Living in the northeast my whole life the winters can sometimes make it challenging to railfan. I thought it would be cool to come up with some alternatives to braving the cold winter weather. Nothing beats being outdoors seeing the trains pass you only feet away but sometimes it’s just too cold.
Here are a few ideas
I’ve become a huge watcher of the 7 sponsored Virtual Railfan YouTube Live streams. One of the most popular feeds is the Horseshoe Curve giving railfans a year around view from atop the summit. The 7 live YouTube feeds are only a small sample, additional live feeds are available with a membership. Currently Virtual Railfan has 25 cameras located in 12 states across the USA. | Read more – VirtualRailfan.com
Most railfans often listen to their scanner when they are trackside. Broadcastify is a host to nearly 6,500 live scanner feeds with about 100 of them railroad feeds. Many of the feeds are located along busy corridors or near major railroad hubs. This is a great way to preview new railfanning spots. | See all the feeds – Broadcastify.com
Riding the local commuter rail lines
During the winter months most of the scenic railroads shut down for the season. Most commuter rail lines are rich with history and sometimes you can even spot some abandoned junctions and railroad related buildings. This is a great opportunity to explore some of these railroad lines.
Railroad Simulator Games
Every railfan dreams of having a cab ride or being able to drive the train. Simulator games have come a long way since the first video games. The graphics are so realistic and some of the games even simulate actual railroad routes of passenger and freight lines. This is railfanning from your most comfortable chair at home. | Read more – Train Simulator Game
This is one of the most common go to for railfans in the winter months. Constructing a model railroad can be fun and challenging. Before diving into building a layout I would strongly recommend going to a local train show or a model railroad club. If you don’t have the time or the disposable income to build your own you should consider joining a model railroad club. Whether you build your own or join a club this is a great way to stay trackside at a smaller scale in the winter month.
Most train shows are not just for the Model Railroader. This is a great place to pick up books, dvds, and, railroad memorabilia. This is a great way to meet another railfans as well.
If you want to get lost railfanning via the internet this is the best place to go. This is a great way to go trackside to places you have never been. One of my favorite YouTubers is Delay In Block Productions. Drayton Blackgrove started his channel back in 2011 and has been going strong ever since. Blackgrove and his team shoot high quality videos with narration. Trust me you could spend hours checking out all of the great railroad related channels on YouTube.
Books, books, and more books.
Winter is also a great time to catch up on some reading. There are so many books written about railroading from its history to its future. One of my favorite books is “Waiting On A Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service” written by James McCommons. McCommons spends a year riding the rails across america on Amtrak recounting interviews of people he meet along the way including historians, railroad executives, railroad lobbyists and so many more. This book totally enlightened me on why it’s so important to invest into passenger rail.
Trains on the big screen
There are many movies out there where the train is the star. Some the the classics that come to mind “Strangers on a Train” (1951), “Silver Streak” (1976), The Taking of Pelham One Two Three” (1974) and “End of the Line” (1987). Here are some recent movies “Unstoppable” (2010), “Murder on the Orient Express” (2017). This is only a handful of movies that come to mind.
I hope this list is helpful while dealing with the winter blues. We would love to hear about your trackside alternatives.