Amtrak Corporate Guidelines on Photography and Video Recording

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jwb8734

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Amtrak - Traveling With Amtrak - Policies - Guidelines on Photography & Video Recording
The orig. URL was to long.

Section I. Policy

The taking of photographs and/or videos is permitted within public access areas on Amtrak property and as otherwise stated in Section III.

In emergency and/or special circumstances (for example, declared elevation of Homeland Security Advisory System to High or Severe - orange and red) and where actions are deemed suspicious or inconsistent with this policy by observing/reporting persons, photographers and videographers may be approached and questioned to determine if further investigation or action is necessary.

Photography and video recording within restricted areas are prohibited. Individuals found in a restricted area will be subject to investigation and possible arrest and seizure of photography and/or video recording equipment may occur pursuant to the arrest. This policy applies in all circumstances, including where Amtrak may be promoting a photography contest or event.

Section II. Definitions

Commercial and Special Photography. Photography that requires explicit authorization from Amtrak and includes engagements for commercial gain or profit such as, movie films, commercial television productions, and photography for commercial advertisements.

Photography. Photography shall mean the taking of moving and/or still images.

Public Area. An area open to general public access and occupancy (station areas and platforms for ticketed passengers only) that is not otherwise posted or restricted by posted signs or locking devices. Signage, building design and physical barriers, i.e. fencing, bollards, etc., may also distinguish a public area from a restricted area.

Restricted Area. A restricted area is any area not open to or occupied by the public, or is open to or occupied by the public on a limited basis. Signage, building design and physical barriers, i.e. fencing, bollards, etc., may also distinguish a restricted area from a public area.

Restricted areas include but are not limited to the following:

Platforms (ticketed passengers are exempt)
Crew and Employee Work Areas
Maintenance Facilities
Unoccupied Trains and Engines
Office Areas
Employee Elevators
Baggage/Delivery Areas
Commissaries
Right of Way and Track Areas
In service train cars

Section III. Exceptions

Commercial and Special Photography. Prior arrangements must be made with Amtrak's Real Estate Department at (215) 349-1612 for approval.
News Photography. Members of the news media are entitled to the same access for photography purposes as the general public. News media may request additional access by contacting the Amtrak Media Relations Office, 202-906-3860. Amtrak recommends that members of the news media present valid press credentials when they film (print and video photography) in the public areas at Amtrak's stations and strongly encourages the news media to contact Amtrak's Media Relations Office in advance to facilitate and ensure appropriate access, particularly at major Amtrak stations. As a courtesy, Media Relations Representatives will frequently issue a letter or accompany news media in the Northeast, Chicago and California regions. It is understood that during breaking news events advance contact with Amtrak's Media Relations Office may not be possible.
Ticketed Passengers on platforms may photograph or video record during the time they are preparing to board or immediately after alighting from a train. Equipment is limited to hand-held devices. Such photography, including equipment set-up will be done in a reasonable, safe and timely manner.
Ticketed passengers on board trains may take photos or video record on a train when it does not interfere with passengers or crew and in accordance with any directions given by Amtrak onboard train personnel.
Other photography or video recording not covered by this policy requires advance approval from the area Amtrak Station Manager.

Section IV. Law Enforcement

Amtrak Police and Security personnel may approach photographers and videographers upon a complaint from a member of the public or Amtrak personnel that the activity is suspicious in nature, or based upon their own observation that the activity is suspicious in nature or inconsistent with this policy.

Amtrak Police and Security Personnel will advise the individual that an inquiry is being conducted for security purposes. Amtrak Police and Security personnel will follow established departmental regulations in this area.
Nothing in this policy limits or expands the authority of Amtrak police officers to initiate and pursue investigations, perform a pat down or frisk based upon reasonable suspicion, and/or conduct searches based upon probable cause or any recognized exception to the probable cause requirement in accordance with all legal authority. But the taking of photographs and/or video may not, in and of itself, rise to the level of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
 
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trainman111

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And this gets a "thumbs up" because?

Seems like one more hurdle that I need to jump in order to enjoy a hobby that shouldn't be bordered by mounds of rules and laws. The wording in this document is very vague. What about public platforms? Has anyone been to Ashland, VA? You tell me how Amtrak PD or Ashland PD is going to enforce that one. It's an open public platform in front of the station which is a visitor's center. There's also no definitive border betweent he platform and the sidewalk. It's all brick. There are always people there taking pictures, both railfans and non-railfans. It sounds like these guidlines have been written for larger stations like Washington Union Station, Philadelphia 30th St. Station, NY Penn Station, etc. I could see potential crowd-control issues at those stations, but I can't seem to find any crowd or security issues at the less populated, rural stations.
 
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tuttleje

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It's like having rental security guards conducting casual searches at the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry (Williamsburg Va area). Looks good, cost a bunch of money, but has have limited impact on actual security.

For a while, the Navy would get spun up when tourists would take pictures from the overlooks on the Colonial Parkway (Virginia) of Naval Vessels on the York River.

The increase security regarding photography at train stations is a reaction to the concept of pre-operational surveillance prior to a terrorist attack (noted in the London Subway attacks).

For more info on pre-operational surveillance read below:

"The purpose of surveillance is to determine the target’s patterns of behavior if it is an individual, or possible weaknesses and attack methods if the target is a building or facility. When the target is a person, perhaps targeted for assassination or kidnapping, terrorists will look for things such as the time the target leaves for work or what route is taken on certain days. They also will take note of what type of security, if any, the target uses. For fixed targets, the surveillance will be used to determine patterns and levels of security. For example, the plotters will look for times when fewer guards are present or when the guards are about to come on or off their shifts. In both cases, this information will be used to select the best time and location for the attack, and to determine what resources are needed to execute the attack."

In some cases, however, al Qaeda operatives have conducted extensive, detailed surveillance of their potential targets. In July 2004, the arrest in Pakistan of an individual identified by U.S. officials as Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan revealed a personal computer that contained detailed information about potential economic targets in the United States. The targets included the New York Stock Exchange and Citigroup headquarters in New York, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank buildings in Washington, D.C., and Prudential Financial headquarters in Newark, N.J. From the information on the computer, it appeared that the targets were under surveillance for an extended period."

above is from an article in STRATFOR: Vulnerabilities in the Terrorist Attack Cycle
 
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burner50

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Here is one other aspect...

How many platforms does Amtrak actually own? I heard a figure around 5% of the stations they serve.
 

trainman111

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After digesting all of the mumbo jumbo in those guildines it looks like you CAN take pictures from any platform as long as their is public access to the platform. Take a look at the definition of "public area" under Section II. So, it looks like these guildlines will mainly affect the larger stations where you need to already buy a ticket in order to be on the platform.
 

newsphotog

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Here is a summary and a brief review of Amtrak's "previous policy:" Amtrak's Newly Published Photo Guidelines Developed With NPPA's Input

The "previous policy" -- I put those in quotations because I still believe it was a non-existent policy that was created out of thin air by rent-a-cops -- caused some problems. Even when Fox 5 News out of Washington DC was doing an interview with the Amtrak spokesman, an Amtrak guard came up to the camera and interrupted the interview saying there were no cameras allowed in the terminal. The spokesman kept telling the guard over and over that he was the SPOKESMAN and that cameras WERE allowed in the terminal.

The new "policies" are an improvement but I believe there is still work to be done.

From the NPPA article: "The Law Enforcement section will also be of interest to journalists because it spells out how Amtrak police are to approach photographers and videographers. They can do so, the railroad says, when they either receive a complaint about suspicious activity from a member of the public or when they themselves observe suspicious activity. As a result, when Amtrak police approach a photographer they are to advise the photographer that an inquiry is being conducted "for security purposes," and that Amtrak police are to follow the newly established departmental regulations."

So what they REALLY saying is that any Amtrak or Amtrak-contracted security guard on a power trip is still likely to harass you. Probably something like this: YouTube - Federal Reserve security harrasing reporter

They will try to bend the new policies as much as they can. Don't let them. You know you have the constitutional right to photograph anything as long as you are on public property. If I had a nickel for every time someone told me I couldn't take pictures from a sidewalk or a road, I'd be a rich man. I tell them to call the police, but they never do.

I really don't appreciate my basic American rights being violated by some guy who doesn't know what he's doing. I don't back down on incidents like this until I feel that my life is in immediate danger or I am going to cause a bigger problem. I never get angry, I never throw punches, I never threaten. I only remind the person that I have the right to shoot anything as long as I am on public property (eg: sidewalk or street, as long as I am not impeding traffic).

Bottom line, know your rights. A lot of photographers carry this around with them, and it's a good primer on rights for ALL Americans, not just the news media: http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf

(PS: Sorry this was so long-winded and it might have gone off-topic, but I actually re-read it and whittled it down a little bit).
 

mountritter

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Did anybody think to tell this to the Amtrak police?

If you didn't hear this story, it is a good one. Amtrak is sponsoring a photo contest with a $1000 prize. This guy in the following clip gets arrested for taking photos from the platform in NY Penn Station, by the Amtrak police:

Man gets arrested for taking pictures of trains

This guy got roughed up and arrested so he ended up suing Amtrak, which quickly settled out of
court for a five figure number. Would you think at this point the management would tell their officers that it isn't illegal to take pictures to take pictures of trains, or for that matter for Amtrak's photo contest? NOT!

Well, apparently the Amtrak police still haven't gotten the message as you can see in this link:

Amtrak “revises” photo policy as Amtrak police continue harassment\-continue-harassment

Perhaps when the Amtrak bean counters get tired of paying out law suit
settlements, they will come down on their police officers and make them comply
with Amtrak's own written policies.
 
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N_Jay

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The wording in this document is very vague. What about public platforms? Has anyone been to Ashland, VA? You tell me how Amtrak PD or Ashland PD is going to enforce that one. It's an open public platform in front of the station which is a visitor's center. There's also no definitive border betweent he platform and the sidewalk. It's all brick.
Seems very clear to me.
"Public Area. An area open to general public access and occupancy (station areas and platforms for ticketed passengers only) that is not otherwise posted or restricted by posted signs or locking devices. Signage, building design and physical barriers, i.e. fencing, bollards, etc., may also distinguish a public area from a restricted area."
 

mountritter

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Anybody that knows about how "homeland security" works, will know that a large part of it is show. It is sometimes more important to make the public feel like they are being protected, rather than actually make it safer for them. There is a awful lot of "smoke and mirrors" in the presentation that is put to the public in these maters.

The Amtrak police pump up their arrest numbers by writing trespassing tickets by the bundle, picking on easy targets like photographers, drug addicts, and homeless people because "it makes the numbers look good", and usually the "pickin's are pretty easy to get." Meanwhile, while they are busy harassing these groups, someone with real bad intent could be doing some harm to the railroad; but Amtrak, et al, are satisfied that they are doing a good job.

I've seen the Amtrak cops in Springfield, MA in the early morning darkness in shooting the breeze indoors with the train crew members at length, while nobody is outside looking over all the train sets sitting in the station; except for the track closest to the building, anybody could walk up and put what ever they wanted on any of those train sets. But as long as the people waiting in the lobby feel safer with the sight of that Amtak cop inside the station, "they are doing a good job." What a friggin joke!!!

They also set up just out of sight on Fishfry street in Hartford, CT ticketing the drug addicts that make their way from the north end projects to the local methadone clinic. Yes the are trespassing by crossing the tracks, but you can see over a mile in each direction, so unless you are a complete idiot how could you get hit by a train? The "safety argument" really doesn't hold water in this case. They will usually have two Amtrak officers and a attack dog, making what they are doing an even bigger joke. So while two officers are wasting time "making the numbers look good", they could actually be somewhere else doing some appropriate police work. "Gee Andy, can I use my bullet?"
 

N2MWE

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I'll say this...most of the problems that occur between photographers and police are the imbecile hipster like photographers who, when approached by a cop, immediately launch into the "I know my rights" speech. These are the same imbeciles who scream and yell that the transit systems are not safe. You get approached by a cop, he talks to you for a couple of minutes, and he's on his way and you're happily taking pictures.
I have been stopped by Metro North PD, and they were very polite. I showed my license, talked with the cop a few minutes, and that was the end of it.
Knee jerk reactions will be reacted to!
 
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