How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

Last Updated on June 1, 2024 by HodgePodgeDays

My son’s love for trains has been something he’s enjoyed and that we have nurtured since he was a toddler. He loved Chuggington, he loved Thomas the Tank Engine, he loved going to the local garden centre and having a ride on their little steam trains, he loved visiting heritage railways. He loved it all.

These days, he’s 13, with access to the internet and all the YouTube videos and train timetables he can get his hands on. He’s autistic and very big on detail, so trains, trams, timetables and network maps are the things in life he enjoys the most.

Heaton Chapel train station

Aside from his weekly visits to our local train station to watch the weekend action there, he likes us to take him on train journeys and to visit big stations where he can see a more exciting variety of trains. Weekends can often involve a local train journey, and he likes to plan longer, more complex journeys in the hope that we will take him somewhere exciting.

This week, I was all set to take him to a blogging event an hour or so away in Penkridge near Stafford. It got cancelled just after I’d booked us train tickets, which was unfortunate, but I figured we could still do the train bit and make the most of a day on the rails!

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

I jokingly, well, maybe half jokingly posted these instructions for a grand day out on Facebook, but the more I read them, the more I realised that this is pretty much the secret to a teenage train enthusiast’s joy. So I’m sharing it here for you too.

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

It’s been on my mind to buy a Friends & Family Railcard card a while now. Even short journeys with him were starting to add up, but for £30 a year, as long as we travel together, we get 1/3 off our train fares. Using the railcard to book our return tickets to Stafford saved us around £15, so it’s already starting to pay for itself!

Now that I have the railcard, I feel longer, previously too expensive journeys are more within our reach. A whole new railway world has opened up to us, and honestly, it’s a grand day out, just travelling somewhere and back again, though I may be more inclined to book a hotel and make more of a trip out of things now.

We had a really fun day out to Penkridge. I did have high hopes of exploring the town, finding somewhere nice for lunch, and stretching the day out a bit more. Alas, when we got there, it was raining pretty heavily and lots of things seemed to be closed, so we bought some sweets and headed back to Stafford station.

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

Stafford station is actually a pretty good spot for train spotting. The covered bridge over the station has a seating area where you can sit and watch the comings and goings. It’s also got a nice coffee shop as well as a Starbucks, and I once saw Su Pollard there, so there’s lots to commend it.

My son managed to tick off two kinds of trains he’d never been on before, and he had a really brilliant day watching, absorbing, enjoying, and enthusing. Trains might not excite me in quite the same way as they do him, but there’s something really lovely about supporting a teenager’s hobby and watching their love for it grow.

There’s also a lot to be said about being welcomed into his teen world and being able to spend quality time with him. Especially at a time when he’s starting to strike out on his own and he needs me less and less each passing week.

How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

If you can tempt your train obsessed teen to go on a train journey with you, then I’d recommend it, not least because it’s a small way you can connect with them, and that’s a very lovely thing indeed. Safe journey!

2 thoughts on “How to entertain a teen who is obsessed with trains

  1. How about putting a number of railway station names in a jar, son picks one, the two of you devise the journey it takes to get to it.( You might have to sort destinations that are a reasonable distance, to fit in a day, unless its the holidays!) Also check out interesting things at that destination. :-))

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.