To whom it may concern,
I am writing to you in connection with the foiled terror plot to destroy a VIA Rail train this week and to express my concern that this incident may provoke unnecessary suspicion of Canada's railfan community.
Much of the world's media has latched on to one sentence from the RCMP's press conference which stated that the suspects were investigated as they had “watched trains and railways in the greater Toronto area.”
Many perfectly innocent raifans do this every day, not only in the GTA, but across Canada. Rather then being a threat to the country, we are in fact a great asset. Railfans' knowledge of rail operations allows them to quickly spot when something doesn't look right and could be a real threat. Many of us have also called in a security concern at some point to help protect the railway network.
This level of knowledge has already been officially recognized by many American railroads, including Amtrak, BNSF and Norfolk Southern, who have all implemented initiatives to tap into the extra eyes and ears provided by railfans. I would encourage Canadian railways to do the same.
As various details of this plot continue to emerge, I hope that sober heads may prevail and that the rights of railfans to enjoy their hobby may be accommodated in the need for sufficient security measures to protect Canada's railways.
This incident also happens to fall at the same time as Rail Safety Week. Let us remember to be careful trackside as well as sensible when it comes to what is and is not suspicious.