Heritage Lines and random railway memories

Posted on 6 August 2008 in Transport (No comments)

When you find out a normal part of the National Rail network is called a "Heritage Line", it puts certain phrases in mind.

The Lymington Flyer at Brockenhurst

An excuse just to run dilapidated trains to save cash, was the one that sprang to mind when I heard about the Lymington branch line, which is run by two slam door trains.

In contrast, when Catherine and myself used the line about two months ago, nothing could be further from the mind. It's actually like going back in history a bit - even if it is not that long ago that slam door trains were finally evicted from the rest of the train network (the Lymington trains had to be adapted to meet modern safety requirements).

Over on flickr, you can finally see some of the photos I took on the line as we enjoyed a far too short journey on a nice train named Farringford.

It actually reminded me of my childhood where I used to ride the slam door trains from the station near home, into Manchester. The trains then weren't quite in the state that they are in on the Lymington branch line - the seats were very springy for starters, and my sister and myself used to bounce up and down on them as the train trundled along.

You can't make pointless memories like that up. Nor the fact that I can distinctly remember the introduction of the slam door trains on the Glossop/Hadfield line in the early 1980s.

Prior to that, we'd had what felt like very modern trains which had automatic doors. As a seven year old, I felt some confusion at the time at what seemed like a big step backwards. Like all seven year olds, you try and put some logic to the changes, and I remember a friend saying his brother had heard all the trains had been vandalised, so they'd put the slam doors on.

Of course these days I have the internet and finally know that the real reason was that the Manchester to Glossop line (originally part of the Woodhead line to Sheffield) was originally electrified as 1500V DC. Which, as I'm sure you all know, is a completely non-standard railway power system. The Woodhead Line was the only one to run with that system, and in 1984 the power was converted to the normal 25kV AC which required some new rolling stock, drafted in from Glasgow.

And those amazingly modern trains with their flashy automatic doors?

Well they were built in 1954! And the slam doors that replaced them? Well they were at least six years younger...

Just goes to show two things. One is that just because something is newer, doesn't mean it's better.

The second is that I have far too much time on my hands if I'm spending it digging out information like this...

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