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”

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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”

Two Leicestershire towns in need of a train service

IMG_9214Among the many railway revival schemes around the country, one of the most longstanding and compelling is the 31-mile long “Ivanhoe Line” linking Burton-upon-Trent and Leicester.

Despite closing to passengers in September 1964, it survived to serve the many collieries along its length and today remains a vital access by rail to the stone quarries at Bardon Hill, near Coalville.

British Rail had planned a revival of passenger services in the 1990s, but that fell by the wayside at privatisation, since when two separate consultancy firms have produced feasibility reports that have put a relatively modest cost on re-opening to passengers, but not forecast sufficient passenger traffic to make it viable. Continue reading “Two Leicestershire towns in need of a train service”

Preserving Britain’s remarkable signalling heritage

IMG_9044Finding new uses for redundant Signal boxes is often no easy matter. While some do find a new lease of life – cafes at York and Totnes being good examples – many other fine structures are simply boarded up and left unloved, where the years inevitably take their toll, or they eventually succumb to fire damage.

Happily that was not the case with the 1913-vintage Exeter West box, a fine wooden structure, with a 131-lever frame (only installed in 1959), that was made redundant by re-signalling in 1985.

It was painstakingly re-built at the Crewe Heritage Centre, after failing to find a home on the Severn Valley Railway, at Bristol Temple Meads and then at Swindon’s new STEAM museum, and was ceremonially re-opened almost exactly 25 years ago, on May Day 1993. Continue reading “Preserving Britain’s remarkable signalling heritage”