Railfanning: My Passion for Railways and Trains

I can hear the sound of the train chugging along and I can see the sparks flying out as each metal wheel makes contact with the iron tracks. I can hear the horn tooting. I look out the windows and I can see numerous train carriages chugging along; I can see the beautiful countryside rolling by. It doesn’t matter where my destination is or why I am traveling, but when I am in the train, I can feel a rush and tranquility gripping me at the same time. When the train stops at a station, I can see the legendary Wheeler’s book stall, I can see various vendors selling tea and fruits and many delicious snacks. I can see people waiting for their trains to arrive. I can see people embarking and disembarking the train. I can hear the coolies trying to negotiate the charges for lifting and transporting the heavy luggage for the people. All the sights and sounds make me very happy.

Since my childhood, I have had an intense love towards anything that is even remotely related to the railways; trains, tracks, railway stations etc. A few months back, I had read an article about railfanning; a term that’s fairly new I suppose, but one that has a Wikipedia page dedicated to it.

Wikipedia defines a Railfan as:

A railfan, rail buff or train buff (American English), railway enthusiast or railway buff (Australian/British English), trainspotter or anorak (British English), or foamer (pejorative for American railroaders), is a person interested in a recreational capacity in rail transport. Railfans of many ages can be found worldwide. Railfans often combine their interest with other hobbies, especially photography and videography, radio scanning, model railroading, studying railroad history and participating in train station and rolling stock preservation efforts. Magazines dedicated to railfanning include Trains and Railfan & Railroad.

I am indeed a railfan; I usually don’t have enough time to indulge myself in all the activities but I do love traveling in a train; I also end up capturing a lot of photographs of tracks, trains and the stations as well. If I am the one waiting for the train, I always observe all the other trains coming and going. I always stand on the platform and lean in to see the train approaching, getting ready to board it. I love to watch the train moving towards me, slowing down to stop. I love observing how those heavy metal wheels turn.

I never sleep in trains. I love to sit by the window and observe the scenery outside the window. I always love to click pictures whenever I can. Sometimes when I feel like it, I read a book. I always carry a book with me. After it gets dark and there is nothing to see outside, I read my book till people start switching off the lights to sleep. That’s when I listen to music and enjoy the movements of the train. Funnily enough, despite having motion sickness, the train never ever makes me sick. And I love listening to Robert Miles on the train, his EDM music perfectly matches the movement of the train. Especially his very famous song called, “Children”, which I generally play on a loop.

Many people don’t understand it, I have often been asked why I click pictures of train tracks. My answer does not satisfy their curiosity; they may even think I am off my rockers. But I know why I am so passionate. Very recently, I found out I have quite many friends who are railfans too. It surprised me a bit, but I was happy too; I can share my passion with them. My recent conversations with them prompted me to write about it. We shared our pictures and their pictures were spectacular.

I took these pictures at Ooty. A narrow gauge train runs between the Southern Hill Stations Ooty and Cunnoor via Mettupalayam.

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A narrow gauge train carriage
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A real preserved steam locomotive of a narrow gauge train

 

I took these pictures at Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station in 2011:

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This picture was taken just last week at the Baiyapanahalli metro Station, which is right next to the railway station.

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I am very lucky that I live right next to a railway track and I find it very peaceful to listen to and occasionally watch the trains go by. Again, many people ask us how we never feel disturbed by all the noise and we tell them that for us it’s not noise. It’s music to the ears. The Baiyapannahalli station is just 3 and a half kilometers from my apartment.Even when I was in Nagpur, we used to live just a few kilometers away from a railway station. So on early mornings and late nights, we could hear the train chugging and the horn tooting quite clearly. Though we did not buy our apartment here in Bangalore just for that reason, but it did present itself as an added advantage.

I would have loved the experience of traveling in a train with a steam engine locomotive; my parents have traveled in it in their childhoods and they often talk about it very fondly and how amazing it was. The steam locomotives had a certain charm. Sure they produced a lot of smoke, but the way they were designed, they were more artistic than mechanical.

If the metro line had been completed to the area my workplace is in, I’d have been the happiest person; commuting in a metro is so much more peaceful. In spite of the crowds, there is no traffic, there is no incessant honking and the commute time would have reduced to 30 minutes instead of an hour or more. It would be cheaper too.

Someday I would love to travel Europe via Euro Rail (TGV); its a bucket list item for me. I would love to travel in the bullet trains and monorails as well. I want to experience traveling in all the types of trains.

I always consider the rail transport system as being one of the greatest inventions; it began as a way of trade and it did so much more.  I would love to collect different kinds of models of trains and locomotives; if I find something amazing, I would definitely buy it. I would love to tour around the country in trains; it would make for an excellent series of blogs. Maybe someday when I get tired of the corporate life and I end up saving enough money, I would do just that. Till then, I intend to enjoy every train trip I take and live those moments of pure serenity and passion and of course, click as many pictures as possible.

 

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3 thoughts on “Railfanning: My Passion for Railways and Trains

  1. I travel a lot by train, but it’s mostly commuting, so that doesn’t count. I do like long train journeys when I’m going to unfamiliar places, though. Perhaps the most memorable one I ever took is when my wife and I were on honeymoon in Italy and we took a train from Rome to Pompeii. The scenery was amazing and made me feel like I was in a movie. Incidentally, my father also loved steam trains, but as far as I can remember, I’ve never ridden on one. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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