Model Railroads are Addictive

  • A friend sent me this, apparently copied from a British publication.





    A recent American study has concluded that as many as a million people, worldwide, are highly addicted to playing with model railways. The condition affects mainly middle aged males some of whom are alleged to spend up to eighty hours a week, involved in what experts have described as a ‘dangerously solitary pursuit’ and ‘a compulsion that interferes with normal life.’ A significant percentage of the respondents within the study suffered from agitation when they were unable to play with trains, or missed sleep or meals to tend to their layouts, or source small industrial shunters, online. In the extreme phases of addiction, men may regard personal hygiene as a waste of time, suffer from weight gain and disrupted sleep patterns, avoid phone calls from friends and find themselves lying about time spent tinkering with low reduction gear boxes.


    The men are perceived to be in danger of losing all social skills and ceasing to interact with their families altogether. ‘We don’t know where this might go in the future,’ said a commentator on a recent television chat show. ‘After all, technology is developing all the time, and we have no idea what this kind of thing might be doing to their brains. These men seem to prefer lurking in their own attics, fiddling with ever more extensive layouts, rather than socialising with the oppposite sex or interacting with other human beings.’


    Playing with model railways is admitted to be a largely male pursuit. Although the average model rail enthusiast is a middle aged man, companies make a determined effort to target young children while their parents – ignorant of the dangers – purchase whatever railway books and toys their children request. The addiction is fuelled by occasional conventions at which participants are encouraged to spend large sums of money. On a recent panel show, a media celebrity announced that many mass murderers had confessed to playing with model railways at some point, thus demonstrating an unambigious connection between model railways and psychosis. She further stated that travelling by real trains was infinitely preferable. ‘It’s giving these men access to houses, strange headwear and unregulated model railway kits that’s the problem,’ she said. ‘These activities promote sexism and are as addictive as cocaine. I would never ever participate in any activity which associated model trains with entertainment. It’s an outrage.’


    Experts propose that one solution to this serious problem might be to develop online railway simulation computer games, during which addicts could at least interact with others in a more sociable and productive way.



    The fellow who sent this also mentioned that in the 1930s, there was an alarming trend of "Reefer Madness", in which modelers built refrigerator cars and sometimes used dope for finishing.


    And I remember an article in MR decades ago about a guy who spent the family's grocery money on extra flextrack: he was MAINLINING! And the poor soul who squandered the rent money to buy a model of a large passenger station: clearly, he had entered the TERMINAL stage!