Union Pacific Railroad Urges Professional Photographers to Stay Safe, Stay Away From Train Tracks

A Union Pacific locomotive pulls a train through Chattanooga, Tenn.
A Union Pacific locomotive pulls a train through Chattanooga, Tenn. (Photo by Todd DeFeo)

As fall weather arrives, Union Pacific Railroad is urging professional photographers to refrain from taking photographs of sports teams, high school seniors, wedding parties and other subjects on or near train tracks or trestles.

Last year, more than 900 people were injured or killed while trespassing on railroad property in the U.S., according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics.

Union Pacific said it is committed to public safety through various channels such as community events, media outreach, law enforcement partnerships, employee resource groups and Operation Lifesaver. The UP CARES (Union Pacific Crossing Accident Reduction Education and Safety) public safety initiative brings together communities in a collaborative and caring effort to promote railroad grade crossing and pedestrian safety, the railroad said.

“As part of our UP CARES initiative, we want to remind photographers that walking on or near railroad tracks is extremely dangerous because you never know when a train will come along,” said Lawrence Wenko, Union Pacific director – Public Safety. “We urge professional and amateur photographers alike to set the right example for others by adhering to the safety guidelines.”

Recently a Nebraska high school volleyball team thought it would be unique to have their team photo taken on nearby railroad tracks. The double track main line they chose for their photograph sees more than 50 trains a day. As they were beginning to get in position for their photograph on the railroad tracks, a railroad employee saw the team and contacted the train dispatcher in time to avoid disaster – the crew of an approaching train applied the emergency brakes to avoid hitting the students. There were no injuries.

In 2012, a teacher who taught art and photography, was struck and killed by a train while taking photos on the tracks. In response to tragic and preventable incidents like this, Union Pacific is working with Professional Photographers of America on rail safety education outreach to the professional photography community.