Train Basics FAQs


By Angela Cotey | November 17, 2015

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Frequently asked questions for Trains readers:

Q: I see trains all the time, but I just realized there is a whole community of people who watch, study, and enjoy trains and rail travel. Can you tell me more?

A: You’ve come to the right place. Check out our Train Basics section with links to ABCs of Railroading — the place to read about foundational concepts of railroads and how they work and Ask Trains, a place for readers to ask questions about trains and railroading answered by staff and contributors. The most important thing to know about enjoying trains, is that you can do it anywhere as long as you follows local laws and stay safe!

Q: I saw this really cool train. Can you tell me about it?

A: Maybe, but only after seeing pictures or video and asking a ton of questions. The good news is there is a lot you can find out for yourself by reviewing articles and videos we’ve been publishing for years. Some of this is stored online in our Locomotives section  — the place where you can find out tons of information on the big motorized engines leading or pushing a train. You might also find out more by watching Drew’s Trackside Adventures — videos of trains from throughout North America hosted by experienced railfans.

Q: My relative worked for the railroad years ago. Can you help me research his history?

A: When we get questions like this we typically recommend you to your local historical society for help in genealogy or family history research or to a particular railroad historical society. Unfortunately, Trains staff are unable to help with your research.

Q: I’ve got a really old railroad item. Can you tell me if it’s worth something?

A: Much like folks working on family histories, we typically direct people to local historical societies or railroad historical societies. They are in the best position to know reliable appraisers in your area and even help you confirm if what you have is an authentic railroad item. Unfortunately, Trains staff are unable to help with your research.

Q: I’ve got train videos and articles I’m sure everyone reading Trains would love. How can I send them to you?

A: Take a look at our Contributor Guidelines section for more information.

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