The train hobby and it's future?

Model railroading in all scales and gauges. HO talk welcome :)

The train hobby and it's future?

Unread postby Rick M » Tue Mar 14, 2006 7:19 pm

I am curious to what you all think regarding the model railroading hobby and railfanning in general for future generations. For me personally I started taking notice of trains about six months ago and really enjoy the photographic side going form town to town and seeing the activity near the yards and such, so this is all new to me. I am curious about the future generation and how this hobby will grow over the next decade or two. It seems young kids get into it by receiving train sets for either birthdays or holiday time but by the time they reach their teen years there interest fades to other interests like video games...etc. As an example the past 2 trains shows I was at I obsereved a few kids here and there but in general I would say the average age was around 50. It seems like there is a real dropp off of people from 16-30 years of age especially. I have a feeling the expense of train displays, model railroading in general keeps that age group away but when they get older and more disposable income they come back to it and realize what they missed. This is just an observation from someone new to the rail hobby and am wonderting what your thoughts are. We can only hope more people get exposed to railroading as I am most certain this hobby is secure for many generations ahead.
Rick M
Posts: 75
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 6:45 pm
Location: Rochester, MI

Unread postby SousaKerry » Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:23 pm

Coming from one who used to exibit at train shows yes the crowds do seem to be older at times but I have seen quite a few younger patrons. I think it boils down to time. The seeds are planted young in a train set or growing up near the tracks, then as girls are noticed the trains collect dust (us geeks just noticed more trains) then kids are born and lives get too buisy for much more then the train under the christmas tree and Thomas on the TV and on the living room floor (am I the only one who's wife says I play with them more then my so does?)

As the Kids get older and more time is freed up then the layouts creep back in to our lives,

When we Retire we have nothing else to do besides the grand kids like em too... I have to assue these last two parts as my son is only two and I am proud to say is completely addicted to Thomas. He just learned how to put the wooden tracks back together this past week.

What smells like lube oil and diesel.... Oh wait it's just my "Locomotive Breath"
User avatar
Posts: 1158
Joined: Sun Oct 16, 2005 9:47 pm
Location: Somewhere north of Jackson but south of Leslie

Unread postby Railzfan » Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:48 pm

I read an article in a magazine not long ago that stated that less than 4% of the age group that like trains is under 18, and from 18-30 wasn’t much different, like 13%. The highest percentage age group was 50+ years old. I think that the reason that young people lose interest in trains is because non of their parents had any interest, so over time, they too lost interest. Like you guys said above, it could be because of the cost involved in model railroading that also causes young people (such as I*) to lose interest, last summer I spent $200 on a single locomotive, it was sound and DCC (Digital Command Control)-equipped. Or, maybe they had no friends that liked trains, I know that having friends that like the same things that you do makes a world of difference.

Welcome to the aboard Rick, you picked a great pastime that will never grow old. :D

*I still love train and model railroading, I just meant that I am a young railfan, not that I have lost interest in trains :D .
~Andrew Kersting

Website - Rocky Mountain Custom Models

Long Live the Denver & Rio Grande Western!
User avatar
Posts: 466
Joined: Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:35 am
Location: Rockford, MI.

Unread postby Railnut » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:37 am

Well,as a former teen railroader(22 time flies)..I have succeeded (with charles W's help) in infecting my buddie andrew..and I have been working on all my siblings(all but my sister have been out chasing with me at one point or another).
I am also a member of the Teen Association of Model Railroaders(TAMR)
There are around 100 members (IIRC)..and we areconstantly lobbing for more group..
Dave C
User avatar
Posts: 1463
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 4:03 pm
Location: Peck

Unread postby MMRR-24 » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:31 pm

I would say that there are fewer and fewer kids getting into the hobby of model railroading and railfaning. Nowa days it's anime (stupid japanese cartoons) and video games like Grand theft Auto. (which is the dumbest game I think ever made; mo I have never played nor have had any desire to) and that sort of junk. I being 15, get picked on for liking trains instead of that crap. (Not that I care :wink: )
This is what I have encountered.
User avatar
Shortline Fan
Posts: 230
Joined: Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:50 pm
Location: Fowlerville MI

Unread postby ~Z~ » Thu Mar 16, 2006 8:54 pm

Ah, model railroading..... Here's my scenario:
Dad bought my brother and I an HO layout when i was around 7 years old. It was just a 4x8 piece of plywood on wooden sawhorses. We had a figure-8 track, with one long spur off a piece of track. We were quite entertained with maintaining full speed and watching the train loop back on it's own cars, or to run two engines lite at full speed, one slowly catching the other and about half way through, they'd collide at the intersection. We'd turn off the basement lights, and watch the spotlight on one of the cars making lights around the basement.
We move out of that house, set sold. Parents didn't want one setup at the next house. I start working at a hobby store, and get an interest in trains again. Get a small arrangement on a 4x8 board again, and set that up at our apartment(only reason we put one is, is that we had a 4 bedroom apartment with one bedroom open). After moving out of there, set was thrown out, and all I have now is the equipment.

So you see... Most kids may have them while they live at mom&dads, but it's very difficult to have much of a layout as young adults bounce apartment to apartment while in college or just moving around due to new jobs. When we grow out of apartments and get a house, we may get back into model railroading...this day in age, most can't afford houses anymore, even on double incomes....

A side note: As for Grand Theft Auto...i used to play that game alot.. Must get that game again....
Railroad photos on
User avatar
Sofa King Admin
Posts: 10900
Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2004 2:14 pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

advantages of model railroading

Unread postby Guest » Thu Mar 16, 2006 11:03 pm

One thing that works in model railroading's favor is that it doesn't take a lot of high-cost gasoline to get to your own basement to enjoy that hobby. It's also a great hobby during foul weather. When it's too rainy to play golf or too cold to be outside, the basement is an easy retreat.

Return to Model Railroading

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests