Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A Vested Interest?

A recent Trains.com blog post asked the question "to vest, or not to vest?" This was in reference to a plea about a recent steam chase of Norfolk and Western 611 for railfans to not wear bright safety vests while chasing #611. The reason given was that railfans were being confused for railway staff.

The argument for railfans wearing vests is so they are visible to train crews... I think.

I think most people would agree that if you feel you need to wear a vest for train crews to see you, you're too close to the tracks.

Need an old Christmas wreath?
Now, if you're working for the railroad, of course you want to be visible. This goes for volunteers on museum trains too. I wore a vest whenever I was flagging the crossings for the Salem and Hillsborough Railroad way back when. Vests were mandatory because we were standing on the roadside with a STOP sign to hold traffic for the train.

I've never worn a safety vest while railfanning. I think there's a fair chance that one might be mistaken for a railway worker / manager.

Oddly enough, about a month ago I was railfanning the CP Emerson sub when a passing CP Police officer stopped and recommended that I wear a vest. He said that he had been farther down the tracks and couldn't see me in my dark coat. I was a little confused about why that would matter, since I was well away from the tracks, but I thanked him and he went on his way. I think he was just being friendly.

So... what do you think? Have you ever worn a vest while railfanning? Have you seen other railfans with bright safety vests?


DaveM said...

I'm of the opinion that as long as you are on public property and in a safe location, the vest seems like a bit of overkill.


Chris BIGDoer Doering said...

Speaking with some train crews, most it seem loath those vests and their use by rabid railway fan-boys, and I think they're kind of silly too. Had an assignment recently shooting some grain cars being loaded, and so naturally had to be properly equipped to be on site. So there I was, near the tracks, vest on, tripod and two cameras in hand, hard hat, steel toes and googles for good measure, looking every bit the foamer, an image I'm not crazy about being associated with. Irony is a nasty mistress.

Canadian Train Geek said...

I agree, Dave!

Irony catches us all, Chris :)

Personally I want a vest like Castle that says "RAILFAN" on it... well, maybe not.

GP9Rm4108 said...

I think the major reason they wear them is so they can push their luck with how far onto railroad property they can get without being told to get lost.

Myself, as an employee, if I am on the property and am NOT working, of course I will still have it. You know, so I don't get fired.

Shane said...

Never have and never will.


Karl A. said...

I have asked railroad personnel their thoughts on this, and they asked me to not wear the reflective gear unless I was riding with them. Like was said before, if I am in a place to need a vest, I am too close. They also said that when crews see people in vests photographing them, it can make them nervous for different reasons.

So when I don't need to have it on, the vest is in the trunk.

Anonymous said...

I say don't wear a vest.

It is one thing to have people who work on the trains you see go by you think you are one of their co-workers if you wear a vest. I have had the experience of people asking me when the VIA train is due because they see my scanner in my hand and think that I know when it is coming because only people who work for the railroad have hand held walkie talkies and because I have one, I must work for the railroad and must know when the late VIA train is due.