About the Society
The RCTS is Britain’s leading organisation for people interested in all aspects of railways past, present and future and is highly regarded by both professional railway people and enthusiasts, a position it has held since its formation in 1928.
The Railway Observer
All members receive the Society's magazine online, and a print edition (usually 72 pages) is posted to those choosing a "Printed" membership category.
The magazine covers the current railway scene, including extensive coverage of significant and interesting movements, plus an infrastructure and events update. Urban, Irish and International news is included, together with the latest news from Heritage lines.
Society activities, branch meetings, outdoor visits and rail tours are well represented, as are reviews of the latest publications.
Membership rates for new joiners
Printed RO Membership includes posting of the print edition of The Railway Observer
|Printed RO UK||£16.50|
|Printed RO Europe||£26.00|
|Printed RO Rest of World||£31.00|
New joiners are benefiting from a "Welcome" discount of 50%.
Try out the Society as a guest. Most of the meetings and events are open to visitors.
The Society is run entirely by volunteers, at branch level and nationally. If you have some spare time, and maybe some specialist skills, there are many ways you can help
- Image preparation
- Managing events
- Software development
The Society is conducting a survey of its members, closing 31st July 2022. The link to take part is below.
The survey asks questions about members' interests, media used, and engagement with the RCTS. Non-members are welcome to take part.
We expect it will take around 15 minutes to complete. You can pause and resume, but you need to complete and submit the survey before any information is recorded by the Society.
Virtual events coming up...
There is programme of National events held online, typically monthly. Some branches run them too. Members from any branch may attend and guests are very welcome. There is no charge but donations would be appreciated to help defray the costs.
Pre-registration (on Zoom) is required. Open the event to find the registration link, and the donations link.
Meeting attendances are normally limited to 100.
Society full calendar
Visit the branch pages to discover upcoming events in your specific area.
The Society’s President, the Reverend Canon Brian Arman, visits the Watford Branch for the first time to present the first of his acclaimed series of talks on the Great Western…
Observation Day at Eastleigh
Observation Day at Eastleigh Station
A Hitchin & Welwyn Garden City Branch presentation by Paul Chancellor. Paul is the proprietor of Colour-Rail and author of rail related books and articles. He promises us a talk…
The management of the Volks Electric have agreed to an escorted visit and tour of the Railway by RCTS members. You must book in advance if you wish to join…
Observation Day at Westbury (Cancelled due to Rail Strike)
Observation afternoon and evening at Westbury Station (Cancelled due to Rail Strike)
A Hitchin & Welwyn Garden City Branch presentation by David Kelso. How our high-speed link to France was achieved. David manages photographic images submitted for the Railway Observer. Doors open…
The latest edition of The Railway Observer, plus back copies from 2012
Details of benefits available to RCTS members
The directory of Society officers
Officers' administration tools
RCTS-branded clothing sales
Membership renewals for 2023 [opens October 2022]
Renewals for 2022
Access to the Members' Area is not available to lapsed members. Please renew here.
The Society has a national network of 28 branches. Each branch has its own committee and operates its own programme of events. Members are assigned to a home branch but are welcome to take part in other branches' activities.
Guests are always welcome.
Some branches have more than one regular meeting venue. Click any of the dots on the map to visit the branch page which contains details of contacts, venues, and events.
The map is interactive. You can pan and zoom to see more. Press the green Reset button to start again.
The Society has several online information services maintained by our dedicated and knowledgeable members. The various features are regularly updated, and we welcome contributions from members and non-members alike.
Each feature has a editor. Click the images to explore.
NEW - John Knight's Database of Railway Photography
John Knight is a picture researcher. His database of southern and western England records details of 172,000 images published in 6,500 books.
This RCTS Feature initially opens on an interactive map. When you zoom in, each yellow dot represents a camera location. The background can be changed between contemporary maps, satellite images, and historical Ordnance Survey maps - including the detailed 1:10,560 Series. The dot has a reference number for subsequent searches. Please allow a few seconds for the map to load fully.
There are several other tabs alongside the map. One is the User Guide which explains what data is available and how to undertake searches.
Other tabs are lists of books, authors, photographers, railway companies, locomotive classes, and the like. All are searchable.
NB. The database is an index only. For copyright reasons, the photographs are not reproduced, but there are live links to where each book is currently available to purchase. Usually these are second-hand booksellers.
Over 50,000 images are available to purchase as prints or as digital downloads.
Purchases are managed by our service provider, Zenfolio.
The items listed below are currently available to purchase, some at sale prices. Click on the product images to read full details of each item.
RCTS members are advised to use the Shop pages in the Member's Area to gain access to exclusive products and special discounts.
Shipping is charged on the whole order. There is a flat rate of £3 for UK addresses, a percentage of the order value for non-UK address, calculated as the basket is added to.
Payment can be made by credit/debit card into the Society's Paypal account. You do not need your own Paypal account to use this service.
RCTS has been a renowned publisher of definitive books on locomotives and other railway subjects since 1935. The books are available online and trade enquiries are welcome. Many are now out of print but you can find a bibliography of all books by following More about RCTS Publications below.
Become an author? Click the button to find out more.
New printing technology means that it has become economic to republish some of the back catalogue, a process that is underway. If you cannot wait, copies are available to view at the Society's library at Leatherhead and second-hand copies may be available to purchase from there.