Wednesday, 28 April 2010



This is Suhr on the Wynenthal-Suhrenthal Bahn in Switzerland. It has one of the highest percentage of street running of any Swiss metre gauge line, and whizzes along the roads at high speed! Being a mainly street-based route it does tend to serve the middle of communities rather than the outskirts and hopefully will serve as an excellent model for future narrow gauge light railways in the UK. This line of course still thrives and has recently taken over a former SBB standard gauge route and converted it to metre gauge.
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Tuesday, 27 April 2010

bristol at night

(All 26.4.2010)

A surprise trip to Bristol Temple Meads last night to pick Abby up from the Plymouth train. I took the camera on the off chance I'd get a few shots. With film cameras night shots used to be really difficult, normally needing a tripod and cable release. But digital cameras do a much better job, maing it possible to get almost sharp shots without needing either.

Railways at night are always atmospheric and hopefully I'll get a lot more in the future - and with a better camera, tripod and cable release I may even get them super sharp!
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Sunday, 25 April 2010

class 33s

Two shots of class 33s at Basingstoke on 28.10.1983. Top is 33 017, bottom is 33 048 on probably a Salisbury passenger train. This was (and no doubt still is) an excellent ocation for record shots, with a lot of traffic coming through.
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Thursday, 22 April 2010

classical style

(Rye 19.2.1979)

Another one of those unthought out photos that just gets better with age. This is Rye, in East Sussex, on 19 February 1979. I love the classical lines of the station building, and the cars and bus date the picture well.

I was visiting this route often in the 70s as, incredibly, it was under serious threat of closure. Of course now it serves as an excellent route connecting with the Channel Tunnel route at Ashford and will no doubt be electrified in the not too distant future. Hopefully the line to Lydd and New Romney will open to passengers in the coming years.
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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

classic BR

Sometimes a picture just captures an era without really meaning to.

I love this classic shot (even if the colour light would be better a little to the left) with 45 130 pulling a rake of blue and grey coaches. The location is Thirsk, the date 29.9.1986.

Monday, 19 April 2010

phoenix rising

To Midsomer Norton today. The S&D really is coming back, in small bits to start with, but now has an umbrella organisation dedicated to restoring the whole route as part of the 21st century network.

Midsomer Norton is beginning to look like it did in its heyday, despite the obvious compromises that need to be made whilst it remains a 'stand-alone' site on a resurgent S&D.

The site was derelict in the early 1990s, and was expected to become a characterless housing estate, but locals mobilised and saved the site as a tourist initiative. The station building was restored, the trackbed cleared and levelled, track relaid, the signalbox completely restored and now even the famous greenhouse is reappearing brick by brick. And now Midsomer Norton itself has become the inspiration for the much more ambitious New Somerset and Dorset Railway, which is now mobilising resources along the whole route in a stunning initiative to bring modern transport back to this neglected part of Britain.
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Sunday, 18 April 2010

a welsh tramway

(All pics 28.5.1978 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

An excellent Welsh tramway survivor is the Great Orme Tramway, which starts from an impressive station in the back streets of Llandudno, uses a narrow road, then runs roadside before reaching the Great Orme itself, where it continues through an increasingly bleak landscape until it reaches the summit. Not much has changed with this line for many years and it's still doing the job it was designed to do, no doubt making a good profit for its owners.

Llandudno once boasted a second tramway which ran along the coast to Colwyn Bay, which was stupidly closed in 1956. There are now serious attempts to reinstate at least part of this route, which would be an incredible tourist attraction as well as providing a useful transport alternative to spluttering buses!


More info (from Wikipedia)

The Great Orme Tramway (WelshTramffordd y Gogarth) is a cable-hauled 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge tramway in Llandudno in north Wales.
This is Great Britain's only remaining cable-operated street tramway and one of few surviving in the world. It takes passengers from Llandudno Victoria Station to just below the summit of the Great Orme headland. Operation of the tramway differs from the better-known San Francisco system in that it is not a cable car but, rather, operates on the funicular principle where the cars are permanently fixed to the cable and are stopped and started by stopping and starting the cable. As one car is ascending, the other is descending, and they meet midway.
The line comprises two sections, where each section is an independent funicular and passengers change cars at the halfway station. Whilst the upper section runs on its own right of way and is very similar to many other funicular lines, the lower section is an unusual street-running funicular, similar to Lisbon’s GlóriaBica, and Lavra funiculars.


The tramway was opened in its two stages: the lower section on 31 July 1902 and the upper on 8 July 1903. The line was initially provided with seven cars, three freight cars numbered 1 to 3 and four passenger cars numbered 4 to 7. The passenger cars were each named after a local Welsh Christian saint and are still in service. The freight cars were for the carriage of goods and parcels, as stipulated in the tramway's original Parliamentary Order, but were withdrawn from service by 1911. The freight vans were also used to carry coffins for burial at the church on Great Orme. There were two methods of using the freight tramcars - they could be placed on the track ahead of a passenger tram, and propelled up the incline, or the cable could be detached from a passenger tram and attached instead to a freight tram, which then operated alone up the incline. All seven trams were fitted with couplings, which would have allowed the passenger trams to tow the freight trams, but there is no evidence that this type of operation ever actually occurred.
The original power house, at the Halfway station between the lower and upper sections, was equipped with winding gear powered by steam from coke-fired boilers. This was replaced in 1958 by electrically powered apparatus. In 2001, the entire Halfway station, its control room and its power plant were completely rebuilt and re-equipped.
The tramway has three main stations, a lower station named "Victoria" after the hotel that formerly occupied the station site, a middle one aptly named 'Halfway', and the Great Orme Summit station. Passengers must change trams at the Halfway station as upper and lower funicular sections are physically separate.
The two sections operate independently, with two cars on each section. The lower section is built on or alongside the public road and has gradients as steep as 1 in 3.8 (26.15%). The cable on this section lies below the road surface in a conduit between the rails. The bottom half of the section is single-track, but above the passing loop it has interlaced double track. In comparison, the upper section is less steep, with a maximum gradient of 1 in 10 (10%), and is single-track apart from a short double track passing loop equipped with points actuated by the flanges of the passing cars. The rails are interrupted to accommodate the cable.


Tram numberTram nameTypeEntered ServiceNotes
1No name16'7" four-wheel freight tram car1902Withdrawn in (or by) 1911
2No name16'7" four-wheel freight tram car1902Withdrawn in (or by) 1911
3No name16'7" four-wheel freight tram car1902Withdrawn in (or by) 1911
4St Tudno37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service
5St Silio37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service
6St Seiriol37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service
7St Trillo37' bogie passenger tram car1902Still in service


An overhead wire telegraph was formerly used for communication between the tram and the engineer-driver in charge of winding the drum, and has been replaced with an induction-loop radio-control system.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


(All pics copyright 15.5.1977 Rail Thing/Steve Sainsbury)

Back in the sixties this place always fascinated me. We used to go over it in the car on the way to London visiting relatives. Every time it looked more and more derelict. I even got involved with a preservation attempt for the route in the 70s.

It was the first station out from Pulborough on the Pulborough-Midhurst line, which closed to passengers in 1955, lingering on in part for freight until May 1966.

Back in the seventies it was possible to wander around the station and line but eventually it was sold and turned into a house. Of course in the future the line is almost certain to be restored as it serves the small towns of Petworth and Midhurst and would provide an excellent link to London.

At one time Midhurst had three routes, the others being the branch to Petersfield, on the London to Portsmouth main line, and the wonderful line through the Downs southwards to Chichester, which closed as long ago as 1935 to passengers. The only direction trains didn't travel in was northwards, and a line through Fernhurst to Liphook or Haslemere will provide a very useful commuter route in the future.

More info (from Gravelroots)


Fittleworth railway station was on the LBSCR, London, Brighton and South Coast, line between Pulborough and Midhurst which opened in 1859.
For some 30 years there was no station at Fittleworth. After numerous complaints, a small station opened in September 1889.

After nearly 66 years of service it finally closed to passengers in February 1955. Freight traffic from Fittleworth continued until 1963 three years before the lines total closure in 1966. The small station building remained undeveloped for many years. However it was restored and converted into a private dwelling in 1987.
more on the local lines here

timeline - 
1859 line opened 
Sep. 1889 Station opened 
Feb.1955 Station closed to passengers 
May 1963 Station closed for freight 
1966 line closed

More info (from Wikipedia)

Fittleworth railway station served the village of Fittleworth in the county of West Sussex in England. It was on the London Brighton and South Coast Railway's line between Pulborough and Midhurst.
The station opened some years after the line (1859) in September 1889 and closed to passengers in February 1955. Freight traffic from Fittleworth ceased in 1963 three years before total closure in 1966.The small station building remained undeveloped for many years. However it was restored and converted into a private dwelling in 1987.[1]

Friday, 16 April 2010

80s weymouth

(All 25.10.1983)

This was Weymouth as it was in 1983. It was still unelectrified then of course, and most trains were locomotive hauled. There were (and are) lines to Bournemouth and Castle Cary, with a fairly sparse service back in the 80s. The station building wasn't very impressive back then, the town deserved much better.

The station is situated very well for the town and beach and this line has got much busier since the 80s. Sadly, for now at least, the Weymouth Tramway lies disused, but in situ. Restoration as a tramway has been mooted and this would be a huge asset for the town, especially if it was extended along the seafront
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Wednesday, 14 April 2010

an afternoon in dorset 1975

This was Maiden Newton, on the Dorchester to Castle Cary line, on 25 February 1975. It would still be, for another few months, a junction for the delightful Bridport branch. There was still plenty of railway infrastructure around, including the big cast concrete sign. I made a few trips here in the 70s, mainly to visit the Bridport line.
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Tuesday, 13 April 2010

industrial line

Some evening shots of an industrial line near Redhill, taken on 12 June 1985. It was visible from the London-Brighton main line, under which it crossed. With some roadside running, street track and its own little locomotive this was a fascinating place. Wonder if it's still there?
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Monday, 12 April 2010

trams and trains on the metre gauge

(All 15.6.1987 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing))

All these scenes are from the Bex-Villars-Bretaye line in western Switzerland. Until quite recently this line operated two tram services, one in the valley between Bex and Bevieux and another between Gryon and Villars, these intermingling with the train services. It was easy to tell which was which, the trams were blue and the trains were red!

Sadly, for now, the tram services have been abandoned, though the trains still run on the same route. From the valley floor the line climbs almost 5000 feet. It operates in two sections, from Bex to Villars and Villars to Bretaye. Villars is a pleasant town with views across the valley to France. Bretaye is up in the mountains, an excellent skiing area in winter and a good base for mountain walks in summer.

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Saturday, 10 April 2010


(All 22.3.1975 Copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

The Fawley branch is an interesting survivor. It was built very late, in 1925, as a light railway, and retained features such as ungated level crossings. It lost its passenger services in the 60s, but I suspect the line could be reopened for passengers at minimal cost, thereby serving the fairly large town on Hythe as well as Marchwood and Fawley itself.

These pictures are from a railtour on 22 March 1975. There was still a lot of infrastructure surviving even ten years after closure to passengers.

The line is still open and serves the large oil refinery at Fawley and also connects with the Marchwood Military Railway at Marchwood. We were scheduled to travel on the military railway but it was not to be due to security concerns - the IRA was involved in a mainland bombing campaign at the time.

More info (from Wikipedia)

Fawley railway station was the terminus of the Totton, Hythe and Fawley Light Railway, which was built along the coast of Southampton Water to connectTotton and Fawley and to provide a freight link from the South Western Main Line to Fawley Refinery.


The station opened on 20 July 1925 and closed to passengers on 14 February 1966 and goods on 2 January 1967.

Present situation

The single-track non-electrified line remains open to serve Fawley Refinery, with the site of Fawley railway station now within the perimeter of the refinery.
In June 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies published a report (Connecting Communities: Expanding Access to the Rail Network) strongly indicating that the reopening of Hythe station, to serve the village of Hythe, north of Fawley, would be viable, in that the ratio of business, economic and social benefits to costs would be as high as 4.8. However the ATOC report did not suggest any passenger service for Fawley, or anywhere south of Hythe.