Trainspotting: The Tech And Apps Behind The Hobby

Trainspotting is a British hobby originating in the 1940’s for locomotive enthusiasts. At its core, trainspotting is all about watching trains recreationally and looking for distinctive characteristics as they go by.

In 2003, there were said to be around 100,000 trainspotters in the UK alone. Living in a digital world, the majority of train information and timetables can now be found online – making it easier than ever to know where and when you might be able to see your favourite trains.


The Different Types of Trainspotting


In the UK, there are a few different types of trainspotting practises but all of them revolve around the act of tracking trains in some way. Some spotters will want to take photos of the trains, whereas others are happy to have simply seen the train in real life.

Others may be interested in riding rare trains or collecting train-related memorabilia such as old rail tickets and timetables.


Is Trainspotting a Dying Art?


With everything available online in the digital age, trainspotting isn’t the most popular modern hobby.

That said, there is still a passion for trainspotting about and certain technologies and apps are helping bring trainspotting into the modern age. In fact, the rise of recent trainspotting influencer Francis Bourgeois who has over 2M Instagram followers, is a sign that trainspotting might be having a resurgence.

In any case, there are definitely more apps now than ever to help locomotive lovers spot their favourite vehicles. Let’s take a look at them…


Apps For Locomotive Lovers




Icon image


For rail enthusiasts, the free app Trainspotter is the perfect trainspotting companion, allowing you to log and keep track of sightings of UK trains. Through the app, you can access a database of thousands of types of steam and electric trains .

Users can log their personal train sightings and add them to the database with the location, photo and any additional comments so that they can refer back to them in the future.



Train Siding


TRAIN SIDING (@trainsiding) / X


Dutch company Train Siding is an online railway community app for locomotive lovers. Through this social media app, train-lovers can follow their favourite railways brands and discover trains from different countries as well as accessing a marketplace for memorabilia and model trains.

The app also has a social aspect which allows you to set up a profile and connect with like-minded people from around the world, sharing photos and videos.






Traksy is a website designed for anyone interested in trains. The website provides detailed tracking information about the whole National Rail network including the current station and position of all trains.

Through the website, users can identify and track their favourite trains, allowing them to more easily plan to see them in real life.






SpotLog is an app for trainspotters that allows users to record loco and unit numbers and keep a log of train sightings. Not only that, they can mark off their sightings in the “book” section – a feature of the app containing class lists and information from the LocoList database. This database covers railway trains from across the UK and Europe.


Train Sim


Train Sim World, 59% OFF |


If you want to take your train enthusiasm to the next level, Train Sim is a railway simulator, allowing you to digitally get in the driving seat! With realistic train models across a number of 3D environments, you can let your imagination take you on a train adventure.

The game is regularly updated with new train models to keep the most dedicated trainspotters happy.


Trainline UK


Trainline : Search, Compare & Buy Cheap Train Tickets


Of course our list would be incomplete without mentioning Trainline UK. Trainline is the train online commerce platform selling train tickets across 24 countries and offering real-time updates for UK trains.

Trainline can help any trainspotting enthusiast locate their favourite locamotives to help make the experience easier and more reliable.


Train Spotting Tech


Whether you’re spotting trains, planning your next train journey or even simulating that you’re driving the train, there’s plenty of tech available to bring trainspotting into the 21st Century.