Anorak - Rail Enthusiast or Train Spotter
The term "Anorak" doesn't always have a kind connotation - it's used to describe a railway enthusiast and at times it's intended as a bit of a put-down aimed at people who stand at platform ends, noting down the numbers of each of the trains as they go though. Which is really very sad, as these "anorak"s have the knowledge and enthusiasm to be the ambassadors of rail travel - which is fast, comfortable and energy efficient - truly the transport of the future, as well as of the past.
Mind you, at times the enthusiasts don't help their own cause by being more interested in that special working or different train ... that piece of history rather than the current service and its improvement. The ways of getting good fares, rather that the ways of getting everyone to pay a sensible fare so that the service can continue to run at appropriate times to carry a maximum of passengers effectively.
[imgl=anorak0]Westbury[/img]OK - this is exactly the sort of thing which is fascinating, but isn't really the railway's bread and butter - South West Trains run just a handful of services each day through Westbury in Wiltshire, and yet here's a photograph showing two of them at the same time.
[imgl=anorak1]Twyford[/img]An express train rushes through Twyford, from London Paddington probably bound for Bedwyn or Great Malvern. A "classic" view from the footbridge - the sort of picture that might attract people to try the train out. Oh - but the enthusiast might have preferred me to wait for a streamlines and faster "125" train for this picture.
[imgl=anorak2]LHCS at Westbury[/img]What the **** does "LHCS" mean - it means "locomotive hauled coaching stock". In other words, here's an engine pulling some carriages rather than a train with an engine within the coaches - that would be a DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit). It's this sort of jargon that confuses Joe Public, and Joe's probably not too concerned where the engine is anyway.
[imgl=anorak3]Maintenance Equipment[/img]You might be surprised just how rarely you'll find pictures of the railway's maintenance equipment - line survey trains, "tampers" (which I think this is) which stir the gravel that the track sits on to consolidate it under the tails and the cross-members - known as sleepers.
[imgl=anorak4]Me and my dog[/img]Train is a great way to travel ... Gypsy and me are looking out of the window, and watching the miles go by. Far better to be looking around while someone else is driving that noticing something as I'm at the steering wheel. And the train is much smoother that a car or a bus too - no need to hand on, just enjoy. On the main railway network, you can to take your dog with you at no extra charge ... and our dog loves it!
[imgl=anorak5]At speed in the Thames Valley[/img]A high speed train (HST) heads for London - its previous stop would have been Reading and prior to that it could have come from Cheltentham or Cardiff, Worcester or Hereford, Bristol or Weston-super-mare, Taunton or Exeter, Plymouth or Penzance ((Now wait for the anoraks to add "or Malvern, Newquay, Paignton, Carmarthen or Pembroke Dock")). There are around 2500 stations on the British Railway network.
[imgl=anorak6]Branchline to Henley[/img]Where towns weren't on the main railway line, branch lines were built to reach them. Many of these branches have long since closed - to places like Portishead, Kingsbridge, Devizes and Calne. But others have been luckier - be it because of local campaigning, a heavy flow of commuters, or sometimes even because of the presence of a single local influential person. But there's now a railway renaissance, and lines that only just survived have been growing in traffic. This picture shows the branch line train from Henley-on-Thames arriving into Twyford, having called at Shiplake and Wargrave along the way.
[imgl=anorak7]Shiplake[/img]A sleepy-looking station - Shiplake. And yet the train stops here three times an hour on Monday to Friday, and two times an hour on Saturday and Sunday - and conveys significant traffic. Many of the journeys go beyond the short line from Henley to Twyford, with people changing to make onward journeys - so the economics of the this little line can't be viewed in isolation. It's suggested that about a half of the railway closures instigated by Dr Beeching in the 1960s should not have happened because of the knock on effect on main line traffic - cut off the branches, and the trunk dies.
[imgl=anorak8]Two class 166 trains[/img]The rail enthusiast want to see a wide variety of trains - but the train operating company wants a fleet which is as standard as possible. If engineers have the same type of stock to look after day in, day out, they'll become more familiar and more efficient with it - and there's less need for a big holding of spares, and a need for a smaller proportion of "spare" trains. Pictured at Reading.
[imgl=anorak9]Bath Spa[/img]The railway line brings passengers into the hearts of towns and cities, cutting out the need for huge car parks and to many buses mixing up with pedestrians - the train has its own right of way, exclusive, so it's safer and can run quicker. If a train like this one has 300 people on it, that's saving 150 car journeys with two people in each.
[imgl=anoraka]Electric Train[/img]All the pictures above have been of trains which are diesel powered - carrying their own fuel and engines with them. But trains which run on electric motors are quieter, and can often accelerate faster. Such trains collect their electricity from an extra rail (as in this case) or from overhead wires. Of course ... the electricity has to be generated somewhere, but that's another story.
[imgr=anorakb]Rail Passengers at Bath[/img]The city of Bath is choking - there's always a traffic jam in and out of the town, and car parking is hard to find. Park and Ride buses help to some extent, but one train can replace 4 or 5 buses, and each bus can replace 20 or 30 cars. The trains go quicker too - what a great way to get lots of people in and out of town.
[imgr=anorakc]Railway Travelers on the Henley branch[/img]Although the people shown waiting for the train at Bath have probably walked to the station there for the most post, you'll find that 80% of train journeys involve other transport to or from a station or a change of trains along the way. This is why it's so important to have an integrated system, with trains connecting with each other, with buses linking trains to other areas, and with cycles and car links too. Arriving at Twyford from Henley, most of the passengers are transferring to the London or Reading / Oxford trains.
[imgr=anorakd]Train customers leaving and joining trains at Reading[/img]One of the major interchange points west of London is at Reading, served by trains traveling to destinations as wide as Bournemouth, London, Gatwick Airport, Swansea, Penzance and Manchester. Again - connectability is vital!
[imgr=anorake]Waiting for the train at Swindon[/img]Passengers on the platform at Swindon ... I'm leaving on the Weston-super-mare train, and there's a Swansea service due in behind.
[imgl=anorakf]No train coming. No use.[/img]Look up above - and you see all the people piling off the train from Henley at Twyford for their ongoing journey. This picture, by contrast, shows you what happens when something goes wrong - where the train operator fails to run a sensible and appropriate timetable. The station is Melksham - a town with twice the population of Henley. The problem - is that Henley has a train every hour. At Melksham, with this picture taken at 9 in the morning, there isn't going to be another train until after 7 O'Clock in the evening ...