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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When are the Last Trains to London?

Beat of the M60 finds an excuse to combine trains with music

“It was 9.29, 29… 9.29 back street, big city/The sun was going down, there was music all round, it felt so right.”

Last Train to London, Electric Light Orchestra (1979)

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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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Class 142, Newton Heath depot

Back By Unpopular Demand: Northern’s Pacer Units

Nodding Donkeys ‘home’ till Christmas

Today, East of the M60 has learned that a small number of the universally derided Class 142 Pacer units will be making a comeback on Northern rail services. Thirteen of the units will be reinstated to provide extra capacity, and to ensure that social distancing practices will be maintained.

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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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Northern Nationalised: Franchise Transfers from Arriva Rail North to DfT

Northern franchise taken over by DfT as Operator of Last Resort from the 01 March

After several rumours and persistent lobbying by Northern English political figures in the last six months, it was announced today that Arriva lost its Northern rail franchise. Under the Anglo-German company’s tenure, the rail franchise was dogged by poor service, delayed rolling stock deliveries and gross overcrowding.

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Red Star Parcels totem, Guildford (image by Andrew Bowden, 2011).

Red Star: When Parcels by Rail Were Faster By Far

Who remembers Red Star Parcels when you could send your worldly goods by train?

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we used to deliver a lot of our post by rail. Before the late 1980s, our newspapers came by train. Such was the importance of Travelling Post Office trains, mail trains used to have priority above all other trains at the signal box. Both our newspapers and post rely on road transport, a retrograde step given present-day environmental concerns.

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The Duffers’ Guide to Rail Operations #2: Sleeper Trains

A rough guide to nocturnal and, mainly horizontal, travel options

Imagine boarding a long distance train by night and waking up in another part of the world the following morning. In another country, or another part of the country. Most of the great long distance trains, for example the Trans-Siberian Express, traverse more than one country. If you are an EU citizen, the journey from France to Czechia is as easy as one from Glasgow Central to London Euston (thanks to the lack of border controls in most of mainland Europe).

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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”