Please note that the information on this website regarding photographers' rights and UK law must not be regarded as authoritative. It is written in general terms with a view to increasing general everyday understanding. However it is neither intended to provide authoritative advice nor to be used as guidance in specific cases. Anyone seeking authoritative advice regarding such matters, or anyone involved in a particular legal case, must seek the advice of a suitably qualified solicitor.
Commercial filming and photography on London's railway and underground network is strictly controlled. It is however possible to obtain a permit, one of which is designed to meet the needs of student and amateur photographers - details are available from the Transport for London website. Passengers can apparently take photographs for private use with "small cameras" provided neither flash nor tripods are used and staff and other passengers are not obstructed or inconvenienced.
With regard to the main UK rail network, Network Rail states:
"You can take photographs at stations provided you do not sell them. However, you are not allowed to take photographs of security related equipment, such as CCTV cameras. Flash photography on platforms is not allowed at any time. It can distract train drivers & train dispatch staff and so is potentially very dangerous. Tripod legs must be kept away from platform edges and behind the yellow lines. On busy stations, you may not be allowed to use a tripod because it could be a dangerous obstruction to passengers."
Check the latest details on Network Rail's website.
In October 2009 Virgin Trains launched a poster campaign to clarify their policy regarding photography at their stations. The poster read:
"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. Flash photography is not permitted at any time and the use of tripods should be avoided wherever possible. If you wish to use a tripod you should speak with the Station Team Leader to ensure that you are in a safe area".
Always remember that only some sections of railway infrastructure are open to the public - such as stations, platforms and safe crossing facilities (including public bridges and foot-crossings, level crossings and underpasses. Other areas, such as the railway tracks and embankments, are potentially very dangerous. Anyone entering such areas would not only be acting irresponsibly but also trespassing. Only in exceptional circumstances, for instance when the emergency services or railway staff instruct passengers to walk along tracks in the case of a breakdown, can this rule be ignored.