Stop the railway police!

There seems to be renewed efforts by train operators to prevent trainspotters – or indeed anyone else – from taking photographs or filming at rail stations. Both Virgin and National Express have been trying to restrict such activity but it is really incomprehensible why they should want to do so.

The notion that it is about security just does not hold water. First, photographs of stations are widely available and in any case a detailed knowledge of their lay out is not necessary for a terrorist attack. Not only are there archive pictures – just Google for images of any station – but also Google’s new features which give pictures of every street in the country make it unnecessary for potential terrorists to actually visit a proposed site.  Secondly, terrorists would hardly make draw attention to themselves by wandering around with cameras on their own.

But most importantly, everyone with a modern mobile phone has a camera on them all the time, many of which have the facility to make short video clips, too. It is absolutely impossible to stop people from taking photographs with them.

Therefore this is such nonsense that there must be some other reason behind it, but I cannot for the life of me figure out what it is.  Is it because operators fear bad publicity and don’t want images of their stations? I did a clip for More4 yesterday for an item on National Express cutting back on its catering and at one point the reporter was going to scrap the item because she was not allowed to film on the train. I told her that it was perfectly legal to do so on the train and she got legal advice which confirmed this, and did a piece to camera while sitting in her seat.

Therefore it is imperative that everyone challenges these arrogant operators trying to restrict our civil liberties. But crucially, too, their senior managers need to be challenged at every opportunity and not allowed to hide behind ‘security’ as an issue.

It was very amusing to see Richard Bowker try to defend restricting access to stations for trainspotters after he had been filmed driving a train full of them. The word hypocrite found itself into many blogs…