Railfans tend to be in the know when it comes to finding heritage railways in their local area. After all, older railfans may remember when it was in full operation and younger railfans may have been taken there as children during holidays or family days out. But the heritage landscape is forever changing. Some museums and miniature railways close, others open and take their place. Full-sized heritage lines expand, reopen or organise special events that bring them to a wider audience.
During 2021, the team behind HOPS decided to expand their own remit from systems centred around volunteer rostering, operational timetabling and safety management and create something that anybody could utilise, whether a holidaymaker, casual visitor, avid railfan or railway staff. After 4 months of work the result is: Raildays. A smartphone app that can guide users to information on over 150 UK Heritage Railway venues and attractions.
Other similar apps, such as the National Trust app, provide information on historic manors, castles and venues that those with a passing interest in such places can visit, and informs them about sites they might not know about. The hope is that Raildays will do the same for those with an interest in heritage railways, encouraging them to visit more sites than they otherwise might not have done. The app lists information on venues' opening times and location (including a handy map feature) and uses one's location as a means to identify the nearest railway attractions. Social media and website links are also provided along with a selection of images and special event information where relevant.
As time progresses and the app gets traction, there are plans in a future phase of development for users to be able to mark venues or events as 'favourites', and maybe receive a notification when information is added to those venues or events, such as 'Thomas tickets now available' or 'Diesel gala timetable published'. The possibilities are endless! It is also possible that railways from other nations might too join the app, though that is dependent on venues being able to reliably provide and update their listing, to avoid redundancy.
Raildays launched during the popular 6-week #LoveYourRailwayCampaign which aimed to promote the UK's wide variety of heritage railway operations. There are over 150 UK heritage railway venues on the app, which can be downloaded for Apple and Android from the App Store and Google Play Store. The criteria for being on the app is being a 'heritage railway venue', even if not a railway, so relevant museums and venues can be considered for inclusion, so long as there is interest from those looking for railway venues to visit and enjoy the attraction.
To find out more, visit https://www.raildays.org/ or search 'Raildays' into the App Store or Google Play Store.
Details provided courtesy of Raildays / HOPS. Photographs below by Joe Rogers.
The Beer Heights Light Railway in Devon is one of the country's longest 7 1/4 inch gauge railways. Pictured is 'Linda', a 2-4-0ST Tender engine based on the 1 ft 11+1⁄2 inch 'Linda' on the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales. The Bluebell Railway features a 19th century station building. Pictured arriving with a passenger train is Southern Railway Maunsell S15-Class 4-6-0 No.847 The Lynton & Barnstaple Railway near Exmoor is planning to expand in the next few years. Pictured is Baldwin Locomotive Works No.762 'Lyn'. Raildays features railway attractions both large and small. Pictured is GNR Stirling 4-2-2 No.1 at the National Railway Museum in York.
US railroad engineer Mr Jim Rooney talks about his days with NJ TRANSIT, the locomotives he has operated and the joy of railroading in the USA.
Steam, diesel and multiple units all travel through Westbury Station during this stint of railfanning by Joe Rogers.