Taking photos at London St Pancras

Discussion in 'Photography Advice & Discussion' started by ANDYS, 18 Jan 2015.

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  1. ANDYS

    ANDYS Member

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    Just back from an excellent day in London only spoilt by one incident at the very end of the day. Having been to Heathrow, various Underground, train and bus locations throughout the day myself and my 12 year old son returned to St Pancras for our train home. At no location had we had any issue with taking photos/videos. We keep out of the way of the travelling public and are rarely in one spot for very long.

    However, with twenty minutes to go before our train departed from the EMT platforms my son wanted to go down onto the 'Thameslink' platforms to see if we could see the new 387's. It was 19:30, the platforms down there are huge and we plonked ourselves right at the north end of the very empty platform. He got on taking photos of the passing units and I sat down for a bit of peace and quiet for the few minutes we were going to be there. Within 5 minutes a 'security officer' came up and told my son that he was not allowed to take photos there. He then came over and repeated the same warning to me. Now to the crux of the matter.

    I have no complaint about how he spoke to me or my son. He was very polite but what he said did set me thinking. As we were literally minutes away from catching our train I did not want to stand my ground too much. I told him that we had not had any trouble anywhere in London, there were no signs and as far as I knew taking photos was perfectly legal and above board. We were not taking photos of anything sensitive and were very much minding our own business. He then said ' This station is owned by HS1 and therefore a private site. Therefore no photos ' If I had had a few more minutes I would have got the latest train magazine out with photos of the 387's from exactly where we were standing but, as I said, we did not have time.

    So to my question. Was he right, was I right or somewhere in the middle?

    Any comments, Andy S
     
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  3. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    There was a long-running thread recently that seemed to establish that railway stations are private property to which the public is normally granted access. As private property, they can set whatever rules they want as long as they are within reason and don't contravene any legislation.

    My personal feeling is that the owners of the station wouldn't have a problem with pictures being taken, but that particular individual (for whatever reason) does.
     
  4. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    You were right.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Network Rail (Who own the stations) says that it is permitted.

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

    TUC Established Member

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    The default position as set out at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations_destinations/51952.aspx is that taking photos is fine. What isn't clear is whether St Pancras is a signatory to this approach as this is a joint TOC/Network Rail position whereas St Pancras is owned by London and Continental Railways.
     
  6. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    In the linked document they ask you to inform station staff of your intentions, and also say:
    So it was probably somewhere in the middle.
     
  7. Abpj17

    Abpj17 Member

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    Particularly in London, you do have to bear in mind that the security situtation can lead to a different level of sensitivity (part genuine, part paranoia)
     
  8. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    Although I've never quite figured out how taking photos links to that, except purely in terms of paranoia.
     
  9. 6Gman

    6Gman Established Member

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    If you were 'downstairs' at St Pancras perhaps the issue was related to the potential use of flash?
     
  10. rdeez

    rdeez Member

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    Exactly. I can't imagine photos taken from a place to which the public have access (and most likely have previously had photos taken from) being particularly useful to those with intentions to commit such crimes. Chances are any information that could be gathered in that way is already readily available elsewhere, and more than likely, even greater information could be obtained from other sources (even this forum, for example!).

    While there's often no choice except to comply, and we have to accept that owners can set rules on their own property, I think it's ridiculous to ban something as utterly harmless as taking photos at a railway station on the most flimsy of justifications. Sometimes, especially where security personnel are involved, I feel it's more to do with asserting their own authority and justifying their position rather than an official policy. I'm not saying this is true of all such personnel, if they've been instructed to not permit it, fair enough. But in some instances you have to wonder.

    In this case specifically, (assuming there is no official policy prohibiting it there), I think the fact that it was a father and his kid should have been more than enough to indicate that this was not some kind of suspicious intelligence gathering activity.
     
  11. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    The argument is that you could be 'casing the joint'. Try taking pictures of public buildings in the USA and you'll probably find yourself talking to a rent-a-cop pretty quickly.
     
  12. ANDYS

    ANDYS Member

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    Thanks all for your comments up to now.

    If we had had more time I would have brought up all the issues mentioned as they back up what I thought.

    I think it was more a personnel issue. As I said we had been to Heathrow (buses/trains/planes) and had no issues, then moved on via a number of stops on the Underground (again with no issues) to Tower Hill. We spent a good hour around the Tower (buses/DLR/Fenchurch Street) before heading back across London to Victoria bus station. Again it was quite busy and going dark so my son used his tripod remembering to keep out of the way. Most drivers gave him a wave and no one said anything. Same on Victoria station and then back on the Underground to STP.

    Just to add insult to my sons injury was the fact that the train he was not allowed to photograph were a pair of brand new 387's (109 + 110), just the trains he had gone down to see!!

    Andy S
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2015
  13. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    It also says, Taking photographs on stations is permitted providing it is for personal use.
     
  14. 68000

    68000 Member

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    Little Hitler mentality
     
  15. Murph

    Murph Member

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    Great, so we're protected against evil people who don't have an intelligent mastermind coordinating them. Covert camera equipment (stuff James Bond would be proud of) is cheap and widely available these days, if an intelligent and nefarious person wanted to capture some sensitive details. Worse is that the time security people waste pointlessly harassing harmless people is time that they are not spending watching for real threats.
     
  16. ANDYS

    ANDYS Member

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    Murph,

    I totally agree. I realise that security personnel have a difficult job balancing up what is or is not a threat but a middle aged bloke reading a paper with a twelve year old boy taking photos on a basically empty platform should surely rate quite low on the risk register.

    As someone else said, wear a pair of 'Google Glasses' and you can move around, recording whatever you like.

    Andy S
     
  17. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    I have no objection to security staff enforcing rules providing they are actually enforcing a rule that exists. The statement was made by the security staff concerned that "This station is owned by HS1 and therefore a private site. Therefore no photos."

    Key question therefore is, is that statement correct?
     
  18. crewmeal

    crewmeal Member

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    If photography is forbidden why the hell don't they put up signs to that effect? In aviation we tell passengers that photography is strictly prohibited at some sensitive airports around the world. We also tell passengers that drug smuggling is a capital offence prior to landing at certain airports.

    I'm not suggesting rail photography is a capital offence but you would think it is the way some railwaymen act!
     
  19. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    No. It is not.
     
  20. 68000

    68000 Member

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  21. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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  22. 68000

    68000 Member

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    Can you point me to evidence of this?

    Wikipedia says

    [​IMG]
     
  23. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    It would appear HS1 Ltd do own the station.
     
  24. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    To set matters straight, the main station is owned by HS1 Ltd. (NOT London & Continental), and managed on their behalf by Network Rail (High Speed) Ltd.
    The subsurface station is owned by Network Rail and managed on their behalf by Network Rail (High Speed) Ltd.
     
  25. ANDYS

    ANDYS Member

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    EM2

    this makes it even more ridiculous.

    In the morning we spent some time taking photos on the East Midland trains platform and on the concourse near the big statue. No one battered an eyelid then.

    In previous visits to STP we have asked, and been given permission to take photos on the 'Javelin' Southeastern platforms which this info suggests is owned by HS1. If they allow photography there it suggests they (as a company) do not have an issue.

    This seems more and more like a 'security official' winging it!

    Andy S
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2015
  26. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    My initial thoughts are that the member of staff was part of a group that have been recruited very recently, and may have misunderstood the policy as laid out.
     
  27. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Just to confuse the issue even further this page implies that NR actually own and manage the whole of St Pancras as there is no distinction between the different parts of it.
     
  28. westcoaster

    westcoaster Established Member

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    If you were up the far north end of the platform, maybe he was a bit dubious, as hardy anyone goes past the DOO monitors and you kind of stick out. I've seen hundreds of people taking photos (including flash) down there on a daily basis.

    Was he a TL staff member or one of the St Pancras staff (blue hi biz).
     
  29. 68000

    68000 Member

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    So LCR used to own STP but sold it to Canadian pension groups on a 30 year concession? The Canadians contract Network Rail (HS1) to manage the station? Network Rail (HS1) then sub-contract out various bits to Eurostar, Network Rail and HS1 for management?
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2015
  30. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    Yes (thanks to the Government).
    Yes.
    No.
    Network Rail (High Speed) Ltd. manage the whole station. That doesn't mean that their staff do everything, but that they have overall responsibility for all areas.
     
  31. TUC

    TUC Established Member

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    Depending on what he meant by 'private' no more true than any other rail station. Yes, most other stations are owned by Network Rail but, regardless of Network Rail's status in relation to the public sector (which is clearly a tale in itself), even facilities which are state owned are 'private' in the sense that that there is an organisation which owns them as opposed to being public land over which anyone can walk without permission. So its fairly irrelevant in terms of whether being owned by HS1 rather than Network Rail makes any difference.
     
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