I feel fortunate that there are so many good train magazines available today.
Here are four: CN Lines, CP Tracks, Branchline, and Railroad Heritage. All are worth subscribing to, and I do!
I’ll give a brief overview of each so you can make your own decision.
As the name suggests, this magazine covers Canadian National Railway’s lines, including today’s CN, the Grand Trunk Western, Illinois Central, and many more. It is published by the Canadian National Railways Historical Association (CNRHA) at least twice per year. You can subscribe for 4 or 6 issues here.
Volume 21 Number 1 contained:
- “Mixed to Monk” by Bill Linley and Richard Manicom, remembering Bill and Richard’s youthful railfan trip in 1963 over the Monk subdivision in Quebec. I drew a map for the article.
- “CN Special GP38 Diesels, Part 2: CN GP38-2s” by Glenn Courtney.
- “CNR Special Compartment Car Pacific” by Alan F. Lill.
- “Pacific Runs Again” by David Walmsley with Al Lill.
- “A Summertime Railroader, Part 2” by Ted Rafuse from notes by Keith Hansen.
- “125 Years of Rail History in Dauphin, Man.” by Ed Stozek.
- “Large-scale Hawker Siddeley Caboose Model” by Gary Clark.
CP Tracks is the Canadian Pacific counterpart to CN Lines. It’s published by the Canadian Pacific Historical Association (CPHA) twice per year. You can subscribe for 4 issues here.
Volume 16 Number 1 contained:
- “Hard Times on the Owen Sound Sub.” by Marcus Stevens.
- “The Flag Stop” by Thomas F. McIlwraith.
- “McCulloch’s C&W Photos, Part 2” by Scott Calvert, Paul Clegg, Barrie Sanford and Robert D. Turner.
- “The Atlantic Express – circa 1888″ by Douglas R. Phillips.
- “Nelson Yard in Early Photographs” by Mike Barone.
- “CP’s Secondhand SD40 Fleet, Part 6” by Gerald Harper.
The Branchline magazine is published by the Bytown Railway Society on a bi-monthly basis. It’s more “newsy” than CP Tracks or CN Lines although it certainly has articles in addition to Canadian railway news. You can subscribe for 1 or 2 years here.
The July/August 2022 issue contained:
- “Kingdom By the Sea – A Short History of the Anticosti Railway” by Shawn MacWha.
- “Sleepers and Diners” by Mark Hallman.
- Book reviews by Paul Bown of “Northern Alberta Railways Diesels” by Leslie S. Kozma (read my own review here) and “Grain” by David Maiers.
- “Prince Edward Island Memories” by Tom Patterson.
- “Ottawa Trillium Line Update” by Bernie Geiger.
- Photos by Peter Cox (scanned by Mark Perry)
- “Under the Wire”, a regular column by J.R. Thomas Grumley.
- “Infoline”, a regular news section edited by Dave Stremes.
- Passenger / Diesel Unit Consists, a regular feature compiled by Earl Roberts.
- Motive Power and Equipment Scene, a regular feature.
- Ten Years Ago in Branchline, and Twenty Years Ago in Branchline
This magazine is published by the Center for Railroad Photography & Art. You can subscribe for a year (4 issues) here.
The 2022:3 issue contained:
- “Life Inside a British Signal Box” by Dafydd Whyles.
- “From the Cab” by Albert J. Pfeiffer Jr.
- “Re-Photography” by Ron Flanary.
- “The Great American Circus Train” by John P. Kelly.
- “Out of the Archives” by Adrienne Evans.
- “Salvatore Pinto’s Locomotive” by Betsy Fahlman.
- Regular features: From the Editor, Dispatches, In Memoriam, Art of the Railway Poster, etc.
You’ll notice that I didn’t include TRAINS or “Railfan & Railroad” or even “Canadian Rail“. I don’t currently subscribe to any of those. In the past I’ve tried subscribing to TRAINS but I found that I wasn’t reading them, so I let my subscription lapse. I’ve never subscribed to R&R but I have purchased selected issues. I used to be a subscriber to “Canadian Rail” but I found they were very Quebec centric at the time; I should try again, as the CRHA is a very worthy organization to support.
What other railway magazines are worth subscribing to? Let us know in the comments!
8 thoughts on “A Bounty of Magazines”
Like you, I once subscribed to Trains, but found the magazine became far too preservation-centric. I honestly couldn’t believe how it had morphed into a monthly overview of steam engines and Shay locomotives (exaggeration, but you get the idea). I let my subscription lapse. Funny enough, I subscribed to Classic Trains, which one would think would be subject to the same issues. I have found this magazine much more story-focused and less focused on steam and technical minutia. As a former journalist, stories matter to me so I find CT to be a good fit for what I am looking for. It still has enough technical elements that allow me to learn about the nuts and bolts of railways. And yes, there are features on steam, but I find even the steam stories far more accessible than I found in Trains. Branchline is a good read. I sometimes read that one, as I am a big fan of the Bytown Railway Society.
That’s funny that Classic Trains is less steam focused than TRAINS. Stories matter to me far more than individual locomotives, and I don’t have any fond memories of steam locomotives…
I assume most readers of this wonderful blog are aware of the recently published book People Moving People by Kevin J. Holland. I am fortunate enough to have this fabulous book. Although I am a subscriber to TRAINS, I am losing interest in it; however, I note with enthusiasm that the USA publication Passenger Train Journal which issues 4 per year now has a new editor from early this year, Kevin J. Holland. My theory is that hopefully he will put a greater emphasis on Canadian passenger rail. I just saw the current issue which is entitled VIA’s New Corridor Fleet and has a beautiful picture of it on the cover. I am hopeful that he continues more coverage of VIA. For this reason, I definitely will subscribe.
Hi Bill, I have some back issues of the “old” Passenger Train Journal and I find them interesting as a time capsule. I might have to give the “new” PTJ a try, with Mr. Holland at the helm.
Each of these publications are aimed at particular interests and I personally like Branchline as many of the articles and reports are ” close to home “. I still subscribe to Trains but I miss the input of the late editor Jim Wrinn, probably the most enthusiastic railfan I ever met. I enjoy this blog as it shows me areas that I have never visited and often explains how the different shots were set up; keep this coming, it really helps.
Hi Steven, Jim was definitely one of a kind. Gone too soon.
Thanks for the kind comments.
I subscribe to Trains, Classic Trains, Canadian Rail, Branchline, and also Railway Age. I just about dropped Trains, and CT’s, but I do look forward to some of the Special Editions they put out. Being a Mechanical guy, I prefer the tech stuff rather than Glory Day Stories. Some of the overly detailed accounts of the old happenings are hard to maintain interest in unless you know the exact area/trains they are talking about. I was getting overloaded with mag reading there for a time, but have caught up now so am still on with all these pubs. That said, I also belong to the CRHA Pacific Coast Division (PCD) and thus get their quarterly publication “The Sandhouse” It is put out by Ian Smith of the PCD, and he does an excellent job on it. For people living in the Vancouver/BC area, it can’t be beat for information on what’s going on around here, Transportation wise. If I could only have one rag to read, the Sandhouse would be it for me, Second would be Branchline.
I forgot to mention Railway Age, thanks for the reminder, Andy. I enjoy “RA” as a magazine aimed at real railroaders (and their suppliers) rather than for railfans.
I picked up a few “Sandhouse” back issues a while ago at a train show and thoroughly enjoyed them. I might have to subscribe!
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