The colloquial name is trainspotter. The real name is rail enthusiast, but neither of these two really describe what I do. Rail explorer would be a more appropriate name. To clear up a few misunderstandings I do not own an anorak - my favourite coat is a black leather jacket (80's heavy metal style). My preferred beverage is beer rather than tea in a thermos, and I haven't got a notebook with numbers in it.
So what do I do ?
I like to explore the rail network. I do not own a car, or a bike, so rail is a natural way for me to get around. In my travels I like to photograph not only the trains, but the stations as well. Some railway stations do have some magnificent architecture that is usually ignored by the world weary commuter, or people rushing from place to place. As an example I would suggest Crystal Palace station. Before refurbishment it was a dark and dirty place with an almost gothic splendor. Since refurbishment it is revealed as a bright airy place with plenty of clues as to how it would have looked as a very grand station built to carry huge crowds to the Crystal Palace exhibition. A taste of the grand style of the place can be seen in the picture here.
It is not only the big places I like to visit. It is also the small stations. Shoreditch on the London Underground's East London Line is an interesting place. It is probably London's least known station. Long ago trains along the East London Line continued beyond Shoreditch to Liverpool Street. Now all that is left is a tiny, almost sleepy, terminal station that still shows the remains of its earlier life. The entrance can be seen here.
On the next page I will describe some of the history behind my rail enthusiasm.