Best railway magazines for news and events?

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seahermit

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Sorry if this has been covered before, although I did search around.

I have always been fascinated by trains and the history and this forum has kept me up late a few nights. For someone who didn't start out as a train enthusiast, what are the best ways for me to keep up with rail news and find out about events, especially on the preservation lines? I am surprised that there has been little mention of weekly or monthly publications.

These mags seem to be popular:

Heritage Railway
Modern Railways
Steam Days
Rail Express
The Railway
Rail Magazine

Does anyone have any favourites?!
 
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YorkshireBear

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Modern railways is my favourite mainly as gets quite into the detail more so than the others. I tend to find 1 a month plus here keeps me up to date enough. I only buy others if there are specific articles I want to read.
 

birchesgreen

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Modern Railways doesn't really cover preserved railways, I only read MR though so I don't know which magazine would be best for heritage lines.
 

65477

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If your requirements are for a single magazine for all of Today's rail scene, the in my view Railways Illustrated followed by Railway Magazine would be my top two. The others tend to be more niche down to Steam Days and Backtrack which are 100% historical.

At the moment many local libraries are giving access to a number of railway magazines in e-format.
 

seahermit

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Thanks very much for your comments. I later found an old thread under "UK Railway Discussion: Railway news sites" which listed popular websites (I am not going into those - dozens of 'em!) and also some of the printed magazines (some have folded now of course).

So far, the mags recommended by yourselves are:
Modern Railways
Railways Illustrated
The Railway Magazine
Today’s Railways


Also (for historical info):
Steam Days
Backtrack


Others I know of are:
Trains
Heritage Railway
Rail Express
Rail


Today, I bought a copy of Trains - somewhat thin for £4.50 and this issue seems to be heavily about international railways. I also picked up Modern Railways - for just over the same price, the mag is twice as thick and crammed with fascinating articles and news from all over, it will take me days to scour it!

I will report back if I come across anything really valuable. Like all of us, I am hungering to travel again and this reading is all part of my forward-planning.

I think I briefly picked up Steam Days in the WHS shop - very much for nostalgia-obsessives but it looked absolutely fascinating with many monochrome photos of old steam trains and picturesque stations.
 
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Gloster

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Today’s Railways UK (there is a Europe edition, as well) does include both Heritage and Railtour news, but it is mainly concerned with developments on the national network. I think that Trains is an American magazine, and so I expect that it mainly deals with US matters; anything in the UK would probably be seen through American eyes (but I will admit that I haven’t even flicked through a copy for decades).
 

Condor7

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(I am not going into those - dozens of 'em!) Although you say this with regard to websites there is a very good on line weekly magazine Railway Herald. It covers the current scene, has a heritage section as well as preserved railways plus a very comprehensive charter train section (not that there are many at the moment). It’s great advantage over the printed page is the news is fresh every week and we’re you will hear things first.
 

Nippy

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I used to buy a lot of railway mags. I’ve ditched them all now and read The Railway Herald only.
 

Class360/1

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Sorry if this has been covered before, although I did search around.

I have always been fascinated by trains and the history and this forum has kept me up late a few nights. For someone who didn't start out as a train enthusiast, what are the best ways for me to keep up with rail news and find out about events, especially on the preservation lines? I am surprised that there has been little mention of weekly or monthly publications.

These mags seem to be popular:

Heritage Railway
Modern Railways
Steam Days
Rail Express
The Railway
Rail Magazine

Does anyone have any favourites?!
RAIL and Modern Railways
 

Chriso

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Thanks very much for your comments. I later found an old thread under "UK Railway Discussion: Railway news sites" which listed popular websites (I am not going into those - dozens of 'em!) and also some of the printed magazines (some have folded now of course).

So far, the mags recommended by yourselves are:
Modern Railways
Railways Illustrated
The Railway Magazine
Today’s Railways


Also (for historical info):
Steam Days
Backtrack


Others I know of are:
Trains
Heritage Railway
Rail Express
Rail


Today, I bought a copy of Trains - somewhat thin for £4.50 and this issue seems to be heavily about international railways. I also picked up Modern Railways - for just over the same price, the mag is twice as thick and crammed with fascinating articles and news from all over, it will take me days to scour it!

I will report back if I come across anything really valuable. Like all of us, I am hungering to travel again and this reading is all part of my forward-planning.

I think I briefly picked up Steam Days in the WHS shop - very much for nostalgia-obsessives but it looked absolutely fascinating with many monochrome photos of old steam trains and picturesque stations.

Trains is the top US railway magazine and imported from the US which is why it has such a high price

I’m very much in to the current scene and prefer Today’s Railways Uk & Rail Express. I’m also in to European rail so really enjoy Today’s Railways Europe
 

DelW

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Trains is the top US railway magazine and imported from the US which is why it has such a high price
Curiously, when I've bought a copy in the US, it's been more expensive than here. The most recent example to hand is from 2015, when it was $5.99 in the US vs £3.50 in the shops here. The exchange rate then was $1.56 to £1, so the converted American price was £3.84.
 

seahermit

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I looked at the Railway Herald site - colourful and interesting but of course an online subscription magazine. Is that usual and is it worth it? My first reaction is that so much info is online for free nowadays that I am cautious of sites which feel the need to charge ..

Also, I still really enjoy picking up printed mags and looking for a quiet corner of a pub or cafe. Old-fashioned, but somehow the physicality of thumbing the pages and circling interesting bits with a bingo pen is much more enjoyable than repeatedly clicking a mouse!
 

yorksrob

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Also, I still really enjoy picking up printed mags and looking for a quiet corner of a pub or cafe. Old-fashioned, but somehow the physicality of thumbing the pages and circling interesting bits with a bingo pen is much more enjoyable than repeatedly clicking a mouse!

Apsolutely agree. I spend all day at work looking at computer screens, so reading a real publication in a nice setting is a much more enjoyable.

The only problem is some venues subdued lighting makes it difficult to read.
 

Condor7

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I looked at the Railway Herald site - colourful and interesting but of course an online subscription magazine. Is that usual and is it worth it? My first reaction is that so much info is online for free nowadays that I am cautious of sites which feel the need to charge ..

Also, I still really enjoy picking up printed mags and looking for a quiet corner of a pub or cafe. Old-fashioned, but somehow the physicality of thumbing the pages and circling interesting bits with a bingo pen is much more enjoyable than repeatedly clicking a mouse!

i fully understand what you are saying as I am just the same, holding that physical copy is so much nicer than an online one, however in the end I gave Railway Herald a go and while I still buy the occasional printed copy I get most of what I want from RH. My physical magazine was costing me £44 a year for 12 copies the news was at least a month or more out of date, whereas RH is £25 a year for 50 copies as it is weekly (except for two weekly breaks a year) and the news sometimes just days old. The quality of the photos are excellent and as I read it on an iPad a lot easier than a computer with a mouse.

All that being said RH is more a news magazine and while they do usually have at least one article to read physical magazines do provide in-depth features on various railway subjects which is why I still buy the occasional copy if they are featuring something of interest.
 

seahermit

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Condor7, you would make a good life insurance salesman! Persuasive, I will give Railway Herald a try, I want a good, up-to-date source of news/upcoming events. I noticed the RH had a comprehensive list of heritage events etc.
 

Condor7

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Condor7, you would make a good life insurance salesman! Persuasive, I will give Railway Herald a try, I want a good, up-to-date source of news/upcoming events. I noticed the RH had a comprehensive list of heritage events etc.
Close. I’ve owned an Insurance Brokers for the last 42 years. :)
 

seahermit

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Ah, something intuitive on my part maybe! Not wishing to be patronising, you express yourself in a nice, clear articulate way.

So far, so good. Taken out a month's trial subscription with the RH online mag and it does seem to be very extensive and interesting coverage.

Acheing to get away again to explore, checked over my bags etc. the other evening! This forum and the colourful rail mags are making my feet extremely itchy ..
 

Inversnecky

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Ah, something intuitive on my part maybe! Not wishing to be patronising, you express yourself in a nice, clear articulate way.

So far, so good. Taken out a month's trial subscription with the RH online mag and it does seem to be very extensive and interesting coverage.

Acheing to get away again to explore, checked over my bags etc. the other evening! This forum and the colourful rail mags are making my feet extremely itchy ..

Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, but is there a trial subscription option? Or you just took out a single month’s subscription as a trial?
 

ANDREW_D_WEBB

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I joined my local library. This gives me free access to the PressReader service (have to sign in every two months) which has access to Rail, Railway Magazine, Railway Express, Steam Railway and various model railway magazines. This is in addition to lots of other magazines and daily newspapers. Best of both worlds, as I tend to find news outdated in the magazines, but enjoy some of the feature articles.
 

seahermit

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Railway Herald offer subscriptions for: a single issue/one month/6 months/a year. I paid for 1 month just to try it out.

Presumably they will lose no time in reminding me that my subscription has expired and encouraging me to renew it!

I am astonished at the great number of railway and model-railway mags there are, both printed and online. A lot of enthusiasts up and down the country. It could get overwhelming, only so many hours in a day, that is why I was trying to narrow it down to the best and most comprehensive mags and websites.

But it's difficult. I picked up two more mags today, Today's Railways and The Railway Magazine, both are excellent and the latter one has a lot of fascinating classified ads at the back.


Note:
I won't prolong this! But here's the final summary of my preferences. Picked up a copy of "Rail" today - it's interesting but thinner than the other mags and a lot of industry and technical info.

I also glanced at this week's issue of the online Railway Herald - a lot of interesting stuff but something a bit bland about it, blocks of text .. - I can't put my finger on it.

Maybe the printed mags have to work harder to be visually attractive to buyers .. but for whatever reason Modern Railways, The Railway Magazine and Today's Railways all come across to me as thick, colourful, well-laid out and fascinating magazines with many good images and a good spread of info for enthusiasts and more "serious" readers. They are probably the ones I will carry into a quiet corner of the pub sometimes.
 
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Inversnecky

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Can someone be kind enough to give a brief description about each mag - are they industry targeted or enthusiast targeted, news/article or more pictorial, current events v nostalgia- you get the idea! TIA...
 

Gloster

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It is unlikely that somebody reads all the magazines. If they did, they wouldn’t have time to describe them.

Today’s Railways is mainly current news and articles, with some articles being guides to the current situation or the background to it. There are a few historical articles, but almost always on the diesel and electric era. A fairly thorough rolling-stock section and stock changes to the Platform 5 books. A few pages of preservation and rail tours, but again mainly looking towards the diesel and electric side of these.

There are two sister magazines: Today’s Railways UK and Today’s Railways Europe. They each do just what they say on the cover.
 

birchesgreen

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Modern Railways is industry focussed and news heavy although they do have the odd pictorial feature. Pretty much entirely current events although the columnists often delve into memory lane and it is frequently very interesting stuff too.
 

ChiefPlanner

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Modern Railways is industry focussed and news heavy although they do have the odd pictorial feature. Pretty much entirely current events although the columnists often delve into memory lane and it is frequently very interesting stuff too.

Very impressed with recent coverage , and some thought provoking material too , especially on COVID issues. A bit of "nostalgia" sweetens the facts.
 

seahermit

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"Can someone be kind enough to give a brief description about each mag"

Well, it would be difficult to do a fair critique of each publication (i.e. quality of journalism, reliability, coverage of different topics/subject matter) unless you were a journalist or someone knowledgeable about the rail industry (although some very useful comments above, from regular readers).

So, as an ordinary punter, these are my first impressions simply about how attractive the mags were and what readership they seemed to aim at:


Modern Railways and Today’s Railways: comprehensive coverage of rail news, UK and abroad, colourful, attractive and full of images. Little info on heritage lines.

The Railway Magazine
: for enthusiasts, colourful, heavily orientated towards heritage lines and rail history, with a lot of news, tour information and classified ads.

Rail – very industry-orientated, technical, rather drab and a bore!

Railways Illustrated – lot of interesting old train photos, but not heavy on news and info.

Steam Days and Backtrack - for nostalgia fans, full of photos of how trains used to be.




Still looking for these!

Heritage Railway
Rail Express
Steam Railway
 

GRichard

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Railway Magazine and Heritage Railways seem to have a big circulation. I always see these at second hand places (up to date too) going literally for pennies so maybe best to put your subscription money into Modern Railways (which is far harder to get second hand) and pick up for pretty much nothing RM and HR from time to time.
 

Peter C

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I've read most of the ones listed in post #28 at some point and they all vary. I had a Railways Illustrated subscription at one point, and found it to have a good balance between heritage railways and the national network. The first bit is all news and then it goes over to a few larger articles about various railway topics.
Heritage Railway focuses on heritage railways (a surprise, I know ;)), but I've only got a couple of issues in the past so can't really talk about it. If you want news about the national network, this isn't the one for you.
Rail Express is larger than the other two (in terms of height and width) which I've mentioned. It's a mish-mash of the national network, heritage railways, and model railways, and there's quite a bit in there.
Steam Railway is a good publication in my view, despite what some people think (from what I've heard online). It covers heritage railway operations in detail, and has long articles, in a similar way to Railways Illustrated, on various topics.

If you want news about railways, then you're better off using the Internet. As an example of how long news takes to go from a story appearing online to appearing in the railway press, news of the Llangollen Railway appointing receivers was shared on these forums on 1st March, and appeared in the May (published sometime in April) edition of Railways Illustrated. However, there is an advantage to a magazine: I prefer having something which has been printed as opposed to being on a screen and there's an 'archive' aspect to it as well.
Magazines also have an advantage over the Internet when it comes to events. Heritage railway-orientated magazines often have pages or sections dedicated to upcoming galas, etc. - websites do publish this sort of information in a similar way but they're few and far between.

I hope this is of some interest!

-Peter
 
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