Sunday, 30 December 2012

where it all began ...

(Photo copyright Peter Martin)
It's hard to pinpoint exactly when I got interested in railways, but it was mainly disused lines that captured my attention first, with regular trips towards London crossing over the old Midhurst line at Fittleworth and holidays westward crossing the Bishops Waltham branch and, perhaps most importantly, the S&D.
I was brought up in Littlehampton and remember the early green electrics, and this photo says a HUGE amount to me! I used to practice in a band in a house behind the second carriage above, my uncle's company painted that big gasholder and in later years I took loads of pictures from the footbridge in the background. I travelled to school in these older units between 1967 and 1972, getting off at Durrington-on-Sea.
Perhaps a boring commuter line electrified since the 1930s wasn't the usual inspiration for a railway enthusiast, but we also had a short docks line at Littlehampton and a unique gauge steam miniature railway on the seafront.
I also caught main line steam (just once!) on the outskirts of Littlehampton when I saw a big Merchant Navy or similar pulling the through train to Plymouth in around 1963.

Friday, 7 September 2012

signatures needed!

(Ashwater 1960s - copyright The Rail Thing)

The excellent Launceston Steam Railway is having problems with its local council which seems to have lost the plot big time!

The railway has been working with Cornwall County Council for some time with the intention of extending to Egloskerry - and on the strength of this purchased land in Egloskerry for the new line.

But now the council is planning to build a multi purpose route (walking, bikes, horses) which the railway fears may make it's future unviable if they can't get through to Egloskerry. Personally I don't believe anything - least of all a mere trailway - will stop the huge rail revival in the UK, but all the same it will make extension more difficult if too many users object to the railway returning, not an issue at all now but could be in the future.

To this end I think we should ALL sign the petition to CCC to get them to rethink this plan. the petition can be signed here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


The Swiss (RhB) station in Tirano.

The Italian station in Tirano.

Mystery steam loco at Tirano. All 4.12.2008

I've yet to really 'do' Italy, the closest I've come is the Italian section of the Centovalli and the southern section of the Rhatische Bahn's Bernina line, which terminates in Tirano.

We were staying in St Moritz in December 2008 and travelled on the Bernina line during the stay. The Bernina line is of course one of the most scenic lines in the world, and I've visited it a number of times. But this was the first time I'd actually left the station to look around the town. As well as the metre gauge station it also has a terminus on the Italian State Railways, which was very different from the Swiss station. A distance from this station, on some sidings, stood this steam loco, a complete mystery to me. Was it one of the famed reserve stock of steam locos kept by the Italian railways to use after the oil runs out, was it a privately owned loco or perhaps something to do with a preservation scheme? Any ideas??

Monday, 30 April 2012

gomshall and shere


(All 20.5.1977 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

(Article updated 14.5.2017)

Gomshall and Shere is a small station on the cross country Reading to Tonbridge route. Back in 1977 it was served by the odd 'Tadpole' diesel multiple units. They were called Tadpoles because the front coach was a standard width vehicle whereas the trailing coaches were the slimmer ones used on the width-restricted Tonbridge-Hastings line.

In 1977 this was an intriguing diesel line running through areas where most lines were electrified. It had even been under threat of closure at one time, but nowadays is busier than ever providing a useful link to the Channel Tunnel from Reading, Guildford etc



Gomshall and Shere (now Gomshall) station was opened on 20 August 1849 by the Reading, Guildford and Reigate Railway Company.

It serves the villages of Gomshall and Shere in Surrey with services currently (2016) being provided by Great Western Railway. It is on the North Downs Line, which runs from Reading to Guildford. 
The station has been unmanned since 1967, when this line was being run down for possible closure, being a non-electrified route running across the grain of the commuter lines it linked to.

It is still served by a rather sparse two-hourly service and sees around 50,000 passengers a year. The station has two platforms, each of which can accomodate a three coach train.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

bristol's underground funicular

The booking area from above with mock up of car front on tracks.

Some of the brickwork in the booking area.

The stairs which run both sides of the whole tunnel - one of the rails is still in situ underneath.

One of the chambers with seating where people stayed overnight during bombing raids.

A Bristol secret is the Clifton Rocks Railway which was a very unusual quadruple track funicular which linked Clifton to Hotwells. It closed in the 1930s. Occasionally it has an open day where visitors can wander around the booking area, and even more rarely has guided visits to the while line.

We joined one of these back on 9 April 2011. Debs hated it! The line is still in situ throughout and there is an active group preserving and promoting it. At the top the booking area has been restored
and a mock-up of one of the cars sits on the tracks.
A guided tour involves descending and ascending the flights of stairs that are on either side of the route, covering one of the rails throughout. The tunnel was used as an air raid shelter in World War Two and also had a radio station at the bottom. Lots of physical artefacts remain, both in place and in the museum area at the top station.
The group's website is here.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Lapworth 1986


(All 2.10.1986)

Three shots of Lapworth taken in October 1986. Classic DMU in blue and grey.

More info (from Wikipedia)

Lapworth railway station serves the village of Kingswood, Warwickshire, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) from the village of Lapworth from which it takes its name. It has two platforms connected by a footbridge. Most trains are those provided by Chiltern on its London Marylebone/Leamington Spa/Birmingham Snow Hill/Kidderminster route, but these are augmented by a few London Midland services.
The station was opened by the Great Western Railway in 1854. It was known as Kingswood until 1 May 1902 when the name was changed to Lapworth[2] to avoid confusion with the station of the same name in Surrey. From 1894, Lapworth was the starting point of a short lived branch line toHenley-in-Arden. The branch was closed as an economy measure during the First World War in 1915.[3]
A footbridge spans the remaining two tracks, and continues to the west of the northbound platform spanning where quadruple tracks once existed. For a brief period prior to the lifting of the quadruple tracks there was a DMU service along what had been the GWR's Paddington - Birkenhead main line. It plied between Wellington (Shropshire) and Lapworth stopping at all the intermediate stations and linking them with Wolverhampton Low Level and Birmingham Snow Hill.
The station is unstaffed; ticketing is restricted to a 'Permit-to-Travel' machine located at the main entrance to the station (off Station Lane) at the north end of the London-bound (southbound) platform. The station can also be accessed via a footpath from Mill Lane.


The station has a basic two-hourly service in each direction in the current timetable, provided by the Chiltern Railways Leamington Spa to Birmingham Moor Street service. In peak hours this is augmented by some additional London Midland services to/from Leamington, giving through links to Stourbridge Junction and Kidderminster. On Sundays a two-hourly service operates, but with through services to and from London Marylebone.

Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05Increase 17,607
2005/06Increase 18,960
2006/07Increase 20,460
2007/08Decrease 19,918
2008/09Increase 34,366
2009/10Decrease 33,406
2010/11Increase 33,796
2011/12Increase 35,976
2012/13Decrease 33,212
2013/14Decrease 32,728

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

lancaster 8.8.1984


(All © Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing 8.8.1984)

Results of a couple of hours photographing at this busy WCML station back in 1984. Note corporate blue in abundance and a couple of appearances of the prototype APT tilting train tilting, together with first generation DMUs, classic electrics, class 31 and class 47.

More info (from Wikipedia)

Lancaster railway station (formerly known as Lancaster Castle railway station) is a railway station that serves the city of Lancaster in Lancashire, England. It is one of the principal stations on the West Coast Main Line.


The 1852 extension includes a relief carving of thecoat of arms of Lancaster.
Originally known as 'Lancaster Castle Station' in order to distinguish it from the first Lancaster Station (1840–1849), Lancaster station was officially opened on 21 September 1846. The first public service ran into the station on 17 December the same year. The station was built as the southern terminus of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway after the initial planned route for the line - which would have followed the Lancaster Canal and crossing the River Lune from Ladies Walk to Skerton - was changed in favour of a cheaper route west of the city.
The station was remodelled in 1900-1906 when additional lines and platforms were added and further station buildings constructed.[2] The new buildings were styled mock-Elizabethan with the intention of mirroring the battlements of the nearbyLancaster Castle. Platforms 5 and 6 (on the east side of the station) were electrified in 1908 to serve the now-closedMidland Railway route to Morecambe and Heysham. This line closed in January 1966 and the overhead line equipment was removed.
The track layout in the station area was rationalised in 1973 when control of the signalling was transferred to the new Preston Power Signal Box. This included the removal of the track from Platform 6, although this platform had seen no regular use for some time prior to this. The West Coast Main Line through Lancaster was electrified in 1974, and regular electric passenger services recommenced at the station 7 May 1974.


The main building constructed in 1846 by William Tite was situated on the west side of the line in Tudor Revival style using roughly squared sandstone rubble. This two-storey building was extended southwards in 1852 in similar style although this section terminated in a tower of three storeys. A new entrance was constructed in 1900 on the eastern side of the line at footbridge level; this is nearer the town and houses the remaining ticket office.
The entrance through the original building remains open. This opens onto Platform 3 which is mostly used by northbound services. Two bay platforms to the north of this are used by terminating trains off the various branches to Heysham PortBarrow-in-Furness and Leeds.
Two lines without platforms separate these three platforms from the remainder of the station; these are used by non-stop passenger services and freight trains. Beyond is Platform 4, which is the principal one used by southbound trains. This is an island platform with a second face, Platform 5, which can be used by southbound trains or by terminating services. All platforms are signalled for arrivals and departures in either direction. Opposite Platform 5 are the remains of Platform 6 which has no track and has been out of use for many years.


A Virgin service to London, arriving at platform 4
Lancaster is served by several train operators.
Virgin Trains operate express trains from London Euston to Glasgow Central using Pendolino trains, and fromLondon Euston to Glasgow and Edinburgh via Birmingham New Street using Virgin Super Voyager or Virgin Pendolino trains. Early morning or late evening services to/from Edinburgh Waverley/Glasgow Central or Carlisle or Lancaster start or terminate at Birmingham New Street and peak services to and from London terminate and start at Lancaster or Carlisle. A few services to/from Crewe also terminate/start at Lancaster. These services normally use platforms 3 and 4.
A First TransPennine Express Class 350, at platform 4, waiting to travel south
First TransPennine Express operate regional express services from Manchester Airport and Preston to Barrow-in-Furnessvia the Furness Line and Windermere via the Windermere Branch Line using Class 185 DMU's, and from Manchester Airport to Edinburgh and Glasgow via the West Coast Main Line using Class 350 EMUs. These services also use platforms 3 and 4.
Northern Rail operate local services, along the Furness Line to Barrow-in-Furness, the Morecambe Branch Line to Morecambe and Heysham and the Leeds to Morecambe Line to Skipton and Leeds. They also operate a single weekday service to/from Buxton and Hazel Grove. These services are operated using diesel multiple units of Classes 142150153 and 156, and normally use platforms 1, 2 and 5.

Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/05 1.270 million
2005/06Increase 1.317 million
2006/07Increase 1.396 million
2007/08Increase 1.498 million
2008/09Increase 1.559 million
2009/10Increase 1.656 million
2010/11Increase 1.788 million
2011/12Increase 1.834 million
2012/13Increase 1.850 million
2013/14Increase 1.915 million