Fear Of Trains: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

The fear of trains is the anxiety and fear associated with parades, railways, and train travel. When they are in front of this means of transport, people generally feel panic takes hold, and they typically cannot even imagine getting on the train.


Siderodromophobia is part of the great family of transport phobias, such as flying, driving, or even sailing. This is a fear that psychologists have known for a long time but have not always been able to treat. Freud himself never managed to cure his train phobia. The physical manifestations related to this phobia are:

  • Unreasonable fear of a train trip (the patient may think about it weeks in advance).
  • Extreme panic when taking the train (the patient will use prayers, grigris to calm down, drink alcohol to relieve anxiety, or take an anxiolytic during the trip)
  • In some cases, the subject categorically rejects this means of transport and always uses another (car, plane).
  • Of course, the subject is always aware of the Iraqi and the excessive nature of his fear. Train phobia can cause more or less suffering or discomfort.

Symptoms of fear of trains

Siderodromophobia is more commonly known as fear of the train and the railways. The person with this phobia has an uncontrollable fear of traveling by train or approaching the railways.

The symptoms of this phobia are characterized by the same symptoms that occur for other phobias: anxiety, palpitations, dizziness, and stress, and these symptoms can go as far as discomfort in some extreme cases.

Patients with siderodromophobia can have their lives complicated due to this phobia, especially those living in the city who cannot take the metro or the RER. This phobia is a natural daily handicap for these people.


Starting from Freud himself, psychoanalysts associated feelings towards the train journey with sexuality. In 1906 Freud wrote that the link between train travel and sexuality derives from the pleasant sensation of trembling during the trip.

Karl Abraham interpreted the fear of the uncontrollable movement of a train as a projection of the fear of uncontrolled sexuality. Wilhelm Stekel (1908) also associated train phobia with rocking sensation. Still, in addition to the repression of libido, he associated it with shame with reminiscences of the success of rocking from early childhood.

You may also be interested in:  Fear of Cutting Your Hair: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments.

Other considerations

Freud himself suffered from railway anxiety, as he confessed in several letters. He used the term ‘Reisenangst,’ which means ‘fear of travel,’ but it was recognized that it was associated primarily with train travel. Some translators translated Freud’s ‘Reisenangst’ as ‘railway phobia.’ However, Freud’s anxiety was not a “true” phobia.

Regardless of sexuality, from the first days, several authors associated the uncontrollable movement of the train with the fear of derailment of a catastrophe.

Another source of fear in the early days of train travel was the isolation of travelers from the outside world and confinement in a small compartment, which left a person who became ill or was the subject of a crime defenseless.

“The rapidly turning wheels swallow up the loudest screams…”. This type of fear and the actual crimes committed on the trains were often a matter of journalistic publications of the time. After several prominent cases, this fear rose to the level of collective psychosis.

Public fear of train travel was heightened after British surgeon John Eric Erichsen described a post-traumatic diagnosis known as “railway spinal disease or Erichsen disease.”

People diagnosed with this had no apparent injuries and were rejected for being fake. Today it is known that traffic accidents can cause PTSD.

Alternative names and etymology

It has been called variously “train phobia,” “rail phobia,” “fear of train travel,” and so on. The German term “Eisenbahnangst” used, p. For example, from Sigmund Freud it became literally Greek as “siderodromophobia” (Eisen = sider on = iron, Bahn = dromos = way, Angst = Phobos = fear).

In cases where this anxiety exceeds the social norms of a realistic fear, this anxiety can be classified as a specific train phobia. Campbell’s Psychiatric Dictionary puts the fear of trains under “vehicle phobia,” along with the fear of ships, airplanes, automobiles, and other forms of transportation.

Cultural references

A 1913 Terror Tale by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki is a first-person narrative of a young man who suffers from the morbid fear of traveling on trains and trams. Tanizaki uses the German word Eisenbahnkrankheit, “railway sickness.”




Hypnosis is a technique that immerses the patient in a modified state of consciousness to allow him to reach his unconscious and extract resources that he did not even think he had. Hypnosis will help patients with psychological or physical difficulties to fight or even fight against this difficulty.

Overcoming siderodromophobia through hypnosis

In the case of siderodromophobia, hypnosis can be a real advantage so that patients can control their fears and finally be able to take the train one day.

The hypnotist immerses the patient suffering from train phobia into a modified state of consciousness to trace the trauma that caused the phobia.

During the session, the hypnotherapist will give the person with train phobia the keys to learning how to manage their anxiety attacks to control their aversion. In some cases, hypnosis can cure people suffering from siderodromophobia.

What psychological treatment for siderodromophobia?

First, cognitive therapy consists of erroneous restructuring beliefs about trains and gradually exposing the patient to anxiety stimuli. The patient is relieved quickly, and his life becomes more accessible.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.

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