Trainspotting from home – how the hobby has adapted due to the coronavirus outbreak

Tuesday, 28 April 2020
Latest News

Our community of trainspotters has become a familiar sight on trains and at rail stations across our network over the years - but since the lockdown was introduced on 24 March 2020, their hobby has been temporarily paused.

Usually, it’s a pastime that involves getting outdoors for long periods or clocking up miles and miles travelling by rail and logging, photographing or videoing the different trains whilst building a vast knowledge of the railway, rolling stock and operations.

This got us wondering – is it possible to keep a hobby like trainspotting going when you’re stuck at home?

We reached out to our train spotting community to find out how they are faring during the lockdown and ask how they were continuing their passion while they can’t come and visit us in person – and we were surprised by their answers!

While some are having be content with revisiting their old photos and videos or planning future trips, some are lucky enough to have a rail line at the bottom of their garden so they can continue their hobby from the comfort of their garden chair.

Others can still see their favourite locomotives speed by on nearby rail lines whilst out walking in the countryside.

Sean Cronin is no longer able to go out and make videos for his YouTube channel, West Mids Trainspotting – so he kept busy by making a video of himself building his very own fantastic wooden train from scrap wood, complete with carriage, in his back garden!

Going even further, Saen Kazak is making a full scale Metro system in Minecraft based on Greater Anglia and TfL routes and even plans to model Greater Anglia’s Class 321 trains to run on it!

Saen kazak's minecraft metro system

And popular website and youtube channel, RailCam, has been helping by delivering a daily dose of live web cam footage of trains from all around the UK straight into enthusiasts’ living rooms.

For the past three weeks, they have been running #SpottingFromHome, encouraging enthusiasts to continue to enjoy their hobby by screen grabbing interesting train movements from their live cameras at www.railcam.uk or http://www.youtube.com/c/RailcamUKLive and sharing them on Twitter.

A RailCam camera at Peterborough captures one of Greater Anglia’s new trains

Jamie Rowley of RailCam says, "We grew from one camera 10 years ago, to now having 100 of them around the UK - as well as guest cameras from around the world - so we are in the perfect position to bring the lineside directly to people’s armchairs.

"We’ve been delighted with the response to the #spottingfromhome campaign, which is helping to keep trainspotters, rail staff and key workers safe by preventing unnecessary travel at this time whilst keeping the trainspotting community in touch with their passion.

"We have also recently had a number of rail staff taking part whilst they are out keeping the railways running, using the hashtag #SpottingFromWork. A huge thank you to all those key workers and frontline heroes across the rail industry."

It’s great to see that the UK’s trainspotting community has come together to support each other through difficult times and has found ways to continue to enjoy their pastime in creative ways.

We look forward to seeing them back on our trains and station platforms in the future when it is safe to return – when they will have an entire new fleet of trains to log, photograph, video and enjoy as we continue our full fleet replacement programme!