frequently asked questions

Learn the basics and get the answers you need

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, secure 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 — Our popular locations section is an easy place to find your favorite places. You can scroll through the location by area or we offer a Master Locations Text List in alphabetical order. You may also jump right into your saved layouts and see your favorite places instantly. 

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 seamlessly 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. If you are a member at that level please email support@virtualrailfan.com to start the 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. Once you get to “My Account” the Credit Card information is under “My Memberships”. 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 support@virtualrailfan.com 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 our 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 support@virtualrailfan.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 support@virtualrailfan.com 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 12 days, multi-cam players, dedicated support, and solitude from the craziness of YouTube chat. We also have a locations are where you can watch all the cams of that location at one time instead of having two or three tabs open. 
  • This chart is a handy tool to see what different cams come with each level of your YouTube membership. https://virtualrailfan.com/locations-youtube/

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, support@virtualrailfan.com is the place to go.

How to Work with Layouts

  1. After you are logged in, click on “Dashboard” in the dropdown under “Watch Trains Now” to view the Dashboard area. 
  2. If you are a first time user, you will want to click on “New Layout.” This will allow you to pick how the player(s) will be laid out on your screen for viewing.
  3. You will get a window that says “Create New Layout”. Once you have named your layout, it is time to choose the layout design and then click “Create” After that you are ready to pick the cams you want to watch from the dropdown menu in the upper left of the players and then click save.  
  4.  If a location has more than one cam, you will need to select a camera for each of the three players separately. 
  5. To add and save additional layouts, you must always select “New 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.
  6. Our layouts save to username and will be available on any computer or device you access via your membership. 
  7. To delete or change a layout, please select the layout and then click on the gear icon (settings). From there you can change the entire layout, rename it or delete it. 
  8. To change a cam on a current layout. Click the dropdown menu, pick the cam and click the save icon.

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

  1. To view anything in the past 4 hours, simply slide the colored bar at the bottom of the player to rewind.
  2. 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 in 3 8 hour blocks. Choose the time block and then move the colored bar from left to right to find the timeframe you are looking for. 
  3. In the event that a stream is interrupted (power or internet outage), the 4-hour rewind feature AND the 12-day Archive could be disrupted.

How do I operate my player? 

This handy explainer video will show you all the features.

Why won’t the video play correctly? (slow to load, spinning logo, 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. If the camera is down for a certain period of time, there will be a maintentance screen that says we are working on the issue. Long term outages will be noted in the network status menu that can be found at  the bottom of the network status  dropdown menu.
  • 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. National average for slow internet is less than 25mbps download speed.
  • 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 show a maintenance screen on the camera. If you have continued issues, please fill out a support ticket or email support@virtualrailfan.com.

YouTube never has player issues!

  • YouTube is a multi-billion 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 360p or 1080p. For poor internet connections, 360p will be the resolution you want particularly if you have multiple players opened at the same time. You may still have buffering issues if your network area is very busy.

How can I adjust the resolution?

  • The player default is 360p. The resolution setting can be seen if you hover over the HD letters on the player. The HD letters will also be white in the 360p setting. You can force HD by clicking on the HD letters, they will turn orange and when you hover over the letters you will see 1080p. Full screen or any display over a 1000px wide will only broadcast in HD ([1080] If you have slow internet connection this may cause buffering). 

The cameras aren’t displaying the correct time or the cameras are out-of-sync.

  • Make sure that each feed is actually “live” by looking to see if there is a TV icon beside the HD letters. If the TV icon is displayed, you are not live. To go to “live” click on the TV icon or move the slider 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 due to network latency.

How can I see a train that I just missed?

  • If you want to review past footage, simply move the slider to the left to the proper time you wish to view. You can rewind up to 4 hours at a time, beyond that, please use the Archive (Calendar icon on the top right 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 by the VRF team.

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 and not play to an empty room. 

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 from our channel are available to watch via the YouTube app.

I have a great suggestion for a camera location, how do I let you know?

  • If you have a camera location idea, please fill out this webform. The more details the better. Emails to any other in boxes, requests in live chats with “I want a camera here”, or any other generic location request may not be seen or reviewed and NOT be considered. 

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. 

Why does my purchase say it is for 50 Years? The payment processor that we use requires a time span in that field so 50 years it is for $19.99 purchase.

How long is the rental good for? The rental $4.99 is good for 72 hours from time of purchase.

Why is my video quality not HD? Most of these vintage videos were captured on 8mm, 16mm or VHS. We need to be happy that these videos are here for us. Newer video on higher quality equipment will be closer to HD.

Why are there black bars on each side of the video? This is due to the constraints of the video formatting. I.e. 4:3 aspect ratio.

Why is there no volume? The player volume is best fine tuned via the volume slider under the video player. Some operating system settings may cause your video to start muted.

Can I download my purchased content? At this time that option is not available due to security protocals that need to be built out to protect our vendors.

Who do I contact for payment issues? InPlayer handles all the transactions on their platform. Please reach out to them via this link: InPlayer | Support Center

  • Email: support@virtualrailfan.com
  • Phone: 1-855-239-7245
  • Live Chat: located on the lower left of the screen.

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