How to Guide: Our new We Are Railfans Map



January 20th, 2022


For 2022, We Are Railfans is launching a brand new tool to assist railfans that are both new to the hobby and those looking to expand their knowledge beyond their current borders! We've believed from the outset that We Are Railfans should be the place for all aspects of the rail hobby to come together and with the We Are Railfans Map, we hope to display the wide range of locomotive spots, railfanning photographs and points of interest, in an easy to digest format through Google Maps.

You, the railfans, will be able to submit entries to this feature via the submit tool previously used to collect material for our photos page. Our team will then moderate and approve suitable entries so that they can be displayed at an accurate location, thus adding to a growing resource that will educate and inform railfans globally. Below are a few Q&As that cover the basics of how to use this tool and what kind of content it will be used for.

  • How do I use the We Are Railfans Map?

The map should appear embedded on the homepage and can be made full screen on both desktop and smartphone / tablet by using the icon top right of the map. The map will initially be zoomed out to view most of the world, with coloured areas highlighted and a number at the centre. This is the number of icons collected in that area. By clicking on the number, the map will zoom in to encompass those icons and will serparate them into smaller numbers or eventually their individual icons. The map can also be explored freely using the zoom buttons. We-Are-Railfans-Map-Zoomed-Out Map data ©2022 Google.

By clicking on an individual icon, you can view its range of information and photograph (where applicable). The title and description will be above the image and below a 'VIEW' button which takes users to the link, source or webpage / article where further information can be found. In many cases, this will be the source of the image submitted. We-Are-Railfans-Map-Photo-Sample Map data ©2022 Google.

The map's native Google features can also be used, such as Street View, toggling between Map and Satellite and seeing the railfan icons in relation to street names, businesses and other Google locations.

  • How do I submit content to the map?

Content will be submitted through the SUBMIT button at the top right of the We Are Railfans webpage. Here, the necessary fields can be completed. Currently, images can only be submitted in link form and must be in landscape format (ideally 16:9, but we are able crop to this format post-submission). This means that images can only be drawn from a specific URL or image host services such as Flickr or social media posts on Facebook and Twitter. We can also accept links to images from Discord.

Images from private web pages (for example if you run your own railfanning website, model club etc) can also be accepted in some cases. Sadly, we are unable to accept Instagram links due to the way their links are formatted. New-New-Submit-Form

As with all previous article, YouTube and photo submissions to We Are Railfans, the content must be your own and with permission to reshare or reuse the images on our website and social media channels.

  • How do I find the specific location for my submission?

The submit form asks for coordinates in the latitude / longitude format. Coordinates in this format can be easily obtained by right clicking a blank area of map on Google Maps. We like these to be as accurate as possible, between 7 and 10 decimal places so that railfans can determine exactly where certain features and points of interest lie. For example, the National Railway Museum in York, UK would require coordinates for the street and area of York that it lies in, not simply the coordinates for York. We-Are-Railfans-Map-Coords Map data ©2022 Google.

  • What kind of photos and information can I submit?

For now, the items on the We Are Railfans Map fall into two categories: Railfan Spots and Points of Interest. We may expand the number of categories as we get more submissions.

Railfan Spots are simply photographs of locomotives. These can be submitted as per our previous guidelines, so long as they are taken from a publicly accessible location (or elsewhere with the landowner's permission), from a safe position and in line with the laws and regulations in that jurisdiction. Any photographs taken whilst trespassing will not be featured on the map, nor their location. 044-2S17-Class-156-Nottingham-Skegness Email: (your email address here) Link to Content: (Paste relevant Link). Coordinates: 52.987762793984274, -0.534930859060149. Tell us your name and a bit about the content: A Class 156 at Ancaster Station, England. Photo by Joe Rogers.

Points of Interest are, broadly speaking, any location of interest to railfans that is not covered by a Railfan Spot. This could be a local bar or restaurant themed on railways, a railroad museum, an historic railway landmark or similar. Cromford-Station Email: (your email address here) Link to Content: (Paste relevant Link). Coordinates: 53.11277115504722, -1.5488650750073971. Tell us your name and a bit about the content: Unusual station building at Cromford once used for the artwork of Oasis' 1995 single 'Some Might Say'. Now privately owned. Photo by Joe Rogers.

  • How many submissions can I make and when?

As many as you like! Our team will endeavour to keep the map updated with submissions that fulfill the requirements. Depending on the volume of submissions, We Are Railfans may decided to pick the 'best of' or update the map at regular intervals, rather than as soon as they are submitted.

  • Hasn't this been done before?

Other 'railfan maps' have been developed in the past, but these have often been quite limited in scope for one particular geographical area or focussing only on the spotting area of railfanning. Our map aims to display examples of modelling, miniature railways, heritage railways, historic buildings and museums as well as railfan spots from around the world, making this a more comprehensive tool for railfans of all disciplines.

©2020 Dovetail Games, a trading name of RailSimulator.com Limited (“DTG”). All trademarks and copyrights are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved. Developed and published by DTG.