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Railway Renaissance

RR_CoverGareth’s new book – published on 30 September

 Pen & Sword Books Ltd

ISBN: 9781473862005

Order now at Waterstones or Amazon

When a 35 mile stretch of the former Waverley route from Edinburgh to Carlisle reopened on 6 September 2015, it became the most significant reopening of any UK railway since the infamous Beeching Report, ‘The re-shaping of British Railways’, was published in March 1963.
In his report, Dr Richard Beeching recommended sweeping closures of lines across the UK to improve the financial performance of British railways, which led to wholesale closures over the following decade and a reduction in the UK rail network from 18,000 miles in 1963, to some 11,000 miles a decade later.

Continue reading “Railway Renaissance”

A Wherry nice day out

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Heritage traction, mechanical signalling and good beer make the Norfolk Broads a distinctly attractive place to visit, not just for those interested in boating, but also for those who fancy remembering British Rail of the 1970s and 1980s, travelling in Mark III coaches to the distinctive roar of English Electric Class 37 locomotives.

Pictured top are 37419/425 approaching Acle on 1 June 2018 with the 13.17 Great Yarmouth-Norwich service

For the past four years a pair of Class 37s, on hire from Direct Rail Services, has top-and-tailed a three-coach “short set” on regular weekday services from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, as well as seasonal summer Saturday services to Great Yarmouth. Continue reading “A Wherry nice day out”

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Favourite photo-spots: Oulton Broad North

IMG_0165For its combination of manual signalling, interesting scenery and the regular chance of Class 37-haulage, there can be few places in England more attractive for rail enthusiasts than the Wherry Lines in Norfolk, linking Norwich with the seaside resorts of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

This 46¼-mile network features a total of nine manual signal boxes, two of which also operate swing bridges, a weekend-only request stop (Buckenham), and Berney Arms, one of the remotest and quietest stations (albeit without any signalling) in the whole of England. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Oulton Broad North”

Slow Way Round (SWR) to Corfe Castle

IMG_0414Basingstoke to Wareham is 96 miles on the direct route via Southampton Central, but take a new summer Saturday “seaside special” and the distance becomes exactly 150 miles, while the journey time increases from around one hour 40 minutes on the main line to almost four hours!

Two years after previous franchisee South West Trains took the welcome and innovative step of launching a summer Saturday service from Basingstoke to Weymouth via Yeovil Junction and Yeovil Pen Mill – with bargain fares of £5.00 return from places in Dorset like Gillingham and Tisbury – South Western Railway has not only revived that service this year, but has gone one better. Continue reading “Slow Way Round (SWR) to Corfe Castle”

Salzburg’s scenic suburban railway

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Serving rural northern suburbs of Salzburg is the charming Salzburger Lokalbahn (SLB), an electrified 37 km (23 mile) largely single track system that runs from the subterranean platforms 11 and 12 of the city’s Hauptbahnhof (main station).

IMG_9727Services are run in two sections, with the main S1 route operating the 25.6 kms (16 miles) from Hauptbahnhof to Lamprechtshausen, while a shuttle service (S11) connects with these services at Burmoos, two stops before Lamprechtshausen, and runs through very rural terrain to the northernmost terminus at Ostermiething.

The original Lamprechtshausen line opened in 1896, and had been fully electrified by 1950. Services were moved to new station platforms below Salzburg Hauptbanhof in 1996 and there are plans for a southern extension of the line. Continue reading “Salzburg’s scenic suburban railway”

Slovenian steam spectacular

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For rugged scenery and a remarkable number of tunnels and bridges, few routes in Europe can compare with the magnificent 89km (56 mile) Bohinj Railway in western Slovenia, which stretches from the town of Jesenice, near the Austrian border and 64kms (40 miles) north-west of Ljubljana, to Nova Gorica on the border with Italy.

The Bohinj Railway forms part of what is known as the Transalpina route, a link between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea at Trieste that was authorised by the Parliament in Vienna in 1901 and was built between 1902 and 1906. Its most impressive feature is the 6327m (4.2 mile) long Bohinj tunnel, opened by the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand, in 1906. Continue reading “Slovenian steam spectacular”

Mixed signals at Dorrington

IMG_9619.jpgSeveral locations on the national network can boast a mixture of upper and lower quadrant signals, but my shot today of a train passing successive upper and lower quadrant signals at Dorrington got me wondering if there are any other places where it is possible to see such a scene?

Places which mix upper and lower quadrant include Gobowen (pictured below) and Yeovil Pen Mill, where in each case the down signals are upper quadrant, while those controlling up trains are traditional GWR-style lower quadrant variety. Continue reading “Mixed signals at Dorrington”

Britain’s last working lower quadrant distant signal

 

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Lower quadrant, Great Western-style signals survive at a number of locations on the national rail network, notably in Cornwall, the Worcester area and on the Marches Route between Shrewsbury and Abergavenny.

But for all that remains, which includes numerous fixed distant signals in the Worcester area such as HK5 pictured below, there is now only one working lower quadrant distant signal on the network. Continue reading “Britain’s last working lower quadrant distant signal”