During a recent trip to Portage la Prairie, a small group of rail fans were reported by CN authorities and questioned by the RCMP.
The group had settled in their usual rail fanning place at the foundation of the old grain elevator near the CP tracks. Two of them, who were in their 60's, left the site to walk to the Via Rail station to answer nature's call ( which is common for most men of that age). The two elderly men were walking on the station platform on the opposite side of the tracks when a CN employee burst from CN's portable structure and shouted at them.
"Hey, get off of there! You're trespassing!" Shouted the employee.
The two men immediately complied and walked across the tracks to the passenger platform at the station. When they returned to their rail fanning site, they were surprised to see an RCMP police car approaching them. The police informed them that the CN employee had called them to report a trespassing incident.
The two policemen took their names and told them that they'd have to call CN Police to see if they wanted to lay charges against them. The police seemed a bit embarrassed by the situation, and as they were waiting for the CN Police to respond to their 800 call, they chatted with the three men about camera equipment (It should be noted that while this was going on, other people were freely crossing the tracks at various locations). About ten minutes later, the CN Police responded.
No charges were laid, but the RCMP strongly advised the men not to cross the tracks for any reason except at the designated level crossings. With that, the rail fans parked at the station, then later went to the diamond, far away from the prying eyes of CN.
This might've been an unusual and even an isolated incident, and the rail fans might've been just a victim of bad timing on a lazy Sunday afternoon, but CN (and CP) are well within their rights to report such incidents. They might've not taken some of the more extreme measures we've all heard about the U.S. railroads regarding rail fanning, bur keep in mind the CN and CP have a strong presence in the U.S. and are influenced by the practices of other railroads.
As Canadians, we are often inclined believe that we can rail fan more freely than our friends south of the border. Incidents like this show that this is no longer true. When we rail fan, we should always exercise extreme caution and respect the property laws of the railroads, whether we are rail fanning in the U.S. or in Canada.