I think Railpage forums definitely has a place. In theory at least, it gives the opportunity for more developed threads of information you might only otherwise find in a reddit style forum. It, again in theory, allows for more considered comment, and passing along of information. Makes tracking of things long term that's near to impossible on a facebook group. Imagine something like a level crossing removal project thread on a facebook group?
You will always get flamers and people who's sole purpose in life is to have a go at others. Another big frustration people who have differing opinions not being able to accept that people have the right to have those opinions, even if perceived, believed, or in fact, to be completely stupid, dumb and just plain not right. Also not unusual about here is critical responses to questions that those that have been about for years would seem as newbish. We all have to learn some of these things, jargon especially, as well as state based differences. This form is not immune from this.
In saying all this, If you wanted to start something like this today, i doubt you would do it on a bulletin board style forum. Your more likely to choose a reddit style forum, or subject based Facebook groups. Even possibly a discord server, where you can have audio as well. Railpage started in the early days of the internet in this country, and has grown significantly. It has a lot of history, and goodwill. Mixed levels of respect outside of those that visit unfortunately, i suspect from those that have been given a perma-ban.