Meet Francis Bourgeois, the viral TikTok trainspotter sparking joy with his videos
Francis Bourgeois’ videos are just the wholesome Tuesday content we needed to interrupt the doom scrolling.
Some of you may have happened across Francis Bourgeois on social media already. Somehow, he managed to bypass both my Instagram and TikTok feeds and so, I was only introduced to him just today… but I can already tell I’ll be a fan. As our digital editor, Lauren Heskin, put it: he’s just so pure. From his very wholesome reactions to watching trains pass by, to his cosy, country-chic outfits (that just scream Meg Ryan fall), it’s pretty much all gold.
Who is he and why should you follow him? Both valid questions. Let me elucidate.
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 childlike glee 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.
He even landed himself a coveted segment on ITV’s This Morning alongside Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield such is his popularity. “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 – you don’t even need to necessarily like trains to enjoy them either.