Why are trainspotters so unfriendly ?

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notadriver

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I've waved at a few on the end of platforms as the are taking their photographs. I've even opened up the cab window to try and chat to a few if they are adjacent to me. But whilst they seem happy to talk amongst themselves they seem to look down their nose at train staff. What is their problem ?


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Philip Phlopp

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I've waved at a few on the end of platforms as the are taking their photographs. I've even opened up the cab window to try and chat to a few if they are adjacent to me. But whilst they seem happy to talk amongst themselves they seem to look down their nose at train staff. What is their problem ?


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You'll be ruining their shot by doing everything from breathing to speaking to them, but if you think they're unfriendly to drivers and other platform staff, that's nothing to the open hostility they have for electrification teams.

We're ruining their vantage points, making them carry step ladders to see over bridge parapets and destroying their favourite spots.
 

GrimsbyPacer

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I don't know what they're problem is.
If someone waves it's customary to wave back, I certainly would.
Maybe they just want to be lonely, hence the hobby away from many others??
 

Haig paxton

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Many of them are socially awkward, if not inadequate. So they seem to be solitary creatures, often living alone and strangers to a bar of soap. This is not a generalisation.
 

LowLevel

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Lots of them are a bit difficult but I've never had any particular problem with them. We used to get on quite well with our regulars.
 

ComUtoR

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I've waved at a few on the end of platforms as the are taking their photographs.

They aren't Driver Spotters. IF trains could wave back then I'm sure they would be much more sociable.
 

bramling

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I've waved at a few on the end of platforms as the are taking their photographs. I've even opened up the cab window to try and chat to a few if they are adjacent to me. But whilst they seem happy to talk amongst themselves they seem to look down their nose at train staff. What is their problem ?


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Obviously some are no angels, however I do wonder if it may be because enthusiasts nowadays get more grief from passengers and staff than in the past, often not of their own making. For example there was definitely a period in the early 2000s where enthusiasts tended to get a lot of unwarranted hassle from some staff even for daring to have a camera on a station. To be fair, things have improved a lot in this respect recently, although I suspect the issue hasn't entirely gone away. People will never be at their best if their default position is being on the defensive, when they should be able to enjoy a largely harmless hobby without getting hassle.

The days when knowledgeable old-school staff were very keen to explain to enthusiasts all about their job and the railway are now largely gone, unfortunately. Especially on stations where staff turnover on the modern railway can be quite high and many station staff know next to nothing about the railway themselves thanks to minimal training.

Where I am there's a couple of regulars who take photos and numbers. They have a good relationship with the local drivers, many of whom will at minimum say hello, whilst others will talk more. Certainly the odd official cab ride has been arranged too.
 
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47802

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You'll be ruining their shot by doing everything from breathing to speaking to them, but if you think they're unfriendly to drivers and other platform staff, that's nothing to the open hostility they have for electrification teams.

We're ruining their vantage points, making them carry step ladders to see over bridge parapets and destroying their favourite spots.

Well that's certainly true.:)

I don't think most Enthusiasts look down at railway employees most enthusiasts would say its the other way around.

I'm more wary of them than I used to be as I've found an increasing tendency not to be particularly Rail Enthusiast friendly, the Enthusiasts are perhaps shocked that the thread starter wants to actually wave and talk to them.
 
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Calthrop

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I don't know what they're problem is.
If someone waves it's customary to wave back, I certainly would.
Maybe they just want to be lonely, hence the hobby away from many others??

Many of them are socially awkward, if not inadequate. So they seem to be solitary creatures, often living alone and strangers to a bar of soap. This is not a generalisation.

Dan Wilson, one-time editor of the Ffestiniog Railway Magazine -- IMO a wise and witty gent -- often observed that "people who like railways tend to be people who have given up on people".
 

Johnuk123

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Many of them are socially awkward, if not inadequate. So they seem to be solitary creatures, often living alone and strangers to a bar of soap. This is not a generalisation.

I don't think this was always the case, in my schoolboy days I mixed with ordinary lads who had other interests as well as railways and they were not socially inadequate.
Nowadays though your description would be very apt.
 

47802

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Dan Wilson, one-time editor of the Ffestiniog Railway Magazine -- IMO a wise and witty gent -- often observed that "people who like railways tend to be people who have given up on people".

Yeh I have to admit that would probably apply to me I largely gave up on people a long time ago:lol:
 

Richard1960

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Many of them are socially awkward, if not inadequate. So they seem to be solitary creatures, often living alone and strangers to a bar of soap. This is not a generalisation.

I think that point is 100% spot on,though they are an hybrid of another type of spotter Bus, yes Bus spotters taking down numbers.:(:(
 

bramling

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Yeh I have to admit that would probably apply to me I largely gave up on people a long time ago:lol:

Tiring of people is nothing to be ashamed of, all it takes is one too many encounters with the large minority of highly unpleasant people who unfortunately do exist. Many railway staff go the same way, as unfortunately one bad experience always sticks out over ten good.
 

LowLevel

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You do remember the idiots. We had to have BTP drag one off the station and give him notice to stay away once because evidently he decided he was a big fish in a small pond as the staff were friendly to him (as everyone else, we used to print the freight lineups off the computer for them and sit having a natter at some point).

He took this to mean we were his 'mates' and started bullying the coffee shop staff etc. He tried to have a go at me when I intervened as the duty platform chargeman which was a big mistake as BTP and the area station manager were involved inside about 5 minutes, and his relationship as a transport user (or as we chose to put it, serial loiterer which is a byelaw offence) with the company's servants was quickly reestablished in his mind!
 

Bertie the bus

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I've waved at a few on the end of platforms as the are taking their photographs. I've even opened up the cab window to try and chat to a few if they are adjacent to me. But whilst they seem happy to talk amongst themselves they seem to look down their nose at train staff. What is their problem ?


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If you're taking a photo, especially of a moving train, it is impossible to see any gestures the driver is making. You're focusing your attention on the train and the inside of the cab is relatively dark. I've noticed many times on my photos the driver acknowledging me, I even got a proper salute recently, but I haven't seen it at the time.

If, as quite often happens, the driver gives a toot, unsolicited I may add, then I will always acknowledge. I've also had many friendly conversations with rail staff.
 
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There are some vast simplifications here - I was a childhood trainspoter and am dyspraxic and dyslexic,

I had several friends with similar interests but they all seemed to be neuro typicals. I lost contact with all of them bar one and now I am the recluse. I hardly ever leave my home but enjoy train topics and especially transport art.

I like the suggestion that trainspotters have given up on people.

I was once surprised that a man I greatly respected as a trades union organiser was a train photographer and I felt rather embarrassed for him.

I cannot be logical about this stuff but I remember the thrill I had at seeing the Deltic Prototype at the end of the platform at Kings Cross or a few years later dangerously leading my cousin, not a train spotter, when we were both staying with our grandmother in Brighton, through a hole in the fence, across the live main lines and into the train shed across the tracks. The rule breaking and danger was part of the excitement- I was probably about 12 or 13 maybe, so I guess it would have been about 1961/2

I am not sure if the shed illustrated is the one I gained access to several times - I would avoid the staff, though in some engine sheds - we were acknowledged if not welcomed - I cannot remember them all now, they were around London other than at Brighton or on organised visits at other places. I recall a day excursion to Crewe with one of the groups father's acting as minder - I think just on one occasion. We lived at Highams Park, London E. 4. - it was actually still in Essex then (I have this thing about accuracy - despite often making errors)

http://thebrightonmotivepowerdepots.yolasite.com/resources/scan0023%2075A%20shed%20view.jpg
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I was not the only one at Brighton - though I think Howard Bardsley was a few years ahead of me because I do not recall seeing steam locomotives at Brighton http://www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk/page_id__11222.aspx
 
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As others have said the few regulars tend to be alright, if incredibly socially awkward. The visiting ones are the best, I tend to mark their visit to East Anglia with a nice wave or salute to spoil the shot of that particular unit. It's probably my fault they're grumpy but hey, they're on my patch!
 

fowler9

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I came across a few at Crewe last summer who weren't unfriendly, more like downright aggressive. They were like the railway equivalent of footy hooligans. I was quite amused.
 

alxndr

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Never interacted with the platform variety, although I have seen them chatting to staff on occasion, but those I've seen out and about on bridges have always seemed friendly enough. One or two have stopped to ask something (which they ultimately know more about than we do!), and most will say hello. It does tend to be the older generation who greet us though, but that seems to be the case in the general population anyway.

Only encountered one group of railway enthusiasts (not spotters) who've been anything less than polite. It seemed to be a case of forgetting that they were around part of an operational railway and believing that they had The Right to go where they pleased more than an intentional thing.
 

Haig paxton

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I waved at that Rod from tv series 'On the Yorkshire Buses' when he was standing on the platform taking pictures at Glasgow Central last year... I was met with a blank stare.
 

bramling

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I waved at that Rod from tv series 'On the Yorkshire Buses' when he was standing on the platform taking pictures at Glasgow Central last year... I was met with a blank stare.

You're unlikely to get noticed whilst someone is in the process of taking a photo. Whilst the screens on today's digital cameras are not bad, they won't pick out a driver in a dark cab - and that's unlikely to be the part of the view the photographer is concentrating on anyway. So in many cases it wouldn't be a case of being ignored, but not actually noticed. Generally expecting to get someone's attention whilst they're in the process of carrying out a particular task is not necessarily the best way of getting a result - so perhaps a misunderstanding all round in this aspect of things.
 

silverfoxcc

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From an Ex spotter,in my youth planes,trains, buses, if it had wheels it was noted!!!!
Nowadays just video Steam on the Main line, and try and find a secluded place if possible. Especially so because of the 60103 problems. But this is what happened yesterday
Location Warren Bridge Twyford ( to most people Sonning cutting and it is the 'high' bridge that has a 'see through metal fence'
People about. About three neds whose main concern was the engine and a few others who were really into the railways judging by their conversation. The rest was made up the the local residents waiting for FS. A Few children were also present with parents, so all in all a good cross section of society and the place was wedged.

So waiting for the 'main event' about two dozen or so of the children and Adults were waiving at the normal day to day services as they approached the bridge. about 70% of the drivers acknowledged with a horn blast, the rest, well they just carried on. These drivers come under the general concensus

'Why are they so grumpy and not 'hooting'?' and this from people in the age range 30-70

so drivers, and employees it does rub both ways.

And before you knock the 'spotters' have a good look at yourself and your hobbies. you may like going to the opera,visiting the Tate Modern, going horse racing, playing golf. watching porn even. to you normal activities, to others perhaps these activities are considered 'strange' to people who are not interested in them. Are you therefore autistic in their eyes? What next taking the urine out of Downs Syndrome people?
I work with people who have these disabilities and more, one lass just sits in a wheel chair all day, possibly severely brain damaged another just rocks, yet these are people like you and i and desreve a life without people like you. And we speak to them like i would speak to you, with respect and consideration, after all they may understand every word that is said, yet cannot reply in kind But you think it is alright to class trainspotters as autistic. have 24hrs doing what i do and them come back to me and bitch about train spotters.

Just live and let live and dont 'dis' others who dont conform to your ideas of normality

Rant over.
 
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Techniquest

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I think it is grossly unfair to say we're all unfriendly, miserable, social outcasts who need an introduction to soap etc. Good grief that's insulting! <(

There are some of us who could do with general hygiene lessons, but then that applies to pretty much the entire population to different degrees, regardless of line of interests.

We are certainly not all social outcasts, certainly not all people who've given up on people. Some people in the hobby are, without any doubt, but to suggest we all have is just ridiculous. I'd like to think I'm more than comfortable around other people, I wouldn't be in the job I'm in now otherwise! Slow moving people who block entire pavements, footbridges etc, they do annoy me but I wouldn't say it makes me a social outcast :roll: No-one on the frontlines in a customer-facing role can be a social outcast, it's not acceptable to be like that in such a role. Quite, I'm more than happy to have a natter with those customers who I interact with! Mind you, unless you've ever worked in a retail environment you wouldn't know that, or how to do that...

If a driver wants to acknowledge my presence whilst I'm on the railway, I'll more than happily return the gesture. Often I have noise cancelling earphones in, or have focus on my phone for any one of many reasons, be it choosing the next track on Tech's Mobile Disco, updating an observation file, finding something on Real Time Trains, updating the latest entry of my autobiography, adding to a moves file, tweeting or just replying to a text. So I'm appearing quite the norm amongst the crowds normally, and all the while reading this thread and posting this reply, I've got Crewe's platform 6 in my head. Quite why this should be I'm not sure!

Don't get me wrong, I've encountered some strange people in this hobby before, thankfully not often. You either try to work some magic on them and turn the frown upside down (but you need to know how first, don't try and make it up on the fly. Again, customer service and social skills needed!) or just ignore them.

You've probably all ignored what I've actually wrote, so in summary:

Stop judging us all in the same manner, some of us are actually nice people!
 

furnessvale

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Obviously some are no angels, however I do wonder if it may be because enthusiasts nowadays get more grief from passengers and staff than in the past, often not of their own making. For example there was definitely a period in the early 2000s where enthusiasts tended to get a lot of unwarranted hassle from some staff even for daring to have a camera on a station. To be fair, things have improved a lot in this respect recently, although I suspect the issue hasn't entirely gone away. People will never be at their best if their default position is being on the defensive, when they should be able to enjoy a largely harmless hobby without getting hassle.

The days when knowledgeable old-school staff were very keen to explain to enthusiasts all about their job and the railway are now largely gone, unfortunately. Especially on stations where staff turnover on the modern railway can be quite high and many station staff know next to nothing about the railway themselves thanks to minimal training.

Where I am there's a couple of regulars who take photos and numbers. They have a good relationship with the local drivers, many of whom will at minimum say hello, whilst others will talk more. Certainly the odd official cab ride has been arranged too.

I think is is unwise to conflate the words enthusiast and spotter.

I am enthusiastic about railways but I am not a spotter. The number on a loco or wagon is of no interest to me, other than perhaps identifying a subset with different characteristics which may be of interest.

Conversely, I have known spotters who have no interest in the railways as a whole, to the extent of vandalising locos in a siding to ensure a preferred loco appeared on a given service.
 
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