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Millennials are suddenly really into trainspotting

Innovations from the likes of Virgin Trains, Great Western Railway and Transport for London have contributed to an explosion of #trainporn mentions on Instagram.

Trainspotting: it’s not a hobby you’d naturally associate with millennials. But the demographic, it seems, has started embracing the pastime in a big way.   

Why? Because they love high-speed travel, smart technology and taking photos.

According to social media analytics platform Talkwalker, Instagram mentions of #trainporn and #train_nerds increased by 200% between January 2016 and September 2017.

Mentions of #ukrailscene, meanwhile, increased by 615% – with over three quarters of posts made by Instagrammers under 35.

This new generation of ‘hipster trainspotters’ have been taken by the likes of Great Western Railway’s new ergonomic Intercity Express Train, London’s new Crossrail trains and Virgin Trains’ soon-to-be-launched Azuma fleet, which will have a traffic-light reservation system and sockets in every seat.

Style Tribes author Caroline Young told Virgin Trains’ that today’s train fan is “an avid social media user who seeks unique adventures and experiences that will help them connect with, and impress, thousands of other users.”

“Not only is there a certain ‘geek chic’ attached to the concept of trainspotting, but the journey becomes part of the travel experience as people enjoy the chance to observe scenery, read, listen to music, and even write,” she added.

“Technology is key to their lives, and we know they’re snapping and sharing their real-life experiences more than ever before.”

Caroline identified Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe as the “top next-generation train fans”. Over the summer, the couple – whose YouTube channel has over 25,000 subscribers – completed a mission to visit all of the UK’s 2,563 railway stations.