” Preserving the steam locomotive legacy.. and more..on film”
A 1960’s shot: GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY LOUGHBOROUGH CENTRAL An N5 and D11 “Improved Director” 62666.(C) Christine Stachini
Steam Tube Photographic Highlights
Steam Tube Video Highlights
Steam Tube Blogs
100 Trains….the journey so far….
Tornado…The Story so far…
New & ReBuild News.
B & O Railroad Museum TV
Mainline Steam Schedule
On This Day in History.
Radstock to Frome Railway Project
Around the World in 80 Railways. (No 62:Monisha Rajesh on The TransSiberian)
A warm welcome to this September 2015 edition of “On Shed”, Steam Tube’s monthly newsletter and features magazine.
In this month’s edition there are the usual regular features…a look at some video and photographic highlights from the uploads to Steam Tube during the last month..On This Day in History… New and Rebuild news and progress reports and links…and Monisha Rajesh’s progress on her “Around The World in 80 Trains” project….
Firstly…a look ahead to a television programme scheduled for Wednesday 2nd September 2015 on BBC 4 at 9 pm..in the Timeshift series…The Trains That Time Forgot: Britain’s Lost Railway Journeys…
According to the programme website
“Timeshift journeys back to a lost era of rail travel, when trains had names, character and style. Once the pride of the railway companies that ran them, the named train is now largely consigned to railway history.
Writer and presenter Andrew Martin asks why we once named trains and why we don’t do so anymore. He embarks on three railway journeys around Britain, following the routes of three of the most famous named trains – the Flying Scotsman, the Cornish Riviera Express and the Brighton Belle. We reflect on travel during the golden age of railways – when the journey itself was as important as reaching your destination – and compare those same journeys with the passenger experience today”
Andrew Martin, whose recent book “Belles and Whistles” provides the template for this programme, was able to answer a few questions about his railway writing..and the TV programme..
Steam Tube: “What was it that motivated you to revisit these 5 journeys (in the book..)that to many, would evoke a much more glamorous time for travel of any kind, but rail travel in particular?”
Wednesday 2nd September 2015 on BBC 4 at 9 pm..in the Timeshift series…The Trains That Time Forgot: Britain’s Lost Railway Journeys…
At the beginning of August, Rail Tube News was able to visit the UK headquarters of IMPACT Foundation..
The following item was first published in Rail Tube News on 9th August 2015, and is reproduced here…
Mention the town of Haywards Heath in West Sussex (40 miles south of London, 12 miles north of Brighton and with a population of around 25,000), and you may be hard pressed to make any connection with it in the way you would readily connect the name Stratford-upon-Avon with William Shakespeare, which connection is easily made by individuals from around the globe.
But there is a connection that Haywards Heath is famous for, and a connection which has impacted on the lives of millions around the world….
From modest premises in Western Road, the IMPACT Foundation “supports trusted local partners in 11 countries of Africa and Asia to implement a wide variety of action to prevent and treat needless disability; to promote health; and, as a consequence, to alleviate poverty.”
The Impact website says..” IMPACT’s aim is simple – that no one should become needlessly disabled by disease, lack of knowledge or shortage of medical services.
Our international programmes prevent and alleviate needless disability. All of our projects are run by local people in touch with real need – they also contribute resources. This ensures that our work is cost-effective and appropriate.
We have already restored sight, mobility and hearing, or repaired cleft lip for almost 800,000 people and prevented a lifetime of disability for many thousands more.”
Current projects include :
Taking the hospital to the people’: The Lifeline Express
IMPACT India’s Lifeline Express Hospital Train comprises a fully equipped operating theatre, diagnostic centre and post-operative ward, teaching facilities, laboratory and workshop.
The original Lifeline Express, which had travelled the rail network since 1991, had to be de-commissioned due to wear and tear and five brand new carriages gifted by the Indian Ministry of Railways were renovated and equipped- thanks to funds raised by the Rotary Clubs of Great Britain and Ireland which had selected IMPACT as their international charity of the year – enabling this special train to be re-launched in August 2007
For further information, please see IMPACT India’s website HERE
‘Taking the hospital to the people’: The Jibon Tari Floating hospital
Building on the experience of the Lifeline Express, IMPACT launched the ‘Jibon Tari’ (Boat of Life) Floating Hospital in 1999 to take specialist care to riverside communities along 3,000 kilometres of waterway in Bangladesh.
There is a short film available about IMPACT’s floating hospital in IMPACT’s media library: Ship of Life
Other IMPACT priorities are:
Early Identification & Treatment
Safer Motherhood & Child Survival
Safe Water & Sanitation
But it was The Lifeline Express, and the use of India’s extensive rail network, that prompted a visit to IMPACT’s offices this week (3rd August 2015) where Judi Stagg, Chief Executive of IMPACT Foundation UK kindly answered a few questions about the operation, and more importantly , outlined how support could be given…
Yesterday I watched the Gerry Troyna film “The Lifeline Express “ (Available Here)
The plight of so many of the poor in India’s out of the way places brings tears to the eyes. To think that in the 21st century such abject poverty, and a lack of access to the basic healthcare systems that we take for granted, seems almost obscene. You feel that you ought to do something to help alleviate the unnecessary suffering and hardship that men, women and children experience.
So, donations can help further the important projects that reach out to these disadvantaged ones.
According to IMPACT’s 2014 Year Review, “The Lifeline Express hospital train held 9 projects across India; 4,810 people had surgery to reverse their disabling condition; 650 volunteer medics helped make this possible”
And this is the Financial Information for 2014 that made the above possible..
Financial Summary 2013/14
Income , totalling £2,392,918 included Donations and Gift Aid of £ 1,173,594, Gifts in Kind £129,600 , Legacies £997,835 and Rotary donations of £16,593
Expenditure totalling £2,304,541 included International programme +research and development of new projects £ 2,096,709.. The cost of generating funds was £128,057 and Administration and governance ..£45,248
So, what can we do? IMPACT’s work depends on Donations, Gifts, Legacies….
And given the small proportion of donated funds used to administer the charity, we can rest assured that the bulk of the money we donate would go to helping IMPACT accomplish their stated objectives to avoid needless disability.
Surely we feel moved to make our small contribution ….
This week has also seen a four part series, running on consecutive evenings, “World’s Busiest Railway 2015: Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai”, with Dan Snow, Anita Rani, Robert Llewellyn and John Sergeant.
Episode descriptions , courtesy BBC iPlayer….
In this opening episode, Dan, Anita and Robert try commuting Mumbai-style, tackling ‘super dense crush load’ on the world’s busiest commuter trains. With as many as 14 people crushed into a square metre, these trains are more than twice as crammed as the most crowded UK trains. Passengers hang from the sides of trains and cross the tracks, so they’re in for quite a ride.
John Sergeant heads to Darjeeling’s steam-powered hill railway and reveals the historical connection between tea and trains. And our cameras are on board with the astonishing dabba wallahs – a crack team of couriers who deliver 200,000 home-cooked lunches to offices all over Mumbai.
Dan Snow, Anita Rani and Robert Llewellyn examine the role the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai plays in long-distance travel across India. The country’s rail passengers travel thee million km every day – that’s the distance to the moon and back, four times.
Anita joins passengers on a long-distance sleeper across India to discover who’s travelling, what they pay for their tickets and what the conditions are like on board.
The station team have just six hours to service trains after every journey. With trains measuring more than half a kilometre in length, this is a gargantuan task. Robert joins the team to watch this turnaround in action.
Dan gets his hands dirty with the behind-the-scenes support teams who process more than 25,000 dirty sheets a day and ensure that everyone on board is fed and watered.
And we go on board one of India’s poshest tourist trains, where you can travel like a maharaja at a cost of £600 per night.
Robert visits a city-sized repair facility where, every 18 months, train carriages are given their version of an MOT. He tries his hand at repairing seats and discovers that carriages are still painted by hand.
Our cameras are on board with one of the train drivers – known as motormen – and are given privileged access to the lounge where they gather before going on duty.
Anita heads onto the roads of Mumbai to see if commuting by road is any easier than by rail. But with an average speed of just 9 kmph, she discovers that progress is slow and hazardous by car.
We’re in the station control room when a train with a suspected fire on board threatens to bring evening rush hour to a halt, and we reveal the secret station workers who only come out at night.
John Sergeant visits two rural stations that still operate historical systems for train control and discovers how a silver ball can keep passengers safe.
Part 4: This final episode considers the challenges faced by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai and asks what the future holds.
In this final episode, Dan Snow, Anita Rani, Robert Llewellyn and John Sergeant consider the challenges faced by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai and ask what the future holds. Nine people a day die on Mumbai’s railway lines. Anita tackles the railway’s head of safety on the measures they’re taking to reduce this fatality rate.
Dan meets two eye witnesses to 2008’s terror attacks that claimed the lives of 52 people at the station. He also takes a ride on Mumbai’s newly built Metro to consider what the future could hold for the city’s 5.5 million rail commuters.
John Sergeant is in the Western Ghats, one of India’s biggest mountain ranges, revealing the heavy human cost of building the line that connects Mumbai to the south and east of India.
Robert fulfills a childhood dream and becomes a train driver for a day and Anita tries her hand at station announcing.
Steam Tube Photographic Highlights(31,406 in Library!)
Steam Tube Video Highlights (7,008 in the Library!)
Steam Tube Blogs (462 in Library)
Dave Wilson regularly contributes to Steam Tube Blogs….this is a recent upload…
Sun, steam, and speed!
Looking every bit the express, No.44767 roars through Damems, at 15mph, with the ‘non-stop’, during a gala weekend on the Worth Valley. When I looked at this photograph I also noticed the ‘electric’ lights and the steam generator on the running plate – Black 5s I worked on never had electric lights, keep on like this and they’ll be retro fitting bucket seats too!
The autumn gala season will soon be upon us and there are some potential gems, No.46100 Royal Scot and the LMS set at the SVR, along with No.70000 Britannia and the teaks; if only they had a set of SR green MkIs for No.34027 Taw Valley!! The branch line event at Llangollen, with little and large prairies and the Jinty 47406, has possibilities too. Shame that Keighley’s plans were thrown into disarray, No.31806 and No.34053 Sir Keith Park would have been interesting guests. In what must surely be a first, the ELR’s ‘Crab’ No.10365, in ‘Crimson Lake’ livery, is appearing at the Mid-Hants Railway Gala, a route I worked over, myself, during my spell at 70A .
Down in deepest Zummerzet it’s all gone a bit GWR, with pair of Halls, two Manors, a 28xx, and the last gala outing of No.4160 and ‘other guests are being sought’, they say. On the other side of the country the North Norfolk see No.34007 Wadebridge coming to town, along with the perfectly in keeping B1 No.61306 Mayflower.
Couple of local treats to look forward to with No.60009 Union of South Africa on the Fife circle and on the new Borders Railway – the climb to Falahill would seem to be the place to enjoy some chimney chatter on these trips. All we need now is some fair weather and cool air temperatures …mmmmmm!
My Latest book, Steam Age Daydreams ‘Railway Tales’ is out now.
Below is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.
100 Trains….the journey so far….
What? A 50,000km train journey around the world. And not just any old trains either. The highest. The longest. The most iconic.
Why? To raise vital research funds for Ataxia UK, and as a vehicle to unite ataxia sufferers, supporters and charities worldwide.
When? The journey will start on January 23 2016 (my 50th birthday – and I can’t think of a better way of marking the occasion!).
Train highlights: A’REX; Adirondack; Akbar Express; Andean Explorer; Andean Lakes Crossing (bus/ferry); Bergen Railway (Bergensbanen); Berlin-Warszawa-Express; Bernina Express; Blue Train; Bosfor Night Train; c571 Steam Engine; Caledonian Sleeper (The Deerstalker); California Zephyr; Cambrian Coast Line; Cambrian Line; Canadian; Carajas Railroad; Cardinal; Cassiopeia; Centovalli Railway; Cévenol; Chinese Bullet Train; City of New Orleans; Coast Starlight; Coastal Pacific; Conwy Valley Line; Copper Canyon Railway; Countrylink; Crescent; Death Railway; Dovre Railway (Dovrebanen); Elster Valley Railway (Elsterbahn); Empire Builder; Enterprise (Belfast-Dublin); Eurostar; Fairy Queen; Ffestiniog Railway (Snowdonia); Flåm Railway (Flåmsbana); Ghan; Glacier Express; GoldenPass Panoramic Train; Gornergratbahn; Grand Canyon Railway; Great Western Railway; Guangzhou-Zhuhai Intercity Mass Rapid Transit; Gyeongbu Line; Hadrian’s Wall Country Line; Hamanasu; Harz Mountain Railway – Brockenbahn; Harz Mountain Railway – Harzquerbahn; Harz Mountain Railway – Selketalbahn; Heahthrow Express; Heart of Wales Line; Hershey Railway; HEX (Harz Elbe Express); Highland Main Line; Himalayan Queen; Hiram Bingham; Inaho; Indian Pacific; Inlandsbanan; Jacobite Steam Train; Jose Cuervo Express; Jungle Railway; Kangra Queen; Kisuki Line/Gei-bi Line; Kyle Line; La Tronchita; Ligne de Cerdagne (Little Yellow Train); Llanberis Lake Railway; Lokmanya Express; Long Island Railroad; Maharaja’s Express; Mont Blanc Express; Moonlight Echigo; Nariz del Diablo Railroad (“Devil’s Nose”); New Mexico Railrunner; Night Riviera Sleeper; Nilgiri Mountain Railway; North Yorkshire Moors Railway; Northern Explorer; Ocean; Overland; Pacific Surfliner; Rameswaram Express (Boat Mail); Reunification Express; Rovos – Pride of Africa; Sagano Scenic Railway; San Joaquin; San-in Line; San-yo Line; Semmering Railway; Settle-Carlisle Railway; Severn Valley Railway; Shanghai Airport Maglev Train; Shatabdi Express; Shinkansen; Sierra Verde Express; Snowdon Mountain Railway; Sørland Railway (Sørlandsbanen); Southwest Chief; St.Ives Bay Line; Strathspey Steam Railway; Strba Rack Railway; Tatra Electric Railway; Texas Eagle; Thalys; Torbay Express; Townliner (Suspended Monorail); Train des Pignes; Tramway du Mont-Blanc; Trans-Asia Express; Transpyrénéen; Tranzalpine; Trembler (Corsica); Tren a Las Nubes; Tren de Serra; Tren de Sóller; Tren Francès; Tren Patagonico; Tren Turistico de la Araucania; Udarate Menike; Vale of Rheidol Railway; Victoria Peak Funicular Railway (The Peak Tram); Vitoria-Minas Railroad; Welsh Highland Railway; Welsh Marches Line; Welshpool and Llanfair Light Railway; West Highland Railway; West Somerset Railway; West Wales Lines; Wilhelm Tell Express; Yal Devi Express.
The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted a few omissions.
First, a rather large omission. The Trans-Siberian Express:
It is impossible to complete a circumnavigation which includes both the Trans-Siberian & Trans-Asia expresses, without some serious backtracking. This was one of the main logistical problems I faced when planning the original 2013 journey. On that ocassion I decided to travel on the Trans Siberian Express, for a couple of reasons. Chief among these was the satisfying of a lifetime’s desire to ride the Trans Siberian. There was a very practical reason too though. At that time, the Marmaray tunnel was still under construction, meaning that the Trans-Asia Express actually started in Ankara (not Istanbul).
There might even be a problem with the Trans-Asia route though. The security situation in Pakistan and south-eastern Iran might be an issue. What is likely to be the biggest problem is obtaining a visa for overland travel through Pakistan – they’re just not giving them out at the moment (for overland travel – I think they don’t want the embarrassment of another Westerner’s death/kidnap on their hands). Plus, although my legs don’t really work that well now, I’d quite like to keep them attached to my body, given the choice. If the security situation in the region is still a problem when I reach New Delhi, then I have a backup plan that involves the old Silk Route through China and the ‘stans.
This is just a summary of the train highlights. You should be able to tell from the map above whether I have missed something. Please let me know if so.
A wee bit of history.
I first attempted this journey in 2013. For my own travelling pleasure on that occasion. This original journey, a lifelong dream of mine, was 18 months in the planning.
I was reasonably able-bodied at the start of the journey, in Glasgow, Scotland (although I was already aware that something “wasn’t quite right” healthwise).
However, on reaching Novosibirsk in Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Express, after 21,000km had been completed (rail kilometres), I became rather ill and returned home.
21,000km. Not bad going really.
Since then, it has taken a never-ending stream of doctors and neurologists almost 2 years to identify the cause of my illness. And it is not really good news.
I myself am suffering from a form of cerebellar ataxia.
Ataxia? Never heard of it? Neither had I. And we’re not alone. Around 91% of the UK population have never heard of it either (one of my aims for this journey, is to put a huge dent in that 91% figure!).
So now I will attempt the entire 50,000km journey again. Only this time, I’m making this wee trip to raise vital research funds for Ataxia UK (the national ataxia charity in the UK), and to unite ataxia sufferers and supporters worldwide (there has already been a lot of interest in this journey from around the globe).
Ataxia UK is the national charity for ataxia in the UK. They are working very hard to find a cure for one, or all, ataxias by 2020.
Ataxia is a genetic condition that can affect anyone, at any age (just a few years ago, I was a healthy & rather fit young man!).
A cure WILL be found though. Research funds just need to be found first.
In the meantime, we can support his effort by doing our online shopping ……HERE
Also, an upcoming event that might be an opportunity to show support for ATAXIA sufferers..
City Bridges Challenge 2015
Please join us for an exciting 6 mile guided walk across London’s bridges. Raising funds for one of the rare genetical conditions that affects 10,000 people in the UK, you will have the chance to make a lasting impact on the charity’s work. We have an option of two routes available. Route one is 3.6 miles and Route Two is 6.3 miles.
The walk will start at Old Paradise Garden near Lambeth Bridge. Check in will open at 10:30am and the walk will begin at 11am.
To request a Fundraising Pack and Register (to get your free t-shirt), please contact us on 0207 582 14440207 582 1444.
We look forward to seeing you at our walk!
20th September 2015
Tornado…The Story so far…
8th August – The Golden Age of Travel lunchtime excursion – Belmond British Pullman
11th August – 2nd September – Nene Valley Railway, Peterborough
Tornado’s packed main line and heritage railway diary for the rest of 2015 includes (see www.a1steam.com for details):
23rd September – London Victoria to Bristol and return – Belmond British Pullman
26th September – ‘The Silver Jubilee Talisman’ London to York, Darlington and Newcastle – A1SLT booking through UK Railtours
6th November – The Golden Age of Travel lunchtime excursion – Belmond British Pullman
8th December – Christmas Lunch – Belmond British Pullman
12th December – Christmas Lunch – Belmond British Pullman
31st December – ‘St. Mungo Anniversary Tour’ – York to Newcastle and return – A1SLT (details tbc)
New & ReBuild News.
Project Miller 41001 Returns!.
US Union Pacific Big Boy 4014
Latest News..and Video..HERE
The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) T1 Steam Locomotive Trust
More information at:http://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/news.php
Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2
Photo courtesy B & O Museum
Latest News on Facebook..HERE
Project 6029 (Beyer Garratt 6029 ex-NSWGR) Up to date information regarding steam locomotive 6029 in Canberra, ACT Australia. Beyer Garratt 6029 is an EX NSWGR locomotive and was a member of the largest, and most powerful class in Australia. The restoration to full working order has been undertaken by volunteers in Canberra.
Fund our Frames!
Donate just £5 to help to get this project started. We are starting with the buffer beam, We have been quoted a cost of £1300. Thats if 260 people donate just £5, we will be able to see the first part of a Claud for over 50 years.
We aim to build and operate the Great Eastern Railways legendary 4-4-0 D16/2 “Claud Hamilton” steam locomotive, No.8783 to be named “Phoenix”.
The Claud Hamilton group is now linked to the Whitwell and Reepham Railway, Providing expert help and a home base for the locomotive in the future.
To read about the “Ground Up Club”, and the latest news about the V499 project, go to
As you are all aware we have finally got agreement in order to be able to secure 1498s future however there is still a long way to go, we need to find her a secure long term home and to this end we are currently in talks with heritage railways more details on this will be released as and when known. However before this can happen we need your help we need to raise an awful lot of money in order to purchase the unit and then move it off the E O R, so please folks consider helping us to secure 1498’s future. We need your help so please donate to us the address for donations is on this page so please help us and remeber everything you donate large or small helps us to secure her future everything goes to buy move and restore 1498. Please help us please donate today. Many thanks 1498 Preservation Group.
You can now donate to the group through this Facebook page by visiting the DONATE tab above and then clicking donate or via this link
B & O Railroad Museum TV:
Each month the B&O TV Network, starring actor Michael Gross, spotlights a moment in B&O Railroad history. Take a journey into the past and view one or all of these episodes posted on YouTube.
Mainline Steam Schedule
This listing is offered in good faith, so there is no guarantee offered or implied.
Please confirm running with the relevant tour operator.
And adhere, please, to Network Rail’s photographic guidelines…..HERE
The tour schedule for September 2015..and beyond..can be found at Railway Herald
On This Day In History
First Great Central Railway Class 8K 2-8-0 freight locomotive, No. 966, is turned out of its Gorton locomotive works, England. The class, designed by John G. Robinson, will exceed 650 in total and see overseas service during World War I.
The Witham rail crash in England kills 11
William Dean, Chief Mechanical Engineer of Great Western Railway of England 1877-1902 (b. 1840).
The first 4-8-8-4 “Big Boy” steam locomotive is delivered from Alco to the Union Pacific Railroad at Omaha.
Last ‘Cornishman’ express ran over the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham route: this and other express trains were re-routed via the Birmingham – Gloucester line.
Today is the 52nd anniversary since a Brush Type 4, a class 47, ran on the national network
The Rev. W. V. Awdry’s book for children The Three Railway Engines is published in Leicester, England, the first in what is to become The Railway Series
The Ashover Light Rly work England’s last steam worked public passenger services on a narrow gauge railway.
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened. During the ceremony, William Huskisson MP, became the first person to be killed by a train.
Beyer, Peacock and Company of Manchester, England, steam the first Garratt articulated steam locomotive built to the design of Herbert William Garratt, K Class No. K1 for the Tasmanian Government Railways’ North East Dundas Tramway
The Ditton Junction rail crash near Widnes in England kills 15.
Oliver Bulleid, chief mechanical engineer of the Southern Railway (Great Britain) 1937-1948, born in New Zealand (d. 1970).
14 die as a result of the Grantham rail accident on the Great Northern Railway (Great Britain) when a sleeping car train is derailed passing through Grantham railway station at excessive speed.
The Bere Ferrers rail accident in England kills 10 New Zealand soldiers
Herbert William Garratt, English steam locomotive builder and inventor of the Garratt locomotive type (b. 1864)
The Stockton Darlington Railway opened. It was the first passenger rail service, the steam locomotive travelled at 10mph.
"Opening of Stocking and Darlington Railway (crop)" by John Dobbin - This version updated from http://www.ssplprints.com/image.php?id=82330From a painting held by the National Railway Museum, York. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Opening_of_Stocking_and_Darlington_Railway_(crop).jpg#/media/File:Opening_of_Stocking_and_Darlington_Railway_(crop).jpg
September 27–October 6 – Railway workers in the United Kingdom stage a strike, called by the National Union of Railwaymen.
Third class sleeping cars are introduced on those British railways providing such a service
Formal opening of first electrified section of Giant’s Causeway Tramway in Ireland, utilising hydroelectricity.
Latest News from this group can be found HERE
Around the World in 80 Railways(No 62 – The TransSiberian)
Monisha Rajesh is a journalist/blogger who is currently on a round the world trip….by train. Her blog is entitled: Around The World in 80 Trains.
This, with her permission, is the latest entry….
Oxana set down my green tea and a fork and patted me on the head. The dining car’s waitress had taken to mothering me since I boarded four days previously and seeing as she was the one who held court – and the keys to the fridge – I was more than happy to let her. At the next table a man in a singlet and slippers, scowled at my pot of instant mash and waved his hands, before tearing in half his buckwheat pancake filled with cottage cheese and tossing it across with a nod and a smile. Having watched him put away three cans of Stella since 9.30am, I obliged, and they were sweet and delicious.
The Trans-Siberian is the godfather of trains. Strictly speaking not a train but a route, it features on the bucket list of most rail enthusiasts, stretching more than 5,500 miles from Moscow to Vladivostok. But to mix things up I had chosen the more varied Trans‑Mongolian route (which veers away from Russia, dipping down through Mongolia into China), and broken up the journey by hopping off to ride the Circum-Baikal railway above Lake Baikal, and watch Swan Lake at the opera in Ulan Bator, before arriving in Beijing 11 days after setting off from Moscow.
For the first two days I took up residence by the window watching leafless trees flash past until the scenery induced a meditative lull. Every few hours farmhouses and scarecrows in potato patches would breathe life into the greyness. But the real entertainment took place in the train’s corridors where passengers gathered to brew tea at the samovar or exchange stories – and during long-awaited stops where elderly women sold punnets of strawberries and young women in neon shorts hawked dried omul fish speared through the eye. At one such stop I rifled through the trolley of a lady who was picking her teeth while chatting to a friend, and offered her 90 roubles (85p) for a pack of playing cards. Even her son smirked and shook his head in disbelief that anyone would offer more than a cursory glance for what turned out to be a pack of 36 cards.
More than anything the train provided a geographical perspective that no aeroplane or car could ever match. Having picked up our location on Google maps in Moscow, I followed the blue sphere for five days as it moved across the globe, floating across territory that contained no cities, no lakes. But outside the window that territory was very much alive. At dusk on the eve of arrival at Ulan Bator rust-coloured sand dunes rose in the distance and rivers began to bend by the tracks. The sun threw stripes of red and orange across the sky, wholly unlike the mists that had hung across Siberia only days before.
(Sunset Over Mongolia)
Waking on the fifth morning, I pulled back the curtains to find Smurf‑blue sky and cliffs rising all around the train as it snaked into tunnels and burst out onto bridges over green water, at the edges of which squatted fishermen in wide trousers and bamboo hats. Stepping onto the platform at Beijing, I couldn’t quite believe how far I had come, but also how far there was to go…
Rail bookers (www.railbookers.com 020 3780 2256020 3780 2256) offers holidays on the Trans-Siberian railway from £919 per person. As tailor-made rail-holiday experts they will create a unique trip for you, including stops along the way, hand-picked hotels and a range of excursions.
To be continued
WATTRAIN , APHTRO
At this very moment in time someone will be riding a heritage tram or train somewhere in the world and it is WATTRAIN’s aim to ensure that this will be the case for many years to come. Although different countries may have different laws and cultures, our heritage trams and trains all face the same sorts of issues; finance; restoration costs; Insurance; volunteer shortages and other similar things. WATTRAIN is here to bring organisations together, to allow them to learn from each other, passing on new ideas and also showing others what to avoid on their way to succeeding in their efforts.
If you or your organisation agrees with what we are trying to achieve, please consider joining us in our endeavours details can be found on our membership pages.
Latest Newsletter: HERE
Although there are many activities in the heritage and tourist railway sector in the Asia – Pacific region, they are busily advancing their plans separately; it seems there is little co-operation between countries. On the other hand, the international co-operation has been achieved and succeeded in the other rigion: Europe, North and Latin America and Whole World. It is essential to establish and improve regional co-operation. This should be closer, more frequent and appropriate at the local level than worldwide level. APHTRO, Asia Pacific Heritage and Tourist Rail Organisation will mainly help the improvement of our treasured heritage railways and museums by forming a co-operative organisation to unite the countries. It will provide a forum where we can share experience and exchange ideas, advice and information in many aspects. APHTRO is able to act an important role and contribute to the growth and development of the heritage and tourist railways in the Asia – Pacific region.
Booking for this year’s APHTRO Conference
in Bangkok, Thailand, 20(optional), 21-23 October
is open now.
Your attendance will be wrmly welcomed.
Please visit our website for details;
Find 30742 Charters on Facebook at www.facebook.com/30742charters
LINDONG EVENING SHUNT (C)JIANGLILY