Reviews For Trains Magazine

Definitely a must-have for railfans of any ilk

TRAINS, the monthly magazine from Kalmbach Publishing in Waukesha (suburban Milwaukee), Wisconsin, is the pre-eminent periodical aimed at "railfans" in general.

People who read TRAINS are as varied as regular commuter-train and light-rail system riders, current and former railroad employees, people interested in the latest high-tech components of railroading (Intermodal, for example), and people interested in North American railroading as a business.

A typical issue might have an in-depth cover article about an individual railroad company or a history of rail transportation in a particular town or city; a column called "City Rail" about commuter and light-rail transit; an editorial; several shorter features; a "Map of the Month" comparing, say, railroad freight shipments through Kansas City in 1945 versus 2005; a book review; and a stunning end gallery of photographs, most of them submitted by amateurs. The periodical also maintains a very active web site.

TRAINS is probably number two in circulation among the periodicals Kalmbach edits, the clear number one being MODEL RAILROADER, whose name describes its reach. So that not too much time in TRAINS is taken up by nostalgia or passenger trains pre-Amtrak (1971), several years ago the company spawned a new quarterly, CLASSIC TRAINS.

But TRAINS itself remains the go-to place for information about pretty much all kinds of North American railroading. The only critique I have to offer is that the magazine is not committed in any particular way to railroading in other parts of the world, such as India or Western Europe. Still, TRAINS is a wonderful, multi-faceted read and I always enjoy getting my copy in the mail.