Growing up obsessed with all things vehicular, I quickly learned that not all trains are created equal. The old, obsolete, and rare are always more interesting to fans.
This makes a lot of sense: older fans are nostalgic about the trains of their youth, and everyone is nostalgic for a time when railroading was more romantic.
Just like classic car enthusiasts who love 1950s Chevys and Buicks, railfans love the streamlined E-Unit and F-Unit locomotives GM was producing around the same time. Their shape is easily as recognizable as a tail-finned Bel Air; it even adorns railroad station signs in the New York metropolitan area.
Rarity is also a factor. It’s just too easy to take a piece of railroad equipment for granted when it’s common, but as older things are retired, they become more of a catch.
Which brings me to the Metro North Railroad electric-mulitple unit (EMU) cars I found humming away in the caverns of Grand Central last week during rush hour.
These older cars are quickly being replaced with new M7 and M8 models, but will anyone miss them when they’re gone?
Younger generations also aren’t as prone to sentimentality when it comes to vintage machinery as their predecessors.
Still, they’re becoming increasingly hard to find on the commuter runs into and out of New York City. Will that rarity make them more attractive?