Welcome to Virtual Railfan! We are glad you are watching trains from all over the USA and Canada. We do our best to ensure our website provides a great experience for our members. Below are some basics to help you become a member and to ensure things run smoothly on your computer or device.
How do I become a Member?
- You start by selecting a membership plan. The options are available by clicking “Become a Member” in the Menu, and then “Sign Up.” You can join as a monthly member, or use the toggle button at the top to see the annual plans (best value!)
- Once you select your membership level, simply fill in an easy-to-use, secured form and get started immediately.
What are the benefits of Membership?
- Option to watch the live streams without ads
- Multi-cam players
- Dedicated support
- Solitude from the craziness of YouTube chat
- Better viewing experience! Control your own layouts and which locations you can view in our Cam Dashboard, and SAVE them for later! But wait, there’s more! You can save multiple layouts! And each player will have the ability to select a date/time frame to watch feeds from earlier in the month.
- Multiple ways to watch — if you’d rather scroll through each location looking for action, use our Playlist. If you prefer pulling up specific locations only, we offer a Master Locations List in alphabetical order.
I’m a monthly or annual subscriber, why is the expiration date for my membership so far out?
- An expiration date is required by the membership platform we use. Most of our members are recurring subscriptions. This extended expiration also allows the recurring subscriptions to work without all the warning emails about expirations. Your account will renew monthly or annually as it is set.
I tried to sign up for Complimentary Membership and it will not let me.
- This level is for Youtube Superfan and higher members. We have to manually set credentials for those members to be able to access their complimentary website membership, and this is where our Youtube members can initiate that process.
I need to update my credit card. How do I do that?
- You can update your card on file via “My Account” after you are logged in. If you use PayPal, you will need to make those changes on your PayPal account.
I lost my password. How can I get a new one?
You can go to “My Account” and change the password there. If you have any issues. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can change it for you.
How can I cancel my membership? Can I get a refund?
- Membership cancellations are unfortunate and we do not like to see you leave. Sometimes it has to happen due to life changes, etc. If you are a monthly member and cancel, your membership will continue to the end of the month in which you made your last payment. If you are an annual member and cancel halfway through the year, your membership is good for the rest of that year. Refunds are handled on a case-by-case basis for Annual members.
Can I chat with other website members?
- For members, we have our own chat room that covers all cameras. It is a slower pace and a more laid back room than the public Youtube chats. We also have a live chat option for questions and support issues and they are monitored as best we can. Support Chat is the orange bubble and green dot on the lower left side of the screen. If you do not get a response quickly, do not worry, send your question or concern to email@example.com.
What’s the difference?
- They are completely separate. Monthly YouTube memberships are a way to receive special perks when interacting with our streams there, such as custom badges, emojis, and exclusive sneak peeks of new locations, the Cam of the Week, and some videos that we regularly create for YouTube. Memberships are completely controlled by Youtube, and there is no way for Youtube to “talk” to our website. For railfans who prefer to enjoy our streams on the Youtube platform, if they have the highest level memberships, they can access ALL of our camera locations there. Or for those who simply want to help contribute to Virtual Railfan’s growth, it’s a way to do that at much lower price points than a website membership.
- Also at the highest levels, our YouTube Members will have a free membership on virtualrailfan.com! Important note: YouTube does not share personal information about members, so if your membership entitles you to a free website subscription, you must email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can set you up.
- Our website members enjoy the opportunity to watch the live streams without ads, the ability to create their own camera layouts and to save them for future viewing, Video on Demand, which allows them to view trains as far back as 30 days, multi-cam players, dedicated support, and solitude from the craziness of YouTube chat.
Can I see the Youtube chats on the website if I sign up?
- No. Virtual Railfan has an all inclusive cam chat. It is a much more laid back area to relax and chat about all the cams and trains.
My Youtube membership lapsed. If I rejoin will I get to keep my colored badge?
- You will get a badge again but you will start at the entry level color.
I’m having trouble with my Youtube account, can you help?
- We have no ability to handle the technical, account or support functionality on that platform — that is YouTube only. The only thing we can control is the modding of the chat rooms. Be kind, factual, truthful, and family-friendly in those chats and all will be fine. Our mods are volunteers and they work to keep the chat rooms clean. Their job is commendable! If you have a question or concern regarding a room, email@example.com is the place to go.
How to Work with Layouts
- After you are logged in, click on “Cam Dashboard” in the dropdown under “Watch Trains Now” to view the Dashboard area.
- If you are a first time user, you will want to click on “Choose Video Layout.” This will allow you to pick how the player(s) will be laid out on your screen for viewing.
- Once you have picked your layout, it is time to pick the cams you want to watch! If a location has three cams and you want to watch all three of them, you will need to select a camera for each of the three players separately.
- After you have loaded the players and you are pleased with it, you can save the layout. Click “Save Layout,” enter the name you want for it, and click “Save”.
- To add and save additional layouts, you must always select “Choose Video Layout” first and go through the process above. If you change the cams in a current layout and save it, the layout will be overwritten.
Our video archives are set to be a 12-day archive. The archives are searchable by day. If the cameras have a tech issue or are down there will be no archive for that timeframe. We strive to keep the cameras up and running but there are some things that are out of our control.
How to Watch the Archives
- To view anything in the past 24 hours, simply slide the red bar at the bottom of the player to rewind.
- For activity in the last 12 days, click on the Calendar Icon at the top right of any player. Select the date you’d like to view, all 24 hours are stored. Again, slide the red bar at the bottom of the player to rewind.
- In the event that a stream is interrupted (power or internet outage), the 24-hour rewind feature AND the 12-day Archive could be disrupted.
Why won’t the video play correctly? (slow to load, spinning wheel, stuttering)
- If you’re experiencing any of these issues with one location only, it’s likely that there’s a power or internet problem at the source. We work immediately to resolve those issues, but sometimes we are at the whim of the power companies and local internet service providers.
- The faster your internet download speed the better. Slower speeds will cause players to buffer. A good router and cabling is also important. Sometimes an ISP will throttle connections. We have no control over that, unfortunately.
- Computers can also slow you down. Be sure you have enough RAM (8gb or more) and a good processor to help the computer run efficiently while watching the cams. Multiple cams opened in their own players at the same time do take more RAM to run. Most of today’s Windows 10 machines or newer Mac’s can run the feeds well. Most higher end tablets, smart phones, etc. are also powerful enough to give good viewer satisfaction. With that said, running many cams in HD will put a load on the best machine.
Why do I get an error message on the player?
- The error simply means the player lost signal. There are many factors that cause this. Internet connection loss or fluctuation, browser plugins and cache, even the load on your own computer or device. Thankfully most feeds do fine after a refresh. If there is an issue at the source, we will post a note on the camera to let you know. If you have continued issues, please fill out a support ticket or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
YouTube never has player issues!
- YouTube is a multibillion dollar operation. They have access to technology and resources that we do not. While we stream the same feeds to both our website and Youtube, Youtube has the ability to automatically adjust the resolution to match the speed of your internet connection, as low as 144p! We broadcast our feeds on the VR site in 480p, 720p or 1080p. For poor internet connections, 480p may still be too high to play correctly, particularly if you have multiple players opened at the same time.
How can I adjust the resolution?
- The player is set to auto-detect the best resolution for your computer/connection. You can try to adjust the resolution by clicking on the Settings icon in the lower left of the player. If you are having issues with the feed, you may need to lower the resolution to 480p.
The cameras aren’t displaying the correct time, or the cameras are out-of-sync
- Make sure that each feed is actually “live” by checking the Live button at the bottom of the player. Also, verify the slider is red all the way to the right.
- Each feed is separate, even if there are two cams in one location. The time can be off a little from each other. If the feeds are more than 20 seconds apart, please leave us a message in the live chat or the support chat.
How can I see a train that I just missed?
- If you want to review past footage, simply move the slider backwards to the proper time you wish to view. You can rewind up to 12 hours. Beyond that, please use the Archive (Calendar icon on the top of each player) to access past activity.
Why are the cameras blocked out?
- Inclement weather – we do not have the means to clean the lenses when they become wet or iced over. Mother Nature will take care of that. Feel free to check another cam view in the same location or take that time to check out a cam you may have not watched before.
- Requested by the location – occasionally, we will overlay block masks for certain events occurring in front of our cameras.
- Privacy – masks are also used to protect nearby workers, open windows, or if something happening in front of a cam is deemed too personal or disturbing.
My screen times out when I am watching/playing the feed.
- Our players are set to timeout after 60 minutes of non-activity. This is done to conserve bandwidth charges and playing to an empty room.
IOS playback issues (Apple products)
- IOS is now using a company called webkit to do playback on their devices. There has been some operational issues related to that, i.e. only one player will play at a time. If you mute the audio two cams will play at the same time. There is no fix for this issue as of now.
Why can’t I stream to my television?
- At this time we do not have feeds available for smart TV’s. ROKU and Amazon Prime feeds are in development. YouTube streams are available for select locations.
I have a great suggestion for a camera location, how do I let you know?
If you have a camera location idea, please send an email to email@example.com . Please be sure and send a photo of the location, potential building(s) to mount the cameras, contact information, etc. The more details the better. Emails with “I want a camera here” and no other information will not be considered. Also, support-related items sent to this email may experience response delays.
I requested a camera and it is not installed. Why is that?
- Camera requests are just that. Requests. The more information you provide when you request a cam the better. There are many pieces of the puzzle to make it work. All requests are put on a list and researched for feasibility.
If my question isn’t answered here, and I need more support, what do I do?
If you need help with something, firstname.lastname@example.org is the proper email. You may also call 1-855-239-7245. Please leave a message if no one answers. All phone calls are routed to this number for sorting and someone will call you back.
During business hours, you can chat with us on the website by clicking the gold icon in the lower left.