Monday, 28 September 2015

Wootton Wawen 1985

(All 30.5.1985 © Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

It seems incredible now but as late as the 1980s there were still a few railways under threat of closure!!

One of them was this short line in north Warwickshire. Had the line closed (it didn't of course!) Wootton Wawen station would  have closed. With this in mind I spent an hour or two taking photos at this rural location. Just first generation DMUs of course and the station lacked character thanks to BR's rationalisation. But nice shots all the same, from a railway network far less busy than it is today.

More info (from Wikipedia)

Wootton Wawen railway station serves the village of Wootton Wawen in WarwickshireEngland. Served by trains between Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon.
The station was renamed from Wootton Wawen Platform to Wootton Wawen on 6 May 1974.


The service in each direction between Birmingham and Stratford-Upon-Avon runs hourly. It is a request stop: passengers wishing to board a train here must signal to the driver; those wishing to alight must inform the train conductor.
There is no Service on a Sunday.
A normal weekday service operates on most Bank holidays.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Rye in 1986

(Pics 19.8.1986 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Back in 1986 I managed to spend 2 or 3 weeks each year travelling on rover tickets. One used to go west to Weymouth, Yeovil, Warminster and up to Reading, the other east towards Kent and East Sussex.

A favourite line was the Hastings-Ashford which unusually had diesel traction, and had narrowly missed closure in the 70s - in fact the closure notices had been put up at some of the stations!

It would have been a deeply regretted closure though I suspect it would have been reversed as much of the route would have had to remain in place for the Dungeness nuclear flask trains. But of course it didn't happen and the line has gradually flourished since, given a new importance by the Channel Tunnel.

Back in 1986 it was still quite a sleepy backwater, and had plenty of charm. I took these pics on 10 August 1986.

Rye railway station serves Rye in East SussexEngland. It is on the Marshlink Line 11 14 miles (18.1 km) east of Hastings providing a passing place between two single track sections. Train services are provided by Southern. The staggered platforms are linked by footbridge. Owing to a prolonged threat by British Rail to close the line, the station remained unmodernised and gaslit well into the 1970s.


The station opened on 13 February 1851, six weeks before the 1851 census. The census lists the station master as 23-year-old James Broderick from London. In each of the four successive censuses, William Hunt from Devon is names as station master, indicating at least a 40-year spell in charge. In 1901 it shows Richard Hunnisett as station master and in 1911 it is George Geer.


The typical off-peak service is one train per hour to Hastings and Brighton and one train per hour to Ashford International.
At peak times an Ashford to Rye shuttle also operates meaning that between 0600 and 0900 six trains operate towards Ashford International and the wider network of services available there. In the reverse direction in the evening some six trains operate between 1730 and 2000.
Preceding stationNational Rail National RailFollowing station
Winchelsea Southern
Marshlink Line
 Appledore (Kent)


Annual rail passenger usage*
2004/050.244 million
2005/06Increase 0.261 million
2006/07Increase 0.308 million
2007/08Increase 0.328 million
2008/09Increase 0.339 million
2009/10Increase 0.341 million
2010/11Increase 0.386 million
2011/12Decrease 0.376 million
2012/13Increase 0.393 million
2013/14Increase 0.427 million

Friday, 25 September 2015

West Byfleet 1986

(West Byfleet 10.9.1986 Copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

It used to be so easy in the 80s - you could plonk yourself down at a main line railway station and just take photos all day! You still can of course, and today's pics will be historic soon enough.

One of my lines of choice was the SW main line out of Waterloo - really busy and with plenty of variety and, back then, still a good few loco hauled trains, mainly heading towards Salisbury and Exeter.

So here we go, just a selection of photos taken on an afternoon in September, 1986. Mainly electric units in blue and grey (there was one in the new Network SE colours but far too overexposed to put on here) and some 33s and 50s. I took a lot more pics than this but the ones looking west all ended up overexposed thanks to the angle of the sun.

More info (from Wikipedia)

West Byfleet railway station is a relatively minor stop on the South Western Main Line opened 49 years after the line reached the following station west,Woking which is the district of the station.

Service overview

It is served by all Alton and Woking (stopping) services by settled convention dating to the mid-to-late 20th century.[when?]
It adjoins West Byfleet and Woodham which are suburban settlements in the boroughs of Woking and Runnymede, to the south and north of the line, respectively. As to other towns it is the closest station to parts of the town/suburb of Byfleet and parts of the semi-rural suburb of Pyrford.
The station has three platforms, one of which (platform 2) is rarely used in line with nearby other South West Main Line stations. The station competes in the broadest sense, not of train company, with faster services at the next nearest station on the line, Woking station. Both are served by bus routes outside of the Transport for London fare-capped scheme.
The station was upgraded to increase disabled access, with lifts to both platform islands and a new bridge, work accomplished 2008-2009.


As of April 2015 at off-peak times the station has 4 trains per hour in each direction, alternating between Woking and Alton as to the end or start destination to the south-west and both having London (Waterloo) as their north-east terminus. The Alton services calling at fewer intermediate stations (being semi-fast).
The station frontage appeared in the 1977 movie Adventures of a Private Eye starring Christopher Neil.
Preceding stationNational Rail National RailFollowing station
Surbiton or Weybridge South West Trains
Alton Line
Byfleet & New Haw South West Trains
Waterloo to Woking

A hot day near Selham 1977

(All 3.7.1977 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Until 1955 short passenger trains travelled on a wonderfully scenic branch line that ran from Pulborough to Petersfield, following the line of the South Downs. The line served a number of villages, together with the larger towns of Petworth and Midhurst. The section from Midhurst to Pulborough remained open for freight traffic until 1964, with the section from Petworth which also served Fittleworth lasting until 1966.

On our regular trips to see family in London we often crossed the line at Fittleworth. I can't re
mg any track down, it was probably buried under vegetation. But each time we crossed the station got a little more dilapidated!

Later, in the 70s, I managed to get a motorbike, and a regular trip up from Littlehampton, where I lived, was a visit to this line, either at Fittleworth, or further along, between Selham and Midhurst, where about a mile of trackbed was walkable. This was a particularly nice spot, set deep in the woods with plenty remaining from the railway.

This was the classic disused railway, with dilapidated stations and even the odd signal post or loading gauge. I assume everything today is pretty much the same, though the station buildings at Selham, Petworth and Fittleworth have now all been restored. Fittleworth and Selham are smart homes, whilst Petworth is now a hotel.

No doubt had this pre-Beeching closure not happened the line would be busy today with tourist and commuter travel. There are the very first stirrings of a revival of course, but it may be many more years before trains run again. So for at least a while longer the simple pleasure of walking along an old trackbed can still be enjoyed!

Selham railway station served the village of Selham in the county of West Sussex in England. The station was out in mostly open fields, although a public house was located nearby. The station was on the Pulborough to Midhurst which was originally part of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway. The station opened after the line (which opened in 1866) on 1 July 1872. The station was closed to passenger services in 1955, but freight was still carried up to May 1963, before the station was closed completely. The line through the station remained open for another year serving Midhurst. The station building is now a private home.

A feature on the two stations at Midhurst will follow at a later date!

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Switzerland's Frauenfeld-Wil Bahn

Above Frauenfeld and (bottom) Frauenfeld Stadt


(All pics copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

A fairly typical Swiss light railway which connects two towns and two SBB stations is the unpretentious Frauenfeld-Wil Bahn. It runs through flat scenery with nowhere spectacular en route, but the section of street running through Frauenfeld is nice! In 1987 the station at Frauenfeld Stadt was a nice substantial building  hopefully it's still there!

The line is metre gauge.

The Frauenfeld–Wil railway (GermanFrauenfeld–Wil-Bahn, FW) is a metre gauge (3 ft 3 38 in gauge) railway line[1] in Switzerland, which connects the town of Frauenfeld in the canton of Thurgau, to the town of Wil in the canton of St. Gallen, following the valley of the Murg river. The line is owned and operated by the Frauenfeld-Wil-Bahn AG, forms part of the Tarifverbund Ostwind, and operates as service S15 of the St. Gallen S-Bahn.
Plans to build a tramway between Frauenfeld and Wil were first made in the early 1850s. The rail line opened in 1887, and was electrified in 1921. Around 1.25 million passengers use the line every year.
Locals call the train "Wilerbähnli" or "Wiler Bähnli".


Trains run every 30 minutes, requiring 3 trains in operation at once, with trains crossing at the stations of Matzingen and Schweizerhof.
In 2011 the railway company ordered five new ABe4/8 low floor trains from Stadler Rail, to replace the old trains. However, there are plans for a 15 minutes interval in future and therefore some of the old trains will be retained. The first train was delivered in March 2013 and was tested for 3 months. It went into regular service on 26 June 2013.


15 stations are served by the line.
From Frauenfeld there are trains to Winterthur and Weinfelden.
Frauenfeld Marktplatz16.85417since 1996
Weberei Matzingen12.62440
Wängi GB (Service Station)7.95474
Münchwilen Pflegeheim4.66509
Münchwilen TG3.89516
Schweizerhof (Service Station)2.66530
From Wil there are trains to WinterthurWeinfeldenSt. Gallen and Wattwil.

Freight Traffic

Freight trains ran on the line from 1907 until the early 2000s. This included transporter wagons from 1977 onwards.

Bicester Town 1988

(Both 4.8.1988 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

Back in August 1988 I stopped off at Bicester Town station to take a couple of photographs.

Back then station reopenings were rare, line reopenings even rarer, so this was something of a novelty. And now the line is being developed further and will eventually form part of an east-west link between Oxford and Cambridge, a line that was stupidly closed back in 1968. Back then planners thought that we'd all just travel from our backwards little towns to London and never go anywhere else. How wrong they were!

Bicester Town is the smaller of two railway stations serving the town of Bicester in Oxfordshire. (The larger is Bicester North.) It is 12 miles (19 km) miles north-east of Oxford at the terminus of the Oxford-to-Bicester branch line. Major engineering work to re-double the track and reconnect the branch line to the Chiltern Main Line caused the station to close in February 2014. The new station will open on 26 October 2015 with trains running to Oxford andLondon Marylebone. All trains serving it were operated by Chiltern Railways, which will resume running trains to the reopened station.


Bicester London Road with two platforms in 1961
The Buckinghamshire Railway, which already had a route between Bletchley and Banbury, had powers to build a line to Oxford. The first part of this line, from a junction to the west of Winslow (at a point which became known asVerney Junction) to Islip, opened on 1 October 1850, and this included a station at Bicester.[1][2] Originally named "Bicester", the station was renamed "Bicester London Road" in March 1954, although the nameboards were not altered until 20 September 1954.
The station was closed, along with the rest of the Oxford – Bletchley section of the Varsity Line, on 1 January 1968. However, the station was used by several excursion trains through the 1970s and 1980s.
Network SouthEast reopened the station as "Bicester Town" on 11 May 1987, as the terminus of the Oxford to Bicester Line. From May 2009 First Great Western and Oxfordshire County Council branded the line "The Bicester Link". Since then operation of the line has been transferred from FGW to Chiltern Railways.
Since 1987 the frequency of trains has varied and passenger numbers have fluctuated accordingly. In the four years 2007–11 more frequent trains increased the total number of passengers using Bicester Town by 258%.
The station closed on 15 February 2014 (the last trains having run late on 14 February in order to allow upgrade of the line between Oxford and Bicester. The reopening, first planned for May 2015, will be on 26 October 2015.
On 12 March 2015 Chiltern Railways announced that it will rename the station Bicester Village after the nearby designer retail outlet.


Bicester Town station in 1992
Until it closed in 2012 the station had one platform, a covered waiting area, seats, a clock, help point and public address. There was a number of cycle stands but no ticket facilities. Passengers could buy these on the train instead.
The line to the east is used only by freight. The East West Rail Consortium of local authorities plans to extend the Oxford – Bicester service to Milton Keynes Central via Winslow and Bletchley.
There was another track in front of the platform, beside the passenger and freight running line. This was the long reversing siding for the Bicester Military Railway, serving the local MOD depot.[14]
In August 2008 Chiltern Railways announced a proposal to build a 14 mile (400 m) link between the Oxford to Bicester Line and the Chiltern Main Line to carry a new service between Oxford and London via High Wycombe. The single line between Bicester Town and Oxford will be doubled and a new station is being built at Oxford Parkway. Approval was granted in October 2012.
The Department for Transport has approved the Western Section of the East West Rail Link to link Oxford and Bicester Town with Milton Keynes and Bedford, as part of CP5. It was intended that trains to Bedford should start running by 2017, but on 31 March 2014 Network Rail announced that this had been put back to 2019.
The station will have two car parks. Between them they will provide 230 standard spaces, plus 18 spaces for passengers with reduced mobility. The station will also have parking for 60 pedal cycles and 18 motorcycles.


From December 2008 the service on Mondays to Saturdays was improved with an evening service and a doubling of the service on Saturdays. The service was increased to 11 trains (12 on Fridays) on weekdays and 13 on Saturdays. From May 2009, further improvements saw extra trains in the daytime on Mondays to Fridays and a new all-year round Sunday service, with trains every 90 minutes.
On 22 May 2011 Chiltern Railways took over all passenger operations from this station ahead of the new service between London Marylebone and Oxford that was due to start in 2013. It was later amended to 2015.