The great HS2 fares conundrum

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On Friday (16 February) I made what must be one of the world’s cheapest inter-city train journeys, when I travelled the 111 miles from London to Birmingham for a fare of just £5.50 (without using any railcard). Later that day I returned from Birmingham, again in the comfort of a spacious Mark III carriage and a loco-hauled train, for just £5.50.

IMG_1737.jpgLondon to Birmingham is by far the cheapest long-distance rail journey in the UK because it is pretty much the only one on the franchised railway where there is genuine on-rail competition between operators.

After more than 20 years of privatised railway, the only other significant point-to-point journeys where passengers have benefited from competition are on the East Coast Main Line, where presence of the two “Open Access” operators – Grand Central and Hull Trains – has led to fares competition from York and Doncaster to London. Continue reading “The great HS2 fares conundrum”

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Semaphores and NER signal boxes on the Blyth and Tyne

IMG_1733For a route that has seen only freight traffic since its closure to passengers in 1964, the line heading north east from Newcastle to Bedlington and Ashington has done remarkably well to retain its traditional infrastructure.

Much of the route is double-track and there is a fine group of six North Eastern Railway signal boxes still in use and controlling a large array of semaphore signals, as well as level crossings at each of six locations. Continue reading “Semaphores and NER signal boxes on the Blyth and Tyne”