Francis Bourgeois: Trainspotter, Gucci model and close friend of Joe Jonas (apparently)
His wholesome train spotting videos even landed him a starring role in Gucci’s recent The North Face campaign.
Most of you will be familiar with Francis Bourgeois by now. TikTok’s resident “train guy”, his wholesome trainspotting videos secured him a seat at the head of the table and it wasn’t long before he was the internet’s new best friend.
Why, oh why, do we love him so? That is a question with many answers, dear readers, but I will try to elucidate. For me personally, it comes down to his genuine childlike glee at seeing a train pass by. His passion is palpable (even through a screen) and it actually doesn’t matter that I don’t have the slightest interest in trains; his excitement is contagious.
Where other internet personalities focus on aesthetics, Francis concentrates on just having fun. He fills a niche in the market with his content, one in which he is fully and unapologetically himself. People can watch him and follow along if they like, but it’s like water off a duck’s back if they don’t. He’s going to enjoy himself regardless.
Admitting to actually caring about something – especially on social media – used to be a big no-no. People denied having feelings and our feeds were a conveyor belt of outfit of the day ideas, affiliate links, and “what I eat in a day” videos. Thankfully, the algorithm has disrupted that way of thinking and Francis’ videos are just the thing to interrupt the doom scrolling. There’s something really lovely about seeing someone embrace their hobbies with such zest.
Even those not on TikTok are likely to have come across Francis Bourgeois by now. In fact, so popular is he that he now counts celebrities such as Joe Jonas amongst his pals. In what is possibly one of the greatest – if not most unexpected – of internet friendships, Joe joined Francis on one of his trainspotting outings while he was over in the UK earlier this year. Sharing the subsequent video of their day at the tracks over on Instagram, it seems that just about everyone was jealous. Including Vanessa Hudgens who commented “love him. And you.”
Even Italian fashion house Gucci is a fan who featured Francis as one of the models in their latest Gucci x The North Face campaign. Dropping a clip of the collab on High Snobiety, Francis stars as the train’s conductor and can be heard giving safety announcements, welcoming passengers aboard, and encouraging everyone to take in the exquisite scenery as they pass by. He dons a tailored conductor uniform (complete with railroad cap), while the rest of the models showcase the new collection. Safe to say we want all of it… partly because of the gorgeous colourways, but mostly because Francis was involved.
Still need more on who Francis Bourgeois is and why should you follow him? Say no more.
An engineering student at the University of Nottingham, Francis originally hails from Harlesden in North West London. Grabbing the attention of fellow TikTokers with his energetic trainspotting videos, he’s amassed over 1.2 million followers since he set up his page during lockdown last year.
An avid train enthusiast since he was young, The Sun reports that he first picked the hobby up in school… though it’s not one that was always appreciated by his peers and Francis was at the tail-end of more than a few snarky comments. They did little to deter him though and he began sharing his love of locomotives with the wider world during lockdown when he would upload short clips of his adventures to TikTok.
For many, the phrase “trainspotting” brings one thing to mind: Danny Boyle’s movie adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel of the same name. For Gen Z, the phrase is synonymous with Francis who has come to be known as Britain’s most famous trainspotter – a title he wears with pride. Not your typical TikToker, his videos stray from the usual trend-driven dances, fashion hauls, and funny bloopers, but he’s grown quite a following regardless.
Beloved for his earnest smile and genuine delight every time he sees a train, some viewers have even gone so far as to describe it as “the best content on the whole of the internet right now”. High praise, but he’s not undeserving of it.
Already landing himself a coveted segment on ITV’s This Morning alongside Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield, both presenters immediately took to him – “I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about anything in my life as you were in those videos,” Holly joked… and that about sums up the level of gusto Francis brings to each clip.
Where did his fascination with trains come from? It all stemmed from his childhood in Willesden Junction in London – one of the busiest train junctions in all of London. “All of these trains moving through at once sort of really fascinated me,” he admitted, later adding that he would try to draw pictures of the trains he saw from memory. “I was just fixated by these big machines,” he continued. “Ever since, I’ve had a passion for trains, cars, planes.” Hoping to combine his uni degree with his hobby, the 21-year-old is keen to contribute and make the railway network “a better place for everyone”.
Now for the big question, what’s his favourite train? Easy. The class 43 HST. In fact, he was one of the passengers aboard the last ever class 43 to depart from London and has a red badge to commemorate the journey.
Also with quite a large Instagram following too, it’s there that Francis shares the behind-the-scenes clips that go into making his TikToks. It’s hard to explain exactly why they’re so good, but watch one and you’ll be hooked.