European Traction website – the future

Firstly, don’t read too much into the title of this blog post, and also please do not misconstrue it as a plea to be patted on the back either.  It’s now very nearly a year since I set this website up, and it’s an appropriate time to look back at what it has (and has not) achieved so far, and also where it proceeds from here.

The website was set up with two primary aims – firstly, to give wider publicity to haulage opportunities across the Continent to make it easier for enthusiasts of European locomotives to travel behind different or interesting ones, and secondly to serve as a platform to encourage enthusiasts who have not travelled overseas much (or at all) to do so, by showing them what there is to experience and advising how to go about it.

I would like to think that it has so far been successful on both counts – I’ve certainly received a lot of messages advising that users have ridden behind locos that they would otherwise not have done were it not for this site, and the previously oft-heard quote “I’d have done that if only I’d have known about it”, uttered for years by enthusiasts seeing photos retrospectively of events or railtours that had simply not been known about in advance, is almost a distant memory!  Equally, it has led to greater support of overseas railway events – for example, the Bocq railway “Festival”, widely publicised via this site, had an approximately seven-fold increase in the number of British visitors it received in 2017.  Positive feedback from a number of angles has been extensive and I am very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to give it.

It is fair to observe that there has been some isolated (but fairly vocal and public, it must be said) criticism of the mere concept of this website online, with the view expressed that it is futile and, indeed, counterproductive to set something up that is “in competition with European Rail Gen“.  My personal view is that it simply is not in competition with anything, otherwise it would not exist.  “ERG” exists to share urgent and interesting information on loco workings and trip reports – the former with brevity the key, given the format – and indeed I do share much of the information to be found on this site to the group myself. 

The utility of this website is to bring together (including from existing internet resources – saving you the effort of trawling and translating yourself) forthcoming haulage opportunities in an easily-referenced calendar format, usually with a link to more information about the loco involved, that – in my view at least – does far more to entice novices to get involved than a list of numbers of locos they’ve never heard of and places they’ve never been.  There are also a number of (I feel, interesting) articles on more general locomotive-related subjects.  It is also worth saying that my distinct feeling is that preservation groups/railtour organisations are far keener to share information for a semi-journalistic article searchable across the web, than to an individual in another country who may not even then visit.

The other aspect that has received some (again, isolated) criticism is that I ask for voluntary donations to cover the costs of having and keeping this website online.  I don’t personally see this as unreasonable – I have always been entirely honest about the costs involved, and this is in my time as well as money.  I emphasise that I am not out to make a profit in any way – if I was, I certainly would not go about it this way!  I merely take satisfaction from the knowledge that it is helping others, however I do need to acknowledge that it does cost me a considerable amount of my own money to do this: over £200 so far, and I have a further significant payment due to go out for website hosting next month.

With that in mind – what’s your view on these issues?  Is what is contained on ERG and elsewhere online sufficient for your needs as an enthusiast – or do you need this site?  If so, I would be delighted to continue with it – however, if you don’t, then it seems sensible that I spare myself the effort before the next sizeable bill is due.  Equally, if there’s anything you would like to see me do differently – or additionally – with the site, please do let me know.

Thanks for reading – I’d appreciate your thoughts?

Jonathan Wilcox

18 thoughts on “European Traction website – the future

  1. I find the site very useful as provides information lacking elsewhere,and has helped me on my euro travels,do not think a request for a donation towards running the site is not unreasonable if you are benefiting of info shown.
    Thank you for all your time spent updating the site.

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  2. I don’t agree that this site is in competition with the likes of ERG as I find that there is more details about future events here than those posted on ERG. Some events are known about but not posted on ERG and if you are in the know then ok but if not you miss out on something you would have done. A small donation to use the site is not unreasonable as sites such as WNXX also charge for information. Not everyone has the right connections to know everything. Please keep it going.

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    1. Hi Denis – many thanks for your comments – as it happens, I completely agree, and am glad someone else sees it the same way I do! Many thanks also for your help with pointing me in the direction of a number of things I hadn’t known about, which just emphasises your point that not everyone is aware of everything that is going on! Jonathan

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    1. Many thanks Ian, I am really glad that it’s so useful to you. I have exactly the same problem, sometimes I think I was happier when I simply didn’t know that half of this stuff was going on!! Jonathan

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  3. Well in the time I’ve spent on here (a few months) I’ve learned of at least 2 things that I never knew existed that I definitely fancy doing, I look forward to the posts, it’s a definitely keep on doing it for me.

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    1. Hi Pete – very many thanks for your comments. I’m glad that the site has been of help to you. At the moment, it still only scratches the surface of what there is to do on the Continent, but I’m slowly getting through more and more of it! All the best, Jonathan

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  4. I like the information the site orovides… especially on future rail tours. I also enjoy seeing old ohotographs. The site is my main source of info for whats happening in Europe regarding tours. Thanks for running it.

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    1. Hi Mark – very many thanks for the comment, and I am glad that you are finding the site useful. You make an interesting point about the old photographs as I have been wondering about the level of interest that there may be in some articles of my memories of loco bashing in days gone by (e.g. Ireland and Portugal in the mid-90s, etc). I would like to think that I could strike a nice balance if this type of thing would be of interest. All the best, Jonathan

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  5. Jonathan. This is an absolutely brilliant resource. It is an easy to use “one stop shop”, which saves us lots of time. I have no criticism of it whatsoever. I am just grateful to you for putting it together and for keeping it up to date.

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  6. I find your website very useful for information about special events taking place in Europe – Sometimes I only hear about them a few weeks before and mainly after the event when people post pictures. By knowing in advance people can plan trips – I hope to do the even ti Belgium this year. Also the Trip Reports from countries are helpful in planning visits. – The Day visits, like Kobenhavn are useful in telling people what you can do relatively cheaply. And the Traction reports give good ideas on what is still running around the European railways.

    Please keep up the great job you are doing

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    1. Hi Peter – thanks for the comments – that’s exactly the situation I have been in on countless occasions which is what spurred me on to create the site in the first place. I hope to have some updates on the Belgian weekend in August 2018 very shortly. All the best, Jonathan

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  7. I thought it was a great idea at the time and so it has proved to be! Lots of good information in one place and it has certainly highlighted potential interesting things to do that you may well have not found out about until too late, or not at all. Really appreciate your time spent collating the information and updating it – (hopefully) keep up the good work! Cheers

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    1. Hi Paul – very many thanks for the kind words. As all the responses that people have given to this post have been uniformly positive, I certainly now intend to continue with the site as people are deriving benefit from it. I hope it continues to be useful to you in 2018! All the best, Jonathan

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    1. Hi Christopher – many thanks for taking the time to let me know. I’m glad that the site seems to be hitting the mark, as that’s exactly what I’m aiming for it to do. I hope it continues to be of use to you. Jonathan

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