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22 February 2024

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My childhood fascination with trains,

particularly those of the Indian Railways,

has stayed with me and will continue

to stay with me until my final goodbye

because you never abandon what holds

a special place in your heart.

I recall the simple joy of watching trains rush by at Vidya Vihar station in Mumbai with my grandfather. (Vidya Vihar (Hindi/Sanskrit word for Knowledge City), is a small suburb in Mumbai, is connected to the city’s rail network. It has a railway station on the Central Railway line of the Mumbai suburban railway network). My early dream of becoming a train engineer wasn’t realized, but my love for railroads remains. On a negative side, sadly, my parents were embarrassed by my admiration of trains and demanded (not requested) that I stop indulging in it. Their disapproval didn’t matter to me – I never stopped enjoying my hobby.

 

What is railfanning or train spotting?

Railfanning, the passionate pursuit of observing, photographing, and learning about all things rail-related, is a growing hobby with a dedicated worldwide community. But what exactly draws people to the world of trains, tracks, and timetables? Let’s dive into the fascination of railfanning.

There’s something undeniably nostalgic and romantic about trains. The rhythmic rumble along the tracks, the billowing steam of vintage locomotives (rarely happens now), and the echoing whistles conjure up images of history and journeys across vast landscapes. This sense of history and timeless movement attracts many railfans. Whether recalling childhood memories of toy trains or dreaming of adventures on legendary lines, trains ignite our imaginations.

Railfanning can be incredibly exciting, but it’s crucial to remember that it comes with serious risks if you’re not careful. I’ve had a couple of close calls myself that could have easily c0st me my lïfe. One particularly terrïfyïng incident, which I still remember vividly, happened in February 2012. I was with my railfan cronies hiking along the Kasara ghat section of the Central Railway, ~121 KM from Mumbai, engrossed in photographing an eastbound train. Because of a sharp curve, I completely missed an oncoming westbound train speeding towards me. It was only about 150 meters (~500 feet) away when I noticed it. I had to leap into the bushes to avoid getting hit. I was lucky to escape with some cuts and bruises, but it could have been much worse. The near miss with the speeding train scared me, but my determination outweighed my fear, and I resumed my hike after a short pause.

Thanks to the IRFCA online community I met many railroad enthusiasts from all over India, as well as from Australia, the USA, the UK, Greece, Spain, and Russia. Some of them have become very close friends and part of my life, and we used to regularly go on railroad adventures.

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If you would like

to know more

about the  IRFCA

please visit

www.irfca.org

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