminole county sherriff officer(he was just hanging out watching the trains to, LOL), the engineer taking P052 north, and a station clerk. NONE of them said a word to me, and trust me, I didnt look like a passengar. Big scoped camera, a motorola handheld 2-way railroad radio, and no carry-on or luggage. I walked right passed the P-42's, onto the gravel and sat down on a tree stump. Perfect view of the engines, I even got wave and a pose from the engineer as he was boarding the engine and I had my camera on him the whole time. A few minutes later, a voice came over the PA system, "Would the owner of the black mustang please report back to your vehicle at once!" That would be me, and I was thinking, "whats up now?!?" Anyway, I went back to my car, nobody was there so I headed into the station waiting area, but before I even got close, an Amtrak Police officer and that Seminole county sherriff officer came walking out and both headed right for me. The amtrak officer asked me what I was doing here. I was polite and I just said that I was watching. Watching? he asked me. And I said, "Yes, watching, railfanning." He drilled me with question after question and then my radio started going nuts and the sherriff looked at my radio which I had layed down it down on top of a trash can cover so I could get my ID out for the Amtrak officer. He asked me what kind of radio it is, and I told him its a motorola csx radio that I bought on ebay 2 years ago. That statement got the Amtrak officer's attention EXTREMELY FAST!!!!! "How did you get that!?!? I said on Ebay, for $50 dollars. He asked, "Does it transmit?" I said, yes, I beleive so but I dont use it, I just like the fact that its range distance is great, and I can hear more chatter than a scanner can. The Amtrak officer asked me if I realized that I just broke a few laws and I can be arrested right here, right now for having it in my possesion. I said to him, Sir, honestly, I didnt think anything of it. I bought the radio, it needed some things replaced on it in order for it to work, like the antenna because it was torn and about ready to break off, and the battery was bad, so I bought a charger, new antenna and a new battery as well from the same guy that sold the radio to me on ebay. Long story short, no harm, no foul, he took the radio from me, called the CSX police, took down all my info, banned me from the station unless I have a ticket to travel on Amtrak and he said that goes for all your railfan buddies so spread the word, 0 tolerance. So all and all I lost the radio, $200 bucks I invested on getting it to work just so I can hear the trains better, and my pride.
So, to everyone, if your railfan plans include the JAX and Sanford Amtrak stations, take them off your list, they dont want us railfans there at all....unless you pay to be there....
I'll miss it alot.

Scott
Kissimmee, FL
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