This page is archived and no longer maintained. For updates click here.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Terrorism on public transit: workers ramp up vigilance

Ever since the authorities announced that they had foiled a plot to blow up a VIA Train (in fact, probably Amtrak crossing the border at Niagara Falls) last year, people have been waiting to see what might change in terms of security on public transit in Canada. Anyone who has visited Toronto Union Station in the past few years will have noticed the new security office in the Great Hall, the emergency buttons scattered around the GO Concourse, the plethora of security guards and the GO "Transit Safety" (special constables really) officers, usually patrolling in packs in the station and across the network.

Now, GO have made public that they are ramping up security again, this time with the help of RCMP counter-terrorism training. I'm not sure why they agreed to disclose this. However, two of the potential suspicious behaviours discussed in one the videos accompanying the story were disturbing to me. The two, taking photos of the network and asking about train frequencies, are apparently not normal activities for the public. I beg to differ. I have been a railway photographer for over a decade, during which time I have become familiar with railway networks and the best places to take photos (legally). I use this knowledge whenever I travel and it helps me to spot things that are out of the ordinary.

In the UK and the US, railways have recognised the immense security benefit that railway enthusiasts bring to rail safety. In the UK, there is an agreed code of conduct regulating rail enthusiast behaviour, including the request that enthusiasts "take note of any unusual behaviour and activities and report anything suspicious to police or a member of staff." In the US, Amtrak has adopted a "See Something, Say Something" policy among its passengers and its PASS system for members of the public to remain vigilant. BNSF has also adopted a similar system called Citizens for Rail Security, which states that "There are many publicly accessible sites that provide great views of passing trains. CRS members are encouraged to enjoy train watching from those locations and to report anyone who trespasses on railroad property."  GO Transit has a similar policy for passengers to report suspicious behaviour, but the CBC report suggests that photography would be considered suspicious.

There is no doubt that, for better or worse, 9/11 has changed the way the world works. The challenge ahead is to balance the need for security with the personal freedoms that make life worthwhile. If railfans want to take photos of trains in an open and obvious way, they should be allowed to do so. They are not terrorists. In fact, they are one of the railway's greatest allies.

Note: GO Transit By-Law #2, Section 3.22 only prohibits unauthorised commercial photography. That is to say that non-commercial photography is allowed, provided your activity is not construed as Loitering (Section 3.27). Buying a ticket to travel and then taking some photos while waiting for the train should not be a problem.
take note of any unusual behaviour and activities and report anything suspicious to police or a member of staff - See more at: http://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/travelling_safely/rail_enthusiasts.aspx#sthash.K8koDLty.dpuf
take note of any unusual behaviour and activities and report anything suspicious to police or a member of staff - See more at: http://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/travelling_safely/rail_enthusiasts.aspx#sthash.K8koDLty.dpuf
take note of any unusual behaviour and activities and report anything suspicious to police or a member of staff - See more at: http://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/travelling_safely/rail_enthusiasts.aspx#sthash.K8koDLty.dpuf

>>>Terrorism on public transit: workers ramp up vigilance - CBC News<<<

No comments:

Post a Comment