What motivated you to join WikiProject UK Railways? Do you commute via rail? Would you consider yourself a trainspotter?
mattbuck: I think I originally joined due to my interest in the Ffestiniog Railway. I'd never commuted by rail, but there is an almost-universal fascination amongst British people for steam trains, and as a boy I'd always enjoyed going to various railways while on holiday. I did subsequently become a trainspotter, in the autumn of 2008. I'd just got back from my first visit to the job centre, and was feeling that I'd signed my life away to be a shelf stacker, so I decided to go out somewhere. I'd been working on Commons sorting photos of my home city of Bristol, and realised that some Bristol stations were severely lacking photos. I started with the stations, and trainspotting sort of came naturally from that.
Thryduulf: I've always been interested in transport, and particularly railways so joining this project when it started seemed a natural thing for me to do. Apart from a few days here and there, I've never commuted by rail, although I would have done for several years if the stations within walking distance of my home (Cheddar Valley Line) and my office (Henbury Loop Line) had not both been closed in the 1960s. I don't consider myself a "trainspotter" but I do think of myself as a "railfan", as I'm interested in the stations, history, etc rather than seeing individual trains.
Optimist on the run: I don't like the term "trainspotter" as it has negative connotations, at least here in the UK, and portrays an image of an anorak-clad individual standing at the end of a platform. I hope my interests in railways are more rounded than that. I've always been interested in railways and have a good knowledge (and access to some more obscure reference material), which is why I joined the project. I commute by rail most days, though recently I've been cycling sometimes instead.
Alzarian16: I found the project via the talk page of an article I was working on at the time (British Rail Class 180 I think) and thought it looked like a good way to find topics of interest to work on and ask for help when I needed it. I don't commute at present, but if I did I would try to use rail if at all possible. "Trainspotter" is a very narrowly defined term for a small part of what's really a much wider interest, but I don't object to its use, although "enthusiast" is better.
Iridescent: I'm interested in 19th century civil engineering, rather than in trains per se. Railways were the defining technology of the period, so there's a lot of train-related material there. I wouldn't consider myself either a trainspotter or a railfan; my interest is in the infrastructure, rather than in individual locomotives.
Simply south: I have always been interested in rail transport since a very young age. I have found Wikipedia to be a good outlet for this and for collaborating with other people interested in the different aspects of the rail industry and everything else about it. I am not really a trainspotter. I describe myself as a rail enthusiast and am more interested in the routes and stations, as well as the journey.
Do you find yourself working more on articles relating to currently operating railways or historic/defunct railways?
Mjroots: Mostly historic railways, with some heritage railways thrown in. I am also interested in railway accidents.
mattbuck: I don't tend to do much work on actual articles, I'm more involved in the photos on Wikimedia Commons. However, I would say more current operating articles, as they're generally easier to photograph; though I have produced several route diagrams for defunct lines. That said, I've recently been working on Severn Beach Line-related articles, which hold a certain emotional connection to me, as my grandmother lived right next to the station at Redland.
Thryduulf: I'm more of a wikignome and facilitator rather than a major contributor of prose. I tend to work on a wide variety of railway articles, although the Westcountry and London are particular focuses, as is wherever I've recently travelled. The Bridgnorth Cliff Railway and LNER Class A4 4488 Union of South Africa articles were two of the first articles I ever created as a Wikipedian (I'd recently taken very good photos of these).
Alzarian16: A bit of both - basically anything that I come across which would benefit from improvement, with a slight focus on areas with which I have a personal connection. My two rail-based article creations were a former station and a proposed line.
Iridescent: On railways which were operational in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some are still operational, some are long defunct.
Simply south: I seem to focus mainly on maintenance around the project. Overall article wise, I tend to focus more on modern railways etc.
The project's talk page is very active. What brings so many editors together for discussion? Is there anything unique about the project or the topic that might contribute to the high levels of activity?
mattbuck: It's mostly because people there are usually very helpful. Several times I've come across a photo I want to categorise which is of a train, which I can sort, but might have no information about where it was taken - asking on the project talk I've seen people be able to identify a station just from the placement of some rubbish bins. The British railway system is huge, even larger if you include historical lines, and it's pretty much impossible for one person to know everything. That said, because of the nature of the system, we don't always agree on things, particularly names. There was a very large discussion last month about whether St Pancras railway station should be moved to St Pancras International railway station or not, as that's the current name but maybe not the common name. Furthermore, we are still divided over train naming - we currently use a system of British Rail Class X, even for trains which were manufactured after British Rail ceased to exist, and that's caused a few arguments.
Simply south: Newcastle, Birmingham New Street, Glasgow Central have all been among the bigger disputes and some are still ongoing. However generally there are a huge amount of people interested in a variety of aspects of rail transport in the UK. We have had a huge history of transportation.
The project has 26 featured articles, 5 featured lists, and 52 good articles. Have you contributed to any of these? Do you have any advice for improving articles about railways in the UK for FA or GA promotion?
Thryduulf: I was indirectly responsible for List of London Underground stations getting featured list status after I effected a major reformatting from a messy bulleted list to a table. This was a while before even the FL nom, so I can't take a significant amount of the credit. My copyediting and similar tasks on other articles may have helped in a small way to other recognitions, but I don't keep track.
Railway articles often include detailed route maps and color-coded lists of rail lines. What sources of information are used to create these visual aids? How much effort goes into keep these updated?
mattbuck: I've created quite a few route maps, and I use a variety of sources. The most useful one is Google Earth - you can see most details from the aerial photos, and often you can still see the paths of old railways on the landscape. For older lines, and also for finding disused stations, I use New Popular Edition Maps which maps Britain using old Ordnance Survey maps from before the Beeching Axe. I also have several reference books for various areas, which can help. It's not very hard to keep the route maps up to date - the line ones don't tend to change much, as you usually don't put in that much detail beyond the stations. The succession boxes can be trickier, as service patterns do change, and you occasionally get the odd place like Filton Abbey Wood where to keep the next/previous consistent for a particular service you need to go against the standard next/previous for that line.
Optimist on the run: There are a number of good rail atlases available for the UK, covering both current and historic railways, and comparing these gives a good indication about changes of station names, etc.