There’s something about the rails that draws photographers and videographers — professional and amateur — looking for that beautiful backdrop. “When it comes to train tracks, there is no picture-perfect setting,” said Scott Sauer, SEPTA’s assistant general manager of system safety. “In fact, if you take photos or shoot video on the tracks, that picture or film might be the last footage you take. Tracks are for trains. They are not photo or movie studios.”
With better weather, residents are taking out their cameras and smartphones to capture colorful spring scenery. SEPTA is warning all photographers to stay away from train tracks. “The place for selfies, family, engagement, wedding and school photos might be a studio or a park, but not the rail right-of-way,” said Sauer, who is also a board member for Operation Lifesaver Inc., a national organization dedicated to rail safety.
“No one should ever assume that there is a time when tracks are completely clear of train traffic. A train can come on any track at any time in any direction,” he said.
According to a recent study by Priceonomics, railroad tracks are the world’s third most deadly place to take selfies. “The majority of train-related incidents are preventable,” said Sauer. “By entering the track area for photo and video sessions, people are putting themselves in imminent and unnecessary danger. The picture is not worth the risk.”
Entering the track area for any reason is both dangerous and illegal — it’s trespassing. Engineers are not expecting trespassers to be in the train’s right-of-way. Sauer adds that, even if an engineer sees a trespasser on tracks, the train cannot come to an immediate stop. “You can’t slam on the brakes and expect a vehicle that large to stop instantaneously,” said Sauer. “And trains can’t swerve around a person or object in its path.”