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Re: PC: Fwd: [dandh] Fw: NS Is Stepping Up Tresspassing Prosecution!
- Subject: Re: PC: Fwd: [dandh] Fw: NS Is Stepping Up Tresspassing Prosecution!
- From: "Gerhard A. Stuebben" <stuebben@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 20:41:38 -0700
orville ingram wrote:
> NS operates a great railroad and operates with great efficiency and
> NS is in the business of railroading and plans on operating the
> Conrail portion with safety and profit.
But I don't see how targeting railfans for prosecution contributes to
the bottom line, or will positively affect the safety of CR operations.
I know individuals who have alerted railroad employees to defective cars
in a consist -- perhaps saving the railroad the cost of cleaning up a
derailment. I personally returned a FRED to the UP that had fallen off
a train. Other railfans are no doubt in corporate positions and have the
capacity to determine how a company ships its goods.
Perhaps the most bewildering aspect of this report is the railroad's
apparent disdisdain for good public relations. The good reputation among
the public is publicity that railroads couldn't afford to buy. And this
reputation depends, to a large extent, on the positive influence of
museums, historical societies, modelers, railfans, and other special
interest groups. So why are these hobbyist groups treated so badly?
You're probably thinking "but these people only contribute an
insignificant amount to the bottom line." Perhaps, but here are a few
scenarios showing how public relations definitely can affect
Premise: Railfan is arrested for taking photos while trackside.
Scenario 1: Railroad is involved in grade crossing accident, and
plaintiff sues railroad. Railfan is on the jury -- will he vote to give
the plaintiff a large sum?
Scenario 2: Railroad petitions for zoning variance to allow extension
of freight yard. Railfan is one of the community representatives at the
zoning hearing - will he oppose the rezoning?
Scenario 3: Railfan observes washout after a heavy rain. Will he call
the railroad to report it? And yes, that approaching train carries 50
cars of hazardous materials.
Scenario 4: Railfan is member of community group determining how to
address the municipality's landfill shortage problem. Will he use
trucks or rail to ship the garbage to a new facility?
Scenario 5: A plume of diesel fuel is migrating from an engine facility
towards the town's water supply. The town will have a meeting to
consider whether the railroad's remediation proposal is adequate, or
whether to demand that EPA take over the cleanup (a much more expensive
option). The question is whether the railroad can be trusted to protect
the water. Railfan gets up to express his opinion.
Scenario 6: Railroad has a shortage of train crew members and will have
to hire off the street. Prospective employees must be willing to work
long, hard, irregular, and often boring shifts -- in the cold of winter
and heat of summer. How much will it have to pay to get people to work
under these conditions? Might it depend on how much the person enjoys
the job, vs. just doing it for the paycheck? Might the quality of work
the employee does also depend on his motivation?
Scenario 7: Railroad wants to spin off an unprofitable branch to a
short line, but requires regulatory approval. What does the railfan
write to his congressman?
Scenario 8: Railroad (particularly Amtrak) seeks public funding to
continue service or make improvements. Will railfan write to his
congressman in support?
Jesus said "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do
to you" (Matthew 7:12). This not only makes perfect moral sense but is
excellent for business as well. Individuals who steal from or damage
the railroad should be prosecuted. Railfans who act dangerously
(climbing on equipment, crossing tracks, etc.) should be warned and, if
necessary, evicted. But treating everyone trackside as if they were the
enemy is bad for business.
I admit that one may be able to operate a railroad profitably and fairly
safely in a vacuum, but suggest that it would be safer and more
profitable if thousands of non-paid volunteers were looking out for it's
best interests. And paying the salaries of RR police to arrest railfans
while down the track gangs are breaking into boxcars to steal TVs
doesn't make much sense either.
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