RAILDATE 2023.09.08

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It's an anniversary this week

Your current editor took over from founding editor Howard Sprenger one year ago. Raildate has appeared 52 times since then, with only one week missed because of holidays.

Howard was invited to update readers on how his retirement is going:

Matt reminds me that it is now a full year since I stopped sending out Raildate and handed the reins over to him. I did think that after nearly half my lifetime, I might miss the weekly ritual of collating news snippets, looking out for interesting events and checking the Radio Times, but I have to say, I haven't! My stepping down as Editor coincided with moving out of our house in Hampshire and spending eight weeks with "no fixed abode" before we could move into our new house here in Cornwall. Frankly, life was so hectic as a result, that I didn't really have chance to notice that I was no longer doing Raildate!

It also coincided with my final year of the York MA course in Railway Studies, which has been spent writing a 12,000-word dissertation that will have been submitted by the time you read this. I can honestly say, therefore, that I think I gave up at the right time! I genuinely thought that it would be the end of Raildate, as I couldn't think why anyone would possibly want to take over. However, Matt stepped up, and I was very happy to hand over to him.

Since then, I think it is fair to say that Raildate has gone from strength to strength. Matt has introduced a number of innovations that I would never have thought to carry through and it is now a much more professional offering than before. Clearly I had been doing it for too long! So - thank you to you all for continuing to read Raildate and a big thank you to Matt for taking it on. I can't see anything other than a rosy future for it as long as Matt is prepared to carry on.

Howard Sprenger

Thank you to Howard for those kind words. Let's get Year 2 started ...

There are sections on:

UK Rail News




North West


South East





International Rail News








Other Transport Modes





Thank you to this week's contributors.

The Weekly Poser: Where is this?

This is the east portal of a long railroad tunnel in the western US. Security has been tightened since my visit (pre 9-11). Whilst running, I came off the trail and decided to have a look in. Despite hearing nothing, moments later I was dealing with a train barrelling towards me, which required some very speedy escape running. Where is it?

Last week's Where is this?

Rails and roadway shared this bridge for over 50 years, but the rails have now gone. Where is it?

Answer: Connel Bridge, nr. Oban. Congratulations are due to the following for their correct answers: Brian Billing, Geoffrey Blyth. Dave Goodyear, Richard Whitbread, Chris Parker, Bernard Gidgin, Dave Winter, Steve Lacey, Bryn Pitcher. Andrew Treves, Jeremy Harrison, John Gilby, Ian Lowe, Peter Tisdale.

The Connel Bridge carried the Ballachulish branch across Loch Etive from 1903. A roadway was added in 1914 which enabled the ferry to be retired, but vehicles and trains were not allowed to mix. Traffic controls continue today following the railway's closure (1966) because of width limitations. A triangle to allow direct Oban-Ballachulish trains without reversing seems to have been removed quite early.

Photographed by John Cull on 30th August 1951 RCTS Collection

A Raildate reader reports an occasion when the bridge was closed after a vehicle strike and having a 99-mile diversion to reach Oban (normally 5 miles away) via Glencoe. Sounds bad. Oban Airport now serves the Inner Hebrides, and relies on the bridge.

Also, many thanks to Dave Winter for digging out his toll tickets from 1962. 5/- (25p) for a car was not cheap.

Here's the LMSR timetable for the branch at the outbreak of war in 1939.

A good selection of 85 "Big Four" timetables is available from my other website Timetable World. Note how (with the triangle at Connel Ferry removed) turning could take between 4 and 19 minutes.

Prior to WW1, Bartholomews often recorded proposed railways. Had Loch Leven also been crossed at the other end of the branch, Fort William could have reached via this proposal.


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

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Sorry. No TV Guide this week.


We welcome links to publicly available online news items and videos from anywhere in the world.  Despite its name, Raildate covers all transport modes, including also bus, tram, air, and marine.  

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The main Raildate website https://raildate.co.uk includes a history of Raildate by the founding editor Howard Sprenger and archived editions from 1996 to the present.

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©  Matthew Shaw 2023