A two part feature covering the longer driver’s eye rail videos in the UK. I thought about doing this by decree of country (eg England, Scotland, Wales) however I realised it wouldn’t work because of a number of trips that cross the borders thus I have tried to regionalise things – a little easier but a still somewhat awkward task! As you will see its still a little messy. Maybe I should have just put it all under one category – the UK!
These posts were done for the current lockdowns, mainly because people may have a lot of time on their hands. At the time of writing the lockdowns are being eased off, however there’s still several posts on these long rail videos yet to be published – including one on the world’s narrow gauge railways, one for London’s tube system and another for the UK’s narrow gauge lines.
In terms of EWS, the longest cab ride has to be without a doubt the Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig Cab Ride at 4h 30m – this is indeed shown later in the post. Four hours plus is mighty good for this country! The next longest seems to be this cab ride shown below from Class 66 Carlisle to Milford Cab Ride Via Settle & Carlisle S&C, Leeds, etc. Dent station, England’s highest operational railway station (at a height of 1150ft/350m) can be seen at 1hr 40m.
Carlisle to Milford 3 hours 41 mins.
(Yes someone has tried to break the record for the longest UK rail video by uploading a journey from Manchester to Milford Haven however its not a cab ride…)
I would like to mention Don Coffey whose You Tube channel is proving to be excellent in terms of driver’s eye views for the UK. They are of great quality and the visuals are good too and I would think his videos undoubtedly consist the UK’s premier channel!
Edinburgh/Glasgow area (& over the border)
The following is a new presentation featuring a Class 334 cab view from Edinburgh to Helensburgh. This takes one along some of the UK’s latest energised sections as well as part of what was Scotland’s first cross country main line (towards Glasgow) and then the country’s oldest system (the Glasgow Electric lines of the early sixties.)
Edinburgh – Helensburgh Central 2hr 3m
This new video shown next is from February 2020 and features the forward view between Glasgow Central and Manchester Airport. Its two trains actually – a Class 350 as far as Carlisle and then a Class 397 the remainder of the journey. Its a good length in terms of UK driver’s eye views even though its actually two different trains. The reason for this is the Trans Pennine 397s are brand new and it seemed too good an opportunity to miss a driver’s eye view on one of those.
Its too a rarity among British driver’s eye views that it provides lineside speed limits – thus one roughly knows how fast the train is travelling. Just let you know the weather is rather grotty for much of the journey thus the fantastic scenery encountered along parts of the route isnt to be seen! For example the section from Tebay to Graygrigg all the surrounding hills are just visible through the misty atmosphere – but the locality’s full splendour cannot be savoured.
Glasgow to Manchester Airport 3 hours 19 minutes.
The next video – by the same person – in some ways makes up for that atrocious weather! Lineside speed indicators too! This one goes directly via Carstairs.
Edinburgh to Carlisle 1 hour 14 minutes.
The first is one of Don Coffey’s excellent videos. As he explains, ‘the loaded train has to circumnavigate Miles Platting bank so it is routed via the WCML,Cheshire Lines, Denton Junction and Brewery Junction before it can set off over the Pennines.’ The trip is indeed over a hundred miles even though the distance as the crow flies is 48 miles!
Warrington Bank Quay to Wakefield 3hr 42m
Manchester Airport to York 1 hour 39 mins.
This next one is a new entry. Its a Trans Pennine working diverted the great way round! As the video shows the normal route direct via Leeds and Huddersfield is dispensed for one that almost avoids the classic route entirely between Church Fenton and Manchester. The reason for this is to keep drivers aware (trained to use) of the other routes that can be used should the usual be blocked for some reason. There’s plenty of detail included in this videos such as the other routes, what they are used for etc. Its another of Don Coffey’s excellent productions – his videos no doubt some of the best driver’s eye views this country has to offer.
York to Manchester Airport 2hr 25m.
The next video is a lovely one – if only because its from a brand new train! Actually the field of view is great – just part of the driver’s front window (the wiper) can be seen and the positioning of the camera gives a great sense to the speed and motion of the train itself. I like it also because the camera is just far enough ahead to show the cantenary as it is about to sweep over the top of the train – and that gives a greater sense of realism. However its not actually a continual two hour driver’s eye video because the bit from York to Newcastle is just over 55 minutes. There are some additional scenes and the return journey is covered too.
Manchester Victoria to Scarborough 1hr 52m.
West Coast Main Line/North Wales
Very disappointingly any Pendolino drivers eye videos are rare and of very short duration. However here are some videos taken from normal trains (eg Class 350s) that do at least show the road ahead on the main lines out of Euston.
Euston to Rugby 55 minutes.
Another of Don’s offerings which is shown below offers us the North Wales main line to Holyhead. Despite much of it being rationalised its still a nice railway route with good coastal and mountain views. Its starts off with the four track section out of Chester. Beyond Northgate locks it reduces to two – however I always remember it as having four tracks right into Wales (the derelict track section is on the north side.) As Don mentions later a good bit of it was in fact quadrupled, and its a shame to see it as it is nowadays. But there were are! After the border its past the airfield (and a nice mention of the Beluga aircraft!) One cannot miss the partially overhanging signalbox at Mostyn! The shame is this was once a port well connected to the railway but that’s all gone.
One major change for me since the last time I travelled this route (circa 2012) is the layout at Abergele & Pensarn has been rationalised. The westbound platform has been extended outwards to the fast line – which means fast trains heading west can no longer overtake any slow trains waiting in the former station loop. The double span bridge of course a very clear indication of the quadruple track that once existed. The older layout (with its aforementioned station loop) can at least be seen on Google Streets.
Eventually its Colwyn Bay and its a shame about the pier – the last decade or so has seen a number of storms that have gradually demolished the pier – there’s nothing left of it now. The original Colwyn Bay station was slightly nearer the town centre – and made redundant when the line was extended westward.
Its not mentioned however part of the former branch down to Conwy quay can be seen just after the train leaves Llandudno Junction. The quay itself can be spotted just before the famous tubular bridge. As for Penmaenmawr, its sad to see the sidings here are now redundant. Despite much rationalisation, Bangor station very fortunately retains its pair of fast centre road tracks.
A number of the former branches off the main line (almost always heading off towards the south side) can be seen but most of these former junctions not mentioned which I found somewhat disappointing but never mind. The spectacular Britannia bridge crossing (which comes just after the now vanished junction with the former branches to Caernarfon and Llanberis) is of course a highlight. There’s also Llanfair PG and Gaerwen Junction for Red Wharf Bay/Almwych.
Chester to Holyhead 1hr 41m.
East Coast Main Line
London Kings Cross to York-on board an INTERCITY 225 2h 3m
The next video continues the ride to Newcastle on one of the UK’s latest trains – another of Don Coffey’s great productions and a brand new one!
York to Newcastle on a Transpennine Nova. 2hr 6m.
The St Pancras lines
Thameslink at least has a full video of its entire classic route between Brighton and Bedford:
Brighton to Bedford 2 Hours.
St Pancras to Derby 1hr 28m.
The next is one of several by Great Western highlighting the advantages of their new bi-modal trains whilst another is the final HST run from Plymouth to London. One of the earliest of these was a driver’s eye view of a record run between Paddington and Reading. Here it is – its not a long video but nevertheless shows the capabilities of their new IEPs.
This next one is a sort of fastest run between Bristol and Paddington. Its actually the first of the company’s new Super Fast services. Its nice to see a rare instance of a non stop run through Reading via the new track layout. Previously these used the fast tracks between platforms seven and eight and I remember a number of occasions on a train through these including the Cornish Riviera Express in the days when it ran non-stop from Exeter to Paddington.
Bristol to Paddington IEP 1 hr 28m.
The next is this latest offering from Great Western featuring a run from Plymouth to Paddington. Its actually the final HST run and was released the other day (27 May 2020) to commemorate the passing of a whole year since that event. Its a nice video, the South Devon Banks, Dawlish, Cogload Junction, the Berks and Hants Line, the newly electrified tracks at Newbury and the rest of it. The main forward cab view was filmed from Sir Kenneth Grange and the rearward view from Driver Brian Cooper.
One aspect I enjoyed was the new dedicated route it took from Reading West to Reading station. I have not seen this at all. Previously this was a possible emergency alternative route but sort of awkward because it was really for trains going to the depot. Of course its all changed now that its a fully dedicated main line route! There’s also the new flyover to the west of Reading station which improves the flow of trains greatly and this gives more flexibility in the area than ever before.
The new flyover is seen to best effect in the previous video which is that from Bristol to Paddington. This video also shows the non-stop run via the new Reading track layout (previously this was undertaken via the fast lines between platforms 7 and 8.)
Upon arrival at Paddington on the Plymouth train, the camera in Sir Kenneth Grange continues to record for about half an hour, showing the various people coming and going, admiring and photographing the HST set – incidentally painted in the original Western Region HST livery.
This was the last run from Plymouth but it wouldn’t be the last that day for this particular train set. That would actually occur later in the day when four different high speed train sets arrived at Paddington withing a short time of each other, before eventually making their final trips westwards and the Grange/Cooper set would be the final HST ever to leave Paddington. I covered that in my post last year on the GWR HST finale.
Plymouth to Paddington 3hr 24m.
West Highland main line
I know I’m jumping about as this is going back to Scotland! However the first video was a trip from Scotland in to England, whilst this section actually covers trips within Scotland.
The first two show the spectacular scenery of the West Highland Line in different seasons of the year. Of course if one wants to go the whole hog there’s the aforementioned Glasgow to Mallaig cab ride which is Britain’s longest cab ride video at four and half hours!
Crianlarich to Spean Bridge in the snow 1hr 24m.
Crianlarich to Fort William 1hr 36m.
The next offering – Glasgow Queen Street to Mallaig Cab Ride (4h 30m) – is undoubtedly the UK’s longest driver’s eye video of all and it too at least trounces a few international attempts. The huge irony is its not even a UK production!
When was it filmed? Thats a good question and I think it was sometime in the early 1990s. That’s been arrived at by searching on the net for pictures of Queen Street station with those rounded top platform numbers and those boxy train destination indicators and seeing when those photographs were taken. In fact I do have some of Queen Street taken at that time but there’s so many railway photographs that I have! As I remember very clearly Queen Street wasnt electrified in those days.
At 25.27 one can see the junction with the Balloch branch. At the time this was filmed the branch’s continuation to Balloch Pier had been closed a few short years. The current terminus which is now Balloch Central was a once substantial station anhoweve rlike many other stations it too has become the obligatory British minimalist terminus – a single track/single platform affair!
Another interesting aspect of this video is yes there’s electric lines too – these are the original Glasgow electric (the ‘Blue Train’) system of the 1960s between Knightswood Junction and Helensburgh. (The changes at Knightswood Junction gives us another clue as to when the film was made.)
The Glasgow Electric brochure of the 1960s has a painting on the front cover one of the ‘Blue Train’ units passing Bowling harbour – whilst inside the book there’s a nice picture of a Class 303 unit at the very location where the Fort William/Mallaig lines split off from that to Helensburgh Central – and this is shown below:
The junction just outside Craigendoran in the 1960s as seen in the Glasgow Electric book. On the Mallaig video from 32.30 the layout seen here is now extremely rationalised with simple turnouts for both the Helensburgh and the Oban/Fort William/Mallaig lines.
Glasgow to Mallaig 4hr 30m.
Georgemas to Helmsdale aboard 66104 and no doubt my favourite Far North video (probably because there’s no other now!) Its not as long a video like some of the others but it gives a great sense of railroading through the floe country (there’s an eerie light present in most of the video) and it has good views towards Morven. Unlike many other productions (even Geoff Marshall’s All the Stations and Video 125) which miss out this important aspect of the Far North Line – in this one at least, the isolated County March summit (708 ft) can be spotted at 27m 11s.
Steam and deep snow at Forsinard in 1954. Source: Twitter
County March is of course not as high as the other Scottish summits and more confusingly its also the name of that more well known summit (1024ft) on the West Highland line! However this particular summit on the Far North line is in fact the highest on the entire line (the other at Lairg is just 408 ft above sea level.)
It too has been famous for its share of trains stuck in extremely deep snow drifts. Many trains would get stuck here in snowdrifts twelve feet or more deep and like some other critical sections of the Scottish network there are snow fences at County March as a means of trying to keep these drifts at bay. A 158 was once stuck for the best part of a day near Kinbrace as this BBC report shows.
Deep snowdrifts at County March summit, 1895. Source: Twitter
County March summit is characterised by two huge signboards announcing its location which, as I remember, is heralded by the train tackling the somewhat sharp bends either side of the summit. That’s how one would know when it would be time to look out for the large boards at the summit. Beyond County March summit in the westward direction is Altnabreac, one of the country’s most isolated stations. It can be spotted on the video at 21m 13s.
Georgemas to Helmsdale 1hr 19m
The slightly longer Drivers Eye view from Inverness to Wick was in fact edited (this being a Video 125 production) and that too left out the passing of County March summit itself. Perhaps as some sort of saving grace it did however show Altnabreac with its siding still in existence (this is at 1hr 26m in to the video.) Sadly this is no longer available on You Tube due to a copyright claim.
Class 37 on a passenger train at Georgemas Junction in 1988, dividing up its portions for Wick and Thurso. Source: Twitter
There is one other video covering the Far North and this is for the section from Georgemas Junction to Thurso. Its not a brilliant video but I’ve put it here for completeness. Its a shame there isnt one for the Wick line anymore.
Georgemas Junction to Thurso 10m.
The next is perhaps the longest offering for the South Western main line.
Waterloo – Southampton 1hr 17m.
Further west – right in to Cornwall in fact – there’s the branch from Liskeard to Looe. I remember this when the old station at Looe was still in use. Now its a modernised terminus cut back some way from the original, and the intervening space in between has been delegated – as is quite normal in the country – to a car park.
I have seen Liskeard to Looe driver’s eye videos before – however this a brand new one and the quality’s much better than those others. The one great thing about these Looe train videos is they include what is undoubtedly Britain’s one and only line where trains can be on one side of the valley going in one direction, then on the other side heading in the opposite direction, the trains doing a full 320 degree or so turn in the process! There’s actually very few lines in Britain that achieved this – there was one section on the Scarborough to Whitby line which had this but like all things British anything unusual in terms of railways must be consigned to the scrapheap… and what it means is we dont really have any railways these days with difficult gradients or curves – that is apart from perhaps the spectacular climb to Sugar Loaf on the Central Wales line or the climb from Dingwall to Garve and other locations on the Kyle line, the branch to Gunnislake or that from Liskeard to Looe.
But the Looe line is altogether more unusual! If you have never been on this line, it does have some particularly difficult grades. At the northern end of the line there are viaducts carrying the main line and that at Liskeard is 150 feet high. The Looe train to all purposes and intents practically arrives almost at Liskeard (this is actually Coombe Junction) – except the problem is its right at the bottom of the valley. It means trains then have to make this difficult climb up the valley just to reach the town’s main line railway station.
The following image is the only one I can find showing that particular aspect of the line and its why I say its the only railway in the entire UK where one can ride a train on one side of the valley then a few moments be on the other side of the same valley heading in the opposite direction! Some might point out there’s the climb from Beddgelert northwards on the Welsh Highland where the line makes a considerable loop…. or that at Ddault on the Ffestiniog – those are fantastic too – but they’re not one side of the valley then the other like in the Liskeard example.
I have used this image from Google Streets and marked the line on the opposite side of the valley to show the considerable difference in elevation…
View of Liskeard viaduct and the Looe Line from the A38 by pass. November 2014. Source: Google Streets.
Because of the difficult nature of the railway the station at Liskeard is in fact separate from that on the main line – another unusual aspect of this branch – and although there were others, there’s none in the UK like this now. What it means is passengers have to cross a road to get from one station to the other. There is in fact a direct rail link from the main line but its not authorised for passenger use as it passes through the goods yard at Liskeard.
Looe to Liskeard 26m
Bodmin and Wenford Railway – these are some good ones to watch!
Bodmin General to Bodmin Parkway 46m
The next one is to Boscarne Junction and return. Its a shame one simply cannot have driver’s view trips towards either Wadebridge/Padstow or the celebrated Wenford Bridge line!
Bodmin General to Boscarne Junction 32m
North Yorkshire Moors Railway
I have not been on the North Yorkshire Moors for years, the last time was, I think around 1977! Those photographs I took of the line in those days are pretty historic by now! Anyhow, these next two videos fascinate me however because I too have been on the Esk valley line between Middlesbrough and Whitby and its lovely to see the line from this different and certainly most unusual perspective.
Its unusual because its a training video showing how through trains could be run from the NYMR to either Battersby or Whitby and the operating procedures that are necessary. I loved how the main guy in these videos explains very clearly, and patiently, how the different operating procedures are undertaken. What I also loved about it was I too became better informed how the modern block signalling systems on some of these country lines are worked.
It might not be obvious to some however Battersby used to be a through station! The line at one time continued to Picton on the Stockton to Northallerton line. The station had two platforms in use when I rode the Esk Valley line (and the signal box was still operational) but that is no longer the case. Battersby can still accommodate two trains however this is on the first in last out principle – and how that particularly works is explained clearly in the videos.
In the second part its a run straight from Battersby to Whitby, where the workings at the station and the loop just outside the station perimeter are too explained. The other thing about this video, well the fantastic part to it really is this is a private railway’s diesel (a Class 25) having a good day’s outing on a substantial stretch of Network rail trackage! Enjoy!
Grosmont to Battersby Route Learning and Cab Ride Part 1 – 1hr 7m
Battersby to Whitby & back to Grosmont Route Learning and Cab Ride Part 2 – 1hr 27m
Severn Valley Railway
This – a winter’s driver’s view from the footplate of GWR small prairie tank on a southbound trip to Kidderminster.
Bridgnorth to Kidderminster 1hr 7m
This and the other posts in this series will be updated from time to time during the 2020 coronavirus lockdowns.