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Rail enthusiasts find new ways to enjoy their hobby during lockdown

PUBLISHED: 11:26 29 April 2020 | UPDATED: 11:50 29 April 2020

Rail enthusiast John Day took this picture of Greater Anglia's new Bombardier Aventra train on test at Belstead, near Ipswich, from a footpath during his daily exercise. Picture: JOHN DAY

Rail enthusiast John Day took this picture of Greater Anglia's new Bombardier Aventra train on test at Belstead, near Ipswich, from a footpath during his daily exercise. Picture: JOHN DAY

Archant

Greater Anglia is reaching out to a group who have seen one of their main hobbies put out of bounds during the lockdown...the region’s rail enthusiasts.

A generation ago rail enthusiasts, or trainspotters as some described them, were seen as irritant by some British Rail officials – but now they are welcomed by most companies, including Greater Anglia, because of their enthusiasm for the industry.

But during the lockdown stations are closed to all but essential workers who are able to travel on trains, so amateur photographers who gather to take pictures of the trains there cannot meet.

Some have tried to include walks near rail lines into their daily exercise – but now Greater Anglia has been contacting some of the region’s enthusiasts to find out how they are getting their train “fix” during the lockdown.

One enthusiast has made virtual Minecraft models of some Greater Anglia stations – while others have been watching trains from home through the RailCam YouTube channel, which has cameras focussed on busy rail locations across the country.

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John Day is a keen rail enthusiast, amateur photographer, and is vice-president of the Ipswich Transport Society. He said he felt frustrated at not being able to travel by train or to visit the station to take photographs there.

He said: “We know many of the staff at the station and have a very good relationship. We can’t see our friends, so I am spending time organising my things on the computer.”

But he is able to use local footpaths and parks near his home in south-west Ipswich to give him the chance to see trains during his daily permitted exercise. He has friends who will tell him when there might be something to see.

Recently, he was able to take a picture of one of the new Bombardier Aventra trains on test at Belstead from the footpath near the track during his walk.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia looked forward to seeing the enthusiasts back on their trains, saying: “It’s great to see that the UK’s enthusiast community has come together to support each other through difficult times and has found ways to continue to enjoy their pastime in creative ways.

“We look forward to seeing them back on our trains and station platforms in the future when it is safe to return – when they will have an entire new fleet of trains to log, photograph, video and enjoy as we continue our full fleet replacement programme!”


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