Website vs YouTube Memberships

Dear Railfans,

We know there’s been some confusion over the YouTube Membership options. YouTube provides some channels with the ability to offer monthly memberships. Virtual Railfan was thankfully approved for this feature. It’s completely separate from the website, and YouTube doesn’t allow any user information to be passed between the website and our channel.

YouTube memberships are different from the memberships that we offer on our website. YouTube members receive perks when they’re interacting with our streams, 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. At the highest levels, our YouTube Members will also have a free membership on Important note: YouTube does not share personal information about members, so if your membership entitles you to a free website subscription, you must email so we can help get you set up.

Our latest level additon: Gold. This $34.99/month membership provides access to ALL Virtual Railfan locations, which have only been available with a website membership previously. We know many of our fans prefer to watch our streams on the YouTube platform, so this new level is way to watch them all there!

For more information about the YouTube membership levels and what’s offered for each, visit our YouTube membership page.

Here’s a handy chart that shows which locations are available for each membership level:


  • Option to watch the live streams without ads
  • Multi-cam location players
  • Solitude from the craziness of YouTube chat
  • Savable layouts on your personal dashboard
  • 12 day archives
  • Dedicated Support

Frequently Asked Questions:

I’m already a financial supporter of Virtual Railfan, shouldn’t I enjoy the YouTube perks for free?We wholeheartedly agree! Unfortunately, we have no control over YouTube Membership options, other than choosing our price points and creating our custom perks. Our moderators are also disappointed and frustrated. We certainly would love for these perks to be available to them AND to our website members. We love you!

Why are you offering YouTube memberships in the first place?Many of our YouTube viewers do make an effort to contribute to Virtual Railfan’s growth with small donations via Super Chat. While we try to thank these donors, it’s a fleeting moment, just like YouTube chat. We consider YouTube memberships as a way to thank our supporters there. And since many folks just can’t afford the cost of a website membership, some of our YouTube memberships may be more realistic for their budgets.

Where is all the money from website memberships, YouTube memberships and merchandise going?All revenues are going straight back into the growth of Virtual Railfan, which includes adding new locations as fast as we can and improving our viewers’ experience. Installation, maintenance and media hosting of all of these HD cameras is also extremely expensive. At some point, we hope to be profitable. But right now, we continue to offer Virtual Railfan out of our love for trains and the community that is growing as fast as our locations.

We can’t thank you enough for your support of Virtual Railfan, and hope you are enjoying the experience. Our full FAQ is available here.


The Virtual Railfan Team