There's been a trend in recent years of photographers conducting professional photo shoots on railroad tracks. It may be a great photo you end up with but it's in your best interest to find another spot. Here are 5 reasons you shouldn't take your photos on railroad tracks.

1. Railroad Tracks are Private Property


Maine has seven different railroads across the state. That thousands of miles of rail transporting goods across the state. Every single one of these railroads is private property. It doesn't matter if you're shooting a photo session or not, if you're standing on railroad tracks you're on private property.

The railroad owns the land the tracks are on, and they have their own police department to issue fines and arrests, if need be, if you're caught on their property. Even if the tracks are no longer used by trains, most likely the land is still owned by the railroad and you're still trespassing.

2. Exempt Doesn't Mean Not In Use

You've probably seen many railroad crossings that have a sign at them that says "exempt." You may think that means that the rail is no longer in use. You're wrong.

Check out this video of a Pan Am train crossing Broadway in South Portland in 2015 with the signal clearly showing the exempt sign.

Exempt only means that certain laws are exempt at the railroad crossing, like school buses having to stop before crossing. A train could still cross or be anywhere else on the line. You just don't know.

3. Trains Move Faster Than You Think

You think that you can get out of the way of a train right? How fast do you think it's going? This is a video of the Amtrak Downeaster and it's traveling at 80 miles per hour. Now imagine you weren't at a railroad crossing where the train wouldn't blow the horn and bells, lights and gates wouldn't warn you of an approaching train. If you weren't paying attention you wouldn't see it coming. Hopefully, the train crew would see you and get your attention so you got out of the way. Do you want to take that chance?


4. Trains REALLY Move Fast

If it wasn't said enough in point #3, this video makes it perfectly clear how quickly you can be caught off guard. A family was on railroad tracks taking pictures when suddenly they noticed a train coming. They had exactly 15 seconds to get off the tracks with little room on each side. They scatter everywhere as the train barrels down, unable to stop in time going the speed they were at. This was a VERY close call.

5. People Have Died Taking Photos on Train Tracks

In September of 2015, a 16-year-old was struck by a train trying to get photos near railroad tracks in Boyd, MD. It was a place where kids loved to get photos because it was so picturesque. A train traveling at 70 mph started to approach a group of kids, but John DeReggi was unable to get out of the way in time. A tragedy that could have been avoided.

Is that perfect photo worth risking your life because you're not as familiar with the railroad as you think you are? Is it worth risking thousands of dollars in fines or jail time for trespassing? You think you can get out of the way. You think you'll hear a train coming. You think the line is abandoned. Always assume a train is coming.

Operation Life Saver is a great website for tips on what you need to know about railroad safety. Stay off the tracks.

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