Look, we’ve all got our quirky little things we’re into - medieval cosplay, stamp collecting or, in my case, obscure Canadian home renovation shows. For some people, it’s trains that tickle their fancy.
Maybe train people never grew out of a childhood love of Thomas the Tank Engine, or maybe its just that they love nothing more than kicking back with a book while the world whirrs by outside the window. If you identify as a train nut - riding them, reading about them and, most importantly, watching multiple excellent prime time SBS shows about them - this list may seem just a little too real.
1. All aboard the booze train
There is more than one bar in Tokyo - actually, there are five - dedicated solely to encouraging your love of trains. Some have model trains running through them, some have women dressed like sexy train conductors (apparently that’s a thing) and some are built out of actual old train carriages.
2. Train nerds unite
Trains are such a huge thing in Japan there is actually an entire subculture called “densha otaku”, which means literally a “train nerd”. Then there are dedicated subcultures within the subcultures such as a “Tori-testu”, who enjoys chasing trains just to photograph them; a “Onkyou-tetsu”, who is obsessed with the sounds made by trains, and can even identify the type of train and the line its on just by a short recording; and “Jushin-tetsu”, who for reasons beyond understanding enjoy intercepting train operator radio signals.
3. First stop, renewable energy
Ore trains in Sweden actually generate five times the amount of electricity they use. This power is then used to fuel neighbouring towns and provide power for the return trip for other trains.
4. Midnight express
Back in Japan, there’s a hotel where you can sleep beside a model railroad… because everyone knows there’s nothing more relaxing than having a room right alongside a train line.
5. Mind the closing doors…
OK, I know I’m banging on about Japan but seriously, the nation is nuts for trains. Did you know that in Tokyo each station has a different jingle? Here’s proof.
6. Blow Yo’ Whistle, Freight Train!
Still on train noises, most train horns are based on musical chords. Passenger trains are usually based on major 6th chords, because they’re non-threatening, as opposed to freight trains which use more frightening 7th chords to warn passers-by to get out of their way.
7. Girl on the train
Apparently, when trains were introduced in the US, many people wouldn’t let women ride them as they believed that “women’s bodies weren’t designed to go at 50 miles an hour” and that their “uteruses would fly out of their bodies”. Ah, women and their delicate uteruses - thank God we have men around to protect them.
8. Midnight train to Domino's
After realising he was on a five-hour train trip without a meal car (and hadn’t pre-prepared), some genius decided to order pizza to a moving train - and succeeded!
9. Downtown Train
Rod Stewart might be a rock star but it turns out he’s just as nerdy as your average teenage boy with an apparent full-blown passion for model trains. He even books a separate hotel room when on tour just so he can set up his collection and play with them.
10. Mind the Gap
The London Underground - one of the most famous train networks in the world - sees an average of 2.7 million journeys per day. And yet, in its entire history, only three babies have ever been born on the Tube - one in 1924, another in 2008 and a third in 2009.
Explore your train passions with Great Continental Railway Journeys on SBS, Tuesdays at 7:30pm. Episodes are also available to stream on SBS On Demand: