Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Caterham Station in 1973


All 11.8.1973 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

A surprisingly rural branch and station is Caterham in Surrey, the terminus of  a branch from Purley on the Brighton main line. My only visit was in August 1973 when I took these pictures. A nice feature was the small signalbox, which I doubt remains. Notice also the Southern Region signage still in place along the station building.


Caterham railway station and branch

The Caterham branch is a surprisingly rural branch line in suburban Surrey.

The first Caterham station was opened on 5 August 1856 and the second (existing) station on 1 January 1900. The line was electrified in March 1928.

The existing station has a single island platform and a carriage siding on the up side of the station. The site of the original station is now (2017) occupied by a supermarket and the station car park. Passenger figures in 2015-16 were 1.128 million, so the station is very well used, with four trains an hour at peak times, and two trains an hour on Sundays.

The intermediate stations between Purley and Caterham are Kenley, Whyteleafe and Whyteleafe South.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Instow Transformation


Instow 14.5.1985

Instow 26.6.2012

The Barnstaple to Torrington line is one of those lines that really shouldn't ever have closed, linking a number of towns into the Network in a prime holiday area. The line will no doubt reopen at some point in the future but, like the S&D, it's currently just the site of a number of separate restoration schemes. Torrington station and the start of a line northwards is under the control of the Tarka Valley Railway which aims to gradually restore the line towards Bideford. Bideford station itself has been restored and the signalbox completely rebuilt from nothing (just like at Midsomer Norton and Shillingstone) with track laid and a loco on site. The same group are also responsible for the fantastic restoration of the signalbox further towards Barnstaple at Instow, the two photos above showing this.

If you're in the area please try to take a look at what's happening on this wonderfully scenic and useful route.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Climbing the Easy Way


Funicular at Territet

The funicular trip to Glion

Glion-Montreux train (ex Rochers-de-Naye)

The view from the Buffer de Gare

The trip down from Glion to Montreux

Montreux station

(All pics 15.3.2017 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

We just spent a brilliant 3 days in Montreux, on Lake Geneva. On day one we did a short trip up the mountain, all was free using the City Card you get from the hotel. First stage was the short ride to Territet, although we could have gone by trolleybus. Then under the SBB station to the adjacent by separate funicular station. The funicular was waiting (there's one every 15 minutes) and we were soon climbing up the mountainside. The funicular station at the top (there is one intermediate station) was right next to the railway station. We quickly found the Buffet de Gare and spent nearly an hour there with cakes and beer before catching the next rack train down the mountain. After a nice run through the hillside old town of Montreux we reached the main station at Montreux. From there we had the choice of local train back to Territet, the trolleybus or a walk back. We chose the latter. In season there is also the option of a boat back to Territet pier.

All in all a nice two or three hours in unusual warmth and bright sunshine.

I took my very first Swiss photo back in Montreux in 1975. Rather than staying in a lovely four star hotel with a balcony overlooking the lake I'd been sleeping on the trains. Rather than a nice breakfast in the Buffet I'd had a loaf's worth of cheese sandwiches in my rucksack to keep me going for a week! Interrailing was fun but could be hard at times!

Shots from 1975

(All 20.7.1975 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Eltham Well Hall 1985


The replacement Eltham station in the distance.

(All 13.2.1985 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Eltham Well Hall station opened on 1 May 1895. 

Eltham Well Hall was one of two Eltham stations (the other being Eltham Park) which were both closed on 17 March 1985 when the new Eltham station opened, slightly to the east of Eltham Well Hall.

Eltham Well Hall opened on 1 May 1895. There are no traces of the station left.

I visited the station just five weeks before closure on a bitterly cold day with snow on the ground. Work on the new station had progressed well, the new station being immediately to the east of Well Hall. Unfortunately no trains passed through whilst I was there!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Exeter to Exmouth branch

(Pics sourced from internet and acknowledged at end of article)

The Exmouth branch (now branded the Avocet Line) connects Exeter to Exmouth in Devon. It offers a very useful commuter service to the city. The line follows the edge of the Exe Estuary from just south of Topsham right into Exmouth, the keen eyed traveller can spot the main Great Western route through Starcross and on to Dawlish across the estuary along the opposite bank.

The line opened in 1861. The route included a branch to Topsham Quay (freight only), a 700 yard long route which closed in 1957. Another line connected to a dock was constructed at Exmouth, just 40 chains long, freight only. The line to the dock closed in 1967.

The line has a good number of stations for a short line - Polsloe Bridge, Digby and Sowton, Newcourt, Topsham, Exton, Lympstone Commando, Lympstone Village and Exmouth. Exmouth is currently the fifth busiest station in Devon. Three of these stations have opened since 1976, the latest (Newcourt) in 2015. The line is an excellent example of a branch line expanding in step with increases in traffic.

There is a group which supports the development of this line -
Trip along the line (video)

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Betchworth 1977


(All 20.5.1977 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

When I lived in Littlehampton we made regular trips to relatives in Battersea, by car of course. The route was reasonably scenic with a little rail interest - the closed station at Fittleworth (my dad for some reason always went via Fittleworth rather than the main A29), under the bridge at Deepdene with glimpses of the station at Dorking North and the line up to Boxhill on the left, and of course a good few lines as we approached London.

On one trip we were diverted around Dorking as the main road was shut for some reason. I have a very strong image of reaching an old style level crossing and seeing a quaint station on a non-electric line through the darkness. I was hoping the gates would close and a steam train would come through! I also clearly remember Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'Nothing Rhymed' as we crossed it, which dates this to October 1970 or just after, so the steam train was a forlorn hope, five years too late.

A few years later, well into railways and armed with a camera I sought out the mystery station. It was clearly Betchworth on the Reading to Tonbridge cross country line. Little had changed since my previous encounter. I managed to get the above three shots but sadly no trains came through whilst I was there. The line was diesel worked and had a slight air of dereliction. Of course now it's a major route but back then lines were still closing!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

East Sussex rural idyll


(All pics 18.4.1976 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

The Kent and East Sussex Railway had quite a struggle to survive. The original line closed to passengers in 1954, with the section north from Tenterden to Headcorn closing completely, the rest of the line followed in 1961. Track remained in situ though and the line was eventually opened in stages from Tenterden westwards, but only after an epic struggle with the Minister of Transport, who refused the line permission to cross the main A22 with a level crossing just short of its junction with the main Tonbridge-Hastings line at Robertsbridge. This section is now being restored by the Rother Valley Railway which plans to make an end-on junction with the KESR in the future.

This was all in the air when I visited in 1976. What I found was a rather ramshackle station at Bodiam which hasn't seen any public trains since 1961. It had a real air of Colonel Stephens (which I imagine is lost now) and was set in pleasant countryside. It's currently the terminus for trains from Tenterden, the nearby castle being a big draw for passengers.