AS the last train to stop at the old Bayswater railway platform pulled away last Friday, a new generation of trainspotters came out to mark the rainy, late-night milestone.
The 1960s-built island platform is being demolished for a new larger one as part of Metronet upgrades for the airport line.
YouTuber Mark Steffens runs the channel @TransportofPerth, and turned out on March 31 at 12.28am to catch the last train along with a few devoted young transport YouTubers like @ RileyTheDude and @Pegion_ journey.
Mark is still in high school, but he’s uploaded more than 200 videos since founding the channel in 2020, filming and producing clips at every station in Perth.
“I was really excited for the day of the last train for like over a month since it was announced when the shutdown would start,” Mark says.
“It was something that I was really looking forward to and allowed me to push through weeks of school easily knowing that it was coming up.”
He’s part of a new generation of “Transport Enthusiasts”, mostly in their mid-teens who are a separate community from the traditional railfans or trainspotting crowds, using online chat servers to build a community and video platforms to share content.
“I’d say there are two types of transport enthusiasts: historic ones, and modern ones,” Mark says.
“Historic ones are much more interested in olden day transport and would spend their time at a place like the Bassendean Railway Museum and take photos of things with professional cameras – but not really share about it online.”
Mark’s been interested in transport as long as he can remember: “Ever since I could speak as a child, I would guide my parents around the roads of Perth as I had already memorised the layout even at a very young age.
“After that I started to discover our transport network further online and quite quickly I knew all of it fully, and it was always of great interest to me.”
But he didn’t realise how many other people shared his interest until a couple years into making his videos.
In August 2022 one of Mark’s viewers set up an online chat to hang out, discuss the videos, and talk transport. Two hundred people quickly joined, and today it’s a rapid stream of transport news and debates about favourite stations.
More than 30 people came along to an in-person meet-up in January 2023, and so far Mark’s met about 45 of the other transport enthusiasts in person.
“I discovered how many people actually have the same interest as me, and this sparked the start of the many friendships I have now,” Mark tells us via the chat.
Many other young people have since been inspired to set up their own channels on YouTube or TikTok.
“I believe there are over 50 different channels now, ranging from 10, to several hundreds of subscribers,” and his is still the largest at more than 1300 subscribers.
Mark says many people “are normally very surprised or confused as to why we do what we do.
“People always say ‘why are you interested in how metal moves around?’
“But really, it can be so much more than that. Just like on the surface sports just look like a ball being moved around, but for the people that enjoy it there is so much greater detail in it? Why does the majority of the population get to enjoy sports and not be criticised about it, but for us having a unique hobby, [we] are usually frowned upon by fellow teenagers?”
Mark says he and his friends were excited to document the last train to stop at the Bayswater platform, and for them it wasn’t a sombre moment.
“It’s cool to be the last person to ever experience something like this, but we are not necessarily sad about it like the historic enthusiasts would be.
“We very much look forward to all the new projects being built in the city and usually try to be the first people to ride on a new line and put a video up about it.”
This is such an amazing story!