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The wait goes on for Tramlink expansion

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TRAMS have been one of the great success stories in UK public transport over the past two decades, with passengers liking the frequent, reliable and environmentally-friendly service they provide, and networks being expanded in all but one of the seven UK towns and cities where trams are operating.

While plans have been implemented, or are afoot, for system expansion in Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield and Blackpool, one glaring exception is Tramlink, the network centred on Croydon, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in  May 2020. Continue reading “The wait goes on for Tramlink expansion”

Another look at Lostwithiel

A trio of Cornwall’s finest remaining outposts of mechanical signalling have just another year of life left, before a major re-signalling scheme in the Royal Duchy will see the loss of the semaphores that currently signal the main line at Truro, Par and Lostwithiel.

Paying a return visit (22 September 2022) almost exactly a year after last visiting the area, I was keen to capture the scene one more time at charming Lostwithiel, before the sight of its impressive array of semaphores disappears following the re-signalling in autumn 2023.

Continue readingAnother look at Lostwithiel

Southernmost S&C semaphores

Among the numerous (nine) surviving outposts of mechanical signalling along the glorious Settle and Carlisle line, the most interesting and photogenic are those controlled by the route’s two most southerly signal boxes.

Spending a couple of midweek days in the area meant a chance to photograph trains passing the eight semaphores at Settle Junction, as well as those are nearby Hellifield, which boasts almost double that number.

Continue readingSouthernmost S&C semaphores

Poacher Line Class 180 finale

Having visited the route on 23 July to photograph the first day of summer specials, it seemed only right to pay a return visit to the charming Poacher Line on 10 September 2022, in order to mark the final day of seasonal Saturday EMR Class 180 workings from Derby to Skegness.

Rather than head to the coastal resort this time, my plan was to make a return to one of the quietest spots along the 58-mile line and attempt to photograph the Class 180s as they passed Hubbert’s Bridge and its pair of working semaphore distant signals.

Continue readingPoacher Line Class 180 finale

Back in the DDR (part two)

It seems unlikely that there will ever be a travel offer again as generous as the month-long €9 ticket offered this summer on German public transport, so having bought one for August in order to re-visit the Harz (HSB) narrow gauge system, I felt compelled to return and sample some more narrow-gauge steam action with my €9 ticket.

My destination this time was Dresden, where I planned to stay four nights in the northern suburb of Radebeul and spend a day each on the 16.6km (10.4 mile) Lößnitzgrundbahn nearby, the 26.1km (16.3 mile) Weißeritztalbahn to the south-west of Dresden and at a third 750mm gauge railway, the 16km (10-mile) long Zittauer Schmalspurbahn.

Continue readingBack in the DDR (part two)

Back in the DDR

TRAVEL BARGAINS don’t come much more generous than the German Government’s decision to get people back on public transport over the summer by pumping €2.5 billion into the state’s rail and bus services and offering a €9 ticket that gives an entire month’s travel across the country.

Ever on the look-out for cheap travel opportunities I decided to buy a €9 ticket for the month of August and, in the first of two planned trips over that month, spend a few days re-visiting the remarkable Harz (HSB) narrow gauge system, on which the €9 ticket is valid for all services except those up the Brocken mountain.

Continue readingBack in the DDR

Favourite photo-spots: Pembrey & Burry Port

Returning to one of the last two outposts of semaphores on the South Wales Main Line, my aim on Friday, 5 August 2022 had been to photograph new TfW Class 231 “FLIRT” trains passing the doomed semaphores at Pembrey & Burry Port while on test runs between Swansea and Carmarthen. 

But despite seeing a handful of the new Stadler units on Cardiff Canton depot as I passed by on my way to Pembrey, and regular Swansea-Carmarthen paths being shown on Realtime Trains, none of the new units was in action and passing services remained the usual diet of Class 153 and 175 units. 

Continue readingFavourite photo-spots: Pembrey & Burry Port

Parliamentary train to Stockport

A day after travelling Manchester’s entire Metrolink system in a single day it was time to finally take a trip on a fabled rail service that does not have quite the same frequency as the tram network and sample the once-a-week Northern service from Stalybridge to Stockport and back.

Among Parliamentary trains that are run simply to avoid the costly closure process, this route is up with the best of them, with what for many years had been a single journey from Stockport on a Friday now a Saturday morning round trip from Stalybridge, offering passengers a full half-hour to appreciate the delights of Stockport station, before returning to Stalybridge.

Continue reading “Parliamentary train to Stockport”

Metrolink in a day

Inspired by my success at travelling the whole of the Merseyrail network in a single day (feature: 7 April 2022), this time my challenge on a trip to Manchester (29 July 2022) was to ride the entire Metrolink tram network in one day, with a four-zone £4.90 off-peak day ticket. 

As described below, it is a challenge I managed to complete in exactly nine hours, although that did involve saving time by taking a bus between two Metrolink termini and also ending up at the place I was spending the night (Ashton-under-Lyne) and not back at Piccadilly where I had begun.

Continue reading “Metrolink in a day”

Seaside specials return to Skegness

Following my May trip to the Cornish seaside resort of Newquay aboard one of the first direct summer services from London Paddington, it is time to visit another popular seaside resort on the opposite side of the country and mark its post-pandemic return of summer specials.

The Lincolnshire resort of Skegness may not be seeing seasonal connections to match the daily Newquay services, but on Saturdays from the day of my visit (23 July 2022) until 10 September it will be receiving what I believe are the first ever workings to be operated along the Poacher Line by East Midlands Railway (EMR) Class 180 units.

Continue reading “Seaside specials return to Skegness”

Narrow gauge steam and vintage diesels in Czech Canada 

Twenty-five years after it was abandoned by the state rail operator České Dráhy (ČD) and handed over to a locally-based private company, the charming 79km (50-mile) long narrow gauge system based on the town of Jindřichův Hradec in the south of the Czech Republic is booming.

Spending five days in the area known as Czech Canada for its forests and lakes I was able to sample two days of steam haulage behind a locomotive that is more than 120 years old and spend the rest of my time photographing and being hauled by diesel locos that are more than 60 years old.

Continue reading “Narrow gauge steam and vintage diesels in Czech Canada “