Monday, 15 October 2018

Ashton Court Railway Stay of Execution.

(All 9.9.2018 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing)

The railway at Ashton Court in Bristol has been under threat recently. The problem is that the rent they pay for the site is around 10% of the market price, and something has to give. Sadly it may be the railway.

Despite having lived in Bristol for ten years I was unaware of this railway until early this year. This may be part of the problem, the line just isn't well enough known. Mind you judging by the crowds that were up there on 9 September 2018 perhaps it was just me?

I took 3 of my friend's children, all girls between 5 and 8, and they absolutely loved it! Kids seem to love trains these days! We went on a running day with visiting engines, it was warm and sunny. Despite running about 8 trains at once there were still crowds waiting to get on every train!

There was of course a shadow hanging over everything. I chatted with one of the operators who told me that he wasn't hopeful they'd still be on the site next year. There was a council meeting the following Tuesday. Luckily the decision was to delay any removal of the route before the end of 2019, giving the railway just over a year to try to come up with a solution.

The line operates a couple of times a month in the summer, so if you get the chance please go and help swell their fighting fund, The lines (there are two, two gauges, two slightly different routes) run through woods and along fields, and you can buy 5 tickets for £4.50. There are also Santa trains.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Rails in the Shingle - the Volk's Railway at Brighton

All photos 17.8.2018 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing

The Volk's Railway is an unusual line that runs along the seafront at Brighton for just over a mile. It has always been electrically worked and is the oldest surviving electric railway in the world. It is narrow gauge, using the unusual gauge of 2 feet 8½ inches.

There are single platform stations at each end, a depot and station ('Halfway') with passing loop in the middle and passing loops halfway between Halfway and the two terminals at Aquarium and Black Rock.

Aquarium, the station closest to Brighton city centre, has been rebuilt and is a modern and functional station. In contrast the station at Black Rock is a rather forbidding concrete structure.

The whole line has been recently refurbished after a long closure (14 months).

Although I was brought up just 20 miles from this line, and a regular visitor to Brighton,  I had only travelled and photographed it once before, back in the 70s.

The line was very busy on the day we went, a Friday, and several passengers were stranded at Halfway as there simply wasn't room on the trains. If a regular occurence this really needs to be addressed!

There was an unusual event on our outward journey. As we passed a basketball court that borders the line the players asked if the driver could throw their ball back! This he duly did, but he'd come to a halt on a dead spot and the train wouldn't move. He eventually pushed the train, passengers and all, a few metres until we were live again! This is the first time I've ever had this happen! (It does of course show the lack of friction between steel wheels and rail, which gives railways a HUGE energy efficiency advantage).

All in all a fascinating slice of history in a city with many attractions. Highly recommended!