Railfan safety It is all our business

Jim Wiggin Jun 9, 2006

  1. BugNerd

    BugNerd TrainBoard Member

  2. VegasRails

    VegasRails New Member

    There's a lot of good ideas dealing with safety in our hobby you have to be safe for our hobby is harzardous.
    When ever I go out I always let someone know where I'm going and a estimated return time. The trip can be either short into local neighborhoods to catch a train or further out in one of the deserts but I always keep people in the loop. Reason being here in Las Vegas train do not travel through the best part of town and the deserts are deadly.
    I carry two nylon bags in the truck with me at all times, containing a first aid kit, water which I replace upon use or on the rare occasion it reeaches an expired date, MRE's, and a map and compass. The second bag contains tools,including a tire plug set and a small electric pump. In the bed, is an extra spare and a Hy-jack and shovel, along with tow ropes and chains. I am always armed or carry a side arm in the vehicle,along with my cell and Ham radio/scanner. Since the radio is normally line of sight I have used it to call for help in locations where cell service is not working along with reporting storm conditions out in the desert.
    I use my 12 yr old truck for my rail fanning adventures, we'll had our break downs flat tires, stuck out in the desert, but even on your own with the equipment mentioned things have worked.
    So stay safe out there and alway expect a train..

    Attached Files:

  3. Second Moss

    Second Moss TrainBoard Member

    Boots! I have a good pair of Jump Boots for railfanning, and my feet thank me for it.

    Late summer= Chiggers! These little ¤¤¤¤¤¤¤s will do a number on you if you dont spray yourself and your clothes.
  4. L Lee Davis

    L Lee Davis TrainBoard Member

    I think most every thing has been covered. Except, correct me if I am wrong a very good flash light. And I would echo what others have said, Let someone know what you are up to, be aware of your suroundings, stay grounded, keep a positive attuide, have fun without being fool harty, and be prepaired! One exception is with firearms, I lived out west and just about everybody carried a sidearm inclueding myself. It is not so accepted on the Eastcoast. If you do, have a valaid permit to carry a firearm, know how to use one properly, and remember it is the VERY LAST alternitive. Oh! and did anyone mention water, drinkable water and lots of it! Six liters per day per man. Keep this in the forfront of your mind, Nothing makes a railroader more ill at ease than someone that is not aware of them or their sroundings. So be safe, have fun, no one gets hurt and everyone comes back alive.

    "Still Training After All These Years"
  5. Mr. SP

    Mr. SP Passed away August 5, 2016 In Memoriam


    Rail yards are dangerous places. Equipment can move at anytime. The train crew might not know you are there. It is still the best to stay off the tracks and out of the yard. Take your photos from a location where it can be done safely. We can get so into the photography that unknowingly we get careless.
    While waiting for U.P. 844 a couple of weeks ago a family with kids was just a short distance from me and the kids were playing on the mainline tracks. Freight trains are running at 55MPH and passenger trains at 75MPH. They resented me telling them to keep the kids off the track. I think their attitude would have been different if one of the kids had been hit by an SD-60 and company pulling a train at 55MPH.
    BE SAFE Use good judgement, Trains cant swerve to avoid you.
  6. RRfan

    RRfan TrainBoard Member

    always wear jeans or some other type of longer pants wen getting out of a car to see a train you can wear shorts boxers etc in the car but if you wear them out of the car to see a train your legs are a point blank target for ticks (in Cove PA) miskitos spiders snakes just about evory but and wear long pants especially if you do any hiking to go see a train in the woods
    dont mess around too close to the tracks on a hill especially by a curve with a bank or hill inside of the curve because those downhill trains can be sneaky me and my aunt went up to her land bu the R&N and we went up to the tracks to see if they cleared all of those bushes out and we were standing there and all of a sudden we see this big NS Dash-9 with two other Dashes gliding down the hill we just turnd our heads for a split second and here we turn around to a train
  7. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Very good advice! Sturdy boots protect your feet, but make sure they are comfy, or you won't wear them! We don;t have chigger issues here I'm at, more ticks and skeeters than anything. Either way, any repellant with a good amount of DEET is the best stuff.

    Flash lights are nice, if you plan on night shots... And make sure you have sare batteries! nothing worse than having a light after dark, and the batteries die before you get back to the truck!

    Those Camelbak hydration systems are perfect for this. Any railfan excursion that takes me from the truck, I have my 100 oz Camelbak filled and on my back. A hint is to add a shot of lemon or lime juice concentrate to the bladder after you fill. This makes the water a bit more tasty and refreshing during a tough hike, and if you haven't cleaned it lately, gets rid of the stale taste! (don't ask....) Not only do you have your water, but many models have a built-in backpack for a flashlight, MREs, snacks, camera gear, etc.
  8. brakie

    brakie TrainBoard Member

    Giys,Here is my thoughts.
    1.Always keep your eye on a moving train..I watch form a three quarter view so I can see any signs of trouble..Flying ballast could mean dragging equipment or a wheel off the track.

    2.There is no need to park close to the tracks as many do..I suggest staying back at least 100 feet.That will give you running road should you spot trouble or hear unusual noises.

    3.When in snake country watch for snakes remembering that all snakes will bit and all are ambush predators...That means if taken by surprise they will strike even a rattle snake may not rattle before striking if surprised..Old stacks of ties,rails and other like places is ideal snake habitat.

    4.Any time is train time from either direction.Stay off the tracks.

    5.As far as shorts..These are ok if you are railfanning in a city sitting.To be honest I wear shorts all summer regardless of where I am railfanning. You see I lived in the country for 10 years and survived wearing shorts.Use good judgement...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2008
  9. archangle

    archangle TrainBoard Member

    Know the railroad emergency numbers for your area.

    Amtrak 1-800-331-0008
    BNSF Railway 1-800-832-5452
    CSX 1-800-232-0144
    Canadian National 1-800-465-9239
    Canadian Pacific 1-800-716-9132
    Kansas City Southern 1-877-527-9464 or 1-800-892-6295
    Norfolk Southern 1-800-453-2530
    Union Pacific 1-888-877-7267

    Railroads' Emergency Phone Numbers - Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

    I also have UP as 1-800-848-8715.

    If something happens, talk calmly, be sure to give them appropriate details, such as "a car stuck on the tracks."

    Don't forget to hang on the phone and give them a good description of where the problem is. You won't believe how many people don't do this, or get the details wrong.

    Yes, you can call 911. Why have another link in the communications chain to mishandle the call? Especially when you probably know details like the which railroad to call, proper terminology like "siding," spur track, trestle, milepost 128.3, Crocket subdivision between Round Mountain and Spikebuck sidings, BNSF engine number 4321.

    You can also call 911 later.
  10. Burlington Northern Fan

    Burlington Northern Fan TrainBoard Supporter

    Rail Fanning on the Chase

    Just a thought, I have chased the UP 3985 and others between Omaha NE and Rawlins WY for great long while now. There is a group of us that try to go together and we try to go together for the most part. We all take turns driving and taking pictures. So each of us get to take our turn at getting our photographs of the trains. And the other person does NOTHING but the driving. Now there are some of us that try to do the DRIVING and PHOTOGRAPHING of the trains together. Could we(the railfan community) rent these guys some freinds? I am tired of getting run off the road, by the guy who goes it alone. I averted what could have been MAJOR catasrophe near Sidney NE not too long ago. So that moral of the story get some freinds to help photograph the trains and someone else to nothing but the driving. PLEASE!!!! for the rest of us. Thanks
  11. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

    You might as well talk to the wall BN fan! The folks you are talking about don't care what they do, as long as they get their shot!

  12. Burlington Northern Fan

    Burlington Northern Fan TrainBoard Supporter

    I know, thought I might through it out there. It just takes alittle common sense is all. Not too mention alittle courtesy/etiquette when railfanning. Everything turned out alright, but I had to make a run for the ditch that guy run us clean off the road that day. Anyway water under the bridge just something to think about. Let's watch for each other out there when we are on a moving chase. Saftey is not just standing still along a right of way somewhere, it does apply to the traffic laws to.
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    It's not just those who try doing it all, solo. It's those who speed, recklessly cutting in and out of traffic to get ahead for that next shot. Is railfanning life and death, I'll get my photo or die trying? Or the joker who simply suddenly stops in the middle of the road, and even gets out of their vehicle- As if the rest of the world does not exist.

    Boxcab E50
  14. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    Just to add this reminder to be safe. I have personally had a train that had a hunk of rail ( scrap rail in a gon going to an industry on our line) hanging out at a 70 degree angle that was so far out the darn thing almost took the mirror off a Dash 9 passing us. Yikes and stuff! Also recently we had a car of logs where the logs fell out of the car onto the main.Now if that would have happened near a crossing or fans watching it could have been a disaster. So always keep your head on a swivel and drive safe.
  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I sure remember the line next to where I grew up. If after dark, there were plenty of times when banding on log cars was bouncing along, giving off sparks. In daylight you could see pieces of it laying along the tracks. :eek:
  16. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    We have that with banding blowing out of gons, the wire rope on lumber racks, anything hanging off a car can be dangerous.If you do see it all the number and get the train stopped to take care of it if it is serious.
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Where I am now, we don't see loads like that any more. :(
  18. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

    When we were getting Tower 17 ready to move to the Rosenberg Railroad Museum site, we would run inside when a train passed, usually upstairs so we could get a good view.
    Unless we were far enough away to be safe.

    One time I was down stairs working on removing equipment from a relay cabinet and did not have time to run upstairs. I heard a big thump on the side of the building. After the train was passed, I went out to see what it was that hit the wall. I found one of these inter-box connectors that are used to tie intermodal containers together. It must have been loose somewhere on a car and bounced off when the car hit the diamond. These things weigh between 10 and 15 pounds and could do real damage if one fell on you.
  19. Jim Wiggin

    Jim Wiggin Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Exactly why we use telephoto lenses. I have seen the loose strapping, stand to close and it will cause major damage to you. Also, if you are fanning a high speed line and God forbid the train derails, don't think your going to out run it. With modern camera equipment, there is no need to be on top of the train.
  20. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    We use that argument when we complain about roll by's and no where to go if a car decides " Hey I want off right here" and decides to do an airplane act!Cant find that vid on youtube where the guys filming a train and it derails and about lands on him.Was on that Spike "when trains attack " ( I know thats not the name of it we just call it that here at work lol)hosted by John Bunnell

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