Dudding Hill freight action

IMG_1672Photographing trains on the Dudding Hill Line is no easy matter. For a start services on north-west London’s Cinderella route are few and far between, but then the combination of extensive line-side vegetation and high bridge parapets makes decent vantage points very hard to find.

As a reminder to those who may have missed my September 2017 post “Dudding Hill: the line that time forgot”, this is a four-mile long route from Acton to Cricklewood that is controlled by three mechanical signal boxes, and has a ruling 30mph speed restriction. It is a line which lost its passenger services in 1902 and has somehow missed out on the highly successful expansion of London’s Overground network. Continue reading “Dudding Hill freight action”


Favourite photo-spots: Brundall

IMG_1513Re-signalling of the Wherry Lines from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft continues apace – with “bagged lollipops” having already appeared at a number of locations, so after previous looks at Reedham and Oulton Broad North, it is time to pay a visit to the third mechanically-signalled junction on this fascinating network.

Brundall station stands 5¾ miles east of Norwich and is the point where a single line to Great Yarmouth via Acle diverges from the double track route to Lowestoft. It is served by hourly trains on the Acle line and by some, though not all, of the Lowestoft services. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Brundall”

Third rail’s missing link

IMG_1356Chaos at Waterloo on the evening of Wednesday 18 July 2018 (body on the line at Clapham Junction apparently) and an invitation for passengers to take any reasonable route to get to their destination found me travelling to East Croydon and then Reigate, on my near four-hour trek home to Haslemere.

Apart from discovering that beer in the charming Prince of Wales pub is outrageously expensive (£4.70 a pint), it also reminded me what an absurd world we live in, when Reigate marks the end of the line for third rail operation – as it has for the past 85 years – and continuing west from here requires change onto one of the busy Gatwick Airport to Reading diesel-operated services. Continue reading “Third rail’s missing link”

Summer Saturday at Yeovil Pen Mill

IMG_1293Weymouth remains a great magnet for day trippers and holidaymakers, so on the first Saturday proper of the summer holidays, and with the added bonus of seafood festival, there was bumper traffic to the resort from Yeovil Pen Mill on 14 July 2018.

IMG_1158In less than 90 minutes during the mid-morning there are four services to the resort from Pen Mill, including the highly popular 09.50 SWR service from Basingstoke where three coaches of its five-car formation continue to Corfe Castle on the Swanage Railway (described in my earlier blog post). Here 158886 + 159014 (rear) depart for Weymouth and Corfe Castle. Continue reading “Summer Saturday at Yeovil Pen Mill”

Favourite photo-spots: St. Erth

IMG_1752Cornwall remains a delightful and photogenic outpost of mechanical signalling, so after my earlier features on Par/St Blazey and Lostwithiel, it is time to pay a visit to Britain’s most south-westerly railway junction, St Erth, which lies 56 miles on from the Royal Duchy’s first semaphore signals at Liskeard, and 299½ miles from Paddington.

St. Erth must rank as one of the county’s most unspoiled locations, with semaphore signalling being the perfect complement to the charming GWR junction station, complete with independently-run station buffet and a place where even the original footbridge was saved from replacement by a new structure after a fervent local campaign. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: St. Erth”

On the trail of the Atlantic Coast Express


Today it would unquestionably be regarded as one of the UK’s most scenic rail journeys, but sadly the six miles of railway line from Wadebridge to Padstow was lost to the network in January 1967. Now the only way now of travelling these final miles of the famous Atlantic Coast Express (the ACE) are on foot, or by bike, along what has now become part of the hugely popular Camel Trail.

Taking a delightful and leisurely two-hour stroll, it is not difficult to imagine those final nine minutes aboard the ACE as it neared the end of its 259¾ mile journey from London Waterloo (11.00) and had seen portions of the train detached along the way for Exmouth, Sidmouth, Bude, Plymouth, Ifracombe and Torrington, before the remaining three coaches finally reached the Padstow buffer stops at 5.21pm. Continue reading “On the trail of the Atlantic Coast Express”

Lunch on the Line – GWR-style

IMG_2277Friday lunchtime on 29 June 2018 and the end of a scorching week in the sunny South West. Standing on platform 5 at Exeter St. David’s and waiting for the slightly delayed arrival of the 13.02 “Cornishman” to London Paddington, an announcement that the train is one coach short (a shortage of coaches, we are told!) and that the service is already “full and standing” is hardly the news any weary traveller wants to hear.

Faced with the prospect of standing in a crowded vestibule for two hours, I did what any astute reader of the GWR timetable would sensibly do – I went to the rather exclusive restaurant car (17 covers) and managed to secure a wonderful – and now extremely rare opportunity – to remind myself why eating on the move was always such a pleasure. Continue reading “Lunch on the Line – GWR-style”