RAILDATE 2022.12.23

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Christmas edition

Please toast our contributors who make it all possible.

... yes, there will be a "twixt" edition next week.

Travelling to northern Finland in 2019 for a winter adventure. The translation is "Santa's Official Train Company".

There are sections on:

UK Rail News

Channel Islands


East Midlands



North East

North West



South East





Rail Industry

International Rail News




South Africa






Other Transport Modes






Thank you to this week's contributors.

The Weekly Poser: Where is this?

This splendid building closed as a city centre railway station in the early 1970s and lay derelict for 40 years. Now reborn as a magnificent venue, hotel, conference centre. Where is it?

And ... supplementary question: What are the two names, then and now?

Please email your answers to raildate.co.uk@gmail.com

Last week's Where is this?

A busy-looking port, well served by railways in this 1950s Ordnance Survey map. Where is it?

Answer: Newport or Cas Newydd. Newport is now in Gwent, Wales, but at the time of the map it was officially Monmouthshire, England.

The question must have been too easy because congratulations are due to 14 people: Richard Maund, Alan Twinam, Peter Davies, Paul Hopper, Howard Brissenden, Bob Joshua, Gordon Sutton, John Richards, Ian Bromley, Peter Dean, Alan Rhodes, Andrew Treves and Chris Callaghan.

Newport docks reached its current size by 1914, with the South Dock requiring the River Ebbw to be moved. Bituminous coal, suitable for steel-making, was the main export, with thousands of loaded wagons in 100 miles of sidings awaiting ships, then being hoisted and emptied directly. Eastern valley mines around Abertillery and Ebbw Vale were the main sources, but the central area around Mountain Ash and Treharris was also served. Northern Spain/Basque Euskadi was an important market, supporting Welsh-owned steel-making at Bilbao.

From the 1790s (prior to railways), eastern valley coal reached the port via the Monmouthshire Canal.

Brand-new Class 70 70012 was wrecked in 2011 during unloading at Newport Dock when part of the lifting gear failed, causing the locomotive to fall back into the hold of the ship. The frame defines a locomotive - and it was seriously bent. The loco was moved by road to Liverpool to be returned to the US. Oops!


Christmas TV: UK television listings with a transport theme for the next eight days

Click me to open/close [Online only, not in the weekly email]

Air Crash: Disasters Uncovered -:- Investigation into high-profile air disasters, re-creating events to uncover the causes of the crashes. A freight train barrels out of control down a San Bernadino mountainside

Antiques Road Trip -:- Catherine Southon and James Braxton travel across Derbyshire and Leicestershire, where items of interest include 18th-century carvings and a bowl full of marbles. Along the way Catherine gets steamed up on the heritage Great Central Railway and James visits a pottery

Around the World by Train with Tony Robinson -:- The actor goes on rail journeys around the globe, jumping on and off trains to find adventure and face challenges, while exploring the history and culture of each place he visits

Around the World by Train with Tony Robinson -:- The actor travels across Turkey, India and Burma, starting his journey in Istanbul, where he finds himself plunged into the middle of the madness of the spice markets. Then he heads to India, visiting one of Delhi's oldest markets, before taking a ride on the Himalayan Mountain Railway and being taught the proper way to imbibe at the Glenburn Tea Estate. He then crosses the Bay of Bengal into Burma, trying his hand at pottery and learning about toddy palm wine, finishing at the ancient city of Bagan

Britain's Scenic Railways -:- A magical winter journey through some of the country's most festive railways, including the sparkling illuminations of Steam in Lights at the Severn Valley Railway, a steam train carrying Santa through the Yorkshire Moors, a stunning helicopter flight checking for snow drifts in the wild Scottish Highlands, and the Cairngorms reindeer herd on a day trip to the Strathspey steam railway

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) -:- Two notorious outlaws' routine of bank and train robberies is cut short when a seemingly unstoppable posse is formed to catch them. The pair plan to flee America and start a new life in Bolivia, with the Sundance Kid's schoolmistress lover in tow - but staying ahead of the law is not so easy. Western, starring Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Katharine Ross

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid -:- Documentary about the 1890s Wild West duo who robbed trains and banks and soon became national news, focusing on who Robert Leroy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh actually were

Discover Britain by Train -:- A promotional short film detailing the benefits of rail travel in Britain

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Armed with his 1930s Bradshaw's guide, Michael Portillo sets out on another railway adventure as he explores Britain between the world wars. He begins with a tour of the Home Counties and beyond, starting in the city of Oxford, where in 1921 women were awarded degrees for the first time. At Somerville College, Michael finds out about pioneering crystallographer Dorothy Hodgkin, the only British woman to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Beginning in the heart of academia in Oxford, Michael Portillo visits the Bodleian library to see some Victorian treasures, including Mary Shelley's Frankenstein manuscript and a pocket-sized edition of Bradshaw's Companion. At Bicester, he investigates two new rail projects, finds out about Victorian philanthropy in Bedford and finishes in Luton, where he explores the dark arts of the hat-maker

Great British Railway Journeys -:- From the Kent Cinque Port of Deal, Michael Portillo heads to Walmer Castle, home during the 1920s to Lord Beauchamp, whose openly homosexual lifestyle led to his exile from the country. And in Margate, Michael discovers the connection to TS Eliot

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo arrives in Croydon, where he hears the story of a mixed-race composer who was once celebrated but is now forgotten. At Three Bridges station, he is delighted to find a recently built depot and its fleet of new Class 700 trains - and is given the great honour of washing one down. In Lewes, he makes a beeline for Charleston, the home of artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, and in Shoreham-by-Sea, Michael discovers how magnificent Edwardians in flying machines took off from the oldest licensed airport in the country

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo arrives in Hassocks and makes his way to the beautiful Sussex village of Ditchling, where a Roman Catholic community of artists once made their home. Next, he visits the seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, before the Kent and East Sussex heritage railway conveys Michael from Bodiam Castle through the scenic Rother Valley to Tenterden, and finally arrives in the village of Benenden

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo begins in the ruinous gardens at Aberglasney House near Llandeilo before riding shotgun in the driver's cab on one of the most scenic routes in Britain. Over the border in Leominster, Herefordshire, he steps out onto the dance floor at the Lion Hotel Ballroom, where a grand ball was held to celebrate the opening of the Ludlow to Hereford railway, and finishes this leg of his journey at a traditional cider house in Hereford

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo begins underground at Big Pit coal mine in Blaenavon, where he discovers how Victorians toiled night and day to power the Industrial Revolution. On the River Usk, he learns about 19th-century developments in angling before heading to Ascott-under-Wychwood in Oxfordshire - once the scene of a farm labourers' dispute that ended in rioting. Michael concludes this leg of his journey at Blenheim Palace

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo continues his journey through East Anglia, where he discovers the Essex origins of the BBC and joins the Women's Land Army to pick damsons at Tiptree

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo continues his travels through England's Home Counties at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, where he discovers the legacy of a German Jewish doctor who fled the Nazis to settle in Britain. He then heads through the Chiltern Hills to Princes Risborough, before reaching Beaconsfield and revisiting his much-loved childhood haunt, Bekonscot Model Village

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo embarks on a new railway journey along the south coast of England. Beginning in the port of Dover, he takes a plunge into the English Channel, inspired by the example set by a brave 19th-century sea captain. A miniature steam train one third the size of a conventional locomotive conveys him from Romney Marsh to Dungeness, and in Eastbourne, he learns how the 7th Duke of Devonshire managed to market the town's attractions to the refined upper-crust of Victorian London. The first leg of his trip concludes in eccentric style at the Glyndebourne opera festival on the South Downs

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo embarks on the final leg of his journey following the route of the North Country Continental service. Along the way he meets volunteers on the Mid-Suffolk Light railway and is permitted to drive 'The Middy'. In Leiston, Michael uncovers the world's first purpose-built assembly line, while in Ipswich the work of a young Victorian engineering prodigy impresses the ex-politician. At his destination of Harwich the presenter discovers how the port became a gateway to the continent, only to be superseded by a new deep-water port further inland

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo explores an Edwardian utopia in Letchworth, where he meets a fourth generation citizen who introduces him to the town's community spirit. He then heads towards London, and discovers a favoured haunt of King Edward VII, before sampling the monarch's favourite tipple, the King's Ginger

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo explores a Swiss garden in Bedfordshire, drives a 'locomobile', and at Rothampsted, he discovers the Victorian origins of the fertiliser industry

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo explores East Anglia between the wars, beginning at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, where archaeologists discovered a 27-metre-long Anglo-Saxon ship in 1939. In the Essex village of Dedham, he unearths a nasty brush between painters, with art experts explaining the antipathy between traditional artist Alfred Munnings and the modern art school established in the village by Cedric Morris

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo follows his 1930s Bradshaw's guide to the unspoilt East Sussex port of Rye, where he learns about the loss of a generation of lifeboatmen in 1928. On the beaches at Rye, Michael explores one of 28,000 pillboxes constructed around the British coastline during the Second World War, before boarding the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway to Dungeness

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo heads for Farnborough, Hampshire, famous today for its airshow and home to what was then the Royal Aircraft Establishment. In Basingstoke he visits a glorious neo-Gothic stately home set in the North Wessex Downs

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo heads for the Hertfordshire village of Perry Green to learn about Henry Moore became one of the defining artists of British modernism. In Cambridge, he revisits his former university to hear about a treacherous time in its past

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo is in Suffolk on the last leg of his 1930s Bradshaw's inspired tour of East Anglia, visiting the racecourse at Newmarket and the Roman Catholic shrine at Walsingham

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo journeys from Stroud to Bath, investigating the Victorian origins of snooker, before ploughing a crooked furrow at the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester. At his final destination in Bath, he takes tea with the ladies, and also discovers a scandalous novel written by an eccentric recluse, who was once the wealthiest man in England

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo reaches the Kent seaside resort of Herne Bay, where he learns about a pioneering aviatrix who began her working life as a typist in Hull. In the seaside town of Whitstable, he tucks into its famous staple, oysters. Michael later crosses the North Downs to Lenham, and visits Leeds Castle

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo resumes his tour of the Home Counties in the historic town of Guildford. Later, in Chilworth, he follows his 1936 Bradshaw's guide to Newlands Corner on the slopes of the North Downs. Eventually he crosses into Hampshire to reach Aldershot

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo's Bradshaw travels resume in leafy Hertfordshire, where he attempts a canoe slalom course at the Lee Valley White Water Centre, built for the London Olympics in 2012. Travelling north, the presenter reaches Hatfield and the country estate of the queen of romance and author of 723 books, Barbara Cartland. In Stevenage, Michael learns how, in 1935, a new enterprise boosted production of the nation's daily loaf with a factory in the town.

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo sets out on the first leg of a trip from London to Edinburgh aboard the Flying Scotsman, beginning at King's Cross as he heads for York

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo's journey from the Irish Sea to the North Sea continues by tram from Manchester. At the imposing town hall of the world's first industrial city, he comes face to face with the Victorian scientist who invented modern atomic theory. The latest stage ends at Silkstone Common, where he tracks down the forge where a Victorian metallurgist created wrought iron axles strong enough for railway rolling stock

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo takes a trip in a Second World War Spitfire above Biggin Hill aerodrome, and takes the train to East Grinstead on the trail of Winnie the Pooh. He also visits Plaw Hatch Farm, 200 acres of community-owned farmland that operates biodynamically according to principles first laid out in the 1920s

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo travels from Blackpool to Manchester, along the way unveiling a monument to 87 railwaymen of the London and North Western Railway who died in the Great War

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo travels from Bristol to Glastonbury, entering the foul-smelling world of a Victorian tannery and hearing how a 19th-century entrepreneur made his fortune thanks to mountains of bird droppings, using his wealth to build churches and one of the most luxurious country houses in Britain. When he reaches his destination, Michael heads for the mystical Glastonbury Abbey, where Victorian tourists flocked to hear tales of King Arthur and the Holy Grail

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo travels from Gainsborough to Ely, along the way learning about a Victorian machine that changed shopping for ever and the poet Alfred Tennyson

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo travels through Hampshire and Berkshire, as he continues his journey to Wolverhampton. His stop-off points include Stratfield Saye House, the stately home bequeathed by the nation to Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, in 1817. He then heads to Aldershot Garrison, where he is put through his paces under military instruction. At St Michael's Abbey in Farnborough, Michael visits the tomb of French emperor Napoleon III and his family, before ending in Crowthorne, Berkshire, the home of Broadmoor high-security psychiatric hospital

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo travels to leafy Hatch End in north-west London, where he meets the great-nephew of the famous illustrator William Heath Robinson. Michael continues his journey through Slough and Stoke Poges before reaching Windsor, where he surveys the great walls of the castle, chief residence of the British monarch and the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world

Great British Railway Journeys -:- Michael starts his journey in Chapeltown, Sheffield, following what was once known as the North Country Continental service, and finishing in the engineering centre of Doncaster

Great British Railway Journeys -:- On the last leg of his journey through north-west England, Michael Portillo makes a clean sweep in Ashley, Cheshire, where in Victorian times the new middle classes set up home in suburban villas with multiple chimneys swept by children. In Macclesfield, he finds the end of the Silk Route and tries his hand at screen printing. Then after stoking the fire on the steam-powered Churnet Valley Railway, the former politician alights at Froghall, Staffordshire, heading for Alton Towers to trace the 19th-century origins of the theme park

Great British Railway Journeys -:- The next part of Michael Portillo's journey from Southampton to Wolverhampton begins in Wokingham, Berkshire, where the former politician finds out how demand from a growing number of rail commuters fuelled the development of the modern printing press. He then learns about a Tudor businessman who manufactured cloth in enormous volumes in Newbury, and ends this leg of his trip in Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire. Here, a local manufacturer describes how his Victorian forebears were the first in Britain to be licensed to vulcanise rubber

Great Continental Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo continues his journey around the island of Sicily, heading inland from Agrigento towards the picturesque but remote village of Gangi. Here, he meets a local historian and traces the story behind this notorious mafia hideout of the 1930s. Later, Michael concludes his Sicilian journey on the circular railway around Mount Etna

Great Continental Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo continues his journey through Germany, investigating the beginning of Bauhaus design in Weimar and visiting the movement's first building, before taking a ride in a high-performance Porsche to the manufacturer's Stuttgart headquarters

Great Continental Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo embarks on a journey through Germany, steered by a Bradshaw's guide. His unique window on Europe between the wars takes him through a dark period in German history, when the nation's first democracy and its vibrant culture of art, design and decadence were swept away by fascism, nationalism and the increasing likelihood of war

Great Continental Railway Journeys -:- Michael Portillo travels across Paris, learning about the avant-garde artists of Montparnasse, going backstage at Folies Bergere and exploring the cellars of Champagne country

Himalaya with Michael Palin -:- The intrepid traveller embarks on a trip from the Khyber Pass to the Bay of Bengal, an arduous journey through Pakistan's mountains, India, Nepal, China and finally Bangladesh. The adventure begins on the Khyber steam railway, taking in Darra, where he browses for a unique firearm. He then heads toward Chitral to watch a freestyle polo grudge-match take place on the highest polo field in the world

Impossible Railways -:- A look at the planet's most incredible metropolitan railways, and how they help people solve distinctly urban problems. Including a project to upgrade New York's transit system.

Impossible Railways -:- Engineering breakthroughs that allow trains to go faster than ever, including technology that allows the navigation of the winding mountains of Spain at speed.

Impossible Railways -:- Engineering that has overcome some of the greatest mountain ranges to create innovative railways, including a tunnel in the Swiss Alps and a zig-zag railway in Ecuador.

Impossible Railways -:- How engineers have built railways across mountains, including tunnels through the Swiss Alps and an Australian track that runs up a near-vertical cliff face

Impossible Railways -:- How railway engineers have crossed valleys, canyons and waterways, including the Forth Bridge and a viaduct in rural New Zealand

Impossible Railways -:- How some of our greatest railways have challenged engineering's finest minds in their efforts to conquer the planet's waterways, including a tunnel beneath the English Channel.

Impossible Railways -:- Since their meteoric rise in the 19th Century, railways have been at the forefront of modern engineering. They've conquered dizzying altitudes, wilderness, seas and cities.

Impossible Railways -:- Since their rise in the 19th century, railways have been at the forefront of modern engineering and transport, conquering dizzying altitudes, wilderness, seas and cities

Impossible Railways -:- The drive to make trains faster, from supersonic rocket sleds to engines that seem to fly above their guideways

Impossible Railways -:- The wilderness lines that have pushed the frontiers of human endeavour into previously unknown territories, solving a set of complex problems along the way

Impossible Railways -:- Unusual rail networks designed to traverse water, including the Indian Ocean, the earthquake zones of the Bosphorus Strait and the sea cliffs of the Italian Riviera

Japan Railway Journal -:- Discover the secrets of Japan's railways, from the newest technologies and systems in use to travel tips and must-see places.

Japan Railway Journal -:- In 2022, 13 new trains made their debut in Japan. With eye-catching and distinctive designs, many of them are environmentally and user-friendly. Join us as we review Japan's latest trains and trends.

Look at Life -:- DIY in the home and on a narrow gauge railway in Wales

Mega Shippers -:- In Texas, the process of unloading a 726-tonne column requires everyone's attention, while in London, a rail worker sends 22 train carriages of cement across the city

Mighty Trains -:- Mountain train the Bernina Express battles against the elements in the Swiss Alps, working across heavy snowfall, massive ice build-up and falling rocks

Mighty Trains -:- South Africa's Rovos Rail, one of the most luxurious locomotives in the world. This family operated train manages to deal with extreme weather and problems such as stolen power lines

Mighty Trains -:- Teddy Wilson takes a breath-taking train journey through Norway. He witnesses stunning scenery and deadly landscapes on the Bergen Railway and Nordland Line

Mighty Trains -:- Thailand's 40-year-old trains, which navigate weather-beaten tracks and challenging terrain. How do they travel through complete chaos to reach their destination?

Mighty Trains -:- The Frecciarossa 1000 and Italo Evo, two of the fastest trains in the world. These high-tech Italian locomotives are capable of negotiating treacherous landscapes

Mighty Trains -:- The Indian Pacific is a massive locomotive that journeys across Australia. How does it traverse some of the most scenic and remote areas a train has ever gone?

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) -:- An American businessman travelling on the Orient Express from Istanbul to Paris tries to hire Hercule Poirot to discover the source of the death threats that have been made against him. The sleuth refuses, but wakes up the following morning to learn the man has been stabbed to death while the train was held up by heavy snow - and there is no shortage of suspects among the passengers. Agatha Christie mystery, starring Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery and Vanessa Redgrave

Nazi Megastructures -:- How the Nazis' extensive rail network was put to its most dreadful purpose - transporting prisoners to the concentration camps for execution in vast numbers

Nazi Megastructures -:- The rail network of Nazi Germany, examining Hitler's personal train and how the railways were used as a weapon of war across Europe

Night Mail (1936) -:- Harry Watt and Basil Wright's documentary following the mail train to Scotland from London, accompanied by Pat Jackson reading WH Auden's rhyming verse and a score composed by Benjamin Britten

Oli Wyn -:- The crew prepares the train for its next trip

Runaway Train (1985) -:- A hardened criminal and his accomplice escape from a high-security prison in Alaska and stow away on board a freight train, unaware it is driverless and speeding out of control. Action adventure, starring Jon Voight, Eric Roberts, Rebecca De Mornay and Kyle T Heffner. Based on a screenplay by Japanese director Akira Kurosawa

Salvage Hunters -:- At a railway museum in Somerset, Drew Pritchard and Tee John uncover two rare signs from the 1920s. Later, Drew finds shoe lasts made for music legend Paul McCartney

Salvage Hunters -:- Modern day treasure hunter Drew Pritchard visits a heritage railway in Minehead, Somerset, where he finds a fantastic selection of pieces. The highlight of the trip is a ride in the cab of a vintage steam train

Secrets of the Underground -:- A legendary train filled with stolen Nazi gold is said to be hidden in Poland. Rob and Stefan explore deep under the earth's surface to uncover the truth

The Day I Should Have Died -:- Pam Warren was engulfed by a fireball in a rail disaster that left hundreds dead or injured. She suffered burns and wore a mask over her face after a string of operations

The Flying Scotsman: Pride of Britain -:- Engineer Rob Bell charts the story of the world's most famous steam locomotive. Why, almost a century old, does she still attract huge crowds wherever she goes?

The Great Train Robbery -:- The police wake to the news of a robbery, but the full extent of the crime and its haul - £2.6million - only becomes evident over the following days. It's clear the local CID is ill-equipped to solve a case of such magnitude, so Scotland Yard is called in, with a six-strong team of detectives headed by the Flying Squad's enigmatic chief Tommy Butler. In a race against time, they set out to identify every criminal involved and bring them to justice before they flee the country - but even if they can, will they find the money? Jim Broadbent stars in the concluding part of the drama about the most infamous heist in British history, with George Costigan, Robert Glenister, Tim Pigott-Smith, Nick Moran and John Salthouse. Written by Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall

The Travel Show -:- Ed Finn travels across Northern Ireland on a fabulous food trail including Co. Down, Co Antrim, Derry, Fermanagh, Armagh and Belfast. In Switzerland Ed discovers a winter wonderland in the Jungfrau and Interlaken region where he enjoys a great train journey and some bucket list adventures, hiking, kayaking, skiing like James Bond on the Piz Gloria and making some funky chocolate in this winter wonderland

Unstoppable (2010) -:- A driverless train carrying a deadly cargo of toxic chemicals goes out of control. A veteran train operator and his rookie colleague set off in pursuit in their own locomotive, intending to bring it to a halt before it crashes and causes a major disaster. Action thriller, the final film from director Tony Scott, starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pine and Rosario Dawson


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©  Matthew Shaw 2022