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WikiProject Trains (Rated B-class, Mid-importance)
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Notable railfans[edit]

is it really interesting that Michael Palin is a railfan? i think we need a citation for that. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ben moss (talkcontribs) 19:50, November 28, 2006.

I think it is interesting. Railway enthusiasts get such a bad press in the media that it is worth noting any well-known people who "come out of the closet" (so to speak!) about their interest in railways. This would help reinforce the worth of our hobby without entering into POV issues. It would also be useful reference for anyone researching the hobby from a 'people' POV (consider someone researching for a TV documentary about the hobby). Obviously we would need appropriate refs, but in many cases this would be straightforward. If the references are more than just mentioning their interest (as in many of the examples below) they will be of much greater value.
Some examples:
  • The composer Antonín Dvořák (it's mentioned in his article, and I found another reference on another site)
  • Producer Pete Waterman, whose interest extended to forming his own rolling stock company. (I believe he was a steam loco fireman on BR before entering the world of pop.)
  • Joe Brown (singer) featured in some 1950's/1960's British Transport Films productions, and his commentary suggested that he had a love of steam engines and had spent some time working on the railways. (Sorry, it's a while since I've seen the film in question!)
  • Bob Symes - who has presented TV programmes about model railways
  • David Shepherd (artist) - owner of several steam locomotives and instrumental in the establishment of the East Somerset Railway
  • Michael Palin - whose first TV travel documentary was Great Railway Journeys of the World for the BBC, his involvement having come from his interest in railways, and which was the start of a new direction in his career
EdJogg 14:46, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

This might be an interesting section to add. To the above list can be added:

Two other names I have seen mentioned whenever this topic is raised in discussion forums are James Doohan and Johnny Cash, but I can't find reliable references.

There are many more into model trains but it's probably best suited to that article.

Dbromage 01:34, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

If we start collecting such data, I think, judging by the size of the list that's already here on the talk page, that it would be better suited to a subpage titled something like List of notable railfans. I see that there are similar lists in Category:Lists of people by activity such as List of notable birdwatchers, so this isn't out of the question. Slambo (Speak) 11:37, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Agree with Slambo, but need to take the right approach. What we want, in order to show railfans in a favourable light, is an article like List of bow tie wearers, which not only lists the people, but discusses the social impact (etc) of them doing so. The railfan equivalent to List of notable birdwatchers would be a list of the train spotters who had the most 'cops', which could be very difficult to verify!! (Noooooooooooooo! - and unlikely to exist for very long!!) On the other hand, List of famous smokers follows a similar pattern to what we already have (although it is slated as unreferenced, etc).
I think the following will be important to avoid the list being 'Speedied' and to avoid it growing unchecked:
  1. Separate into those for whom being a railfan is 'just a hobby', and those whose hobby has led to a career, or similar. See my original list for the sort of 'notability criteria' that might be useful.
  2. Include notes to explain reason for inclusion in list
  3. Provide external references (will also add more weight to the value of the article)
  4. Ensure the person's WP entry mentions their rail enthusiasm and the effect it has had (re-use the previously-obtained reference and reasoning!)
EdJogg 12:51, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
I hadn't looked at the contents of the other articles yet, but List of bow tie wearers certainly presents an agreeable format. I like the discussion of the activity's impact on society and fashion, but wonder how we would word something like that here.
My first thoughts for inclusion criteria were that any person to be included in the list must either already have a Wikipedia biography article or would meet the notability guidelines for inclusion on his/her own merits. Requiring citations would be a given in my mind; and I'd even go so far as to propose that if a verifiable reference isn't supplied within a specified period of time (perhaps one month after being tagged with {{fact}}), then it should be removed from the list as unverified. Slambo (Speak) 14:01, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
That was the idea - anybody who already meets notability (people) guidelines and hence already has an article. Most of those already listed have some mention of rail enthusiasm in each article. Probably best to restrict the scope to those who had some level of ongoing interest/activity/activism in adulthood. People who just did a bit of train spotting in their youth (e.g. Michael Portillo and Geoffrey Palmer (actor)) should probably not be included. A one liner for each person about their type and level of interest is easy enough. There are many others I have not (yet) listed due to lack of sources. Unfortunately Usenet postings aren't reliable enough. Dbromage 01:33, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

I have created List of notable railfans. Those who do not already have mention of the hobby in their Wiki article have external links. Dbromage 01:56, 14 March 2007 (UTC)

The German Wikipedia Eisenbahnfreund article was quite helpful in providing more non-English speaking names, giving the list a more international scope. Are there any Dutch, Polish, Russian, Japanese or Chinese speakers who can check those Wikis? Dbromage 03:35, 14 March 2007 (UTC)


I did a little more reading today on Wikipedia:WikiProject Spam to see what is being done in other articles about the proliferation of external links. After reading there, I added {{NoMoreLinks}} to the External links section here to explicitly state that undiscussed links can and will be deleted. I think there are too many links there now, and I plan to go through with a rather large paring knife to remove links that aren't specifically about railfans (links containing rolling stock lists, photo galleries, tips on photo locations, etc., may be removed) soon. The list of railfanning locations should probably also move to a separate page to keep the content here more concise. Slambo (Speak) 16:35, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Good idea. Hopefully this will also address the imbalance between the quantity of US links vs quantity of links for any other individual country... :o) EdJogg 17:12, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Suggested New Links[edit]

Please add suggestions here for review:

TrainSim Eesti Estonian railfan and Microsoft Train Simulator forum - 23:13, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

[ A news report on a new book all about the beautiful things you can see from the trains in Wales —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:48, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

"What is a railfan?"[edit]

Bumped into this site written by a mature US railfan:

Although most of the points are covered in the WP article, it is a well-written document, particularly covering the relationship between railfans and law-enforcement agencies, and might better meet the tighter requirements than many of the existing external links.

EdJogg 13:52, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

  • Support addition. Good find; the site describes what a railfan is without giving a ton of information only relevant to railfans themselves. Slambo (Speak) 14:46, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

Train Spotting World[edit]

I came across Train Spotting World. I considered adding it to the general section of external liks, but noticed the no more links warning and thought you might prefer to review it here. It's pretty new, is using WP's GFDL to load a good selection of basic articles, and allows pretty free rein to railfans to form a community and pursue the hobby rather than document as an encyclopedia —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:56, 14 February 2007 (UTC).

  • I'm more inclined to say no to this one. Doing a quick look around there, everything I can see is a content fork of information we've got here. Slambo (Speak) 11:47, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
And looking at the User list, the account that I just created there appears to be the first user account that the site has known aside from the initial site admin. Slambo (Speak) 11:53, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I am neutral. I need to declare an interest here, because I own and operate the site. The first phase is simply to upload suitable articles in order to give a basis for things like spotting reports, timetables etc. I absolutely do not want to turn this message into an advert, so I'll finish very shortly. It will only be WP like if those who come there make it WP like. It is intended as a wholly different resource with a wholly different slant. WP is an encyclopaedia. Train Spotting World is absolutely not. Fiddle Faddle 23:08, 15 February 2007 (UTC)
    • We have now uploaded all we are going to upload, and thus, apart from anything a WP editor chooses to bring, or asks us to bring in bulk, that is the end of any similarity to WP. I think, ethically, this should be my final post here on the matter, and that anything else should be pursued on my talk page there. Regarding the concept of linking or not linking in the article here, I like EdJogg's thought that it could be mutually beneficial for WP, too, but I am wholly neutral in any formal opinion. Fiddle Faddle 12:16, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Could be useful. It's too early to tell, yet, but this site could be an extremely useful adjunct to WP, somewhere for all the unverifiable stuff that everyone wants to write about. Where better to have a list of 'Favourite Railfan Hotspots', for example?? As it has only just started up, it is probably not officially appropriate to include it as a link yet, however, by including it, we might be accelerating its development to the benefit of both sites. (Just a thought!) EdJogg 00:07, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I've spent a little time over there yesterday starting processes for adding spotting reports (like the page for BNSF 5353, for example). Tim's even turned on the admin bit for me there too. I agree with Ed that it could be useful as a place to put information of interest to railfans that are contrary to inclusion here per WP:NOT, and as such, I see value in the project. I'd like to see articles there with comprehensive equipment rosters, railfan hotspots, timetables and maybe even railfan gear reviews (just how well does a specific camera work for railfanning?). However, until the amount of original content outweighs the amount of copied content, I don't think it should be in the links section on this article. Slambo (Speak) 11:43, 16 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I just wanted to revisit this to document the divergence from WP. Apart from excellent work by editors there to generate categories relevant to railfanning rather than documenting the phenomenon of railfanning, (and much else besides) there are now:
  • Links to youtube and google videos that embed directly in the page
  • Google Map embedding
  • Embryo articles on Trackside dining & Trackside fishing
  • News articles (still in their infancy) on breaking rail news globally (The Sacramento trestle fire is a notable one)
  • Integrated blogs for registered users (direct integration with TSW accounts)
  • Dedicated chatroom
  • Events calendar (left margin)
  • Certain "Thomas" articles judged to be vulnerable on WP
I'm posting this here to illustrate divergence, and the entirely different ethos between here and there. WP is wholly correct in its formal stance. As an experienced WP editor I agree with that stance and applaud it. TSW is a very different animal and allows opinions in addition to cited facts. It will not for some time have a greater volume of home created/edited articles than copied ones, but it already has a strong portfolio of different articles, or original articles that now contain a video, or a map, etc.
Again, ethically, my own stance on linking must be neutral. I am simply trying to provide an update without "puffing" the site or spamming it. Fiddle Faddle 14:53, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Railfan versus Trainspotter[edit]

I think this article would make much more sense being located at Trainspotter and mentioning "railfan" as an alternative term... I for one have never heard of the term railfan but "trainspotter" has not only entered every-day lexicon (it was the title of a motion picture and a novel and it is now synonymous with an obsessive personality in any context). It would also be more logical considering the fact that trainspotting is already an article whereas there is nothing written on "railfandom" or any variation thereof. Is there a reason why it is located in one place as opposed to another? Waqcku 05:21, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

The term "trainspotter", as in the "every-day lexicon", generally has a somewhat different meaning to railfan. For example, the film and the novel have nothing to do with trainspotting in this context. Nor does this context relate strongly to obsessive personalities. If anything, I'd have to say the reasons above go a fair way to explaining why this article should not be entitled "trainspotter". --Evan C (Talk) 06:17, 6 December 2006 (UTC)
Fully agree with Evan C. The colloquial use of the term trainspotter is almost always derogatory towards railway enthusiasts, and therefore a move could be considered as going against NPOV guidelines. Admittedly, I had never heard the term 'railfan' before coming to WP, but this does seem to be a generic term used here to cover usage across multiple countries, so I guess it is OK.
As a railway enthusiast I would prefer the article title to be 'railway enthusiast', of course, probably as I associate the word 'fan' with a less critical appreciation of the subject matter (as in 'Beatles fan', 'Take That fan', etc). I don't like being called a 'train spotter' any more than someone interested in the architecture of religious buildings would want to be called a 'church spotter'.
(Touched a nerve there...  :o)  ) -- EdJogg 10:11, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

At least in the American rail press, railfan seems to be the preferred term. I had heard and used both terms before logging on to WP two years ago, and with my extensive personal library, I'm sure I could find references further back. In fact, a quick search at Model Railroader Magazine's index comes up with the first hit as far back as 1940 ("Railfan Ingenuity". Trains. Kalmbach Publishing Company: p 6. 1940.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help) ). Slambo (Speak) 11:57, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

I for one am certainly a railfan but not a trainspotter. I have absolutely no interest in trains, except for them as modes of transport. I find them ugly and boring. However I find old railway lines and the geography of train networks interesting. Cls14 (talk) 16:21, 8 March 2010 (UTC)

Given the above discussion perhaps it would be better to have two different articles, one for trainspotting, and one for railfanery (probably not the right expression, but I'm afraid I've never come across the word before). TehGrauniad (talk) 22:52, 9 March 2011 (UTC)

This is a perfect example of the conflict of American versus European Wikipedia authors, especially with railroad terminology. I am reminded of the constant battle between British and American authors in rewriting, merging, and deleting articles referring to "Trucks" (American term) and "Bogies" (European term). Railfan is the only legitimate term used in the United States (with the exception of "foamer", which is used as derrogatory humor), and is used extensively in such publications as Trains Magazine, Model Railroader, and is the title of the magaziine Railfan & Railroad. I recommend that the article title be left as it is to avoid such conflicts. D&RGW 223 (talk) 17:37, 8 July 2016 (UTC)

Ferroequinology definition[edit]

(Also see: "Rollback reason, Oct 29, 2006" above)

It seems that our friends at Wiktionary are disputing the verifiability of the term 'ferroequinology'. If it is not possible to prove usage by 6th Jan 2007 then the term will be deleted. See Wikt:ferroequinology for the definition and Wikt:Wiktionary:Requests for verification#ferroequinology for the discussion.

EdJogg 14:01, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Definition from Wiktionary, in case it gets deleted:

{{L.}} ''[[ferrum]]'' [[iron]] + {{L.}} ''[[equus]]'' [[horse]] + [[-logy]] 


# The study of [[railway]]s in general, but especially [[locomotive]]s. (Used somewhat whimsically).
EdJogg 11:48, 20 December 2006 (UTC)
UPDATE: Efforts by various editors have now secured concrete references for the term and it is no longer under threat.
Thank you, all, for your help with this matter.
EdJogg 10:59, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Railfan Hotspots - List Required? or severe article pruning?[edit]

The list of so-called "Railfan Hotspots" is starting to take over the article.

I think at the very least it needs splitting into a separate list, but with what title?

List of railfan hotspots

would be easy but extremely misleading (how many 'hotspots' are there on the average railfan, and what defines a 'hotspot' in this instance anyway? :o) ).

List of railway locations popular with railfans

is much more accurate, if a little long-winded.

But should the list even belong in WP? As hinted above, the very section title 'Railfan Hotspots' is misleading. And how could 'popular' be verified? Sounds very subjective (and hence not NPOV). Are there any reference books that list these locations - and if so, wouldn't it be rather better to just provide an ISBN? Should we just delete the list as unverifiable?


EdJogg 13:10, 20 December 2006 (UTC)

First, a confession, Some of my first edits in wikipedia were for adding to this list. I agree 100% and was thinking the same myself. I say delete the list. But instead add "Railfan Hotspots" as a category. Then people can instead add that category to their favorite hotspots. I've never started a new category before, so I don't know how to do this. Davemeistermoab 02:23, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

I think we should get rid of this list- it's completely a POV list (ie. whoever likes a particular location can add what they like); none of it is sourced either. If someone can provide some sources saying that they are popular railfan sites, then that's ok, but there should be neither a list or a category on WP on this. JROBBO 22:59, 17 January 2007 (UTC)

I would tend to agree - this list should be pruned out of existence for the reasons that others have described. It's highly POV, as it's a matter of personal preference unless we find a source substantiating it. SchuminWeb (Talk) 23:24, 17 January 2007 (UTC)
Well Done Schuminweb. The more I think about it, some of the sites in the external links would serve this purpose and have more credibility doing so ( etc.) But then that's another subject, the external links section is equally out of control. You're not finished with that machette yet =-) Davemeistermoab 02:32, 18 January 2007 (UTC)
For those who wish to see this list preserved (or who simply see it as not having a place in WP), Train Spotting World is a companion wiki for railfans, and is happy to have such lists, POV or not. There are embryo articles there, for example, on trackside dining and Railfan Hotspots is a wholly valid article to create there, and refer to here. Fiddle Faddle 08:33, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Minor grammatical issue[edit]

The Railway Magazine attempted to popularise the term railwayac without success in the earlier 20th century... This is an incomplete comparison and I'm not sure if the 'obvious' correction early 20th century would be factually correct. Cryptonymius 20:07, 29 December 2006 (UTC)

Link addition[edit]

Please add a link to under Australia; it would be nice to have a link for each Australian state.

Trainspotting (the film)[edit]

"The activity of trainspotting was briefly mentioned in a passage set in a railway station, in Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name; however, it was left out of the film adaptation altogether. The novel Trainspotting and its film adaptation are not directly related to the hobby, although it may be inferred from the movie's opening scene that the title is a comment on what the author sees as the supposed pointlessness of the hobby."

- Actually, if you watch the film, there is a notorious cold turkey sequence, in which Renton looks at trains which cover the wall of the bedroom he occupied as a child. He starts hallucinating, and hears the sounds of trains. In adddition, the trailer, which will be on most DVD versions, includes Renton tied to a track, and there is also a sequence in which the boys are at a remote Highland railway station. So there you go - not mentioned directly, but still there. --MacRusgail 17:57, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

Autism spectrum again[edit]

I just rv'd my earlier rv. After reading through the citation early this morning, the only positive link to rail transport that I saw was in the questionnaire, so I reverted the original edit that added the citation. Later this morning after I noticed a 1500 character change in my watchlist, I reviewed the article history and restored EdJogg's edit because it more accurately presents the findings from the report without implying that all railfans would be diagnosed with asperger's or another autism spectrum disorder. Sure, there are some railfans who obsess, but the same can be said of some sports fans who memorize all of the statistics for certain teams and players, for example. Obsession is not unique to railfans and being a railfan does not make one a candidate for autism therapy. Slambo (Speak) 15:03, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

My feelings exactly. I had the suspicion that the original note was added by someone who was not a railfan...
The very fact that the hobby and the medical conditions were being linked seemed to be a rather 'negative' view, so I attempted to look for some positive comments in the report to balance this out, as the study does suggest that the specific obsessive behaviour is a positive characteristic in affected individuals – rather in the same way that blind people can develop better-than-average hearing (that's EdJogg's example, it's not a part of the report!).
EdJogg 17:12, 31 May 2007 (UTC)
One might equate any activity that has facts, figures, some sort of central focus (etc), to the autistic spectrum, including the activity of editing Wikipedia, of course. It is worth realising that it is a spectrum, and thus ranges from "not being autistic" to "being wholly autistic", and thus (probably) includes every sentient human life form. Thus "We are all, to some extent, autistic" is a valid comment, but an equally useless one.
Anyone who pursues a hobby in which they have an abiding interest may appear to display some of the attributes of the strongly autistic. However it is how they behave and exist in their lives as a whole that is important, not within the narrower confines of their hobby. Logic says that a reference to hobbies in articles on autism is relevant, but a reference to autism in articles on hobbies is not. Of course, I could now be displaying a degree of autism by making this comment :) Fiddle Faddle 08:26, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
You make some very valid points there, and there could be a degree of doubt as to the appropriateness of the section in this article. However, if you scan the archive you will notice that similar sections/comments have been added (maliciously?) and removed in the past. If this section now provides the correct information about the link (or lack of it) then it may well be fulfilling a worthwhile role, although I'm happy to accept others views on the matter. EdJogg 11:17, 1 June 2007 (UTC)
I think that an archive is of interest, but simply demonstrates what has happened in the past. I feel one should impute no motives to those who have added it in the past and look only at the merits of its place in the article today. The real question is "In this encyclopaedia, is a reference to autism relevant to this article?"
If one can say "yes" clearly and unequivocally, then it should be referenced here. If there is doubt then it should be removed. However, this can, being Wikipedia, be decided only by consensus of those with a current interest in the article (ie without consulting the history tab).
My feeling is that the topic does not merit a section in the main article. However careful one is to draft it well, such a reference can always be seen as POV, and thus devalue the article as a whole. However, it may be valid to phrase a brief link (with a ref if desired) in a 'See Also' link to the main article on Autism. I do not favour this either, I am simply mentioning it for consideration.
If we took, as an example, something wholly different from having a hobby to do with trains, for example supporting (though not participating in) wrestling or boxing, those associated with those rather macho pursuits would object enormously if there were any reference to their support of their sport being able to be related to autism in an article on their sport of choice. I think making the link in an article on railfanning is being rather too politically correct.
It is, of course, just my opinion. I respect those who have a different view. Fiddle Faddle 12:42, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Deletion of autism section[edit]

Looking at the edit history, the deletion by Don1962 is wholly in line with the mini consensus reached above, and the reversion by Dontdoit, especially accusing Don1962 of vandalism is against it.

I am firmly of the opinion that a section on autism has no place in this article. Apart from Dontdoit's reversion I see absolutely nothing in favour of this section, and I certainly see no consensus for it built on this talk page.

Because there is no consensus for it to be present I am also removing this section from the article, with the strong suggestion that any re-inclusion should be after a consensus is built for its inclusion.

This article is about a hobby, not an ailment. Aligning a hobby with an ailment is disparaging and POV based however well the section is written. Fiddle Faddle 08:54, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Which is why I was in the process of adjusting the wording, and the title, to try to balance it still further.
Having thought about it, IF this section is to be included, then it needs to be balanced against a reliable source that suggests there is a link (as this report effectively dis-proves it). Unless such a source is found, this section should remain removed.
For reference, my revised section is shown below. Further adjustment may be required to the first and last sentences, since they are verging on the weasly, however the bulk of the main paragraph is unlikely to need revising.
Obsession vs autism
It has been shown that people suffering from autism will frequently exhibit some kind of obsession, however it cannot be deduced from this that anyone with an obsession, or deep interest in their hobby, therefore suffers from autism or any other medical condition.
A study by Cambridge University (UK) has shown that a symptom usually exhibited by children suffering from autism or Asperger's syndrome is an obsessive interest in 'folk physics' (an interest in how things work). To quote the report: "Typical examples include extreme fascinations with electricity pylons, burglar alarms, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, video players, trains, planes, and clocks. Sometimes the machine that is the object of the child’s obsession is quite simple (e.g. the workings of drain-pipes, or the designs of windows, etc.)."[1]
(The paper was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, 175, 484-490 (1999).)
The study noted that people exhibiting such obsessions typically follow their interests or hobbies to an extreme and narrow degree, so that they become experts in their chosen field. The study also noted that the obsession usually reflected the child’s intact or even superior folk physics. Hence, while the report shows that these conditions can lead to obsessive behaviour in an individual, it is utterly inappropriate to regard railfans – or any other kind of enthusiast – as automatically suffering from one of these conditions.
  1. ^ Simon, Baron-Cohen (1999). "'Obsessions' in children with autism or Asperger Syndrome: a content analysis in terms of core domains of cognition" (pdf). Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Cambridge. Retrieved 2007-05-31.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
As I hinted at above, I think this section would be appropriate if there is a need to refute the suggestion that railfans are autistic. However, I am inclined to agree with FiddleFaddle that the section should not be included at present, unless an overwhelming concensus disagrees and thinks that it should be restored.
EdJogg 09:53, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Well I certainly agree that a (sub)section about autism is inappropriate for this article. Which is why I never put such a verbosity in my contribution (neither did I in fact mention autism). The original comment was made in the context of reasons for trainspotting, and simply noted that certain studies had observed a correlation between trainspotters and Asperger's syndrome. A correlation of course doesn't necessarily imply a causal relationship, but it indicates the possibility of one. If the "Reasons" section is going to remain balanced, then a brief note about this correlation is appropriate; otherwise, delete the entire section altogether. Dontdoit 05:38, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

It seems to me that the section title Reasons is incorrect. IT does not deal with "reasons". Instead it deals with the Appeal of things railway. That section title needs an overhaul.
With regard to the argument about balance, it is a specious argument. If every item the suggests that one might have an interest in railway matters were to be entered we would have phases of the moon, colour of the sky, day of the week and so much else in there that it would become ridiculous. The argument for some sort of balance is really not the discussion piint at all. The article needs subtle improvement, almost certainly replacing "Reasons" with something along the lines of "Appeal of railfanning".
I'm not about to make that change because I do not feel qualified to make it. So I leave it to others to debate here. Normally I would be bold but I think a more committed railfan shoudl do that in this article. Fiddle Faddle 10:57, 18 June 2007 (UTC)
Well, I've been bold! And I'm happy that the disputed topic remains out of the article, for the reasons discussed at length above...
And a 'verbose subsection'? I think it gave it the level of balanced NPOV coverage it deserved, assuming that it was appropriate to include it in the first place. The original submissions were without commentary and allowed far too much import to be placed on the report, unless the reader actually went and read it (most wouldn't, I did) to discover the actual findings.
EdJogg 20:02, 18 June 2007 (UTC)

Speaking of pejorative terms ...[edit]

... I see anorak is missing here. Isn't that an oversight, at least on the part of UK (or at least non-US) railfans? (Not a term I've ever heard used here.) +ILike2BeAnonymous 04:15, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

trainspotters vs. railfans in general[edit]

Is it just my imagination, or was there once a separate trainspotting article that was clumsily wedged into this one? I'm not so sure they shouldn't be unmerged. —Steve Summit (talk) 18:38, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Missing Link[edit]

If links to "Autism" & "Asperger's", etc, keep getting deleted, I suppose there's no point in putting up anything even more controversial, but I have to say that some of the trainspotters I've seen lurking around the end of the platform at Crewe Station look as if they should be on the Sex Offenders' Register. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 05:17, October 29, 2007

Do you have a citation that a being a railfan is more likely to make you a weirdo, than a person with 'normal' interests? If so, then that's why it keeps going missing. Wongm 11:40, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Shouldn't that be "if not"? Yes - see what you mean. I know that people can't put unsupported statements up on an encyclopedia site. Just as an observation here, though, I'd be interested to know what percentage of male trainspotters over 30 a) live with their mothers, b) wear plastic shoes / socks & sandals with their trouser legs about 2 inches too short, c) have/don't have a girlfriend & d) have halitosis. A doctoral thesis there for someone. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:59, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

In the railroad historical and railfanning organization meetings that I attend, all of the attendees are well-educated and successful in their careers, and the majority of them are married and have children and often have grandchildren. Rail interests are not uncommon in the medical profession (I know one cardiologist personally who has an extensive O scale layout). The current (December 2007) issue of Model Railroader has a cover story about Rod Stewart's model railroad and his interest in trains. Being a railfan does not lead to any autism spectrum disorder. Slambo (Speak) 13:12, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Oh - forgot to say: my hypothesis would be not that "being a railfan is more likely to make you a weirdo", but rather that having autistic / Asperger's / Obsessive-compulsive-type traits is, ceteris paribus, likely to predispose a given individual to engage in trainspotting. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:33, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Not necessarily. The same type of memorization of facts and statistics is done by sports or automobile fans. Slambo (Speak) 13:12, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

OK, Slambo. As you've no doubt gathered, I'm only having a bit of fun. At the risk of getting well off topic, I'll say this: my big interest outside of work & family is sea fishing. Within the sea-fishing fraternity, there is a group of people who concentrate on casting. Not fishing - just casting. They do it on sports fields miles from the sea & chat amongst themselves about different weights, lines & reels together with great casts of the past, plus who's in what casting team in the league. They always remind me of trainspotters because of the ultimate futility of their interest. You don't get fish on rugby pitches, however good your casting is.

Finally - if you're able to track it down (I can't); there was an article about ten years ago in a quality British newspaper (Observer? Independent?). Wish I'd kept it. It was a review of a medical paper which argued for strong links between a certain syndrome (something German-sounding, I think) & pointless hobbies. There was one case-study of a bloke who collected photos of different types of carrots. Another spotted light-fittings on Diesel Multiple Units. A third travelled round noting the colour of the doors of Crown Courts. He said he didn't do juvenile courts because they were "boring". OK - I'll leave it alone now! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 09:42, October 29, 2007

Heh, I hadn't heard of some of those yet. Thanks for making me smile today. B-) Aspergers is one of those topics that I'm very interested in since my son has received a positive diagnosis (his latest obsession is building with Lego bricks). I'll take a look through my resources to see if I can find that article. Slambo (Speak) 16:36, 29 October 2007 (UTC)

Hope all turns out well for your lad - & it has to be said that Lego isn't a futile interest. He might turn out as an architect. Take it easy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:21, 29 October 2007 (UTC)


I've merged the Metrophile section here per the consensus at Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Metrophile. However, I spent little time editing it, as editors here are more knowledgeable about the subject than I. It appears to be a neologism and needs reliable sources if it's going to stay in this article - if they can't be found, it may need to be deleted from here as well. Tijuana Brass (talk) 23:26, 28 November 2007 (UTC)


The safety section seems to be a maybe / could be section which is not verified. This section also claims that the BTP actively encourage spotters to report suspiscious behaviour. Surely the BTP (and other authorities) are encouraging all users of the railways to do this and therefore this doesnt warrant a special mention for spotters. Deckchair (talk) 09:45, 10 January 2008 (UTC)

I restored this edit, as the deleted statements are quite sensible and do warrant to be mentioned. All users of the railway may be encouraged to report suspicious behaviour, but spotters just have a keener eye on the scene. LHOON (talk) 15:43, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
BNSF Railway released a couple videos about their program recruiting railfans to aid in security/safety issues along the railroad's right of way; the program is called Citizes for Rail Security. Slambo (Speak) 16:22, 18 January 2008 (UTC)
The section as it stands it in desperate need of sources and rewriting. It is completely unjustified as it stands. Please find and add proper reliable sources for the statements included or it will be removed soon. Sorry, Gwernol 21:55, 21 January 2008 (UTC)
Added a cite for BTP requesting co-operation from enthusiasts and re-worded sentence Deckchair (talk) 13:34, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Etiology (sic) of "Ferroequinology"[edit]

The following chunk was recently added to explain the origin of 'ferroequinology'.

I have removed it here (i) because the 'references' provided are unverifiable, and (ii) because I can't be bothered to re-type it in lower case! (although I have removed the gross-est formatting issues).


While the above may well be true -- it is certainly very plausible -- without appropriate references, such claims cannot be included in WP.

(PS - although 'etiology' (study of causes, usually medical term) could be used here, the term etymology (study of history of words) is probably more appropriate.)

EdJogg (talk) 09:59, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Buff, fan, enthusiast... spotter[edit]

Afaik 'rail buff' or 'railway buff' or 'train buff' are all acceptable British usage (in the sense of enthusiast); I think Brits might be surprised to see it used in the U.S. at all, and the claim to exclusive usage in the U.S. seems a bit strange. Just a bit of a culture gap there. 'Railfan' sounds like a journalistic invention made fashionable (eg sportsfan) rather than an encyclopaedic term, but I guess that's been discussed... 'Trainspotter' meanwhile is of course completely different :) Sure that's been covered too... Hakluyt bean (talk) 22:41, 3 July 2008 (UTC)

More sources[edit]

This article in the 'The Times' (July 8, 2008) can be worked in as a reference for various bits: How Osama bin Laden killed trainspotting

Wongm (talk) 01:35, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Very good find. Depressing, but a very good find nonetheless. EdJogg (talk) 12:18, 9 July 2008 (UTC)

Another from the Los Angeles Times - Train hobbyists are loco for that motion. October 1, 2008. Wongm (talk) 10:37, 5 October 2008 (UTC)

And this Wongm (talk) 00:05, 7 October 2008 (UTC)
Another from CNN Trains are life for avid 'railfans'. Wongm (talk) 10:19, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Asperger's syndrome[edit]

I propose to delete this reference from See Also section. It gives the impression that many railfans are mentally ill. The wikilink in the discussion about Darius McCollum is enough. Sv1xv (talk) 13:02, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Last time the discussion came up (see above) we deleted it. Wongm (talk) 13:07, 30 July 2008 (UTC)
And the last time we discussed it wasn't the first time we discussed it. Being a railfan does not lead to a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome any more than being a fan of the Green Bay Packers does (although, living in Wisconsin, I have to wonder sometimes B-) ). Slambo (Speak) 13:11, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Thank you very much, I already feel much better. You see, I was already planning to consult a psychiatrist...  :-) Sv1xv (talk) 14:36, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

And again[edit]

Removed from article (for same reasons as previously):

Trainspotting has been associated with the mild form of autism, known as Asperger's Syndrome.
( )

This is getting a bit more tricky, BUT the author (a child psychiatrist) merely uses "trainspotting" as an example of an activity bordering on obsessive behaviour, there's no scientific basis for his statement, or new research. It is 'tricky' because the statement added to the wikipedia article is technically true, simply as a result of this person writing about it!

However, the long-standing consensus is that adding such links may encourage people to make connections (to support their views/prejudices), as the author of this has done. (Note that we have collectively objected to much more scientifically rigorous reference works in the past, and this is 'only' a column piece written for the benefit of parents of children diagnosed with Asberger's.) I think it is also worth noting that the description "the peculiarly British hobby of train spotting" is written by an American medical author for an American website. He may know about Asberger's, but what does he know about train spotting???

EdJogg (talk) 10:32, 13 November 2009 (UTC)

"Controversy" section[edit]

The following (rather inflammatory) section was added today. I added some 'fact' tags and adjusted what text I could, but as the main accident is still under investigation (I have added a link), the second incident is not referenced, and the third paragraph is uncited, I have removed the text to here.

Railfans were thrust into the spotlight in 2008 after a commuter train crash in Los Angeles that killed 25 people and injured 135 others. Having passed through a red signal, the train's engineer, Robert M. Sanchez, reportedly sent a text message to a group of teenage railfans seconds before slamming head-on into a freight train. (Important note. The cause of the collision is still under investigation, with the main cause thought to be fatigue.)
In Chicago, according to a report filed with the Federal Railroad Administration, Metra engineer Brian Voss permitted a 17 year old train enthusiast to operate trains carrying passengers. This came to light after the teen posted photographs of his adventures on his MySpace page.[citation needed]
These events have led to concerns the that enthusiasm of railfans is becoming a threat to public safety.[citation needed]

Such unsubstantiated claims would not be allowed on a living person's article without adequate referencing. Once there are sufficient supporting references, I don't think there is a problem with this material being in the article.

EdJogg (talk) 09:05, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

I read that there were at least three witnesses who saw the signal in Chatsworth as green before the Metrolink train passed it. (LA Times, Oct 4) I had just read something about the Chicago incident on Friday. (WBBM, Oct 24) As to the last paragraph, some railroaders will always be anti-railfan with reports like these only strengthening their opinions. To counter this, do we know of any reports where railfans were considered to be the hero? Slambo (Speak) 14:43, 26 October 2008 (UTC)

Origins of interest[edit]

This section seems entirely POV and lacking in citations - do people think this section needs pruning or even removing? Calindreams (talk) 11:12, 7 January 2009 (UTC)

I think it is important to address the question "Why?". Agreed the section is uncited, and it would be good to get some more authoritative backing to the claims made; however, I do not believe the section to be particularly harmful to WP, and I don't think you would find many rail fans disagreeing with what it says. Additionally, although it has hints of WP:OR, I don't think there are many serious POV issues to address.
EdJogg (talk) 14:28, 7 January 2009 (UTC)
Agreed, it it's not a major issue. I am coming from the point of a reader who isn't particularly a railfan and for me it doesn't really add anything to the info in the article. Calindreams (talk) 16:01, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

James May, in his newspaper column, gives a few clues (see "Rail travel might have something going for it"):

Maybe this can be worked into the article somehow?

BTW -- Editors will find the whole linked article of interest. -- EdJogg (talk) 22:16, 2 July 2009 (UTC)

On the lingo...[edit]

For the time being, I'm removing the following block of text:

Those who spend most of their time on one station only are known as "stoats"[citation needed] or "veg"[citation needed]. Contrasted with Stoats are "dorbs"[citation needed], who travel frequently from station to station, often on a particular favourite variety of train, in order to spot lines which may not run through their home vicinity. "Cranks"[citation needed] are particularly attracted to one type of train and make sure they see all of its workings. "Neds"[citation needed] concentrate on special rail activity and tend to ignore the regular happenings on the lines, and look for "gen" (information about railway workings) prior to spotting.

Most of the citation requests have been there for 3 years. I did a cursory search for a couple of the terms in relation to the practice and could find no basis for them. If someone more knowledgable in the subject would like to incorporate them again, please make sure you cite sources or, at the very least, provide some explanation for why each term came to be used. Technically, they'd still require citation, but some sort of 'oh that makes sense' story would go a long way towards justifying their inclusion until such citation could be provided.
--K10wnsta (talk) 03:56, 10 May 2010 (UTC)

Yeah, odd one. My dad always refers to himself as being a "crank", but doesn't do any of the above - he's just what you might call a railfan or an enthusiast. He likes his trains, that's all. Actually, the whole reason I'm reading the talk page is that I was slightly puzzled not to see any reference to "crank" anywhere on the page, and wondered if was in fact just my dad's idiolect... Brickie (talk) 20:52, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

I was a bit shocked to see "peridromophile" linked to this page, only to discover that word does not appear anywhere on the page! All this chat about "Stoats" and even "neds" is all very well, But perhaps the peridromophilia issue should be addressed first. At least we have a well documented case for the use of the term. However it could be argued that unless we grant peridromophile apage to istelf it should rather go philately, which has somewhat arbitrarily been restricted to he collecting of stamps, a quite distinct pastime. I would be grateful to hear other peoples views before tampering with the page here or that of the stamp collectors.Leutha (talk) 21:29, 1 August 2011 (UTC)

"in the USA they are known as grizzers or gricers, according to their speciality (see below)"[edit]

This topic asserts that the terms grizzers and gricers are in use in the USA, and have specialized meanings, but fails to follow up on this by explaining their use in the USA. The latter term is mentioned later, as in use in Britain for complete riding enthusiasts (though other sites say the term is used for all rainfans, not just complete riding enthusiasts). But it doesn't mention whether it has a similar meaning in the USA. The former term isn't mentioned at all. This sentence should be deleted unless specific cited descriptions of the terms as used in the USA can be added. StevenDoerfler (talk) 17:09, 17 September 2011 (UTC)

As far as I am aware, neither the term "gricer" nor the term "grizzer" have ever been used in the USA at all. The only way a US rail enthusiast is likely to come across these words is by interacting with UK rail enthusiasts. I suspect the author may be confusing "UK" with "USA" at the beginning of this paragraph. Unless someone can cite a US rail enthusiast source using the word "gricer," I also suggest that this sentence be deleted. (talk) 06:12, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

Update: gricer is present in Wikipedia's Glossary of United Kingdom railway terminology article, but not in the List of US railfan jargon. If no one objects within a week, I will remove the italicized portion of this sentence in the Other names topic:

"In the UK, railfans are mostly called railway enthusiasts and sometimes trainspotters, but in the USA they are known as grizzers or gricers, according to their speciality (see below)." (talk) 04:29, 10 October 2011 (UTC)

Update: removed the above phrase from the article. (talk) 21:01, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

Melbourne Trains[edit]

There was a reference to Connex restricting photos in Melbourne. Connex were replaced by Metro Trains, so the ref was out of date. In updating, I removed two links: Since both referred to Connex and both were basically forum entries. Luckydog429 (talk) 21:04, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

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Photography article[edit]

A question arose in Talk:Digital manipulation in railway photography as to whether that article ought to exist at all, with a consensus that it should not. I proposed that the proper implementation is to merge it, along with the photography section of this article, into a new article for Railway photography. Is this a good idea? Jim.henderson (talk) 18:50, 17 February 2016 (UTC)

@Jim.henderson: That is not a matter for this page, which is for discussing improvements to the article Railfan. It should be at a more general discussion page, such as WT:RAIL. --Redrose64 (talk) 00:42, 18 February 2016 (UTC)

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