Cab Ride – Waterloo to Basingstoke

January 19, 2013 by

Ok, Gary and I are getting into a rut, but it’s an interesting one.

Waterloo Station

Waterloo Station

Cab rides are by their nature special events if you are not a railroad employee.  For the train crew, it’s just another day at the office, but for the railroad enthusiast, it is a special event.  A cab ride is different.  It’s not like you’re going to somebody’s office to look at the new copier.  No, this is railroading, and like everybody else in the transportation industry, it is a special place.  Lord knows that it can be a difficult place sometimes and there are a lot of demands made upon people in the transportation business.  But, on the other hand, it is a train….

Cab rides still seem to be fairly common in Europe.  My last trip there produced two cab rides, both of them very interesting in their own way.  While all of the rest of the riding public is sitting back there wondering what is going on, you’re up in the front with a clear view of the tracks ahead and maybe a little railroad conversation with the train’s crew.

Here in the United States, where everything must always be safe all of the time, cab rides are not quite so common.  They may still be happening, but everybody is a lot quieter about things than they used to be, out of fear that discovery would make something this magic go away.  You can’t even stand on the platform in Philadelphia to watch your Acela leave the station before they descend upon you with guns at the ready.  It’s sad, but you can see why this has happened.

It has been said that Great Britain is the mother of all railways, which is quite true.  And even today, English railroad operations are interesting and intense.  Consider yet another video of a cab ride, this from Waterloo Station to Basingstoke, Hampshire, 48 miles down from London on the line to Southampton.

This video was produced by “madabouttrains“.  As you get into the video, it appears that madabouttrains is someone who is a young man who has wangled a cab ride.  There are a number of quite interesting things about this ride, most of all is the cab conversation between the videographer and the train crew.  As the train eases out of Waterloo, the locomotive driver and our video producer engage in a little conversation just to see how serious this young man is about trains.  He then proceeds to rattle off the train stations on this line in order.  Thus ends the “Are you really serious about trains?” conversation.

There is little doubt that madabouttrains is already very knowledgeable but wants to know more.There also is little doubt that the line to Southampton is a busy one, with four tracks (two for express and two for local trains).

This cab ride happens in the lead car of a Class 444 multiple unit train:


These units max out at 100 mph, and this cab ride shows them nearing that speed several times.  Along the way, there’s all sorts of interesting British Rail operations, including passing a freight train of hopper cars pulled by a Class 66 diesel:


Also, about 30 minutes into the video, the Class 444 train passes the British Pullman train:


This train is loping along at about 60 mph, pulled by a Class 67 diesel:


As our MU train slides by, the locomotive driver notes that “You’re a lucky boy, seeing that”.  And, indeed he is.

This video is a bit jerky, presumably because the camera wants to correct for the motion of the train.  And the EMU windshield needs a cleaning.  Oops, sorry, the windscreen….

Cab Ride – Waterloo to Basingstoke

Basingstoke Station, Hampshire

Basingstoke Station, Hampshire



January 18, 2013 by

Brighton to Blackfriars

January 10, 2013 by

If you want to view the trip in the opposite direction…look here.

Blackfriars to Brighton

January 8, 2013 by

Here is a mesmerizing video leaving London on the Thameslink on a trip to Brighton from the train operators point of view. While the going is slow at first navigating through the interlockings, it picks up to 90 mph on powered third rail running as an express most of the distance. You’ll notice a chime sounds in the cab about 100 yards before passing a signal. The train frequency is enough to make a U.S. rail fan weep for what it used to be like on our shores. The man who posted this video, Darren Cafferty, has more videos here.

Jason Shron

January 8, 2013 by

If you want to see the website of the crazy guy who built the train in his basement take a look here.

A Real Train in the Basement!

January 8, 2013 by

I’ve had some pleasant discoveries on the Web in the last few days. If I didn’t have an HO layout under construction in my basement, I would want to build something like this. Relax in your own coach anyone?

A Real Train in the Basement!

January 8, 2013 by

2012 in review

December 30, 2012 by

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Siskel & Ebert on Electric Trains

August 11, 2012 by

I’d be remiss if I did not pass this along.  The first four minutes of this video are classic Siskel & Ebert, classic Lionel and classic issues raised by young children and electric trains.

Siskel & Ebert Meet Lionel Railscope

Roger Ebert is still with us, while Gene Siskel has gone on to the Great Trainroom.

The Royal Scotsman

June 30, 2012 by

Now here’s a trip to potentially rival Riley’s journey across Canada. It’s not cheap, but it does involve distilled spirits so it may be worth the price. There’s an article about the train that you can access here. The train follows a variety of routes including a circle trip through Scotland, Wales and England. I would love to go to Edinburgh and hear someone call the “all aboard” for me and my bride. Someday, perhaps.