The Daily Frame

September 22, 2014
updated in the wee small hours of the morning

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“Trainspotting from the Las Vegas City Hall Parking Garage.”
Photograph by Ginger Bruner

Trainspotters make an effort to “spot” all of a certain type of rolling stock. This might be a particular class of locomotive, a particular type of carriage or all the rolling stock of a particular company. To this end, they collect and exchange detailed information about the movements of locomotives and other equipment on the railway network, and become very knowledgeable about its operations. When a trainspotter sees a train that they have not yet seen before, it is referred to in the hobby as a “cop.”

A trainspotter typically uses a data book listing the locomotives or equipment in question, in which locomotives seen are ticked off. In Great Britain, this aspect of the hobby was given a major impetus by the publication from 1942 onward of the Ian Allan “ABC” series of booklets, whose publication began in response to public requests for information about the rolling stock of Southern Railways. Sometimes, trainspotters also have cameras, but railway photography is mostly linked to railfans. Moreover, in contrast to modern railway companies’ attitudes, at its inception in 1948 British Railways handed out free copies of a locomotive data book to school-children.

Some trainspotters now use a tape recorder instead of a notebook. In modern times, mobile phones and/or pagers are used to communicate with others in the hobby, while various internet mailing lists and web sites aid information exchange. Railbuffs can maintain private computerized databases of spotting records as well. Radio scanners are common equipment for listening to railroad frequencies in the US to follow rail traffic.”

Text from Trainspotting section of Wikipedia entry for “Railfan.”

“Our Las Vegas” Lead Photographer Ginger Bruner is on the lookout.

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