Personal Safety in Europe

There is one over-riding message here: Don’t make yourself a victim. There are plenty of things you can do to prevent yourself¬† from becoming one.


1. Avoid dimly lit areas and enclosed areas such as tunnels and underpasses whenever possible. If you can plan your route in advance, try to stick to well lit areas where there are plenty of people about.

2. Don’t put valuables on display. Keep cameras, mobile phones etc under wraps when not in use. A camera bag can be a dead give-away to a mugger. I carry my camera equipment in a plain rucksack, or sometimes, in a “Tesco” bag! Consider carrying a personal attack alarm and a mobile phone to call the Police if you are attacked.

3. Don’t carry all your cash in the one place. Carry only a small amount of cash in a wallet with no other cards or ID in it.

4. Be aware of what is happening around you. Don’t wear headphones as they can be distracting.

5. Don’t leave your bag or rucksack lying about. Keep your eye on it. It only takes a second for a thief to steal it, also, an unattended bag may cause a security alert.

6. If you are in a station and you can see other Enthusiasts, it may be advisable to stay close to them, or at least let them know you are there. Safety in numbers, particularly at night.

7. If you are visiting locations outside the UK, be aware of local customs and laws and adhere to them. What may be okay in the UK, may well be a criminal offence elsewhere. Check the Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel website for country-specific information.


Railway Specific (Europe):

NOTE: The European Emergency Number is 112

1. Photography is tolerated in most European stations. You should adhere to the Network Rail guidelines for Rail Enthusiasts as a general guide, though there are some exceptions to this:

– in France, it is illegal to photograph ANY SNCF employee.

– in Germany, the national railway, Deutsche Bahn, has it’s own private security service, easily identified as they have DB-Sicherheit (DB Security) in large letters on the back of their jackets. If they ask why you are taking photos, tell them you are a rail fan (ein Bahnfan) and that you are taking photos for your personal use

– in Italy, using an SLR camera in an Italian station may bring unwelcome attention from the police or the security services. I use my wife’s pocket compact camera, when in Italy, so as not to attract attention.

– in Bulgaria, you are supposed to purchase an official permit to photograph in stations.

2. You may see members of the public, walking about in the sidings, especially in Eastern European countries. DON’T be tempted to copy them.

3. Remember, Police in Europe are armed. If they want you to move, they will ask you politely, but they will only ask you once. My personal policy is NEVER to argue with someone who carries a gun.

¬†© 1999-2018 J.M. Anderson