The Null Device

End of the line for trainspotting?

The peculiar and long-established British pastime of trainspotting is in steep decline, having fallen victim to some combination of post-9/11 terrorism paranoia, risk-aversion ("it's health and safety gone mad, I tell you!"), neo-Blairite obsession with image and coolness, and really boring trains:
Austin Mitchell, a Labour MP and keen amateur photographer, sees another irony: “We are all photographed dozens of times every day on CCTV, so while the Government can photograph us, we can't photograph anything else.” According to Mitchell, who was recently stopped from taking pictures at Leeds station: “Photography is a public right and that should be made absolutely clear.” He has put down an early-day motion about the matter.
But in recent years the club reports have made agonising reading. One new member might have joined, but two will have died and one resigned. A few weeks ago, members received a special letter: “The executive committee has doubts about the continued validity of the club...” A meeting will be held in October to decide the club's future. Mike Burgess, its honorary secretary, says: “There's this faint hope that someone will come along with a plan - new blood, you know.”
Britain is not making trainspotters any more, just as it is not making enough engineers to maintain our main lines. Trainusership may be at its highest since the Second World War, but this is largely because of commuting into London. Fewer than half the children who visit the National Railway Museum in York have ever been on a train, let alone spotted any. Let's get this nasty, tyrannical little word out of the way, and acknowledge that trainspotting is not “cool” and that you call somebody one at your peril.

There are 1 comments on "End of the line for trainspotting?":

Posted by: gusset Mon Jul 14 08:31:52 2008

I recently performed a noise survey adjacent to Gloucester station. While my microphone was left logging noise levels in walked into the station and took a photo of it from the platform for the sake of having a photo in my report showing the measurement position. I didn't think to ask permission on my way through as I stayed in public areas. I was accosted on my way out and told I should have had permission and should have been wearing a hi-vis jacket as it was a "dangerous area." The public platform is a dangerous area requiring hi-vis!? Clutching at straws there I think.