Friday, 22 May 2015

Raynes Park - missed opportunity?

(Raynes Park 12.5.1973 Copyright Rail Thing/Steve Sainsbury)

Raynes Park is a busy junction station on the main line west from London, with a constant procession of main line and suburban trains.

So why did a trip back in 1973 only produce these three shots? Two reasons - I was just changing trains, taking the branch down to Chessington. And secondly the usual - the high cost of film and processing. This was a good 30 years before digital photography!

So an hour here back in 1973 would have seen class 33s and 50s on trains to Salisbury and Exeter, perhaps a freight or two, loads of slam doors on suburban trains and perhaps the odd light engine movement.

But I managed to miss all that except for a couple of slam door trains! 


The railway station at Raynes Park was opened on 30 October 1871 on the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR) line that ran from its terminus at London Waterloo to Woking and beyond. The line runs east by north-east in the London direction and has two through lines (for express services) through the middle and platforms to the outsides.
Raynes Park station is the junction station where the line to Motspur Park (and on to Chessington South, Dorking or Guildford) branches off from the South Western Main Line ultimately to coastal resorts and port cities.
The track to Epsom was to compete with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSCR)'s Mole Valley Lines to Epsom but then use statutory running powers over that line through Ashtead to Leatherhead. From where the London and South Western Railway (LSWR)'s second Guildford track headed via Effingham Junction to Guildford, south-west following its line built from the north. From Epsom, the LBSCR laid the southward track via Dorking (then called Dorking North) to Horsham.
One distinct feature of the station is the long footbridge over the 4 tracks of the main line which is set at an angle because of the offset of the platforms. This stands out as the mainline is on a fairly high embankment (allowing local roads and the Epsom line to pass beneath). Passenger access to the station is via subway at street level on either side of the mainline.
There was originally a LSWR mechanical signal box at the far south, opposite platforms 1 and 2, but this was demolished and replaced by modern automated signalling equipment many years ago.
Raynes Park goods yard was in and beyond the notch between Platforms 3 and 4, and was accessed from the Epsom lines. It did not push right up into the point of the V though. The goods yard is no longer in use and is now occupied by local manufacturing firms.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 25 May 1933, a passenger train was derailed approaching the station, coming to rest foul of an adjacent line. Another passenger train was in a side-long collision with it. Five people were killed and 35 were injured. The cause of the accident was the failure to implement a speed restriction on a section of track that was under maintenance.
  • On 28 November 1967, a newspaper train was derailed entering the station. One of the vans struck the support pillars of the footbridge, severely damaging it. The line was blocked for two days. The cause of the accident was that the guard of the train failed to inform the driver that there were wagons in the train restricted to 45 miles per hour (72 km/h). The train was booked to run at up to 75 miles per hour (121 km/h) and was doing about 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) when it derailed.

Platforms and infrastructure

The station has four platforms on two islands, 1 and 2 on the Up lines, and 3 and 4 on the Down lines.
  • Platform 1 is an eastbound platform for services to London Waterloo that have originated from Guildford, Dorking (both via Epsom) or Chessington South.
  • Platform 2 is an eastbound platform for services to London Waterloo that have originated from Waterloo (via Strawberry Hill on the Kingston loop), Hampton Court or Shepperton.
  • Platform 3 is a westbound platform for trains to Waterloo (via Strawberry Hill on the Kingston loop), Hampton Court or Shepperton.
  • Platform 4 is a south-westbound platform for trains to Guildford, Dorking (both via Worcester Park and Epsom) or Chessington South.
There are no platforms for the two central fast tracks on the mainline.
The Epsom to London line, arriving from the south-west, passes under the four mainline tracks to the west of the station and then curves up and right to platform 1. Beyond the platforms it makes a trailing junction onto the Up Slow line to Waterloo. Opposite platform 2 the Down Epsom line branches off the Down Slow mainline to arrive at platform 4, on the left side of a V formed with platform 3. The line then drops away to the south to parallel the Up Epsom line after the station. The Down Slow continues straight ahead on the right hand side of the V to platform 3.


Services from the station to destinations served are frequent throughout the whole day, with weekend services running at a similar frequency. Almost all of the services either start or terminate at London Waterloo.
The typical off-peak service from the station is:
Weekday services to London Waterloo start at 5:13 with the last direct train at 23:58. The first weekday services from London Waterloo arrive at 5:31 with the last service arriving at 1:07am. Electrified trains provide stopping services only with time to and from London Waterloo of 23-24 minutes.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Hamworthy 5.6.2013


(All copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing 5.6.2013)

A couple of years ago I visited Hamworthy, which is the junction for the original line down to Poole and also once for the Ringwood loop line.

I remember this station from many years ago when I used to regularly use the Southern Region Rail Rover, but I think this was the first time I got to photograph the station.

This was at the end of a busy day checking out the S&D trackbed from here up to Broadstone and it was a relief to see a real working railway again after all the ghosts and shadows of former greatness!

More info (via Wikipedia)


The station opened with the Southampton & Dorchester Railway, which later became part of the London and South Western Railway (LSWR), in 1847 as Poole Junction. At that time the line to London then went via Broadstone JunctionWimborne and Ringwood before joining what is now the South Western Main Line at Brockenhurst. The station was known as Hamworthy Junction until the 1970s. A causeway across Holes Bay opened later when the line through Poole to Bournemouth and Christchurch was built.

Motive Power Depot

motive power depot with a coal stage was built at the station by the LSWR in 1847. It was closed by British Railways in 1954 and after several years in use as a storage facility, was eventually demolished.


The station is served by South West Trains who currently operate an average of two trains per hour in each direction with trains going to London, Brockenhurst, Wareham and Weymouth. With a journey time of around 4 minutes the train is the fastest method of travel between Poole town centre and the area surrounding the station compared to the Wilts & Dorset bus service which takes around 14 minutes (not including delays caused by Poole Lifting Bridge).


The platforms are able to accommodate trains of up to five coaches. Longer passenger trains are rarely seen past Poole. The station does not have a footbridge but has an underpass that also serves as a public footpath from Turlin Moor to Hamworthy. There was a foot crossing at the Poole end of the station for passenger in wheelchairs or with heavy luggage but this has been removed and access to the platform end fenced off. A light indicating if it is safe to cross remains at the end of platform 1 but is permanently switched off.
Hamworthy was one of two South West Trains stations not to receive a Scheidt & Bachmann Ticket XPress self-service ticket machine to replace the former "Quickfare" (Ascom B8050) machine installed during the Network SouthEast era due to fears of vandalism, although tickets could be bought from the ticket office at certain times of the day and a permit to travel could be purchased at all times. The Quickfare machine was removed in October 2006. South West Trains installed a Scheidt & Bachmann Ticket XPress self-service ticket machine in August 2008 and removed the permit to travel machine. The ticket machine is fitted with a security shutter and casing to protect it from vandalism.
This is the junction where the Hamworthy Freight Branch to Poole docks joins the main line. There is a disused third platform at the station facing the Poole docks line. The signal box which controlled the branch was at the Poole end of platform 2 but has since been demolished.
Hamworthy had the only remaining semaphore signal on the South Western Main Line but was removed in May 2014 as part of the signalling upgrade scheme.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Back to the island.

05 001


043 Sandown

Ryde Pier

043 Sandown

Sandown station exterior

(All 9.2.1975 copyright Rail Thing/Steve Sainsbury)

9th February 1975 found me back on the Isle of Wight, probably on another SR Rover ticket, and this time I went through Brading and on down to Sandown.

A bit of luck was finding the island's diesel locomotive - 05 001 - in the old Newport bay at Sandown station, with an engineering train. The branch up to Newport closed in 1956 but the platform was still signed as platform 3 back in 1975.

The station looked rather run down with the canopy in particular being defiantly shabby! The exterior looked abandoned almost, enhanced by the lack of cars and people. But the Island Line always was rather a seasonal affair and February 9th is traditionally the coldest day of winter!

It's great that the line is still there but the island needs its other lines back ASAP. The obvious first step is to get the Ventnor line open, it was always an insane closure and was done out of spite because the government would not allow the whole line to close. Newport and Cowes are also criminally devoid of modern transport and really the line across to at the very least Yarmouth needs to be rebuilt, connecting with the Lymington ferries. 

More info (via Wikipedia)

Sandown station is a double platform-faced through station. However, from the mid 19th until the mid 20th century it was a junction station, also served by trains to and from Horringford, Merstone, Newport and Cowes. These lines used to be run by separate companies, the Isle of Wight Railway (Ryde-Ventnor) and the Isle of Wight Central Railway (Newport-Sandown).
The adjacent land, which used to be occupied by coal-yards, is now a housing estate and the former Terminus Hotel pub opposite has long been a private house. The line from Ryde to Shanklin was constructed between 1862 and 1864, and opened to passenger traffic on 23 August 1864. The original station building was extended between 1870 and 1871 through the addition of a two-storey extension to act as station offices.
In 1923, with the Grouping, came the formation of the Southern Railway. This brought all the railway services on the island under one management, and considerable modernisation. At first, it did not affect the services offered, but eventually the line from Ryde gained a more frequent service whilst the Merstone line declined. One particular feature of the Merstone line was the School Train, which was subsidised by the local authority, and for a significant time meant that the line remained viable. When the line was closed, children from outlying villages going to the Sandown Schools were then transported by bus, the current situation.


The present level of service is normally two trains per hour (tph) each way, which must pass at Sandown. However, due to the reduced trackwork at Brading, the frequency does not produce a predictable 30-minute service. Instead, in common with the rest of Island Line, trains run separated by a 20 or 40 minute gap.
This generally means that every hour, trains will pass at Sandown once. A journey from Sandown to Shanklin generally takes 6 minutes (although the published timetable allows 7), with a bus connection to Ventnor adding another 20 minutes. Trains to Ryde take about 10 minutes (to St. John's Road) or just under 20 minutes (to Ryde Pier Head).

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Early days at Launceston

(All 13.8.1984 copyright The Rail Thing/Steve Sainsbury)

Back in pre-internet, pre-digital days it could sometimes be quite hard to get information - and photos! I knew there was some sort of narrow gauge set up at Launceston, but didn't know much else. I did know it was narrow gauge rebuild on a closed SR line that used to serve Launceston in Cornwall, but not much else.

I turned up on a drab August day, there were no trains running (I was working anyway so couldn't have travelled) and the place had a run down air about it - but isn't that one of the things we used to find interesting in the rail world? I love the advertising for the 'Launceston Steam Railway' painted on the end of an old van. There was a steam loco on view and a carriage, but there was nobody about so I couldn't find out any more. 

I know the line is still there, runs trains in the summer and is looking to extend. So this was early days for a line that is now established and one I really need to go back to when I get the chance!

Further information (via Wikipedia)

The Launceston Steam Railway is a 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mmnarrow gauge railway operating from the town of Launceston in Cornwall. The railway is built on the trackbed of the North Cornwall Railway to 1 ft 11 12 in (597 mmnarrow gauge and runs for 2½ miles to Newmills, where there is a farm park.


Standard gauge railway

The first railway to reach Launceston was the Launceston and South Devon Railway, opened in 1865 from Launceston to Plymouth, and later absorbed into the Great Western Railway. In 1886 the London and South Western Railway opened its railway from Halwill Junction, extended to Padstow in stages in the 1890s, and later part of the Southern Railway. The two Launceston stations were side by side: the Great Western closed in 1962 and the Southern in 1966.

Narrow gauge revival

In 1965, trainee teacher Nigel Bowman rescued the steam locomotive "Lilian" from the Penrhyn Slate Quarry in North Wales, and restored her to working order at his home in Surrey. He then set about looking for a site to build a railway for Lilian to run on, and settled on Launceston in 1971, after considering a stretch of trackbed from Guildford to Horsham and the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway. Purchase of the trackbed took several years, and the first ½ mile of track opened on Boxing Day 1983. The railway was extended progressively, the latest opening to Newmills in 1995 bringing the line to its current 2½ mile length.
Launceston Steam Railway
North Cornwall Railway to Halwill Junction
Mill leat
River Kensey
Farm Crossing
Hunt's Crossing
Farm Crossing
Canna Park
North Cornwall Railway to Padstow


The LSR starts at a new station just west of the original LSWR station, which is now an industrial estate. Launceston station is the main station on the railway, and the sheds and engineering facilities are located here. The line runs from the station through a cutting, passing under a road bridge and aqueduct carrying a mill leat, before crossing the River Kensey on a two-arch viaduct. The line is now on an embankment and crosses a bridge over a farm track before arriving at Hunt's Crossing, where it is planned to lay a passing loop. After Hunt's Crossing the line crosses two farm crossings and then reaches Canna Park which was the temporary terminus before the extension to Newmills. From Canna Park there is a fairly short run to Newmills, the terminus. Adjacent to the Newmills station is the Newmills Farm Park.


All public train services are operated by the steam locomotives, whilst the internal combustion locomotives are used for maintenance work.


All public train services are operated by the steam locomotives, whilst the internal combustion locomotives are used for maintenance work.

Steam locomotives

NumberNameBuilderTypeWorks NumberBuiltOriginNotes
LilianHunslet0-4-0 ST3171883Penrhyn QuarryNew boiler fitted in 1993 and tender added in 2008
CovertcoatHunslet0-4-0 ST6791898Dinorwic QuarryCab and tender added at Launceston
VelinheliHunslet0-4-0 ST4091886Dinorwic QuarryPrivately owned by James Evans, ex. Inny Valley Railway.
DorotheaHunslet0-4-0 ST7631901Dorothea slate quarryRestored over 22 years by Kay Bowman, first steamed in November 2011 and entered passenger service in 2012.
89PerseveranceC. Parmenter4wVBT2004Constructed on a Hudson chassis

Internal Combustion and Battery Electric[edit]

NumberNameBuilderTypeWorks NumberBuiltOriginNotes
38English Electric2w-2-2-2wRE7611930Post Office RailwayOn display in the museum
42English Electric2w-2-2-2wRE1930Post Office RailwayTo be rebuilt as railcar power bogie
Motor Rail4wDM56461933Grove Heath, Ripley, Surrey
N. Bowman4wBER1986Inspection trolley
Launceston SR4wDER2004Inspection trolley

Saturday, 16 May 2015

the overseas railway ...


Brading 30.12.1974 Copyright Rail Thing/Steve Sainsbury

Back on 1974 the Isle of Wight was exotic and practically abroad - and was covered by the SR Rover ticket including the ferry crossing!

Late December 1974 and I found myself travelling from Littlehampton to Portsmouth Harbour, across the water to Ryde and then down to Brading (for the wax museum, now defunct). Brading had been the junction for the Bembridge branch, which sadly had closed 21 years before I reached there! A shame, as I'd like to have taken the trip to Bembridge!

Back in 1974 the station was still full of atmosphere and seemed well kept. The second platform where the Bembridge trains departed from was still intact with its buildings and the station has a passing loop. The signalbox still stood as well.

All in all a nice hit and run day to the island despite there only being about 8 hours of daylight available.

I haven't been back to Brading since 1975, except on a passing train. I need to get over to the island again, the last time I was there was before the reopening of Smallbrook Junction and the link to the steam railway.


More info (from Wikipedia)


The station was opened in 1864 by the Isle of Wight Railway on the Ryde-Shanklin-Ventnor line. In 1882 it became a junction station, when the Brading-Bembridge branch line as part of the Brading Haven reclamation scheme. The branch line closed to passengers in 1953 and completely in 1957.
Under Southern Railway ownership, the passing loop was extended southwards from Brading to Sandown in 1927, forming a second section of double trackon the Island Line.
By the early 1980s Brading was one of the last stations on British Rail to retain gas lighting. In 1985 this changed; although the fittings were retained, they were converted from gas to mercury vapour usage. A few survive in 2010, now using compact fluorescent bulbs.
Brading signalbox closed on 28 October 1988. At this time, the passing loop at Brading station was removed, meaning that only one platform remained in use. This meant the end of 30-minute interval service on the line for over 25 years. By 1998 the signal box and branch platforms were very overgrown and the buildings were threatened with demolition. Brading Town Council stepped in and with the help of grants and volunteers the restored signal box and station buildings are home to a heritage centre, museum and Tourist Information Point.


In August 2007 Brading Town Council announced a plan to revamp the exterior of the station buildings and former signal box. The station building houses a cafĂ©, visitors' centre and bike hire shop. There is no railway staff presence at the station, tickets are issued from an automatic machine or from the guard on board the train. Trains for both directions leave from the same platform, as the line is presently single track.
In an online discussion, South West Trains' Managing Director Stewart Palmer stated that the company hoped Network Rail might reinstate the passing loop at Brading station by the middle of 2014, although the exact timescale depends on the line's resignalling.