Amtrak or Transit related YouTube channels and videos

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Matthew H Fish

Lead Service Attendant
May 28, 2019
First off, I am not quite sure where to put this thread, and it might be moved.
In the past few years, train and transit YouTube has become a popular niche, and there are countless videos of people sharing their personal travels, as well as history and theory behind rail and other transport.
In another thread, I saw people sharing the Miles in Transit "Great Race" videos, and they were popular (as they should be!). I thought a thread where people could share and discuss their favorite videos and channels might be fun!
One of the great things about these YouTube channels is they provide such a spectrum of focus. There are channels that provide first person views of what it is like to ride trains, while others talk about theory, history and policy. Some of them are glossy and well-produced, and focused on luxury travel, while others are grainy cell footage of subway lines.
The only guidelines I really wanted to make for this thread is that channels and videos should be mostly focused on trains and transit. Videos that focus on other aspect of travel (like hotels, etc.) aren't really the main focus. Also, while rail policy and history are relevant, we probably want to avoid anything that is too political. Other than that, please feel free to share what you like to watch!
The first channel I want to share is Miles in Transit, because it is what made me start this thread. Specifically, the "Great Race" videos, where he and other teams raced from Boston to New York City using different modes of transportation: Amtrak, long distance buses, and airlines.

Miles is in college, but he has an impressive transit resume, mostly around the NEC, but he has also taken both Amtrak and Greyhound cross-country. He tends to be a bit flippant at times, but it is also very fun.
This channel is kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum: Grounded Life Travel, which is mostly about more comfortable long distance train travel, mostly Amtrak, but also some VIA Rail videos. This is a pretty representative video, showing a nice trip along the Sunset Limited:

I love Jeb Brook's train reviews. I feel that he is perhaps the best at capturing the vibe of an Amtrak long distance ride on video. I also love his flight reviews.
I actually only learned about him when Miles made a reference to him in a song.
Several of the British travel YouTubers have reported on Amtrak and VIA, including Dylan Bowes, Paul Lucas and Mark Smith (Seat61). Canadian Mike Downie is an avid rail traveler and has covered several of the more eclectic North American routes. I've subscribed to Jeb Brooks since his early days and he, like the Grounded Life couple, tends to focus on the experience outweighing any negatives. Also second the mention of Trek Trendy and his reviews of the routes most of us can't afford. :D
For more analytical transit study on YouTube I would be remiss to not mention RMTransit and Vanishing Underground.
I also like The City Nerd at times:

He mostly talks about urbanism and so rail isn't the focus, but this is a video that is rail focused.
He is kind of grumpy, and he also is mostly theoretical, a lot of lists and charts, but interesting information.
Here's a classic from Miles from 2019:
This is an account of his ride from Philly to the Snyder's of Hanover pretzel factory in (where else?) Hanover, PA. Now, Hanover, PA is about 20 miles northwest of where I live in Baltimore, and we go out there a lot when we take short drives in the country. Though if we're looking for snack food outlet stores, we usually stop at the Utz Factory Store, as Utz markets Bachman Pretzels. I think we went to Snyder's once, too, and I recall they had a pretty good selection as well. What kind of blew my mind was that he was able to do this trip from Philly all on public transit. I'm not sure I could do this from Baltimore, which is a lot closer, but maybe, as I've seen Rabbit Transit signs along I-83. (They connect York to Harrisburg and Baltimore, So I could ride up to York and then follow his route down to Hanover.

Basically, he rode out on a Keystone, then took a Rabbit Express bus to York, then the local Rabbit Transit bus to Hanover. He spent so much money pretzels that he had to ride home entirely on local buses through York and Lancaster Counties, finally connecting to a SEPTA Regional Rail train, but got off in Overbrook (ticket was cheaper) and rode the subway-surface car back into Center City. A crazy trip by transit through the heart of rural America where one would never expect to find any such thing. I have to take my hat off to the guy, but I think if I'm going for pretzels in Hanover, PA, I'll just drive there.
I don't like Miles' videos at all. Too raucous and silly. His attempts at humor leave me cold.
I do like Thom's channel Trains Are Awesome. Of course, Simply Railway. Also Jeb Brooks & Trek Trendy.

For NYC subway fans, the track-level POV videos on Welcome to an Experience are cool.
Thanks for the shoutout! I recently went on a Rail Pass trip and am hoping to begin uploading content from that later this summer.
My go to's are:

Jago Hazzard: London underground related, as well as London history and general rail.

Geoff Marshall: UK rail

The Tim Traveller: does a lot of rail, but also other quirky things, including ferries, etc.

Trekking & Towpath's, now Trekking Exploration: walks on abandoned RR ROW in the UK, along with towpaths.

RailCowGirl: Norway based train driver who does cab videos on her routes.

LoriRocks: continental cab videos.

Honorable Mentions:

BeeHereNow: bikepacking and North Midlands, but also a few rail related videos
MartinZero: urban exploration, old canals and RR often featured
Tom Scott is not exclusively or even mostly a train or transit YouTuber, but he has more than a few videos about railroads and transportation in general, and they are of high quality. Tom Scott is great because he uses the YouTube format so well---he combines the personal feeling of a YouTube travelogue with great production values.

I'm a big fan of Thom's channel as well. I subscribed to his channel not too long ago and he provides great Amtrak content! I also like his channel with the Chicago-based Amtrak content (as I'm big into Chicago Amtrak as well). I'm looking forward to seeing his NEC content too.

I appreciate the tip on Simply Railway. Great passenger rail videos there as well!
In case anyone was interested in the finances of doing this:
Most sources I can find say that, once a YouTuber is monetized, they get around 3-5 dollars per 1000 views on a video. So a video with 10,000 views makes about 50 dollars. And a video with 100,000 views makes about 500 dollars.
So as far as whether people can make money at this, at around 10,000 views, its possible to recoup the cost of a ticket. At around 100,000 views, if someone is making 4 videos per month, they might actually be able to travel and make money off their videos. Slickly produced travel channels with videos with a million plus views might actually be making a six figure income...although they might be spending quite a bit on travel costs and professional production!
So anyway, I guess the point is, its probably not a great idea to quite your day job to become a travel YouTuber. But if you are already travelling anyway, it could be an added bonus.
...but $4500USD each. Yikes!
This actually relates to what I was saying about how much money YouTube pays for ads.
Since the YouTube algorithm adjusts which ads it shows based on what videos people watch, I think that travel or tourism related videos get more money. Airlines, hotel chains, cruise lines---all are willing to pay more to show ads to prospective travellers than say, Oreo is willing to pay to advertise cookies to the gamer demographic.
I don't know how fine-grained the algorithm is---one of the many mysteries of YouTube. Do they know that someone riding a train from Sacramento to Redding probably has a lot less money than someone taking a cross-country train trip? It is a mystery!
But my guess is that one reason that someone like Jeb Brooks is making videos with really expensive means of transportation is that the videos are being watched by a demographic--- retirees with a lot of disposable income--- that advertisers will pay more to reach.
2024 update to this thread :)
I am really enjoying the videos from "Lonestar" the video quality and easygoing style are very enjoyable.
I have some historic material that viewers may pick and choose from, including passenger rail and transit:
I especially recommend the brief 8mm scenes of the WP Zephyrette (RDC's long-distance run) and the pre-dome streamlined Empire Builder.