A documentary showing train travel in the 1950’s

I’m confident you’ll know of my interest in steam locomotives, and so I feel I’ll not have to apologise for posting this wonderful film of working, and travelling life in the 1950’s.

As documentary films go, this one of 1954 by British Transport Films on the Elizabethan Express – 60017 Silver Fox is a really good example. It tries to respect the roles of everyone involved in the express train service, though issues of class are evident, with an engaging narration of poetic humour.

Among the things that surprise is the dress of some of the characters, such as the fireman with in his polished brogue shoes.

Not politics, about Waterloo Station Upgrade instead

Enough about local politics, for the moment.

On our recent visit to London, I did what I always do, and that’s to take a photo, from the mezzanine balcony, of the redevelopment work at Waterloo Station.

The redevelopment has been going on for years, with my earliest photo of the work being in December 2015. Looks like the new platforms 20-24 are now in use. Looking at my photo, it appears that the pedestrian link bridge is not open at present.

There’s also much work to develop the lower level, known as the sunken Orchestra Pit, into a retail hub. Here’s my photo for you to inspect. All my previous photos and blog articles can be seen HERE.

 

Thoughts on a rail journey between Reading and Birmingham

We recently travelled to Birmingham by rail for a family get together. Coming from different places, meeting at Birmingham New Street Station was a convenient for us all.

We travelled from Reading on Cross Country Rail. The train was just four carriages, and this was a train from Paddington to Manchester, via Reading and Oxford. Just four carriages, and so the train was crowded.There must be a reason for such a small train, though I fail to think what it might be.

Enough of the train. Here are some thoughts on the journey.

  • Apart from the places the train stopped at, Didcot, Oxford, Banbury, Leamington Spa, and Coventry there was vast amounts of open countryside. Just a few small villages and hamlets passed in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, with variety of church spires.
  • The countryside was almost entirely arable. No cattle, or pigs, just one farm with sheep. Oh, and a house with a solitary chocolate-brown llama.
  • Arriving at Birmingham New Street, we were immensely impressed with the station concourse see photo.
  • While waiting for our relatives to arrive I noted that almost 50% of the people in the station were wearing trainers.
  • The crowds passing through, meeting one another, or chatting to friends, I never heard the word Brexit mentioned once.

The uncertain future of tube trains on the Isle of Wight

On assured sunny days, visiting the Isle of Wight is for us a favoured adventure day trip. We’ve travelled there by almost all possible ways.

The easiest way for us is to go from Portsmouth. We can get there easily by car, park in Gun Wharf Keys, then catch the foot ferry to Ryde. Occasionally we might take the car ferry to Fishbourne. We’ve not yet used the hovercraft to Ryde esplanade, nor have we yet caught the train from Woking to Portsmouth Harbour, perhaps we will try both in 2019.

Arriving at Ryde Pier by foot ferry we either walk down to Ryde esplanade, or catch the Island Line tube train from the pier-head. On one visit we caught the tube, and got off at Brading station– such good fun, lovely heritage station and Signal Box.

The tube trains are reconditioned 1938 London Underground trains, and boy don’t you know it. While fun, they are uncomfortable, as you might expect with 80-year-old carriages. The rail track is similarly uncomfortable, bumpy, noisy, and in need of replacement.

Most recently, this year, we caught the tube to Lake station, walked on the promenade to Shanklin up to the station and thence for late afternoon lunch in Ryde. We’d not been this far previously by tube. Handy yes, uncomfortable, certainly. I thought, at the time, that the rolling stock and line were in urgent need of replacement.

Hence, the point of this story. The tube train from Ryde Pier is something that adds to the tourist experience, which the island should endeavour to retain. But how?

All the arguments about possible alternatives are addressed in London Reconnections article Third Ryde Tube: Transfer Troublesome. It’s a longish article, but fun for train buffs. Below are a few photos on the tube from our past visits.

A Waterloo Station upgrade report

The revised Waterloo South Western Railway timetable from December 2018 is predicated on the reopening of the old Eurostar International platforms – see HERE.

The work to bring those platforms into use has been part of my regular Waterloo Station photo reports of the ongoing work – see HERE for all the articles in descending date order.

My most recent article – HERE – surmised that the engineering works would not complete by December. I’ve not been to Waterloo station since. Therefore I’m relying on comments in the Back to the Future: (Re)lengthening and Shortening at Waterloo article in London Reconnections website.

These comments, the latest on December 11th, indicate that platforms 19, 20, 21, and 22 are in use, and that the new walkway is open, although there is ongoing work in the ‘orchestra pit’. My most recent photo opposite – click to expand..

Meanwhile, again reading in the superb London Reconnections website that the revised time table for additional, and longer trains will not apply before May 2019. There’ not mention of this fact in Network Rail websites that I can see. Apparently there is insufficent power to operate the trains. The situation is fully explained in A Good Spark is Getting Hard to Find: SWR and the December Timetable.

Waterloo Station upgrade inching towards completion

It states in Network Rail’s Waterloo Station Upgrade web page that the project extends from July 2017 to December 2018, and what they say about December 2018 is as follows,

Platforms 21–24 re-open permanently and will be included in the December 2018 timetable, with additional train services provided.

As, dear readers, you will know of my predilection of photographing the ongoing works at the station from the same vantage point on the upper concourse – see HERE if you’d like to see all my past articles on the work, which goes back to March 2016, a little earlier than Network Rail’s stated timings.

I took a photo of the works on Tuesday this week, and show it next to the one I took on November 26th. From my perspective, the work seems to be inching forward. Whether they’ll have completed all the work by the end of December, it looks to me most unlikely. [Click on images to expand – Nov 26th on left and Dec 4th on right.]

I’ll be amazed if Waterloo Station upgrade meets its deadline

Regular readers will know that I like to record the progress of the upgrade to Waterloo Station, and do so by posting a photo or two here from the same vantage point on the upper concourse at Waterloo Station.

This is from the Network Rail website on the Waterloo and South West upgrade says,

Work on the Waterloo and South West upgrade started in April 2016 when we began re-developing the former Waterloo International Terminal for domestic services. The project is expected to be complete by December 2018 and will provide the biggest package of improvements to London Waterloo since the 1930s.

I’ll be amazed if the date of December 2018 for completion is met. Take a look at the photo below, and make your judgement. To see my past articles and photos of the progress over the past few years, enter Waterloo into the search box in the top right hand corner, and they’ll be shown in date order – newest first. Click on images to expand.