UK Techie Train Enthusiasts
(AP HORIZONS) – Young, technology-savvy train enthusiasts are reviving a passion for the railways through digital interactivity.But can they convince the older generations that the romance is not all lost with these new gadgets? (March 30th)
Credits: Researched, field produced, edited video, wrote script
Check out the shoot’s ‘behind the scenes’ on my Journeys of a Journo blog
RESTRICTIONS: Horizons Clients Only
DATELINE: Crewe – 17 February, 2012
STORY NUMBER: 729961
UK TECH TRAINS
SOURCE: AP TELEVISION
RESTRICTIONS: HORIZONS CLIENTS ONLY
Crewe, UK – 17 February 2012
1. Wide of trainspotters watching as train drives by
2. Close of trainspotter Will Snook, making an audio recording of the train engines onto his iPhone. UPSOUND: “33-68-49-30-79 check six. 49-09-392-check five”
3. Close of Phil Bromage filming train on digital camcorder
4. SOUNDBITE (English) Will Snook, trainspotter:
“So I’ll just post that, let everyone know that’s just past me. And then, if someone needs it up north, they’ll go to Wigan or Preston or Carlisle, and they’ll go and see it there.”
5. Close of Snook typing a report on Yahoo groups on his iPhone, UPSOUND (English) Will Snook: “That past at 13.05 and then that’s it. Just hit send.”
6. Close of Will scrolling down a facebook page on his iPhone, UPSOUND (English) Will Snook: “You’ve got people who want to post their photos. Some people post locations of the engines or what they’re up to today. That was James, his dad works for one of the railway companies, so his dad sends him these locations of the engines at Crewe.”
7. Wide of trainspotters next to train line, train going past
8. Wide of same model train pulling into platform at Crewe station
9. Close of black and white photo of old locomotive pulling into same platform at Crewe station
10. Mid of Crewe Heritage Centre display of the first train cab built in Crewe (1837)
11. Mid of old display with different information
12. Wide of volunteer Glen Henshall cleaning the Lion train model
13. Close of Glen Henshall cleaning wheel
14. SOUNDBITE (English) Glen Henshall, Crewe Heritage Centre volunteer:
“Certainly nowadays people expect a higher level. They don’t expect to see almost hand-written things. They don’t tend to stand and read long pieces of text. They want more audio. In general, a lot of the younger members of the public are used to touch screens, and interactive displays. That’s what they need. If you don’t offer it to them, they won’t come.”
15. Pull focus of statue to old Crewe station sign
16. Wide of old, hand-written, train station timetable hanging from the ceiling
17. Close of London Euston train times written on old timetable
18. Close of London Euston written on new electronic timetable at current Crewe station
19. Wide of Virgin train passing through Crewe station
20. Wide of Virgin train pulling out of station into field
21. SOUNDBITE (English) Will Snook, trainspotter:
“It’s progressed quite a lot from this ‘anorak’ person that it used to be, to this more digital spotter as I’d call it.”
22. Wide of freight train filled with sand driving under bridge
23. Close of Jake Bromage recording freight train with small digital recorder
24. Close of Phil Bromage’s hands as he takes a digital snapshot of a train, UPSOUND (English) Phil Bromage, trainspotter: “7-3-7-1-check”
25. Wide exterior of Foxfield Railways Preservation Society
26. Wide of volunteers Richard Barnett and Matt Healey chatting, walking past two vintage steam trains
27. SOUNDBITE (English) Richard Barnett, volunteer:
“It’s important because it’s traditional. The whole part of the romance of the railways is the steam, the passion for it. And all part of the package is the tools that go with it as well. Working on them, and how you maintain them as well. So using traditional tools to do it is all part of the hobby and the passion that these people that volunteer here come to work on.”
28. Wide of volunteer Matt Healey working on an old steam engine
29. Close of Healey’s dirty hands as he screws back in a screw
30. SOUNDBITE (English) Matt Healey, volunteer:
“It’s really keeping skills alive from previous generations. From sort of 150, almost 200 years ago. It’s keeping them going into present day. If you didn’t do it, the skill base would die out. It just keeps it going.”
31. Mid of Healey working on steam engine
32. Mid of Bromage scoping when the next train is going to go by
33. Wide of two trains travelling past each other with a rainbow in the background
Only a few years ago, this train viewing spot in Crewe, England would have looked entirely different – a sea of rain jackets, notepads, and tea flasks.
Rain or shine, they would wait for hours on end until a certain train appeared.
Now, spotting groups have gone digital. Instead of quickly scribbling engine numbers as new trains whizzed by, they’re more organised. Using 3G Internet, they have the ability to track in the field.
Now, when a train arrives, they simply whip out their phone and record it audibly. Or, they film it on digital cameras to upload online. They say the reason is not solely for personal reasons, either.
Now, helping out the nationwide community is as important as ticking off their own locomotive lists.
Less than a year ago, 23-year-old Will Snook noticed there was this need for real-time communication.
He began the nationwide facebook group UK Trainspotters which already boasts hundreds of active users.
Also important to spotting is yahoo groups – a tool used to send out quick emails to hundreds of registered users instantly.
For the history buffs of trainspotting, Crewe is a Mecca. Unusually, the town was built around and named after the station, instead of vice versa.
In the past, Crewe was known for its coal mining and thus, its unique stock of work trains.
In the push to go digital, Crewe Heritage Centre was not spared. The museum is currently under renovation, acquiring new hi-tech exhibits.
Glen Henshall has volunteered at the centre for over 25 years. He says it is key to the survival of the hobby to keep up with the times, or its history will be lost.
“In general, a lot of the younger members of the public are used to touch screens, and interactive displays. That’s what they need. If you don’t offer it to them, they won’t come,” Henshall said.
This spring marks Crewe’s 175th birthday. The centre made a call to all transport companies operating in Crewe to design their own display in celebration of their history.
Glen says the reach out to companies is to insure that each exhibit is digitally savvy and hands-on.
Back in the field, Snook says quenching the thirst for more interactivity is what keeps the hobby alive.
“It’s progressed quite a lot from this ‘anorak’ person that it used to be, to this more digital spotter as I’d call it,” he says.
But are new fancy gadgets really the future for all train enthusiasts?
At Foxfields Preservation Society, another modern toy is the last thing anyone wants.
Described as the big boys train set, the society specialises in refurbishing vintage engines. The catch? No computers or modern tools allowed.
Set back in the lush English countryside, volunteers work on trains in old-style station warehouses, as their ancestors would – all while entering into a romantic world of getting their hands dirty.
“Using traditional tools to do it is all part of the hobby and the passion that these people that volunteer here come to work on,” said volunteer Richard Barnett.
Matt Healey has volunteered at the society for over seven years. He says for him, it’s not only about escaping from reality, but crucial for preserving history.
“It’s really keeping skills alive from previous generations. From sort of 150, almost 200 years ago. It’s keeping them going into present day. If you didn’t do it, the skill base would die out. It just keeps it going,” he said.
Healey says the real way to engage younger people is to show them something they’ve never seen before. In this sense, it’s a real-life, vintage train set.
Whether enjoying trains from the field, in museums or in preservation centres, technology is doing its bit to keep train enthusiasts on track to keeping future generations loving the railways.