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?”
Andrew Martin: I grew up the son of a railwayman. That was in the 70s when railways were in eclipse. I spent a lot of time on trains, always reaching out for some sort of glamour that I read of in novels or saw in films, and that seemed increasingly elusive: dining cars, plush compartments; a real sense of occasion about a train journey. In my book Belles and Whistles, and in the tv programme, I wanted to show people who might not know what trains used to be like, compared with the utilitarian reality of today.
Steam Tube:” Is there one particular train journey, from that Golden Age and apart from the 5 in the book– that you would like to revisit?”
(Andrew Martin)A simple quick ‘hit’ of glamour would have been to go rattling long to Brighton on the Belle. Can’t recall the exact timings off the top of my head, but a sunny lunchtime en route to Brighton, with a hotel booked for the night. I’d have lunch on the train of course (from what I understand, it was practically compulsory to eat on the Belle). I’d have a concentrated splurge: gin and tonic, half a bottle of wine, Welsh Rarebit, with a cigarette and coffee to follow. The great thing about the Belle, is that there wasn’t time to get bored, which – let’s face it – can happen on even the most glamorous of the longer trips.
On arrival in Brighton, I’d go to sleep on the beach.
Steam Tube :”What is missing from today’s long distance train journey….that is, assuming that standards today are not so Golden?”
Andrew Martin: What is missing today is the following:
Leg room (except in First), well-upholstered seats, dining cars, buffet cars, silence, windows you can open, compartments. The lineside scene is also far less interesting, on account of no marshalling yards, passing steam locos, few factories, mines and docks.
A selection of Andrew’s books, and his railway detective Jim Springer’s Edwardian adventures can be found in all the usual online places!
Wednesday 2nd September 2015 on BBC 4 at 9 pm..in the Timeshift series…The Trains That Time Forgot: Britain’s Lost Railway Journeys…