Metre gauge magic in Provence


IMG_5488There is something rather special about a trip on France’s longest narrow gauge railway, particularly when it means the chance of a front seat view from a 1970s railcar, as it snakes along the banks of the picturesque River Var.

But such delights may be about to end, as the Chemins de Fer de Provence (CP) should soon finally take delivery of the six ex-Mallorca Railways two-car diesel units that were supposed to have entered service here three years ago. Continue reading “Metre gauge magic in Provence”


Wherry Lines’ Class 37 farewell


IMG_4076Any day now the wonderful sight and sound of Class 37s top-and-tailing two or three coaches on services between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft will finally come to an end, as the new Stadler Class 755 bi-mode units enter service.

For the past five years, the chance to travel behind the 1960s vintage “tractors” has drawn thousands of enthusiasts to the charming Wherry Lines network, where an added attraction has been its now doomed mechanical signalling (featured in numerous of my past posts). Continue reading “Wherry Lines’ Class 37 farewell”

Splendid Swinderby


IMG_5313Travelling around Lincolnshire in search of mechanical signalling to feature in my new book, I spent some time on the wonderful Poacher Line from Grantham to Skegness, as well as visiting Gainsborough and New Holland, but somehow overlooked another fine working signal box.

Swinderby is a small village roughly mid-way between Newark and Lincoln, close to the A46 Fosse Way and once best known for RAF Swinderby. This opened in September 1940, was home to more than 3,000 trainee airmen by 1943 and continued training RAF recruits until its closure half a century later in 1993. Continue reading “Splendid Swinderby”

Lovely Laurencekirk


IMG_5185Re-signalling in the Aberdeen area has meant closure of signal boxes at Inverurie, Dyce and Newtonhill, but further south, on the section of East Coast Main Line to Dundee, there are a number of fine outposts of mechanical signalling, notably at Stonehaven and Arbroath, but also at half a dozen other smaller places.

One of these smaller locations is Laurencekirk, a town which is now home to many commuters into the Granite City. The station here fell victim to Beeching and was closed in September 1967, but was re-opened at a cost of £3 million in May 2009 and, like so many other reopened stations, has seen traffic boom. Continue reading “Lovely Laurencekirk”

Return to Stranraer Harbour


Three years after my last rail trip to Stranraer, the latest Scotrail Club 50 ticket offer (a bargain £17.00 return from Edinburgh Waverley) gave me the chance to revisit Scotland’s least known scenic railway, and to see if passenger traffic had improved from the dismal levels I noted in January 2016.

For those unfamiliar with SW Scotland, the 38-mile 55-minute journey south from Girvan takes you through some delightfully wild and spectacular scenery, with just one station stop at remote Barrhill and its diminutive signal box, then further pauses at the former stations of Glenwhilly and Dunragit, before arrival at the desolate former ferry port. Continue reading “Return to Stranraer Harbour”

Parliamentary train to Oxford

IMG_4773Nowhere in the London commuter belt does any rail traveller enjoy a less frequent or convenient rail service than that offered to the inhabitants of three attractive North Oxfordshire villages – Ascott-under-Wychwood, Finstock and Combe.

Ever since being reprieved from proposed closure during the Beeching era of the mid-1960s, this trio of halts has been served by a sparse “Parliamentary” service,  usually comprising just one up morning train and one down evening train a day, while there is currently no week-end service whatsoever. Continue reading “Parliamentary train to Oxford”