Rail Safety for Enthusiasts - A Guide

Details of movements for train spotters and photographers.
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Kevin Wilson-Smith
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Rail Safety for Enthusiasts - A Guide

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The guide.......
Rail Enthusiast Safety v001.pdf
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John Ashworth
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Post by John Ashworth »

Just found the following on the website of the British Transport Police. It's written in very different circumstances to ours. British railways are completely fenced, trains run at up to 300 kph, and no unauthorised person is ever allowed anywhere near the permanent way except on station platforms and level crossings. Photographing trains from the platform is very popular, but since 9/11 and the bombs in London, Madrid and elsewhere the authorities have become paranoid about people taking photos of potential "terrorist" targets, including railways. This has led to some heavy-handed clampdowns, which in turn has led to a fight back by railway enthusiasts (and others, including aircraft enthusiasts), which in turn has led to the BTP issuing the following directive. As readers of UK railway magazines and discussion boards will know, it still hasn't filtered down to all the local jobsworths, but many railway enthusiasts now carry a copy with them which they brandish when accosted by over-zealous functionaries.

Guidelines for rail enthusiasts

Advice for Rail Enthusiasts visiting stations on the National Rail network

All Britain's Train Operating Companies and Network Rail welcome rail enthusiasts to their stations. The following guidelines are designed to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience in the pursuit of your interest.

Before you enter the platform

At major stations please inform the Duty Station Manager of your presence. This will ensure that station staff are aware that you are on the station and they can go about their duties without concern as to your reasons for being there. At smaller stations you should ensure that you advise a member of the station staff of your activities.

You may require a platform ticket to allow access to platforms.

On the station platform

You should ensure you act safely and sensibly at all times. Please remember the following:

* Stay clear of the platform edge and behind the yellow lines where they are provided for safety reasons.
* Do not trespass onto any area of the railway that is not available to passengers.
* Do not climb on any structure or interfere with platform equipment.
* Ensure that you do not obstruct any signalling equipment or signs which are vital to the safe running of the railways.
* Avoid wearing anything which is similar in colour to safety clothing, such as high -visibility jackets, as this could cause confusion to drivers or other railway employees.
* Avoid congregating at busy areas of the platform (e.g. customer information points, departure screens, waiting areas, seating etc.) or where this may interfere with the duties of station staff.
* Be aware of your surroundings. We also kindly ask you take note of any unusual behaviour and activities and report anything suspicious to a member of staff or for more serious incidents, to the British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40. In an emergency, dial 999. Your presence at the station can be very helpful to us as extra "eyes and ears" and can be a positive security benefit.


Taking photographs on stations is permitted providing it is for personal use. For any commercial photography, prior permission must be sought from the appropriate train operator or, from Network Rail at their 17 major stations. On busy stations the use of a tripod may cause a dangerous obstruction to passengers and you may be asked not to use one. In addition, tripod legs must also be kept away from platform edges and behind the yellow lines. Flash photography on platforms is not allowed as it may distract the attention of train drivers and train despatch staff and is therefore a potential safety hazard. You are also not allowed to take photographs of security related equipment such as CCTV cameras.

Railway Byelaws

To ensure ease of travel and safety on the railway system (which includes passengers, staff, property and equipment), the Byelaws must be observed by everyone. A copy of the Byelaws can be obtained at most staffed stations and is downloadable from the SRA website.


A key priority for Train Operators is to ensure the safety of their passengers and staff. You may very occasionally be asked by station staff to move to another part of the station or to leave the station altogether. Station staff should be happy to explain why this is necessary and if you are travelling on by train they may advise you to remain in the normal waiting areas with other passengers. If this occurs, please do so with goodwill as staff have many things to consider including the safety and security of all passengers and are authorised to use judgement in this regard.

Thank you for reading and complying with these guidelines. We hope you find this information useful when you next visit a station.

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