Amtrak launched a program to help bolster the railroad’s own safety, using that base as a source of information and security.

Amtrak launched the Partners for Amtrak Safety and Security program, which recruits railfans who already watch (and often meticulously record) train movements. Amtrak is asking this community to watch for suspicious and/or unusual activity on trains, in or near stations, and along rail right-of-way.

Participants can register online to participate in the program to acquire embership cards and to learn more about what safety and security concerns they should look out for and how to report them.

Said Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor of railfans, “They know sometimes better than our employees … They know engine numbers and car numbers and timetables. They know better than the fisherman knows the tides."

The program is credited as the outgrowth of a forum Amtrak executives attended last year, organized by Trains magazine. The forum was organized to help foster dialogue and reduce friction between railfans and Amtrak.