Tips for Railfans

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    Railroad enthusiasts are found throughout the world and hail from all walks of life. Some follow train technology or operations, others create elaborate train layouts or models, and many enjoy taking photographs or are content to just watch trains from a distance.

    At any level of interest, the rail industry appreciates the support of railfans, who observe railroad operations with a shared concern for safety and security. Metra partners with the Transportation Security Administration and Operation Lifesaver to educate communities about the dangers of trespassing upon railroad property.

    With this in mind, the Metra Police Department asks train watchers to help authorities by being on alert for security or safety problems.

    While the Metra Police Department is focused on enhancing passenger safety and security every day, we also need your assistance. Now, more than ever before, the reporting of suspicious activities is critical in protecting the railroad and the communities we serve.

    Rail passengers can help by being alert to their surroundings. Assist police officers and employees by reporting anything suspicious or out of the ordinary.

    Call Metra Police at 312-322-2800.

    To report an emergency, call local police at 911.

    If you see something, say something!

    Safety Guidelines

    • Only photograph or view trains from a safe position and at public locations.
    • Always stay at least 15 feet away from the nearest rail when photographing or filming at a public railroad crossing.
    • Always remain aware of where you are standing in relation to the tracks and vehicle traffic.
    • Stay at least 15 feet away from catenary and other electrical wires.
    • For night photography, avoid aiming lights into the locomotive as you risk obscuring the engineer’s vision.
    • Remember, young adults and children watch what you do and will follow your example.
    • Walking or playing on railroad property is trespassing. It is illegal, very dangerous and poses a serious safety and security risk.
    • Keep safely away from the scene of an incident and do not talk to suspicious people. Call Metra Police immediately.

    If you see any unsafe or suspicious activities, report them to the Metra Police Department. Such activities may include:

    • Trespassers on railroad property.
    • Vehicles left on or near tracks.
    • Suspicious packages or objects on or near railroad property.
    • Suspicious activities or unusual conduct near or around tracks and rail yards.
    • Theft, vandalism or graffiti.
    • Threats or hostile language against the railroad.
    • Opened or damaged gates and fencing.

    Tell police the following:

    • Describe and provide details about the activity.
    • Date and location of the activity (station, train number, street or intersection, etc.).
    • Descriptions of observed people or vehicles.
    • The whereabouts of suspicious individuals, if known.
    • Your name and contact information (optional).

    Public and Restricted Areas

    A public area is open to the general public for access and occupancy, and includes stations, waiting areas and station platforms.

    A restricted area is for authorized personnel only. Unauthorized persons found in restricted areas will be subject to investigation and possible arrest for trespassing.

    Some restricted areas include:

    • Tracks, bridges, tunnels, rail yards and power generating and communication facilities.
    • Train locomotives and operating cabs.
    • Unstaffed or out-of-service trains.
    • Employee work areas.
    • Maintenance facilities and office areas.

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