Model railroad hobby spreads across Brazil

From north to south of Brazil, many people have been interested in miniature electric trains, whether for pure fun or even to preserve the country’s railway memory. (Photo: Disclosure)

Whether to relax, have fun, de-stress or even cultivate a love for railroads, many people have joined the hobby of model railways, after all, the electric train is an excellent option for those looking for something to entertain their minds and pass the time. It is a healthy hobby, which helps in this delicate moment that everyone is going through.

Therefore, from north to south of Brazil, many people have been interested in miniature electric trains, whether for pure fun, hobby or even to preserve the country’s railway memory.

In São Paulo, biologist Ricardo Antonio Santoro, 59, has been in love with model railways since he was 6, when he won a toy train for his birthday. Since then, this passion has intensified, and he already has, in his collection, around 400 wagons and 250 locomotives. “This hobby is part of my daily life, as I work on my trains every day during the week, and on weekends I go to the headquarters of the Sociedade Brasileira de Ferreomodelismo, of which I have been a member since 1985”, explains Santoro.

In Volta Redonda, engineer Nilton José Linhares, 58, began to have contact with trains as a child. “I have a kit with rails and control that I got from my father many years ago, as well as some machines and wagons, mainly some from CSN, the company I worked for for 20 years, and also from the former COSIPA. Today, I have two locomotives and about 15 cars,” says Linhares.

In Rondonópolis, 42-year-old professor Ezequiel Silva Chaves began to have contact with the hobby 13 years ago, when he acquired a basic Frateschi train box. “Afterwards, I built my first model and, later, I did two enlargements. It’s where I run my entire collection, consisting of 522 wagons and 60 locomotives. I was born in the city of Mauá in São Paulo and lived there for 17 years. As I traveled countless times on the metropolitan trains, which were owned by CBTU at the time, and on the current CPTM trains, I ended up liking trains a lot”, he says. Frateschi is the only company in Latin America to manufacture miniature electric trains and replicas of real compositions and is located in Ribeirão Preto, in the interior of São Paulo.

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João Luiz Guimarães Franco, 66, resident of Fortaleza, started with this hobby about 20 years ago. “I started getting interested in the subject through my father, who owned some trains; today I have 10 locomotives and 40 wagons. Around here there are few practitioners of model railways, perhaps because the city is very hot. But it would be interesting if Fortaleza had an area that could bring together lovers of this hobby, as there is at Ibirapuera Park, in São Paulo, and in other places in the country”, says Franco.

In Belém, physician Rafael José Romero Garcia, 41, bought a train after his son was born, but he always accompanied his father in this hobby. “I used to live in Nova Europa, near Araraquara, in the interior of São Paulo, and my father really liked plastic modeling. At the time, electric trains were expensive, but we always went to enthusiasts’ meetings, we visited stations, that sort of thing. As a result, I ended up liking the model railway”, comments Garcia, who also dreams of having his own model to run the trains. “I frequently service them and lubricate the locomotive, always together with my son, who is now four years old,” he adds.

In Joinville, salesman Fábio Lilie, 36, started this hobby almost a decade ago. “I started to like model railways when my father gave me my first train, at age 12, and I intend to pass this passion on to my children, when I have it”, says Lilie, who owns 14 wagons and two locomotives, which run on her model still in construction. “With the pandemic, I was able to use it more to make it the way I like it, and every week I use the trains, even if only for a few hours”, he concludes.

Model railroading is one of the oldest hobbies in the world. (Photo: Disclosure)

One of the oldest hobbies in the world
Model railroading is one of the oldest hobbies in the world, and its origins date back to the period when rail transport was massively adopted. The first miniature trains were manufactured around 1830 by German artisans. Since then, a lot has changed, especially in Brazil, where the transport of passengers by rail has stopped happening, with the exception of tourist tours. Even so, some people’s passion for this hobby has intensified.

“Model railroading is a mix of entertainment, based on scale models, and art, as lovers of this hobby are fascinated when they start building their models, doing all the decor and scenery and designing the buildings. It is necessary to have observation skills to build a model, as all this work of reproduction of the real world is completely handcrafted”, says Lucas Frateschi, director of Frateschi Trens Elétricos, a company based in Ribeirão Preto, in the interior of São Paulo, which has more 50 years of experience in the market and is the only manufacturer of electric trains in miniatures and replicas of real compositions in Latin America. “In times like these, when families have been staying at home, it’s necessary to take up a hobby to distract the mind. People think that rail transport is dead, but it is alive and expanding. The railroad is of essential strategic value for a country like Brazil, and this growth helps to further foster the passion that many Brazilians have for trains, and many pass the model railway hobby on to future generations”, concludes Lucas.

About Frateschi

Founded in 1967, Indústrias Reunidas Frateschi is the only manufacturer in Latin America of electric trains in miniatures and replicas of real compositions. Located in Ribeirão Preto, in the interior of São Paulo, its mission is to promote and preserve the railway memory of Brazil, through the practice of model railways. In this market for over 50 years, the company is convinced that important human relationships, such as the interaction between father and son, grandfather and grandson and friends, are strengthened in relaxed moments during the practice of this hobby.

With national and international operations, Frateschi has representatives in the States of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo, Paraná, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Goiás, Mato Grosso do Sul, Bahia, Ceará and Pernambuco, in addition to of the Federal District. Abroad, its representatives are in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, South Africa and Taiwan.