Railway History

RAILWAY HISTORY

Join us and delve into the archives to discover the stories of locomotive classes large and small, learn how the railway worked, and why it was built in this amalgamation of the popular Reality Check and Railway Realism sections from Hornby Magazine.

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MODERN TRACKSIDE EQUIPMENT - PART 2

In this second installment exploring lineside equipment on today’s railway, SIMON PALEY focuses on track mounted infrastructure and outlines how you can model it.

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KEEPING TRAINS MOVING

Although trains run on what is usually termed the permanent way, in fact it is anything but permanent and requires constant attention and replacement. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at how track is maintained and how that process has changed over the years.

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REALITY CHECK: The Fell diesel locomotive story

In the quest to replace steam locomotives, one of the most remarkable designs was the one-off Fell diesel, which combined an innovative engine and transmission system with multiple power units, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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British Rail's Mk2 DBSOs

Railway operators are always seeking ways to improve efficiency, and one of the most interesting results of this process was the conversion of a number of brake coaches to include a cab, enabling a train to be driven from either end. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks more closely at British Rail’s Mk2 Driving Brake Second Opens.

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MODERN TRACKSIDE EQUIPMENT - PART 1

Have you ever wondered what the various items of lineside equipment are on today’s modern railway? In the first of a series of articles, SIMON PALEY outlines the role they play and how you can replicate them in model form.

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Mail by Rail

At one time an important and profitable source of income for the railways, mail traffic has largely disappeared from the system. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES traces the history and decline of mail by rail.

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CLASS 769 BI-MODE UNITS

Repurposing and recycling are very much in vogue at the moment, but are principles rarely applied to trains. However, that is now all changing with the rebuilding of surplus electric multiple units into versatile and useful bi-mode trains, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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Eastern promise... UNFULFILLED

The recent introduction of a model of the 1903-built petrol-electric Autocar has aroused much interest in early forms of alternative traction – many of which were pioneered by railways in North Eastern England, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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EASTERN REGION HISTORY

Of all the regions created when the railways were nationalised, the Eastern was perhaps the most forward-looking, yet many aspects of its advances are today not widely appreciated, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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NATIONAL ‘GRIDS’ - THE CLASS 56

The Class 56 is one of only a few British diesel locomotive classes to be designed specifically for heavy freight work and has nowadays largely disappeared from the network - although those that remain could have an interesting future. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains all.

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DEEP UNDERGROUND

With a route mileage of just under 250 and serving 272 stations, the London Underground network carries around five million passengers a day, yet attracts little attention from enthusiasts and modellers. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES delves into the fascinating history of this unique system, much of which is normally well hidden from public view.

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Farewell to the ‘Bubbles’ Class 121 and 122 DMUs

On May 19 2017, the final examples of British Railway’s famous ‘bubble cars’ were withdrawn from mainline service after a remarkable career spanning 57 years, during which time they have gone through many modifications and changes to their duties. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES reflects on the story of the Class 121 and 122 DMUs.

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The East Coast Class 91s

Although a staple of the East Coast Main Line for the last three decades the Class electrics are now coming to the end of their illustrious careers, during which time each has covered more than seven million miles, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES reports.

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Great Central Railway Reborn

Although the Great Central Railway closed as a through route in 1966, the memory of this once ground-breaking line has been kept alive by what has become one of the country’s greatest preservation projects, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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THE CLASS 86 ELECTRICS

Despite being the largest single class of electric locomotive in the country, the Class 86 has never attracted much attention from either enthusiasts or modellers, yet it was the workhorse of the West Coast route for more than 20 years, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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Merry-go-round Trains

Doctor Beeching is more commonly known as the man who destroyed much of our railway system, but his time in office also produced initiatives that helped the railway to prosper, including the introduction of the ‘merry-go-round’ train for handling the transport of coal, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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Final days of the diesel hydraulics

One of the shortest-lived initiatives of British Railways’ 1955 Modernisation Plan was the use of diesel-hydraulic traction on the Western Region. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES takes a look at the demise of these famous locomotives, and explains why they had such brief lives.

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The Class 14 - Swindon’s big misjudgement

Of all the diesels built during the modernisation of British Railways the Class 14s stand out as one of the shortest lived – not because they were a poor design but because they were built to the wrong specification at the wrong time. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at the history of this small class.

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British Rail’s tiling test - the Class 370 APT

Perhaps one of the most spectacular failures of railway engineering that has ever taken place in this country was the tilting Advanced Passenger Train, a multi-million pound project that failed to enter reliable public passenger service, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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The Vanwides - BR’s last vacuum-braked pallet van

The Vanwide or VEA van is the currently being developed as a new ready-to-run model in ‘OO’, ‘N’ and ‘O’ gauge by Bachmann, Sonic Models and Dapol respectively. DAVID RATCLIFFE explains how BR’s last vacuum-braked pallet van came to be.

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The Caledonian ‘812’

Functional and workmanlike goods engines were very much a feature of the late Victorian railway scene, but few matched the beauty and level of performance of the Caledonian Railway’s ‘812’ 0-6-0s, a real maid of all work, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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Farewell to the 'Deltics'

London, a Saturday night 40 years ago. Hordes of fans mob the platforms at King’s Cross station cheering the star of the day while thousands of cameras record the remarkable scene. The occasion is not, however, the appearance of a Hollywood film star, but the final run of one of the most popular diesels – the ‘Deltics’. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks back to January 1982.

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Gresley’s experimental ‘Hush-Hush'

In the quest for ever more efficient steam engines there have been some remarkable designs produced, some of which have been more successful than others. One of those that showed great promise, yet which failed to deliver, was the LNER’s ‘Hush-Hush’ 10000, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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Races to the North

Victorian era saw intense competition between rival companies for traffic between London and Scotland, which reached its zenith in a thrilling series of events that were to become known as the ‘Railway Races to the North’. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES relays the fascinating story from a forgotten era of rail travel.

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BR’s unique ‘Pacific’ Duke of Gloucester

Although it was a failure in service and lasted a mere eight years with BR, Duke of Gloucester has been transformed into a phenomenally powerful masterpiece in its preservation career. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks back at the history of this remarkable, and unique, engine.

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Railhead Treatment Trains

While leaves on the line have become a regular topic for those who wish to make fun of our railways, for train operators they represent a very real danger and one that has demanded the introduction of special counter measures, which include the Rail Head Treatment Train, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.

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Gresley's 'P2' 2-8-2

One of the most spectacular designs of the steam era was Gresley’s huge semi-streamlined express ‘P2’ 2-8-2. However due to mechanical problems these locomotives never realised their full potential and saw less than 10 years service before they were extensively rebuilt, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES explains.

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The ‘Western’ diesel hydraulics

One of the most distinctive locomotives of the early modernisation era was the ‘Western’ diesel-hydraulic, a design which had a very short life on the main line and which was rendered obsolete almost as soon as it was built, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES reveals.

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British Railways’ War of the diesels

One of British Railways most controversial decisions was to standardise on electric, rather than hydraulic transmission for diesel locomotives. EVAN GREEN-HUGHES looks at the background to this choice and and assesses whether it was correct.

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Reality Check: The Double Fairlie

One of the most remarkable and recognisable locomotive designs of the Victorian era is the narrow gauge Double Fairlie, a type that became inexorably linked with the development of the Ffestiniog Railway in North Wales, but which also became world famous due to its incredible pulling power, as EVAN GREEN-HUGHES describes.