With everyone having so much time on their hands due to the current enforced lockdown, I thought a guide to those long rail videos which can be found on You Tube would be useful. Remember You Tube is constantly being updated thus no sooner than this has been published there will be others that should have been added to the list as well as others that will have been deleted (and those may no longer be showing here.)
This post was originally written as a draft at the end of 2018/beginning of 2019 thus a number of updates have had to be added. The reason for this not being published was in fact the original conundrum as explained earlier – the fact You Tube is constantly updated made this particular attempt seem sort of futile and that it why it was dropped. The drafts were however kept for possible future use.
To start off, why would anyone want to watch hours of rail video? For some it might be that one can pretend to be a train driver and experience the thrill of ‘driving a train. It may also be perhaps a useful means of route learning or seeing how a railway is laid out/built/its architecture/infrastructure for the purposes of research (I use these sort of videos quite often to confirm or establish certain facts about transport systems when writing my posts.)
My own longest rail video! Crossrail cab view Ealing Broadway to Paddington!
Some of the longer rail videos can be quite a marathon to be honest and may not always appeal to people but each long rail video is always going to be of interest in their own right, and evidently a three hour rail video through pouring rain is in many ways just as dramatic as a three hour video with glorious sunshine every inch of the way.
Why do people create long railway videos? Well in a sense its a means of giving others the idea of what it is to be a train driver – especially those of us who will probably never be one. The illusion is that its merely a case of staring ahead aimlessly for long hours on end could not be further from the truth. A driver has to be alert all the time and there are various mechanisms to keep them on their toes.
In terms of the longest possible videos on You Tube, well the longest rail ones are around ten hours (some in fact cheat a little in the quest for the longest rail video contender…) The longest even video on You Tube took at total of 596 hours viewing time (yet merely took up only 546 mb of space!) That’s a total of 23 days continuously!
The longest 5 seconds on You Tube – in fact its nearly 20 hours of viewing time!
However this and several other mega duration videos no longer work. You Tube has obviously limited the maximum length of broadcasts. For now at least those up to around 20 hours do work – the one shown above is actually a five second video – stretched out to a total of 19 and half hours viewing time.
The length of time all depends on the size of the video and the bandwidth needed to stream these. Its why one wont get much more than ten hours for a railway video.
At the time of writing people can upload videos to a limit of 15 minutes however if you are a registered or verified user the maximum limit is 12 hours/128 GB at the time of writing (January 2019.) I checked this again on 31st March 2020 and those limits remain the same.
In terms of wanting to find the longest rail videos that could be viewed it turned out to be a difficult task. There’s a lot of wild goose chases! Some of these videos are just continuous loops or several videos spliced together to make a goody. For example one may find a rail video that’s six, seven hours, or more but its in fact the same video looped twice, three times over.
Whats is perhaps most disappointing is those very driver eye views I had expected to find – because I actually wanted to see these – such as the Ghan (there was one but it got withdrawn due to copyright infringement) the Indian Pacific, or somewhere across the Rockies, even the Trans Siberian – these don’t even exist!
In terms of the UK the ones I really would like to see don’t even exist – except in perhaps five or ten minute slices and these include Pendolino drivers eye views. There are some other good ones that are not exactly driver’s eye views, but are in fact footplate rides, which show a bit of everything – the crew at work, the driver’s eye view, and so on. Things like this however I shant show because the purpose of this is purely driver’s eye views (or in the odd case however those rearwards view from the guards van/caboose.)
Just for opposites! My shortest ever rail video – The East London line on its opening day in 2020!
There’s another thing about these long rail videos. The longest drivers eye videos are limited to just a very few countries and in large it depends on the enthusiasm of those making these. For example Vietnam has a huge choice in terms of its excellent narrow gauge railways nevertheless most of that output has been the work of just one guy rather than the Vietnamese themselves! Plaudits! Tim’s Video Channel is responsible for a number of excellent driver’s eye videos in a number of countries across the world.
As I have indicated, in terms of the UK drivers eye views are somewhat disappointing. There’s actually just a handful of people who have a good output in terms of these. For example Don Coffey and for London its Billy Millest and LU Railway Enthusiast.
Looking about the UK scene, there are gems such as that taken from the cab of a class 37 hauling a freight down the Far North Line from Georgemas across the Flow country, and through the once populous Strath of Kildonan to Helmsdale one summer ‘s evening – one of my favourites! There was one too covering HS1 in its entirely as far as Fawkham Junction but since that was actually a Video 125 production it got taken down for copyright infringement.
Most of the longest videos in the UK amount to perhaps no more than just over an hour, with some nearing two at the most. Its only in the last couple of years (save for one exception) that we’ve begun to see efforts at producing longer ones – and it does actually show how far behind other countries the UK is in this regard.
The other thing is there are many narrow gauge videos which are far longer than their standard gauge counterparts! This caused a bit of a mess – because I was originally going to compile these in terms of the longer ones first yet that didn’t work! That was resolved by splitting the original posts up into more sections – the longest standard gauge and the longest narrow gauge videos and then sort of regionalising the different areas and then splitting up the UK ones in to standard gauge, narrow gauge and London Underground. At the time of writing (28 April 2020) 103 videos are featured thus this series is split into four parts (one covers the UK and another the tube.)
Longest standard gauge rail videos:
There are some channels which offer live streaming of drivers cab views, some of these run for weeks and weeks! There’s no limit to these because the source file is on one’s computer (or a server) and You Tube is simply streaming these, generally again these are loops.
The longest rail videos that can be found are those from the Netherlands and Norway – however there are some catches as we will see…
In terms of metro lines there’s a very long one (shown below) covering the Chicago elevated system but it soon turns out its been looped roughly 35 times! Desperate measures in order to acquire a slice of You Tube’s vast profits!
For the connoisseur this video has to be an absolute must. Ten hours of the The Chicago ‘L’ Elevated Train. Its simply a sixteen minute trip round the famous elevated loop repeated over and over in order to complete a full ten hours viewing complete with music.
There’s also one on the famous Schwebebahn, again at ten hours. This basically just does the journey between Oberbarmen and Vohwinkel over and over again. However what is interesting is its a full round trip from Oberbarmen to Vohwinkel and back to Oberbarmen – plus a rare driver’s eye run through the loops in the terminals at either end of the line. This was clearly filmed long before the introduction of the Generation 15 trains.
The Schwebebahn hasn’t got any gauge but its such a fascinating railway that I have included it here.
Tauern Railway – Salzburg to Villach 2hr 5m.
In terms of ‘down under’ the longest rail videos happen to be on the country’s substantial narrow gauge systems! There was one covering The Ghan however its been taken down due to copyright infringements. The country has some broad gauge (still roughly 2500km) but some routes are progressively being converted to standard gauge. I cant find any driver’s eye views on the broad gauge, and the standard gauge ones are mainly short duration videos.
There however is this driver’s eye view on a journey from Sydney to Newcastle…
Sydney Central to Newcastle 2hr 54m.
The next includes a trip across Sydney Harbour bridge! That can be seen at 40 minutes into the video.
Hornsby to Hornsby via shore and main lines 1hr 41m.
These and many more can be seen at Sydney Trains Cab Videos
Update 10 May 2020 – Amazingly no sooner than I had published this along a set of Australian broad gauge videos popped up in my You Tube timeline! These are still rare however and in view of their novelty I include them under the Australian standard gauge section….
These are of the broad gauge system in Victoria, the largest such in Australia with 2,357 km (outnumbering even the state’s standard gauge with just 1,912 km.)
These and many more (rail including training videos, interviews, engineering) are available on House Train’s channel.
One of the longest is this which includes a fair amount of single track section. Southern Cross is one of the more busier stations in Melbourne, Victoria, but its not as busy as Flinders Street for example.
Traralgon Railway Station to Southern Cross Station 2hr 10m
Southern Cross Railway Station to Waurn Ponds 1hr 11m
Newport to Werribee 23m
Bulgaria: Sofia – Burgas (via Plovdiv) 7hr 1 m
There’s a journey in the reverse direction however its a shorter route via Karlovo and takes just an hour less:
Burgas – Sofia (via Karlovo) 5hr 58m
Sofia to Varna line 6hr 52m
Croatia has some great drivers eye views, many around three hours or a little more covering the fantastic stretches of line though the Montenegro mountains – for example this one from Bijelo Polje to Bar.
Bijelo Polje – Bar 3hr 5 min
Having only just discovered this video (22 May) it is one of my favourites. Its a cab view plus a view of the driver at work too on the Západní express between Prague and Pilsen (approximately 56 miles.)
What is amazing is compared to the UK for example (where if the driver loses attention or is away from the controls for some reason the train would automatically stop) this job is completely the opposite and seems rather laid back! One only needs to tweak a small switch to accelerate the train! Not only that the driver doesn’t actually have to be at the controls either! There’s no deadman’s of any sort as far as I can see. Clearly its a different technique on the Czech railways! At one point the driver stands up and touches not even any one of the locomotive’s controls for about ten minutes – what it means is the train is just going along all by itself!
There may be some form of automated control in operation on the Czech lines but I couldn’t really see it, its just that I’m not simply aware of their systems in any way at all and seeing this video showed me something completely new in terms of the operation of trains.
The first half of the video is rather sedate in terms of speed, there’s a lengthy stretch past engineering works to begin with and its not really until the train gets right out in the country that some good spirited speeds can be observed.
The other thing about this video is I was worried that seat the driver was using was going to fall over or something! It wasnt even fixed to the cab floor.
The impressive thing about this video for me was how sort of relaxed and simple it all looked. No great effort in doing anything, no big levers to pull, everything is small switches and levers, even what I assume to be the automatic warning system could be confirmed with just a light pressure of the small finger!
The video in question was just the view from the cab – the full gamut (available to buy obviously) included proper full forward views from a camera placed right on the nose of the locomotive itself plus a camera trained on the wheels and track etc!
Praha – Plzeň (Prague to Pilsen) 1hr 17m.
Nîmes ~ Bordeaux Saint-Jean at 4hr 42m is a brand new one uploaded 19th January 2019. Its a long journey to Bordeaux Saint-Jean via Carcassonne, Toulouse, Montauban, and Agen.
Nîmes ~ Bordeaux Saint-Jean 4hr 42m.
In terms of crossing a large part of Europe this following three hour video features a TGV cab view between Paris and Aix-en-Provence covering nearly 700km (434 miles) right across France from the French capital to almost practically the Mediterranean.
Paris to Aix-en-Provence 3hr 3m
The next is essentially a cab ride along part of the Eurostar route from Gare du Nord except its viewed from a SNCF cab! Eurostars can be seen on the other line for example at 13 minutes into the video.
Paris-Nord à Valenciennes en TGV Sud-Est 1hr 29m
Hamburg-Altona – Westerland (Sylt) 2hr 32m.
ICE 1 Nürnberg – München 1hr 7m
Some of the record contenders for the longest rail videos would appear to be those based in Holland. But these are in fact a number of separate journeys strung together to give the sense it is a continuous journey around substantial sections of the Dutch rail system.
The CABVIEW Grand Tours of HOLLAND at 10h 49m is not strictly a record breaker for its in 10 distinct sections its not a continuous driver’s eye view. The next CABVIEW Grand Tour of HOLLAND at 10h 00m is once again a number of films spliced together into one.
This 10hr 49m video is actually a series of drivers’ eye videos spliced together.
This one spliced together from several trips too!
The next one is an IC Express – some nice fast speeds!
Utrecht – Schiphol – Nijmegen – Amsterdam 3hr 36m.
The following is a special ‘coronavirus’ edition – it was actually recorded during the lockdown in the Netherlands. Its a trio of cab view journeys spliced into one video. One can see just how empty the various stations are. Even Amsterdam Centraal is almost vacant! As with most videos featuring foreign railways its always extremely embarrassing to see how their railways are kept clean compared to the UK!
Amsterdam – Den Haag – Amsterdam – Haarlem 2hr 11m.
The longest continous drivers eye views must without a doubt be the journey in Norway between Trondheim and Bodø, a distance of 728km. Trondheim is about a third of the way up whilst Bodø is well up towards the top end of the country – just over ten hours away.
For some strange reason people seem to be competing with who can produce the longest video on this section of line! Perhaps its easier said than done!
There’s one at 11hr 55min which claims to be the longest however its clear someone has screen recorded it because You Tube adverts can be seen in that too! For example here’s one of those adverts which proves the video was recorded straight off the screen!
Like a number of videos that claim to be the longest there’s some sort of cheat in them somewhere! This same video shows it has simply copied its sources because the Trondheim-Bobo run begins here
Trondheim – Bodø 11hr 53m
There’s this one at 9hr 56m below which seems to be the record contender for the fullest continuity – until one realises the first 2minutes and fifty seconds of the video is just blank screen! It does how beat the next contender by just over two minutes despite this little bit of a cheat at the start!
Trondheim – Bodø 9hr 56m
Trondheim – Bodø 9hr 51m
Trondheim – Bodø in the spring 9hr 49m.
There’s one thing that’s evident – Norway has most of the world’s longest rail videos even though a few are suspect!
Bergen to Oslo 7hr 14m.
There are some good Russian drivers eye videos however just a few sections of the Trans Siberian can be viewed – and there’s simply no way of viewing the entire line from Moscow to Vladivostok. Of course that would be a marathon because it would take nearly a week and You Tube wouldn’t have it. Even a series on that would take hours and hours and days and days to view.
Amazing there are also videos showing people riding the trains illegally, surfing, sitting on the buffers or whatever, some quite long. They are, yes exciting but also very dangerous. This post is about driver’s eye views so let’s keep a focus on that!
Postyshevo – Noviy Urgal 7hr 55m.
A number of long drivers eye videos are from Spain! The first covers a distance of 475 kilometres (295 miles) and is over seven hours of viewing!
Cerbere-Zaragoza 7hr 34m.
This next one, from Spain, is certainly lengthy! Six hours plus! This was in fact the last of Renfe’s Melco coal trains to run in the summer of 2019.
Tarragona-Samper-Tarragona 6hr 17m.
Samper-Tarragona 3hr 32m.
Apart from those above that there doesnt seem many lengthy drivers’ eye views in Europe most are around two to three hours including those for Croatia (which we saw earlier) with spectacular mountainous routes. In terms of mountains here’s Switzerland… but there’s a catch!
First you’ll be asking why there are no narrow gauge videos shown here! Exactly! These are shown in a special section on the narrow gauge. I found it too confusing trying to do both standard/broad and narrow gauge together and it was easier to separate these categories.
One of the best is the always impressive Lötschberg route. The line’s course high above the Rhone valley with its many bridges and tunnels is fantastic. I have personally been on this route several times.
Lötschberg from Basel to Brig 2hr 51m.
The Gotthard route (which I have written about here) is too included. The fantastic spirals and grades at Biaschina and Wassen (and other locations are seen in the first one.) Like the Lotchsberg this next video takes us via the older tunnel rather than the newer base tunnel route.
Bellinzona – Göschenen – Wassen 1hr 11m.
The next one however goes via the newer and longer Gotthard base tunnel…
Bellinzona – Basel 2hr 49m
Mendrisio – Bellinzona – Olten – Cornaux 4hr 46m.
Update 12 May: Plaudits to Switzerland for giving us a titling train cab ride – better than anything the woeful UK has given with its dismally short Pendolino cab rides. This was uploaded the other day (8 May) and shows a tilting train within the confines of Switzerland, travelling between Zurich and Biel.
This is of course the more flatter part of the country (there are still some smaller mountains about though) where most of its cities and the country’s population lives.
As soon as the IC5 leaves Zurich station the tilt can be seen at work as it crosses the lengthy viaduct outside the station which transfer the route to the Olten lines. Switzerland doesn’t have any high speed lines of course but the train makes excellent use of its highly maintained rail system anyway and the tilt exploits this even further.
Zürich – Biel/Bienne 1hr 7m
The longest standard gauge in Switzerland was actually this one between Lucerne and Geneva airport (4hr 51m ) however the account associated with it has been closed.
The Royal Gorge route is spectacular its a sort of miniature Grand Caynon. There is also a funicular sited part way along the gorge (no connection to the rail route though) its very steep but I am not sure if it is running – it was damaged by extreme weather some time ago. In many ways I liken this video to how a journey would have looked on the now closed Milwaukee Railroad through the Montana Canyon. There’s no Sixteen Mile Creek trestle or Eagle’s Nest tunnel however!
This Royal Gorge video is actually 45 minutes viewing in each direction, the return trip being from the rear of the train.
Royal Gorge Railroad 1hr 36m.
The next one is a wintry journey from Pennsylvania to Maryland. Part of the route is along what would have been a later western extension of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal to Connellsville and Pittsburgh. Ultimately the waterway never got any further than Cumberland.
Amtrak – Connellsville to Cumberland 2hr 43m.
This next video is one I discovered on 2nd June 2020. It had been up online just four days. Its not a driver’s eye per se, but a ride hitched on a US freight train. It might be an activity that’s frowned upon and seen as dangerous – but regardless of that the scenery is great! The views looking up and down the train itself as it snakes through the mountains of Colorado are fantastic and that just adds to the excitement! The train is a Burlington Northern Santa Fe working between Denver and Grand Junction.
Denver to Grand Junction 1hr 5m.
There are many other train hopping videos from the same guy! I’ve seen some too from Russia. If I can however find enough examples from a number of different countries I might do a separate feature on these!
New York Subway/Long Island:
In terms of metro systems New York offers considerably longer drivers eye videos than even those from London’s – and whats more is NY’s trains have forward views so these views are quite easily obtained. Not only that the variations in track layout and route tells us London’s system is simply constrained, contrived, and really nothing more than a mere system that shuttles back and forth.
The tube has never had any forward views of any sort – the nearest to this was the small window next to the cab door above the driver’s position in the 1938 tube stock.
The Coney Island Fan Trip (2hr 56m) was one NY subway video I featured when I first complied this post however its now been marked private…. Another – NYT Grand Central to Woodlawn and Back (2hr 1m) was a favourite of mine with plenty of elevated railway. Sadly its been marked private too.
R62A 7 Express & Local Train Railfan Window Roundtrips 2hr 12m
The New York system beats London’s tube contribution by miles. Take this one which is a great favourite of mine! The A Express to Rockaway Park at 1 hr 40m. I have had to write about this particular video in depth!
The A express to Rockway Park 1hr 40m.
In the above video it will be seen some sections of the NYC subway have as as many as six tracks there’s this bit (16 minutes into the video) where the platforms are on the outside for stopping services and four tracks in between for non stopping services. The best we can manage in London happens to be those meagre bits on the approaches to Acton Town, Wembley Park and Harrow on the Hill!
There’s also something else. That typical chestnut again (a different one) notice how much cleaner the tracks are on the NY subway! Why is it that the railways and metro systems in the UK seem so saddled with trash everywhere as well as bits of discarded rail infrastructure such as rails, cables, drums, plastic sheeting, huge bags of mixed stuff (sleeper bolts, ballast, rail chairs) and the rest of it? It must be said that having watched a lot of rail videos most of the worlds’ railways – with very rare exceptions – do not have the same amount of shit alongside their lines as we do in the UK! Just so embarrassing!
At least there’s this bit in the above video on the NYT which seems somewhat reminiscent of our railways – the usual derelict track that characterises our systems! Yet its not as bad as some of the scenes that can be found in the UK!
The line to Rockaway has such huge variation. This next bit is lovely – you’ll never find anything like it in London – or even in the UK! The Tay bridge doesn’t even come close!
At the very end, approaching Rockaway park, we see a different terminus approach to that employed by the underground. Instead of just crawling up to the buffers to avoid tripping the brakes (unless its Epping where they can just come into the platforms quite fast because the tracks continue a short distance beyond…) what they do here in NYC is each section of the platform is signalled separately (I counted five of these) and each time the train approaches these at the correct speed expected, the signals clear and the train can proceed into the next section.
This and the other posts in this series will be updated from time to time during the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns.