Rails Around London

I finally managed to edit and sort the videos from my latest trip to London. Admittedly it’s a bit of a hodge podge, but nonetheless for me it was great fun. Be it underground trains, trams or express trains, as long as it is steel wheel on steel rail, I like it. 

There were however two things high on my to do list. The first one was the “Mail Train” experience at the Postal Museum in London, the second “must do” item was a ride on the new GWR bi-mode Class 800 Intercity Express Trains. (Please read about my initial impressions concerning this train in a previous blog here)

The London Postal Museum just opened it’s doors. Frankly I was not overly impressed. One old mail truck and one aged postal bus do not a museum make! Also, harping about one incident during World War II really does not do much to further any understanding on how the Postal System works. I think that was what I really was disappointed about: When I left the museum I still had no idea about the technology and people behind the effort to get a letter from point A to point B. How are stamps made? What or who reads the addresses scribbled on envelopes? How do they or a machine know that there is actually a stamp on the mail piece? What about RPOs? I think I made my point. 

The Mail Train part was a tad more interesting, but could have been made much more informative. Very briefly, the mail train was an underground rail system the Royal Mail used in London to carry mail and packages between post offices in the central part of London. Traffic in London was bad and it still is bad. Mail trucks would take hours in some instances to get from one office to another. The mail train could do it in a fraction of the time. Frankly it was quite an ingenious system. In 2008 the decision was made to abandon the system and now, as is so often the case, the Royal Mail wishes it had not done so. A few years ago the Postal Museum started to renovate a small part of the system to eventually open it to the public. So now you have the Mail Rail experience!

As I mentioned before the second “must do” item was a run on the GWR (Great Western Railway) Class 800. Again, and I know I have said this before, it was quite a disappointment. It seems that the railways in the UK have joined the airlines in the race to the bottom! Seating, service, the ride: All are worse in the new trains. In any case, I hopped on one of the 800s at London Paddington and took it to Bristol Parkway. From there it was on to Bristol Temple Meads to catch an “old” HST Class 43 back to London Paddington. 

On another lazy day I spent a few hours at the Royal Oak tube station. That station is served by the Hammersmith and City, as well as the Circle Line. What makes that station interesting, is that it affords a great view of the London Paddington station “throat”. There are not a huge variety of trains to see, but there sure are lots of them! 

Then there are a few clips of underground trains. The Turnham Green station is sort of “my” station when I am in London. It is a stop on the District Line. As one can see the Piccadilly Line does not stop there (except very early morning or very late evening), even though the local council has been pushing for Transport for London to do just that. Apparently the passenger numbers easily justify it. Notice the difference in size between the District Line rolling stock and the Piccadilly Line trains. 

At the Chiswick train station I managed to get two Class 707 Electric Multiple Units. These are brand new trains (mid-2017), but due to the idiotic UK rail franchising system the just announced new franchisee of this line, South Western Railway, does not want them. So basically you have a quite few million pounds worth of new trains, which nobody knows what to do with! See the link here and here for another take on this.

The final video clips are at the Bluebell Railway in East Sussex. This steam preservation railway is easily accessible from London. In fact the East Grinstead station is one of the terminal stations for the Bluebell Railway, as well as the current Southern Railway service out of London Victoria station. Quite a few film studios take advantage of this proximity to London. If you ever watched Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes riding a train, you have seen the Bluebell Railway. Miss Marple seems to be a regular on that line also! The Bluebell Railway line runs between Sheffield Park and East Grinstead

So there you have it. Enjoy the video.

Taken with a Sony A6500 and an iPhone X.

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