Difficulty Taking Photos at Southend Victoria

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MK Tom

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I had a bit of a hullabaloo with the staff at Southend Victoria today (9th December). I went in and asked the gateline staff member if I could access the platforms to take some photos (normally I'd have a ticket and just go in but in this instance I was travelling via Central so had no tickets valid at Victoria). The man told me this was "illegal" and said something about recent events. When I pressed he said Abellio had said written permission was needed to take photos at their stations. When I asked to speak to a more senior member of staff he said none were on the station. When I asked for his name or staff number he refused to give them.

I went to the ticket desk to ask for a senior member of staff, but before that was finished another gentleman called me over. This one was also under the impression that written permission was always needed, but this one was far more helpful (gave me his name too) and took me over to the BTP office to check ''the bylaws''. The police guy, nice as he was, said it was private property and was up to the landowner. Back we went to the office at the station where the station manager who wasn't on the station appeared, having been there the whole time, and promptly confirmed photography for personal use was fine. This was much to the surprise of the man I was with who had sworn blind that Abellio policy forbid it. By this time I had also summoned up the Network Rail website to that effect on my phone having failed to find Abellio's own policy online.

I'll be writing to AGA about this tomorrow but I wanted to talk about it on here first in case anyone here can give me some pointers for my email or other feedback, advice or input. This is the first time I have had an issue photographing on a station since 2010, something I do every single week across the country. The thing I'm really bothered about is Abellio staff being given this kind of information and not being trained on any level in how to handle enthusiasts. It's in stark contrast to the experience I've had in 99% of stations, including others on AGA's network.
 
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bramling

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I had a bit of a hullabaloo with the staff at Southend Victoria today (9th December). I went in and asked the gateline staff member if I could access the platforms to take some photos (normally I'd have a ticket and just go in but in this instance I was travelling via Central so had no tickets valid at Victoria). The man told me this was "illegal" and said something about recent events. When I pressed he said Abellio had said written permission was needed to take photos at their stations. When I asked to speak to a more senior member of staff he said none were on the station. When I asked for his name or staff number he refused to give them.

I went to the ticket desk to ask for a senior member of staff, but before that was finished another gentleman called me over. This one was also under the impression that written permission was always needed, but this one was far more helpful (gave me his name too) and took me over to the BTP office to check ''the bylaws''. The police guy, nice as he was, said it was private property and was up to the landowner. Back we went to the office at the station where the station manager who wasn't on the station appeared, having been there the whole time, and promptly confirmed photography for personal use was fine. This was much to the surprise of the man I was with who had sworn blind that Abellio policy forbid it. By this time I had also summoned up the Network Rail website to that effect on my phone having failed to find Abellio's own policy online.

I'll be writing to AGA about this tomorrow but I wanted to talk about it on here first in case anyone here can give me some pointers for my email or other feedback, advice or input. This is the first time I have had an issue photographing on a station since 2010, something I do every single week across the country. The thing I'm really bothered about is Abellio staff being given this kind of information and not being trained on any level in how to handle enthusiasts. It's in stark contrast to the experience I've had in 99% of stations, including others on AGA's network.
I haven't been to the area recently, however I've always found Essex to be the one area where I've had a heavily disproportionate amount of hassle taking photos. C2C in particular, where on one occasion I had someone off a gateling come running out of the station having a go when I wasn't even photographing anything to do with the railway.

Fortunately I find Essex such a depressing and unwelcoming area in general that I don't often go there. Perhaps I've just been unlucky.

It's worth adding that my experience in the area is that some station staff are quick to hassle photographers, yet completely turn a blind eye to other activities, including kids smoking on platforms, sitting over the edge of the platform or even crossing the track - common at some Essex locations.
 
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HMS Ark Royal

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I'd certainly write in and make a complaint. Its likely that the gate staff wrote up an incident report, or at least the fact that you have one of their names means they can do some checking up. At the very least they might offer you a voucher for money off your next train journey... I suspect somebody might very well be sent for a spot of extra training

Whilst I have never visited a C2C station, the only time somebody has come over and asked what I was doing was one time when taking a picture of a pacer at York when it was freezing cold and snow was on the platforms. Rather then saying no pictures, they'd noticed me standing out of the covered area and wanted to know if I was alright and safe...
 

theironroad

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If there is a gateline to prevent access to the platforms for people without valid tickets, why should someone be allowed to access the platforms because they say they want to take photos?
 

lazydragon

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Never really had any hassle as such, but I was once at Temple Meads, and had walked to the other end of the station (the one where not much happens) to grab a few photos. One guy walked half way up the platform, (I got the vibe of being scouted), then walked back into the station, and I'm assuming it was his supervisor came out to ask me what I was doing.

All very polite, mentioned I was spotting and taking a few pictures of the station. He said that he'd never been that far up the platform, said it was a nice day for it, and we all got on our way.

So far I've not been to a station on any other means than by train, so not had to ask to go in without a ticket, but am I right in thinking that years ago some stations introduced platform tickets to try and squeeze cash out of spotters?
 

neonison

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EMT bod at EM Parkway (the one with Radcliffe Power Station cooling towers as a backdrop) warned me I could take photos of trains but not of any infrastructure such as platforms, signs or signals. I am sure they make this up as the go along...
 

furlong

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Someone might like to ask the DfT for the current official position, but piecing together what I can find in the public domain, I think the general rule is that at stations with barriers access must still be maintained for people meeting passengers, seeing them off, assisting passengers with luggage, railway enthusiasts etc. while the method of implementation can be chosen according to local circumstances and might range from having an informal word with a gateline assistant to use of platform tickets or signing in at a station reception.
 

306024

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I haven't been to the area recently, however I've always found Essex to be the one area where I've had a heavily disproportionate amount of hassle taking photos. C2C in particular, where on one occasion I had someone off a gateling come running out of the station having a go when I wasn't even photographing anything to do with the railway.

Fortunately I find Essex such a depressing and unwelcoming area in general that I don't often go there. Perhaps I've just been unlucky.

It's worth adding that my experience in the area is that some station staff are quick to hassle photographers, yet completely turn a blind eye to other activities, including kids smoking on platforms, sitting over the edge of the platform or even crossing the track - common at some Essex locations.
Talk about a sweeping generalisation, not a Daily Mail journalist by any chance? (I do realise that is the ultimate insult ;) ).

It is always disappointing when stories like this appear on here, as most stations do apply common sense. Recent events such as at Leytonstone inevitably make staff responsible for security more suspicious of any strange behaviour, and to many taking pictures of trains falls into that category.

Ipswich for example (yes not Essex, but AGA) is one of the most welcoming stations for enthusiasts you could find. At the end of the day, at a barriered station it is a privilege to be allowed on the platform without a valid ticket, not a right. More likely the OP was simply unlucky rather than the victim of some new Abellio policy, and unless the gate staff were rude (not merely unhelpful) not worth making a fuss about in my humble opinion.
 

321446

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To be honest, we don't get a lot of photographers at the Vic (can see why now) so the amount of enthusiast care based knowledge is probably a bit limited. Fair point to raise the issue with the powers that be, however difficult that might have been, as it has been pointed out other AGA stations are photo friendly, so why not there.

If I had realised someone was taking photos, I'd have brushed me hair.
 

306024

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To be honest, we don't get a lot of photographers at the Vic (can see why now) so the amount of enthusiast care based knowledge is probably a bit limited. Fair point to raise the issue with the powers that be, however difficult that might have been, as it has been pointed out other AGA stations are photo friendly, so why not there.

If I had realised someone was taking photos, I'd have brushed me hair.
:lol: :lol: Probably due as much to the subject matter, you haven't even got the excitement of a class 315 to photograph any more.
 

DelW

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Whilst I have never visited a C2C station, the only time somebody has come over and asked what I was doing was one time when taking a picture of a pacer at York when it was freezing cold and snow was on the platforms. Rather then saying no pictures, they'd noticed me standing out of the covered area and wanted to know if I was alright and safe...
Personally I'd regard taking a picture of a pacer as conclusive evidence of suspicious behaviour, but we're all different...;)
 

Antman

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I had a bit of a hullabaloo with the staff at Southend Victoria today (9th December). I went in and asked the gateline staff member if I could access the platforms to take some photos (normally I'd have a ticket and just go in but in this instance I was travelling via Central so had no tickets valid at Victoria). The man told me this was "illegal" and said something about recent events. When I pressed he said Abellio had said written permission was needed to take photos at their stations. When I asked to speak to a more senior member of staff he said none were on the station. When I asked for his name or staff number he refused to give them.

I went to the ticket desk to ask for a senior member of staff, but before that was finished another gentleman called me over. This one was also under the impression that written permission was always needed, but this one was far more helpful (gave me his name too) and took me over to the BTP office to check ''the bylaws''. The police guy, nice as he was, said it was private property and was up to the landowner. Back we went to the office at the station where the station manager who wasn't on the station appeared, having been there the whole time, and promptly confirmed photography for personal use was fine. This was much to the surprise of the man I was with who had sworn blind that Abellio policy forbid it. By this time I had also summoned up the Network Rail website to that effect on my phone having failed to find Abellio's own policy online.

I'll be writing to AGA about this tomorrow but I wanted to talk about it on here first in case anyone here can give me some pointers for my email or other feedback, advice or input. This is the first time I have had an issue photographing on a station since 2010, something I do every single week across the country. The thing I'm really bothered about is Abellio staff being given this kind of information and not being trained on any level in how to handle enthusiasts. It's in stark contrast to the experience I've had in 99% of stations, including others on AGA's network.
Isn't this just a load of nonsense? Just take photos with a mobile phone and nobody is any the wiser.

In fairness I can understand them not allowing you through the barriers without a valid ticket.
 

andyb2706

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I've only had any issues once with taking photographs and that was when I had arrived on the train at Littlehampton and I was taking a picture of a train I had just got off and a platform staff member said I could not do that due to the terrorist threat level.

No disrespect to Littlehampton but who would want to attack Littlehampton train station!? Seeing that on the same day I had been to London Victoria, Gatwick, Three Bridges and Brighton taking photographs and not a single issue at any of them.

If I had realised someone was taking photos, I'd have brushed me hair.
Wish I had the hair to brush.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Personally I'd regard taking a picture of a pacer as conclusive evidence of suspicious behaviour, but we're all different...;)
Well, for future prosperity. The day will come when you are stood on the platform spotting and photographing in your 90's (or so I hope) and some whipper-snapper will come up to you and say how bad things are on the railway and you will be in a Monty Pythonesque manner "bad! Bad! you don't know what bad is. In my day we had these..." and you would then whip out a photo of the pacer and the whipper-snapper will turn bright red and shuffle off down the platform leaving you to remember the good old days of bouncing around and screeching around the slightest curve.:D
 
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HH

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In fairness I can understand them not allowing you through the barriers without a valid ticket.
Indeed. But on previous experience, this is nothing to do with policy, but simply that particular member of staff making something up on the spot for some reason.

I recall a member of staff at Leicester trying to stop me taking photos in the ticket hall.
 

LowLevel

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EMT bod at EM Parkway (the one with Radcliffe Power Station cooling towers as a backdrop) warned me I could take photos of trains but not of any infrastructure such as platforms, signs or signals. I am sure they make this up as the go along...
EMT stations are generally enthusiast friendly (though I know a few locations have some staff that are a bit cold toward it following personal issues with a few clowns) so I would imagine that they misunderstood the brief which told them photography was fine but be vigilant towards people who are taking pictures of things like CCTV cameras and alarms rather than just 'railway' type things.

Leicester for example has always been enthusiast friendly and generally has a couple of platform enders about but this was nearly spoiled by a couple of clowns acting like they owned the place and at all hours of the day which actually ended up in the police being involved and them being issued with a 'withdrawal of implied consent' letter.
 

Antman

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Talk about a sweeping generalisation, not a Daily Mail journalist by any chance? (I do realise that is the ultimate insult ;) ). .
Oh the irony, you accuse somebody of a sweeping generalisation whilst making one yourself, I'm not sure how the DM is relevant to this thread anyway:roll:
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Indeed. But on previous experience, this is nothing to do with policy, but simply that particular member of staff making something up on the spot for some reason.

I recall a member of staff at Leicester trying to stop me taking photos in the ticket hall.
Did they give any reason?
 

Clip

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Such a shame to hear this as the railway does encourage enthusiasts onto our stations even calling you all our second pair of eyes.

Please make a complaint about this and let us know how you got on.
 

bramling

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Talk about a sweeping generalisation, not a Daily Mail journalist by any chance? (I do realise that is the ultimate insult ;) ).

It is always disappointing when stories like this appear on here, as most stations do apply common sense. Recent events such as at Leytonstone inevitably make staff responsible for security more suspicious of any strange behaviour, and to many taking pictures of trains falls into that category.

Ipswich for example (yes not Essex, but AGA) is one of the most welcoming stations for enthusiasts you could find. At the end of the day, at a barriered station it is a privilege to be allowed on the platform without a valid ticket, not a right. More likely the OP was simply unlucky rather than the victim of some new Abellio policy, and unless the gate staff were rude (not merely unhelpful) not worth making a fuss about in my humble opinion.
You're right - it is a generalisation, but sadly one based on real-world experience.

If I were to make a list of stations where I've had negative encounters with staff whilst attempting to take photographs, there would probably be more Essex stations in the list than the whole of the rest of the country combined. That's got to be more than coincidence.

And, yes, Southend Victoria would be on the list.
 

HH

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Did they give any reason?
LOL, yes. He said it was because the flash might blind a driver. Seeing as I had my back to the platform and there is a wall between (albeit with glass), I took that as merely something made up on the spot. Particularly as I didn't have such a problem with other TOs.
 

TheNewNo2

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Well flash photography is banned on stations for precisely the reason of preventing drivers being distracted or dazzled. I had someone at Limehouse intercept me after I set my tripod up at night, but I was able to assure them that I wanted long exposures and not flash. That said the photos didn't come out in the end anyway, so a bit of a waste.

I've generally found there's no consistency to it. My worst experience was at Stockport, where a CSA demanded I delete all my photos, threatened to get the police, blocked me from getting on my train, then just wandered off.

Most TOCs are happy to let people take photos (Network Rail are somewhat of an exception), but the station staff don't always know this.
 

Essexman

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My experience of photographing trains inside Sellafield. It was a couple of years ago and I wonder if they've put the signs up yet?

---- as I walked off a voice called me back. A policeman with machine gun over his shoulder was standing by the fence. ‘Why was I taking photos?’ – ‘An interest in railways and writing a book’. ‘Did I have any ID?’ – ‘Yes’. ‘Can I see it?’ Just as I was about to pass my driving licence through the fence I had second thoughts. I wasn’t going to have my name on the police computer. He wasn’t happy that I’d declined. I’d taken the photos through a section of temporary fence and he decided that I might be a terrorist sizing the place up for an attack while the fence was under repair. That he hadn’t stopped me when I’d taken the first photos (he and his mate were sitting in a car watching the fence) and that a terrorist might be more careful than to take pictures in front of two policemen, didn’t seem to matter. Nor was my explanation accepted that I’d chosen the spot because the larger mesh made taking photos easier. To my protestation that there was no sign prohibiting photography his response was that they were going to put these up soon, but I should have known anyway. How was I to know that it wasn’t permitted to take photos of the trains, all of which can be seen on the public railway?

I thought of just walking but that gun was rather big. After some minutes and with an impasse reached, I offered to delete the photos. That he seemed happy with, perhaps giving him a way out without backing down, but as I deleted them he noticed that one showed the bottom of the fence. This I’d taken of the ground by mistake, but now he had evidence of my ‘suspicious activity’. If he’d been a very good policeman he might have noticed that the rest of the photos on the screen were of police dogs and officers outside Upton Park, taken at West Ham’s last home game. These were for the Football Supporters’ Federation monitoring of football policing, but had he noticed them I don’t suppose I’d have been returning back by the railway line to Seascale quite so soon. But it wasn’t quite over. As I walked back through the village a police car pulled up. ‘Are you the person who was walking at Sellafield?’ – ‘I have been for a walk past Sellafield.’ ‘Are you going to let us have your name? – ‘No!’.
 

Antman

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LOL, yes. He said it was because the flash might blind a driver. Seeing as I had my back to the platform and there is a wall between (albeit with glass), I took that as merely something made up on the spot. Particularly as I didn't have such a problem with other TOs.
Obviously using the 'flash rule' as an excuse to be a jobsworth!

I often see photographers at the London end of the platforms at Clapham Junction, seems to be no problem there
 

bramling

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My experience of photographing trains inside Sellafield. It was a couple of years ago and I wonder if they've put the signs up yet?

---- as I walked off a voice called me back. A policeman with machine gun over his shoulder was standing by the fence. ‘Why was I taking photos?’ – ‘An interest in railways and writing a book’. ‘Did I have any ID?’ – ‘Yes’. ‘Can I see it?’ Just as I was about to pass my driving licence through the fence I had second thoughts. I wasn’t going to have my name on the police computer. He wasn’t happy that I’d declined. I’d taken the photos through a section of temporary fence and he decided that I might be a terrorist sizing the place up for an attack while the fence was under repair. That he hadn’t stopped me when I’d taken the first photos (he and his mate were sitting in a car watching the fence) and that a terrorist might be more careful than to take pictures in front of two policemen, didn’t seem to matter. Nor was my explanation accepted that I’d chosen the spot because the larger mesh made taking photos easier. To my protestation that there was no sign prohibiting photography his response was that they were going to put these up soon, but I should have known anyway. How was I to know that it wasn’t permitted to take photos of the trains, all of which can be seen on the public railway?

I thought of just walking but that gun was rather big. After some minutes and with an impasse reached, I offered to delete the photos. That he seemed happy with, perhaps giving him a way out without backing down, but as I deleted them he noticed that one showed the bottom of the fence. This I’d taken of the ground by mistake, but now he had evidence of my ‘suspicious activity’. If he’d been a very good policeman he might have noticed that the rest of the photos on the screen were of police dogs and officers outside Upton Park, taken at West Ham’s last home game. These were for the Football Supporters’ Federation monitoring of football policing, but had he noticed them I don’t suppose I’d have been returning back by the railway line to Seascale quite so soon. But it wasn’t quite over. As I walked back through the village a police car pulled up. ‘Are you the person who was walking at Sellafield?’ – ‘I have been for a walk past Sellafield.’ ‘Are you going to let us have your name? – ‘No!’.
It is so frustrating how, in a supposedly liberal country, this sort of thing seems to happen so often. It's also unfortunate how some individuals seem to think they have a right to interfere with the enjoyment of others.

If everyone with a bit of power or so-called authority in their jobs (or their own imagination) went round interfering with others, life would be horrible for everyone. The problem with these individuals is their effect rubs off, I might well be tempted to think "well if people are going to annoy me, then I'm going to do what I can to annoy others too". In my job there's a *lot* of things I could do which could **** a *lot* of people off. Thankfully most people are decent, the best thing we can do is treat these idiots with the contempt they deserve.
 

Steveoh

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EMT bod at EM Parkway (the one with Radcliffe Power Station cooling towers as a backdrop) warned me I could take photos of trains but not of any infrastructure such as platforms, signs or signals. I am sure they make this up as the go along...
I've had no trouble there. EMT has an official policy http://www.eastmidlandstrains.co.uk...es-procedures/photography-at-stations-policy/
Introduction

We welcome rail enthusiasts to our stations and have produced the following guidelines to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience in the pursuit of your interest. Information is also provided below regarding our policy on photography at our stations.
Before you enter the platform

At major stations please inform the Duty Station Manager of your presence. This ensures our staff are aware you are on the station and they can go about their duties without concern as to your reasons for being there. At smaller stations you should ensure that you advise a member of the station staff of your activities. Please note that you may require a platform ticket to allow access to platforms or you may be asked to sign in at gated stations.
It goes on a bit but there is nothing about what you can and cannot photograph.
 

43074

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Hmmm - I did think taking photos was allowed, but usage of tripods or flash on stations and trains is not.
Usage of tripods is OK, provided they are not used in busy areas and are kept away from the platform edge. Flash photography is not permitted though.
 

NSEFAN

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43074 said:
Usage of tripods is OK, provided they are not used in busy areas and are kept away from the platform edge. Flash photography is not permitted though.
Indeed. The general rule for photography at stations is to not get in the way of staff and passengers, and don't put yourself or anyone else at risk. In fact that seems to be a good way to behave on the railway in general...
 

Llanigraham

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LOL, yes. He said it was because the flash might blind a driver. Seeing as I had my back to the platform and there is a wall between (albeit with glass), I took that as merely something made up on the spot. Particularly as I didn't have such a problem with other TOs.
He did not make it up!
Mentioned in this official help guide:

http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/777.aspx
 
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