Go with Ted

Travel, trains, drinking and cooking with Ted

Take the train with Ted

If you have looked at the travel pages you will know that most involve travelling by train, and Ted and I have enjoyed many of the classic rail journeys in Western Europe. We prefer local trains to high trains2speed trains, to see more of the country at a reasonable pace. In cities, a few hours travelling around by tram, bus, or metro, away from the tourist sites, is a good way to get the feel of the place. And travelling by public transport means we can have a beer or two along the way. This page focuses on travel by train and other public transport, with an emphasis on some of the more unusual journeys:trains1

  • Railway journeys and stations – away from the mainline:This is a collection of journeys, by local train, city transport, tourist or heritage railway,s and a few of the more unusual stations along the way.
  • Just another train journey: travelling by train in the UK train today: I don’t usually take notes of routine or regular journeys, but I’ve started to take along the notebook, and this section is an attempt to describe the reality of train travel.
  • Transport in Glasgow: I grew up in Glasgow and it had its transport oddities (still has – ride the Subway) and I’ve included some of them here.
  • Train and railway miscellany:This is information for those interested in rail travel in Europe and some resources for those interested in the more arcane subjects of railway maps and timetables. 
To whet the appetite: The photo at the top of this page is taken at Bertsdorf in October 2016, on the Zittauer Schmalspurbahn in Saxony, Germany, near the borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. It is the only place I am aware of where you can regularly see two steam trains departing at the same time. The second photo is of a FEVE railcar which makes the seven-hour journey along the north coast of Spain from Ferrol to Oviedo.

Railway Journeys and stations – away from the main line

A few odd journeys, from Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, the Isle of Man, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland

Austriasdr

Steiermärkischen Landesbahnen operate several isolated lines in Steiermark (Styria), Austria. This railcar and its partner, built in 1931,  shuttle between Feldbach and Bad Gleichenberg four times a day. Alloznor the other passengers on this journey were in their eighties, but still mobile enough to clamber on and off. The Gmunden tramway shuttles between the town of Gmunden and its railway station, though I didn’t see any Macdonalds en route.

France  

Le Petit Train Jaune runs from La Tour de Carol to Villefranche in the French Pyrenees. Tremendous journey – at least it should be – when we did it in 1990 I had one of the worst hangovers of my life, and three hours in an open carriage with no toilet is no joke.

Germany

The Oberweissbacher Bergbahn is a funicular in Thuringen. It links two level railway lines, one in the valley, the other on the plateau above. The platform wagon was built so that carriages and goods wagons could be transferred between the two standard lines via the funicular.

trains9The suburbs above Loschwitz in Dresden are linked with the city by this monorail-funicular built by the person who went on to construct the Wuppertal monorail.

And here it is – the Wuppertal Schwebebahn. This is the main form of public transport in Wuppertal – a monorail running above the River Wupper linking the districts along the narrow valley. Opened in 1900 it is still going strong – as well as being practical, it is good fun to visit, particularly as the train sways into stations..

The Harzerschmalspurbahnen narrow gauge railways in the Harz mountains are well known for steam trains, but less so for the small diesel railcars which operate the ‘non-tourist’ services. This is the Quedlinburg Flyer as it arrives at its destination.

 

Greece

Karakolo – Olimbia. Most of the Peloponnisos network in Greece has been closed (‘austerity’) but this short line seems to have survived. Ideal for taking passengers from cruise ships to Olympus.  When I was here the cruise people insisted the line didn’t exist and we should take their coach, at 15 times the price – we ignored them.

Hungary

Line 1 of the Budapest Metro was opened in 1896, just a couple of months before the Glasgow Subway, beating it to become the second underground railway in the world. The trains are modern, but the stations have been carefully restored and this is one of them, Opera. The line also boasts a station, in the middle of a park, Széchenyi Fürdö.

The Isle of Man 

The Isle of Man is well known for its heritage railways and tramways, but there a couple of less well known railways run by volunteers. The Great Laxey Mine Railway runs for a few hundred yards in Laxey and is a reconstruction of the network that served the mines. This loco is Ant – the other one is Dec. The Groudle Glen Railway was originally built to serve a zoo by the sea and has been reconstructed running along 0.75 scenic miles from Lhen Coan to Sea Lion Rocks.

Portugal

This is the Elevador da Bica in Lisbon. Through a door is this little funicular which runs up and down a grotty street between rows of washing hanging from the windows, to and from the Bairro Alto.

Lisbon also has the best tram journey in Europe , hurtling (relative term) through the street on the No 28. and the Elevador Santa Justa one of the Great Lift Journeys of the world.trains8

Slovenia

 

The train from Nova Gorica through the mountains to Jesenice, at Bled Jezero station. My tour group of 35 of us had just got off the train, with our cases, and into deep, uncleared snow.

Spain

Line C-9 of the Madrid suburban railway network is a narrow gauge line from Cercedilla, which climbs the Sierra de Guadaramma on the steepest gradients in Spain to the second highest station in the country – Los Cotos – where there are a couple of restaurants, walking in summer and skiing in winter.

This photo, taken in 1998, is of the FEVE line in Oviedo. This section of line has now been diverted into a modern station, and new trains have taken over the route. However, the trains still take 4.5 hrs from Santander to Oviedo and 6.5 hrs from Oviedo to Ferrol. Whether the prostitutes still service their clients on the gap site in front, in full view of our hotel window, I don’t know.

 
Switzerland

From Aigle, in Canton Vaud, three narrow gauge lines radiate to the surrounding area – this is one of them, to Leysin – terminating in a hotel half way up a mountain, built as a sanatorium for people to benefit from the pure air.

This is the Rheineck – Walzenhausen Bahn in Northeast Switzerland. This is the sole item of rolling stock, which pootles uphill from a little platform on top of the main line platform at Rheineck up the hill on a 6 minute journey. Then it comes back again. And there is plenty of room to stand beside the driver for the journey…in fact if there are any more than 20 passengers some people have to stand there.

 Stations – the rush hour away from the main line

Stations2

A view from the end of the platform at Rannoch (Perth and Kinross), on the West Highland line from Glasgow to Fort William, taken in 2015 while waiting for a pleasant hour for the connecting Broon’s Bus to Kinloch Rannoch.

 

And finally two stations which are unusual for other reasons.

 

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