Followers of this activity film themselves with cameras in order to publish their journey on the Internet.
All over the world, young people are filming themselves getting on freight or passenger wagons. Some do it on Canada's 43,000 km of railways or even on subway trains. How to explain this trend? What are the risks?
On Canada Day last July, images circulating on the Internet were dizzying. It shows masked individuals carrying Canadian flags walking on the roof of a Toronto subway train at full speed.
Arrived at the next station, they escape by running. Since then, the authorities have been investigating to find the authors of this video.
A young man lying on a Toronto subway train at Kennedy Station.
Riding on a moving train, a practice known as train surfing in English, is illegal and extremely risky, but it's nothing new.
It's been around since trains existed, says Taissa Hrycay of Operation Lifesaver. This is a trend that continues with social networks. We are going to hear about it more often.
The spectacular side of the activity indeed intrigues Internet users. Several videos filmed in Europe and offered on the YouTube site exceed one million views.
James has already ridden on a dozen trains in the United States. In August, this young American visits Alberta for the first time with a very specific purpose: to jump on a freight train in Calgary to go 400 kilometers further to Revelstoke, British Columbia.
< p class="e-p">The tourist attraction for the beautiful landscapes of the West makes the region a destination loved by train surfers, according to James. He agreed to talk to us on the condition that he protect his identity.
I'm not hurting anyone, he said, his face hidden, sitting under a bridge. I do not degrade the trains and I do not disrupt their journey. I'm just doing this for fun and enjoying a free trip, with complete freedom.
James is coming from the United States to board trains in Western Canada.
Even though it's illegal, James films his journeys in order to spread his videos on social media hoping to get enough subscribers to earn money from ads and donations. He says he is aware of the danger.
Two of my friends died while traveling on trains. It's dangerous, and I repeat it in my videos asking people not to reproduce what I do, he explains.
The risks are not worth the views on social media. It is extremely dangerous, recalls Taissa Hrycay. There are many cases of accidents in New York and Europe, including electrocution.
In June 2018, a 25-year-old Australian had to have an amputation as a result of waterfall near Revelstoke, British Columbia. Two years earlier, 13-year-old Kennedy Rhodes lost her left leg after a similar accident in Calgary.
On May 20, 2016, two wagons ran over the leg of Kennedy Rhodes, who was attempting to board a train while walking.
The interest in this quest for adrenaline says a lot about our society, says André Mondoux, sociologist specializing in digital technologies and social networks and professor at the University of Quebec, in Montreal.
This phenomenon is the symbol of a society where the notion of efficiency and productivity is everywhere, he says. Nowadays, it's the hunt for Likes that takes precedence.
There is a commercial imperative. The more likes there are, the more the ads are worth, according to André Mondoux, and the faster the content creator will be able to achieve economic freedom, provided they produce videos that make people react.
The fashion for train surfingon the Internet is also linked to the rise of individualism. Putting yourself in the spotlight is no longer a sin of ego or narcissism like it was 50 years ago. Today, it is a norm, even if it is a question of promoting a dangerous activity.
Canada has over 43,000 kilometers of railway.
In Canada, offenders face fines of up to $50,000 for trespassing on property where there are railway lines, according to Operation Lifesaver. Over the past 10 years, the organization has recorded 1062 incidents, 685 fatalities and 305 serious injuries due to trespassing.
Since his trip to Western Canada, James has returned at home in the central United States. He plans to go climbing on trains again in Europe in the coming weeks.