Trains Magazine Contributor Guidelines

Contributor Guidelines

By Trains Staff | October 19, 2020

| Last updated on February 21, 2024

The magazine of Railroading

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories, and more from brands. Sign-up for email today!

Trains Magazine Contributor Guidelines

Trains Magazine depends on its contributors for the majority of photos and words we publish. A typical issue of Trains contains 80-100 photos and 27,000 words.

When sending material, please address it directly to the proper department (for example: “Railroad News”), and provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope of suitable size for its return. As time permits, we do review each photo and article submitted.

News inquiries:
Photo inquiries:
Manuscript inquiries:

Before submitting articles or photographs, please review the following:


We rely heavily on reader-submitted digital images, provided they are of sufficient resolution for magazine reproduction.

You may upload your digital images to Please choose “Trains” and provide caption data in the comment field. You will receive an email message indicating that your images were successfully uploaded. Digital image submissions may be archived for future use. Please keep this in mind when submitting to multiple publications.

If submitting news photos, please send them as soon as possible after the event. If you are submitting news photos to multiple railroad publications, it is best to send different views to each so that each publication has exclusive photos.

Digital images should be at least 6 megapixels in size, however we prefer images that are 12 megapixels or larger for greater flexibility. Send only original, unaltered files directly from the digital camera. JPG files are useable, but we prefer RAW files (Canon CR2, Nikon NEF, etc.).

Caption information submitted with uploads should include: Location; date; railroad the train is operating on (not just the locomotives pictured); and train symbol, if known. Our archivist/librarian may contact you for additional information in the image is stored for future use.

We prefer 35mm or medium-format original color transparencies. Black and white prints should be 8×10 inches in size. Color prints cannot be used.

We cannot use images made from home scanners, and do not send negatives or duplicate slides.

For other questions about digital image submissions, e-mail us at

Mail photos to:

Trains Magazine
Photo Submissions
P.O. Box 1612
Waukesha, WI 53187-1612

Review time and return policy:

  • A staff member will acknowledge receipt of your photographs the day they arrive via email (if provided).
  • If you are sending us news photographs, please send them as quickly as possible after the event you photographed.
  • When submitting slides, please indicate if we may keep them on file for possible future use, or if we should return slides that are not immediately used. Trains assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited photos or articles.
  • If you would like your slides returned, please provide a stamped, self-addressed envelope of suitable size.
  • We try to return unused images within two months if their return has been requested. Slides kept on file will be returned upon email or written request. Please provide caption data as photos are filed by railroad. The photo files that serve Trains are open to other Kalmbach publications, which pay separately for use.
  • Please allow us sufficient time to review your images.

Rights and payment rates:

  • Trains pays for the one-time editorial use of a photograph, upon publication.
  • Standard rates are based on published size of the photo, and vary from $15 to $300. We require Social Security or Federal Taxpayer I.D. numbers from U.S. contributors before we can issue checks for photos or stories.

Captioning photographs:

  • Digital photo submissions should include complete caption information: Date, location, railroad the scene occurs on, and any other relevant details. If available, photographers should also include the train symbol, where applicable.
  • Each slide mount or print must have the photographer’s name and address on it. Slides should have as much information on the mount as possible (location, date, and subject). Expanded information may be included on a separate sheet.
  • Prints should have the photographer’s complete name and address on the back, with caption information included on the back or on an attached sheet. Do not type on the print, and do not use rubber cement. Attach caption information to prints with transparent tape or self-adhesive labels, or use an attached sheet.
  • Since Trains pays for only one-time use of photos, the original slide or negative still belongs to the photographer, so we cannot provide copies of photos that appear in our pages, and our policy prohibits release of addresses of non-commercial contributors. Inquiries will be forwarded for response at the photographers’ discretion.


Trains buys news stories and feature articles covering railroading’s past and present, including first-person recollections. We do not buy travel stories, poetry, or fiction.

Before submitting a feature-length article, we urge you to send a written inquiry to Trains Magazine at Please send a brief paragraph explaining the story, its theme, and highlights. Queries should include a possible headline. No telephone calls, please. Email is preferred.

The best way to become familiar with the types of articles we publish is to look at several recent issues.

Rights and payment rates

  • Trains prefers to buy exclusive rights to a manuscript.
  • We pay upon receipt of a signed author contract.
  • Standard manuscript rates begin at 10 cents per word.

Submitting and returning articles

  • The preferred format to send articles to Trains is via email, with the article sent as an attached Microsoft Word document. Please do not send us computer disks of flash drives.
  • Supporting material such as diagrams and maps should also be sent to us via email. If you send in print copies, they will not be returned to you.
  • Photographs should be at least 300 dpi and sent through the contribute link above (Please assign to a specific editor if applicable).
  • We will acknowledge receipt of your material by email (if provided).
  • Please allow 90 days for review of the articles you send us.
  • Because we try to balance the mix of stories in each month’s issue, articles that we buy may not appear in print right away.
  • Trains assumes no responsibility for the return of unsolicited photographs or articles.
You must login to submit a comment