Cars on Trains: The Wonders of Motorail

How we let the train take the strain – by carrying us and our cars at the same time

If we put our minds to it, we can let the train take the strain even more. Not only passengers from A to B, also our worldly goods like parcels, raw materials and fuel oil. For carrying heavy loads at once, nothing beats the goods train’s ability at taking more cars off the roads.

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‘Bridge Bi-Mode Breakthrough

Class 769 bi-mode trains reach Stalybridge

At 1714, arriving three years and nine minutes late on Platform 5 at Stalybridge station was the 1531 train from Southport to Stalybridge. Though the journey itself seems far from headline-grabbing, the kind of rolling stock and its delay is even more so.

Instead of the usual Class 150 Sprinter unit, the 1531 was operated by 769 442. The four-car unit is one of eight Northern trains that are bi-mode units.

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Answers to Escape to the Pantry’s Guess the Bus and Train Livery Blocks

At last, we have the answers to East of the M60’s bus and train livery quiz

If you have been taking part in our bus and train livery, we now have the answers to Guess the Bus and Train Livery Blocks. In true tradition, the answers have arrived a week late.

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Escape to the Pantry: Guess the Bus and Train Livery Blocks

East of the M60’s back with a nifty follow-up to the seat moquette quiz

In the last year, you might have seen the use of minimalist colour blocks on t’ internets. In most cases, they form part of a quiz with video gaming characters and Walt Disney characters being popular subject areas.

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D6700 Class 40, York (Image by Calflier001).

A Lost Train to London: The Highwayman

The cheap yet slow way of getting from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to London

Road and rail competition, whether private car versus train or scheduled coach versus train is far from new. The private car was, and remains, a threat to the viability of any communal transport options due to its convenience and perceived economy. The opening of the M1 and M6 motorways was also attractive for coach operators as well as motorists.

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Class 142, Newton Heath depot

Ten Things That Millennials Never Enjoyed About Train Travel: The Not So Perfect Ten

Ten things about British rail travel that people born after 1980 never had the chance to enjoy or endure

For many passengers, today’s trains are shiny and efficient beasts. Some might say they are a little devoid of character. Sometimes they look scruffy or sport garish liveries.

In the space of forty years, the joys of British rail travel has changed beyond recognition. Besides preserved railways, today’s trains look more like buses or aeroplanes. There are some that look exactly like buses that are due to cease operation this year.

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Train Seats in All Parts: The Not So Perfect Ten

A selection of the best train seating positions on Network Rail metals and preserved lines

BR Mark II 2nd Class carriage interior
An interior shot of a British Rail Mark 2 carriage (TSO).

If you travel by train in the peak hours, there are two inevitabilities. One is the fact you’ll need a mortgage for the rail fare or the season ticket. The other, are the chances of getting a seat. Which is pretty rare at ten to six on the 1757 to Huddersfield. Continue reading “Train Seats in All Parts: The Not So Perfect Ten”

Forgotten Rail Journeys: York to Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth

A look at the long forgotten overnight train from Yorkshire to Mid Wales

86012 at Crewe 1979
Going Postal: 86 012 seen at Crewe station. Image by Steve Jones, 28 September 1979.

Till fairly recently, a lot of our post was delivered via rail with road for the last mile journeys to sorting offices. Before Railnet’s last hurrah for the Travelling Post Office, the TPO trains were a common feature of our railways. Mainline stations had dedicated platforms for the Royal Mail trains (platform 17 at Manchester Victoria station was one example). For a slight premium (an extra penny on a stamp), you could post your letters through the post box of a stationary TPO train. Continue reading “Forgotten Rail Journeys: York to Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth”

Straight Outta Bolton: A Passenger’s Eye View of Overcrowding on Northern Trains

In Pictures: The Evening Crush Hour

Over the last six months, there has been a lot of coverage on the Southern Rail strike and the cancellations faced by its commuters. The main reason for the strike is the introduction of Driver Only Operation on 8 to 12 car units. That’s right: 8 to 12 carriages, without a guard.
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How I Miss BR Rail Blue (and the use of Rail Alphabet on All Station Signs)

Why, oh why, does our rail franchisees insist on liveries inspired by 1990s football strips?

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Dignified: the BR Rail Blue scheme seen on a Class 304 bound for Stoke-on-Trent in 1992. Photograph by Hugh Llewellyn (Creative Commons License – Attribution-Share Alike).

Call me old (well, I’m almost 37 years old for goodness sake anyway), but I hanker for the smooth, smart, yet strikingly modern liveries of the British Rail era. I hanker for their discipline and adherence to the Rail Alphabet typeface, and other wonders from the Design Research Unit. I miss seeing the yellow text on red signage of the BR Travellers’ Fare outlets and the design language, used on all railway stations from Abererch to Yeovil Pen Mill. Continue reading “How I Miss BR Rail Blue (and the use of Rail Alphabet on All Station Signs)”