Buying images

How do I buy a photograph?

There is no need to become a Registered User, but this simplifies repeat purchases and keeps a record of your purchases.

You can add simply your selected images into your personal Shopping Basket and proceed to the checkout.

Can I make copies of the images?

When you purchase from Rail-Online you are required to accept our copyright terms. In essence these allow the buyer to use the image personally on their own PC or laptop. In addition the licence permits the image to be printed for personal use. The licence specifically does NOT allow the purchaser to share digital or printed copies with others under any circumstances. View licence.

Can I use a photograph in a book or magazine?

Any Rail-Online image can be purchased for publication in a book or magazine providing the appropriate royalty fee is paid. Digital images must be bought for that purpose when put into the Shopping Basket and therefore at the correct price. Each image may only be used once and must be purchased again for any subsequent use in the same or another publication.

Prints are sold at the price for personal use and an additional fee is payable if subsequently used in a publication.

Do I get a discount for bulk purchases?

This was a feature of our old site but is no longer possible.



Powerful and easy to use Searching is at the heart of Rail-Online. It would be pointless having lists of photographs available if visitors to the site cannot find them the pictures they are looking for. We have taken considerable care in devising and developing the search facility.

We start with the premise that whether you have only a general idea of what you are looking for, or that you know very precisely which photographs you are trying to find, or even if you are simply browsing, Rail-Online should guide you quickly and painlessly to the pictures you are looking for.

Each photograph is given a number of “keywords” which allow the collection to be searched using the Search box which is always shown in the top right hand corner of the screen. These keywords cover:

Company : GWR, LMS, LNER, SR, BR, Privatised, Other

Category : Steam, Diesel, Electric, DMU, EMU, Infrastructure

Class : Class name, TOPS Code or Type

You can also select a locomotive number or location

Also note that you do NOT need to worry about Capital Letters – the searches are not case sensitive.

How do I know which new images have been added to Rail-Online since my last visit?

The system automatically stores the latest images in a section called “Recently Added” under “My Photographs”. The images added in the past month or two are also held in the first two folders when “All My Photos” is clicked (one for steam and pre-TOPS and one for TOPS)


Image classification and dates

How are the photographs grouped?

We have a three part classification system:

Company : GWR, LMS, LNER, SR, BR, Privatised, Other

Category : Steam, Diesel, Electric, DMU, EMU, Infrastructure

Class : Class name, Code or Type

Each image is grouped in a folder according to its original builder and then in a sub-folder by class, but for simplicity we have included pre-grouping companies separately from their respective Big-Four Group

What other details are stored against each picture?

Comments - anything we can add to describe the image (or a plea for help!)

How accurate are the image descriptions?

We try to provide the most complete and accurate information for each image – but we are human! We have included in the Comments section where dates are estimated, locations unknown, etc. We are always pleased to hear from you with additional information and corrections. We will credit the Account of the first contributor to provide “improved” details for an image.

How are renumbered locomotives dealt with?

To avoid any confusion, we always use the number at the date the image was taken. Therefore within a particular class individual images may be held with two or more distinct number periods. When the class is selected in the Search the thumbnails always appear in strict alpha-numeric and then date order. We suggest you check the final page of your search results if, for example, you are looking at a BR diesel class which may have carried a D-prefix number, numbers without the D and then TOPS numbers – the D numbers will always be at the end.


Images - a few technical aspects

What size are the images when purchased?

The image size is normally between 1mB and 2mB, although some older photographs which are of historical interest cannot be reproduced at this size. We have experimented with images of various sizes and have found that for practical purposes there is no discernible difference between the image size we use and one which is 3 or 4 times larger. If an image is purchased for publication and we hold the original negative or slide we may be able to scan it again and provide a larger image in the unlikely event that the purchased image is unsuitable.

Why are the images in JPG format?

We standardised on JPGs because they are suited for most common uses of the image. TIFF format files are much larger and hence would take significantly longer to download and offered few advantages, particularly on photographs taken before the days of digital cameras. We have found that the main determinant of the image size is the quality of the original image.

Do you “doctor” the images in Photoshop?

We use Photoshop to prepare all the images before uploading them but we do not add-to or move any part of the original image. We find many negatives and slides which, although at first sight high quality, often are scratched and sometimes have water or light damage. We always rectify these problems as far as practical so that the image is provided in the best possible condition.

We may have to lighten, or occasionally darken, an original but the purchaser can use a photo editing program to further adjust it to their own taste. For those who have old negatives or slides which seem to be a lost cause please contact us – you would be amazed at how often what appears to be an unusable negative or slide can be salvaged. (Note that we only carry out this work on images which are going onto the Rail-Online site).