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Photographers Rights - railway stations and tube stations
A brief guide for street photographers.
(©urban75, updated December 2009)
You do not need to ask permission in most circumstances, although that doesn't stop some security-obsessed jobsworths trying to stop you.
However, it's worth checking with individual companies before snapping and always use your common sense - if you're getting in everyone's way or creating a safety risk, expect to be turfed off sharpish.
Network Rail's official line is that enthusiasts are very welcome and can be beneficial to security by providing extra 'eyes and ears.' All they ask is that people notify station staff and don't do anything silly like hanging over platform edges as trains are approaching, which isn't unreasonable.
Taking photographs on stations is permitted providing it is for personal use. For any commercial photography, prior permission must be sought from the appropriate train operator or, from Network Rail at their 17 major stations. On busy stations the use of a tripod may cause a dangerous obstruction to passengers and you may be asked not to use one.
In addition, tripod legs must also be kept away from platform edges and behind the yellow lines. Flash photography on platforms is not allowed as it may distract the attention of train drivers and train despatch staff and is therefore a potential safety hazard. You are also not allowed to take photographs of security related equipment such as CCTV cameras.
Railtrack guidelines for rail enthusiasts
Virgin Trains have adopted a similarly sensible policy, with posters erected on stations in November 2009 advertising their policy:
Virgin trains welcomes rail enthusiasts and passengers who wish to take still or video images at our stations.
We ask that you do not interfere with the flow of passengers and respect the wishes of both passengers and staff not to be photographed. If you are filming for extended periods and/or using bulky equipment you should make yourself known to our station staff so that the reasons for filming are clear.
Flash photography is not permitted at any time and the use of tripods should be avoided whenever possible. If you wish to use a tripod you should locate and speak with the Station Team Leader to ensure that you are in a safe area.
Seeing as we've heard so many instances of people being hassled over this, here's the low down: non-commercial photography on tube stations is most certainly allowed - and if any busybody tries to tell you different, politely tell them to bury their head in part 10 of rule Sa109 in the Working Reference Manual:
10.1 Passengers can take photographs with small cameras for private purposes, provided flashlights and/or tripods are not used no obstruction or inconvenience is caused to staff and/or passengers.
You are welcome to discuss the issues on our bulletin boards Photographers rights in the UK: discussion. Please note that you will have to register to post comments (it is free).
Also: Photographing protests in the UK - advice on backing up images, streaming video and keeping your photos safe
Next: Trespass/Obstruction etc
Note: This article attempts to be a brief educational guide to the sometimes-complex matter of your rights as a photographer. It is not legal advice and we recommend seeking out proper legal advice if you encounter problems or contributing to our bulletin boards. Some material in this article has been sourced from the UK Photographers Rights website.
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