You really can’t hear trains until they’re almost right on top of you

Apr 3, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

You really can’t hear trains until they’re almost right on top of you

Apr 3, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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It’s that time of year again. It’s warming up, the sun’s coming back, and people are going outside to shoot more portraits. And as often happens when we reach this time of year, some of those portrait sessions happen on train tracks. And occasionally, people get killed by trains while shooting on those tracks.

TODAY investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen wanted to find out just how difficult it was to hear a train coming up behind you. So, he went and did exactly that. This report shows that even with huge freight trains, you can’t hear them until they’re almost on top of you. By the time you’d turned realised what it was and turned your head round to see it, it would probably already be too late.

While TODAY posted this video on April 1st, this is no joke. This frame shows the moment he hears the train coming up behind him for the first time.

It was five seconds after he heard it that it was coming past him. And that was slow train, too, travelling at a mere 25mph. Many trains easily run in excess of 70mph, which is going to cut that down to 2 seconds or less.

When people do get hit, we see the usual sets of responses. “They should’ve had lookouts”, “Well, I could’ve heard a train coming, why couldn’t they?”, and the usual references to Darwin. But the simple fact is, you just shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. If it’s a live track (any even many dead ones) then it’s probably illegal to shoot on in most of the world. And why take the risk for such a horribly overly done cliché anyway?

So, if you’re thinking about shooting on the tracks, don’t. If a client asks you to shoot on the train tracks, say no. It’s not worth taking chances with your life or theirs.

[via TODAY]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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14 responses to “You really can’t hear trains until they’re almost right on top of you”

  1. Jasper Avatar
    Jasper

    …I believe that being hit and killed by a train is almost solely the realm of Americans & the population of India !!!

    1. john doe Avatar
      john doe

      In which case this report will hopefully save many lives in both countries. Have never understood why people were dying, couldn’t they hear anything. Turns out it was too short a warning. Who knew..

  2. Gibbs Freind Avatar
    Gibbs Freind

    It sounds so crazy cause you can hear them @ night when you don’t live anywhere near train tracks, but It almost happened to me. Walked off the tracks, 10 seconds later there it was. So I don’t do tracks…………..

  3. Nasrin Avatar
    Nasrin

    Really? thanks for this nice post.

  4. Luciano Avatar
    Luciano

    Or you just bring an assistant to look on what’s coming from the other side.

    1. TheInconvenientRuth Avatar
      TheInconvenientRuth

      …and after not seeing a train for 14 minutes they get bored and start looking on their phone insetad of the tracks. Seen it happen.

  5. Gustavo Febres Avatar
    Gustavo Febres

    I wish I knew this before lol (see my FB cover)

    1. Andras Oravecz Avatar
      Andras Oravecz

      You needed a news reporter to tell you walking on the tracks is dangerous?

    2. Gustavo Febres Avatar
      Gustavo Febres

      Andras Oravecz I know they’re dangerous but I didn’t know you can’t hear them until they’re close.

  6. Daris Fox Avatar
    Daris Fox

    Just find a railway heritage society, they often have tracks you can use that’s not in active use all year round. Plus they can do with the extra cash to keep their conservation efforts going.

  7. Marcus Weinhold Avatar
    Marcus Weinhold

    That and it’s cliche af.

  8. Hugh Mobley Avatar
    Hugh Mobley

    You can hear them as they are going away from you, not coming at you till its too late

  9. blokeinusa Avatar
    blokeinusa

    How is this different than shooting on back roads, such as those in the desert…don’t be stupid…don’t shoot on the freeway and expect it to be safe.be smart about what your doing, don’t shoot on an active railway

  10. Frank Avatar
    Frank

    This “test” is rigged. Trains don’t run in silent mode, especially within a city.

    They are required to sound their horn within a 1/2 mile of all level crossings. That means they are constantly on the horn in a city. If a train engineer sees people around the tracks they will use their horn.

    The train here was idling as it passed. That is why they weren’t hearing it.

    Anyone that has been around a train knows the ground shakes when a train approaches.

    Shooting on train tracks is less dangerous than shooting around cliffs. If you don’t want to shoot on train tracks, then don’t. If you do, then be careful and have a dedicated person watching.