Wednesday, 26 June 2019


Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Hastings at Knockholt 1986






All pics 1.4.1986 copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing




Knockholt is a small station in Kent, with a busy service. Back in 1986 it was an excellent spot to photograph a whole range of services and trains.

Top amongst these were the so-called 'Hastings' units which ran, on diesel power of course, from London Cannon Street down to Hastings via Tunbridge Wells and Battle. These were unique units, that were narrower than normal stock due to space restrictions on the Tonbridge-Hastings route. 

These would soon become history as the Tonbridge to Hastings line was electrified. This was their swansong. A few individual coaches also formed part of the 'Tadpole' units used on a few other routes.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Welsh short line!




Railway reminder at the waterfront.





153 333 at Cardiff Bay.


En route.


153 333 at Cardiff Queen Street.

(All pics copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing 21.6.2019



11th anniversary trip to Cardiff on Friday/Saturday. Wasn't supposed to be rail related in any way. But strange things happen. We wanted to go down to Cardiff Bay to see some of the sights. From the hotel it was about a mile. Half way down my wife started moaning 'This is boring, it's like Hartcliffe. I am NOT walking back!' I explained this was just the journey, not the destination, as we passed another cheap shop selling fags and lottery tickets.

But help was at hand. All the way down we'd been following a railway, being a bit out of my area I'd not much idea what it was, but we'd seen a few passenger trains running along it.

Turns out it was the Cardiff Bay branch, which used to be the Cardiff (Bute Street) branch which also connected this area of the docks to the network.

So train trip back it was! Cardiff Bay station reminded me a bit of those bus shelter type places so common in the 70s. Just a single line. A train came in quickly and we were soon trundling up the branch. It was a very short ride! Within about 4 minutes we were in the bay at Cardiff Queen Street station. So the train just shuttles up and down all day. Great service, busy and cheap.

Getting back to Bristol I did a little research. It seemed to me that the line would be so much better if it went the extra kilometre or so to the nice shops and restaurants at the water side. Also to the Welsh parliament (Senedd) and Welsh National Opera, both nearby.

Turns out that this is EXACTLY the plan. Within a few years the station at Cardiff Bay will close, the line will be extended towards the centre of the harbourside, an intermediate station will be built at Loudon Square and tram-trains will run every ten minutes on the line. It's great to see our branch lines being developed in the 21st century.




Thursday, 24 January 2019

Venetian Finds

'Let's go to Venice, you'll love it. Canals, old buildings, history, boats. It's got everything'.

'Mmmm. Except anything rail related', I replied.

So we went.

Now I assumed Venice WAS all canals, old buildings, history and boats, so wasn't that disappointed when we got there. We were right over on the eastern side of the island, near St Mark's Square. I just wrote off rails and started taking all the obvious pictures, helped by a mist on the second day.

To get around Venice you walk, or take the water taxis. (Or, apparently, if you're made of money and romantic, whatever that is, a gondola).

We jumped on a water taxi that second morning, in the mist and biting cold. I noticed a stop 'Ferrovia'. My Italian's good enough to know that means railway station, so that's where we went! The western side of Venice is a little atypical as it does have a few cars and a cruise terminal (and some great shops and restaurants) and from the boat I spotted something I really wasn't expecting - rail!! Okay, it was a monorail, but that's a train too. Seconds later we were on land. Jumping off I spotted what looked like tram wires on a bridge. I had to explore. A minute later I was standing in front of a tramway!! A weird sort of tramway mind, with just a single rail, but a tramway nethertheless.

I later discovered the tramway only opened in 2015 and links Venice with the mainland, with two lines from Mestre further into the hinterland.

My wife then said, as I relayed news of my discovery to her, 'I told you there was a tramway in Venice'. True, she had, but I didn't believe her!

After that we went to the railway station, which I also didn't realise was there, always assumed Venice's railway station was on the mainland, a big 20-odd platform affair with trains in just about every platform. I took photos of all of them whilst she bought baby clothes from a nice shop on the station concourse.

The next day we took a trip on the strange tramway over the bridge and to Mestre, which was a strange experience. The tram runs on rubber tyres so felt a bit 'bussy' at first, but soon slipped into normal tram mode - fast acceleration, quiet running etc.

All in all Venice had plenty of rail interest and is well worth a visit in any case. Go there whilst it's still all there! 


The People Mover.





The monorail tramway at Venice.









Variety at Venice station.










The trip to Mestre.

All pics copyright Steve Sainsbury/Rail Thing 2019)