Old 03-13-2009, 11:00 PM   #1
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Default Amtrak bans photographers from station platforms

Published: Thursday, March 12, 2009
WASHINGTON - Amtrak has released a new photography policy that bans photographers without tickets from station platforms. The policy, which comes in the wake of an embarrassing case of photographer harassment in New York's Penn Station, was hashed out with input from the National Press Photographer's Association.

The guidelines specifically permit photography in "public access areas" on Amtrak property, which it defines as "[a]n area open to general public access and occupancy that is not otherwise posted or restricted by posted signs or locking devices." However, it specifically states that station platforms are for ticketed passengers only. For their part, ticketed passengers will be able to take photos from station platforms while preparing to board a train or immediately after getting off one.

Walter Zullig, a regional vice president for the National Railway Historical Society and an attorney, lambasted the new policy in an interview with TRAINS News Wire today. "It's been done to enhance their legal position," Zullig said. "It does not help at all enhancing railroad photography, and I think it's really a poor way to treat your best friends."

Zullig said the NRHS encourages members to railfan from station platforms because they're safe. The new Amtrak policy, though, apparently will unreasonably prohibit that in most cases. "We can understand it in a place like Penn Station in New York or Union Station in Washington or 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, where they control access to the platform," Zullig said. "But they've written this in a way that could apply to Truckee, Calif. It's overkill."

Zullig said his group will push to get Amtrak to change the policy.

An Amtrak spokesman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.





Next they'll probably say we can't take photos of their logo...

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Old 03-14-2009, 01:19 AM   #2
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Geesh.

It especially bugs me that this policy had input from the National Press Photographers Association but not from anyone representing the interested of other photographers.
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Old 03-14-2009, 02:22 PM   #3
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I was thinking last night, there could be some problems with the way it's written...

In my case, 75% of the time I'm on a platform to take pictures, it's because I'm (a) waiting to pick someone up from the train or (b) waiting with someone else who's taking the train somewhere. The way it's worded, because I don't have a ticket, I can't be there. The other 25% of the time I'm shooting from platforms, I'm waiting for the Virginia Railway Express - but the CSX platform is shared between Amtrak and the VRE so often Amtrak stops on the other track while I'm waiting. If they wanted to be hard-nosed, they could probably say my VRE ticket isn't an "Amtrak" ticket, and therefore I violate the Amtrak policy.

I've stopped shooting from this platform other times because the local PD has (more politely but same idea) said to "get lost" because of loitering; while it isn't a manned station, the local PD does patrol from time to time, and occasionally when the trains stop, conductors will ask what you're doing and why you're there, but they usually leave it at that.
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Old 03-14-2009, 03:27 PM   #4
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You shoot at Alexandria VA?
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Old 03-15-2009, 03:16 AM   #5
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Hopefully this is just another one of those things that is in the books but never gets enforced...

Just like the law here in ND that prohibits you from lying down and falling asleep with your shoes on...

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Old 03-15-2009, 04:48 AM   #6
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Just like the law here in ND that prohibits you from lying down and falling asleep with your shoes on...
Next time I pass through ND, I'll make sure you're nicked!
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Old 03-15-2009, 05:43 PM   #7
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Before everyone freaks out it specifical says areas open to the public. The ONLY bit about ticketed passengers is areas that require passage through a gate that requires a ticket in the first place.

So for 99% of the Amtrak stations anyone can walk on the platforms without a ticket and you will be fine.

To me it makes sense it FINALLY puts something in black and white for everyone to use.
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Old 03-15-2009, 06:05 PM   #8
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[quote=Bob Pickering;85318]Before everyone freaks out it specifical says areas open to the public. The ONLY bit about ticketed passengers is areas that require passage through a gate that requires a ticket in the first place.
QUOTE]

Would this include such stops as Chicago Union and DC I assume these would fall under the gated situation? Would stops along the Cailfornia Zepher like Creston,Osceola be ok to shoot at ?
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Old 03-15-2009, 08:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Pickering View Post
Before everyone freaks out it specifical says areas open to the public. The ONLY bit about ticketed passengers is areas that require passage through a gate that requires a ticket in the first place.

So for 99% of the Amtrak stations anyone can walk on the platforms without a ticket and you will be fine.

To me it makes sense it FINALLY puts something in black and white for everyone to use.
Bob, you're missing it. Here's what you're referring to:

Quote:
The guidelines specifically permit photography in "public access areas" on Amtrak property, which it defines as "[a]n area open to general public access and occupancy that is not otherwise posted or restricted by posted signs or locking devices."
But the next sentence says:

Quote:
However, it specifically states that station platforms are for ticketed passengers only.
Looks pretty black and white to me. If you're on the platform, gate or no gate, without a ticket, you can't take a photo.

I think Amtrak's PR department is going to be working overtime in the coming days...poor move on their part.
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Old 03-15-2009, 09:18 PM   #10
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My question now is if I set up at Osceola in the grass next to the platform would i still be in violation of the new rule? Such a shot like this one?
Im in the grass but near the platform
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:10 AM   #11
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I still don't get why Amtrak doesn't want us to take pictures...
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Old 03-16-2009, 01:16 AM   #12
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Quote:
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Looks pretty black and white to me. If you're on the platform, gate or no gate, without a ticket, you can't take a photo.
Excellent! No more boring wedgie shots from station platforms!

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Old 03-16-2009, 01:35 AM   #13
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The point has been made on many, many other boards that most of these platforms are not Amtrak property. Penn Station NYC, Chicago Union Station, South Station Boston, DC Union Station are specifically Amtrak property and seem to be what they are talking about... but I'm not personally convinced.
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:10 AM   #14
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Excellent! No more boring wedgie shots from station platforms!

Ahh, Steven Welch is in trouble.

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Old 03-16-2009, 02:27 AM   #15
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The point has been made on many, many other boards that most of these platforms are not Amtrak property. Penn Station NYC, Chicago Union Station, South Station Boston, DC Union Station are specifically Amtrak property and seem to be what they are talking about... but I'm not personally convinced.
I think that is what there talking about as well.
It sounds like you have to contact the PR and set up a time ect. I do hope they make things more clearer.
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Old 03-16-2009, 03:54 AM   #16
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You shoot at Alexandria VA?
No, Fredericksburg mostly. Sometimes down to Roanoke, VA or L'Enfant/Union Station if I take a trip up to DC on the VRE.

My usual non-station location is in the park near Mead's Pyramid but that's overgrown sometimes, and the trees make it hard to catch anything with good lighting.

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Old 03-16-2009, 04:40 AM   #17
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Oh, OK, farther south than I was guessing. I don't get down there; only 'fanned south of Springfield/Manassas once, years ago.
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Old 03-16-2009, 12:01 PM   #18
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I still don't get why Amtrak doesn't want us to take pictures...
When you see a rule that says photography is OK for ticketed passengers and not OK for everyone else....AND....they aren't controlling access to the platforms with some sort of security screening, it sounds more spiteful than rational. I'm not a Lawyer, so I have no idea how well such a rule would ever hold up in court.

Fortunately, I've never had ANY inclination to take pictures of Amtrak Trains anyway
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Old 03-16-2009, 02:16 PM   #19
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Again for 99% of the stations Amtrak serves, most are not even owned by Amtrak I doubt that the Amtrak Police are going to come get you. They do not have the staff for that for starters.

I feel this is targeting the big stations (where gates prevent you from getting to a platform in the first place.)

One this is for sure...we will eventually find out.
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