Siderodromophobia, or fear of trains, is relatively uncommon, although some experts believe that it may simply be underreported. In the United States, traditional railroads are fairly easy to avoid. Amtrak is the only major passenger railroad in the country, and other transportation options are plentiful. In light of the 2009 crashes of the DC Metro and the Walt Disney World monorail, however, many have realized that subways and monorails are simply another form of train travel. This, in turn, could lead to an increase in reported train phobias.
Siderodromophobia is a specific phobia that may be rooted in many different fears. Some people are afraid of derailments. Some fear crashing. Some are uncomfortable with putting their health and safety in the hands of an unknown conductor. Phobias such as claustrophobia, social phobia, or germ phobia can also contribute to the fear of trains.
Symptoms of Siderodromophobia
If you suffer from a fear of trains, you will likely notice physical effects. You might shake, sweat, develop gastrointestinal symptoms, or experience heart palpitations. You may cry, freeze in place, or attempt to run away.
Depending on the severity of your phobia, symptoms may begin long before a scheduled train trip. Anticipatory anxiety is common, and in some cases, may be even worse than the fear experienced during train travel.
You might be afraid only of traditional railroads, or your fear may encompass subways and monorails as well. Some people fear only subways or monorails, and not traditional railroads, but this is believed to be rare.
Complications of Siderodromophobia
One of the biggest complications of the fear of railroads is the inability to use this form of transportation. If your phobia is severe, you might be unable to visit railroad museums, theme park attractions that utilize railroad-style cars, or places of historic interest that include railroad components.
Over time, the phobia can worsen and evolve, further limiting your activities. You may become unable to drive across railroad tracks or past the local train station. You might become panicked when you hear a train whistle in the distance.
Treating Train Phobia
Train phobia is highly treatable, with good rates of success. One of the most popular treatments is cognitive-behavioral therapy. In this treatment, you will be taught to stop and redirect your negative thoughts about trains. You will also learn to change your behaviors regarding trains.
Other solutions such as medication and different forms of talk therapy may also be used. Talk therapy is particularly useful when the fear can be traced to a specific event, such as the 2009 transportation crashes.
Siderodromophobia tends to worsen over time, further limiting the sufferer’s daily activities. With proper treatment, however, this phobia can be successfully managed or even overcome.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994).Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: Author.