Boat Trains

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by DerekC, 5 Mar 2017.

  1. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    One thing we have lost in the network of today is the "boat train" - running on an as-required or regular basis in connection with international sailings. I am aware of some of the routes involved, for example Waterloo - Southampton and Liverpool St - Harwich. It would be interesting to collect a complete list of these, with the names of trains (where appropriate) and the approximate last date they ran.
     
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  3. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Victoria - Folkestone Harbour and Dover Western Docks.

    We used to get quite a lot coming through Ashford. Some of the Dover ones also went via Faversham.
     
  4. AndrewE

    AndrewE Established Member

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    When we first booked on one from Victoria, for Calais I think (at 2pm?) we were alarmed to find the tickets were for one departing at 2.10 instead. It turned out that they just kept taking bookings and putting on reliefs at 5-minute intervals.

    It worked out fine: off train, onto boat, dump baggage in racks near the entrance, enjoy the crossing and then reverse the procedure at the other side. There must have been immigration and customs formalities at Calais or Boulogne in about 1976 but I can't remember them. I do remember the Swiss customs declaration form, to be handed over to the couchette attendant with your passport, requiring the exact amount of all the currencies you were carrying.

    Folkestone departures worked the same way I think, and one of the [Dover] boats for Oostende was so small that we went steeply down well below the train and quay to get onto it. The passenger accommodation seemed to all be below the deck we actually boarded.

    I believe there were "Boat train routes" 1 and 2
     
    Last edited: 5 Mar 2017
  5. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Showing my ignorance a little here but were all the Victoria-Dover Western Docks boat trains loco hauled and usually by a Class71? (Other than steam traction of course)
     
  6. theblackwatch

    theblackwatch Emeritus Moderator

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    The most recent regular boat trains were the 'Cruise Saver Express' trains to Southampton Docks from Edinburgh/Glasgow which last ran in 2012 from memory. On one occasion, there were a couple of loco failures, and the train arrived after the ship had left. :|
     
  7. Cowley

    Cowley Established Member

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    The ones that went down to Weymouth always fascinated me. The police frequently had to bounce cars out of the way if they'd been parked badly. I loved the thought of sitting in a cafe by the quayside as an enormous train appeared in the street outside. My parents went to Guernsey for a weekend once when I was little and witnessed a 33 hauled train on the branch down to the quay, unfortunately I didn't get to see one.
    (Not my photo below)
     

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  8. SpacePhoenix

    SpacePhoenix Established Member

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    There's a few clips on youtube that shows trains going along there.

    btw, is Weymouth the only location in the UK where a "heavy rail" tramway is still in-situ even though it'll never again see trains run along it?
     
  9. essexjohn

    essexjohn Member

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  10. eastdyke

    eastdyke Established Member

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    Someone may be able to build on this!

    The following were running on BR Eastern Region in Summer 1955:

    1. Harwich (Parkeston Quay) to/from Liverpool (Central) (not named in 1955 TT)
    Weekdays only. Connected with night service to/from Hook of Holland.

    2. Harwich (Parkeston Quay) to/from London Liverpool St. Ran 1925-1987 named from 1927 'The Hook Continental'
    Every day. Connected with Night Service to Hook of Holland 'Royal Mail Route' (BR)
    Relief services also ran Weds/Fri from Liverpool St and Thurs/Sat from Harwich during July and August.

    3. Harwich (Parkeston Quay West) to/from London Liverpool St. 'The Day Continental'
    Every day. Connected with Day Service to Hook of Holland 'Royal Mail Route' (Zetland Steamship Co.)

    4. Harwich (Parkeston Quay) to/from London Liverpool St. 'The Scandinavian'
    2-4 days per week across the TT. Connected with service to Esbjerg 'Royal Danish Mail Route' (United Steamship Co. Ltd. of Copenhagen)

    5. TC Newcastle (Tyne Commission Quay) to/from London Kings Cross.
    3 days per week (approx!!). Connected with service to Oslo (Fred Olsen Line)

    6. TC Newcastle (Tyne Commission Quay) to/from London Kings Cross. Ran 1947-1966 'The Norseman'
    Up to 6 days per week. Connected with service to Oslo (Bergen Line)

    Sorry for any minor errors and typos!
     
    Last edited: 5 Mar 2017
  11. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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  12. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Not by the time I saw them.

    Usually CEP's in the electrified era with MLV's earlier on.
     
  13. 306024

    306024 Established Member

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    Here is what ran on Tuesday 25 July 1989, to pick a busy summer day. LST is London Liverpool St, HPQ Harwich Parkeston Quay.

    1A66 09.35 LST-HPQ (10.44) for 11.15 sailing to Hoek van Holland
    1A24 13.25 LST-HPQ (14.41) for 16.00 sailing to Kristiansand
    1A36 15.03 LST-HPQ (16.20) for 17.00 sailing to Esbjerg
    1A42 16.20 LST-HPQ (17.34) for 19.30 sailing to Gothenburg
    1A62 19.35 LST-HPQ (20.43) for 21.45 sailing to Hoek van Holland

    1A63 07.45 HPQ-LST (09.01) 06.45 arrival from Hoek van Holland
    1A35 13.15 HPQ-LST (14.29) 12.30 arrival from Esbjerg
    1A39 14.00 HPQ-LST (15.17) 13.00 arrival from Kristiansand
    1A53 17.40 HPQ-LST (18.57) 16.30 arrival from Gothenburg
    1A67 18.45 HPQ-LST (19.55) 17.45 arrival from Hoek van Holland

    There were relief trains to 1A66 and 1A62 as well. The Hamburg ship ran on opposite days to the Esbjerg service at this time of year.

    These days trains still run to and from Harwich International for the Hoek sailings, but are mostly part of the normal timetable with intermediate stops.
     
    Last edited: 5 Mar 2017
  14. Spartacus

    Spartacus Established Member

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    A few years ago there were a few boat trains running in connection with cruises from Southampton, these stopped after a could of heavy delays caused vast numbers to miss the boat.

    One port you can still get a regular train to though is Heysham with the daily train from Leeds which connects with the service to Douglas.
     
  15. EM2

    EM2 Established Member

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    The only time I ever caught one (1993) it was 3x4-CEP + 1xMLV all in Jaffa Cake livery.
     
  16. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    I did imagine CEPs being an obvious alternative but wasn't certain,

    Thanks both!
     
  17. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    The only hauled Short Sea services were the Night Ferry and Golden Arrow. The reliefs to those were CEPs.
    The MLVs were intended to operate in pairs, and platforms 1/2 7/8 at Victoria could take 14 cars. They were supplemented by a batch of unpowered TLVs (I think that was the designation) but I don't recall seeing them in action - I think changing social patterns may have meant less registered baggage per head?.

    However, the Newhaven services (to Marine, of course) were hauled, for many years by the SR designed 20001-3, until around 1970 IIRC. Again, reliefs would have been EMU.

    Southampton Docks also had cross channel boat trains until the mid 60s. The St Malo boat lasted until summer 1965, Le Havre till 63 or 64. Incidentally, the Up Havre doubled as a regular service from Eastleigh, Winchester, Micheldever and Basingstoke, with an 8.59am arrival at Waterloo

    Then there's the Irish Sea services, some of which count as international, but that's not my area.
     
    Last edited: 6 Mar 2017
  18. Tw99

    Tw99 Member

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    Think it was TLV not GLV for the trailer luggage vans...
     
  19. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Yes, those are Gatwick Luggage Vans, converted from HAP units.
     
  20. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Folkestone and Dover (Marine) had "Q" paths for late running or extra boat trains - provided the local TCS could find willing train crew volunteers. (or persuade other depots to help out)
     
  21. theageofthetra

    theageofthetra Established Member

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    When it was open the narrow gauge Mull Rail used to connect with arriving and departing ferries!
     
  22. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Clyde Coast: while most services were simply service trains that happened to connect with Clyde Coast ferries (at Gourock, Wemyss bay etc)there were a couple of specific services that used to run limited stop from Glasgow to Ardrossan Harbour (prior to electrification) to connect with specific ferry services.

    Then there were the occasional services to Balloch Pier in connection with Loch Lomond steamer services.
     
    Last edited: 6 Mar 2017
  23. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    the jaffa cake livery was probably the worst that BR came up with
     
  24. sarahj

    sarahj Established Member

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    I liked it.


    Did the boat trains twice. One was Victoria to Folkstone. I remember the reverse to go into the Folkstone Harbour station took and age, with the train crew shouting at folks not to get off. This was around 1979. Direct train from Calais to Luzern.

    And then towards the end, about 93. Victoria to Dover Western Docks. I held a first class ticket and had a comp to myself. No ticket checks on board. We were bussed from the Western Docks station to Eastern Docks and the ship was the brand new Prins Filip. Very posh. Direct train from Ostend to Basle with a first class birth in a T3 (which cost me £70, a lot of money back then). On the return, just had a seat (still first), but was naff belgian stock. Luckily, after Strasbourg, there were just the two of us, so got a so so sleep. The other got off in Brussels (a yank) and I was alone for the final bit. then , Ferry, bus and boat train.

    It was in the last years, but glad I did it.
     
    Last edited: 6 Mar 2017
  25. gordonthemoron

    gordonthemoron Established Member

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    I've done:

    Nottingham-Harwich (European)
    Victoria-Dover Maritime
    Victoria-Folkestone Marine
    Hoek van Holland-Berlin Zoo
    Calais Ville-Paris Nord
    Boulogne Hoverspeed-Paris
     
  26. essexjohn

    essexjohn Member

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    St Pancras to Tilbury Riverside
     
  27. Ploughman

    Ploughman Established Member

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    Went to Paris back in 73.
    Caught the Boat train from Victoria? to Dover.
    However due to a strike by the French somewhere the train was diverted to the Holding sidings at Folkestone, where we sat for a few hours. Eventually we went down to the Harbour station and I eventually reached Paris very late that night.

    One other possible Boat train - Humber Ferry link to New Holland and the paddle steamer to Hull.
     
  28. D1009

    D1009 Established Member

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    There are a few others, Fishguard Harbour and Holyhead for starters. Heysham was also the destination of the Belfast Boat Express from Manchester Victoria, which was one of BR's last regularly steam hauled services, being dieselised in May 1968.
     
  29. Tim R-T-C

    Tim R-T-C Established Member

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    2H84 Leeds to Heysham Port is still a boat train - the final station serves little else but the harbour and is only a one a day working. I don't know much about the history of this service though.

    [​IMG]
    150204 on a Heysham Port Train by Timothy Young, on Flickr
     
  30. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    Thanks for all the fascinating information. There's more than I realised! One port which hasn't featured yet is Plymouth. I recall that the LSWR ran boat trains to connect with Atlantic sailings - (no, I'm not that old, but I read about one of them being wrecked on the Salisbury curves in 1906). Did these continue into SR (or even BR) days?
     
  31. 306024

    306024 Established Member

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    Liverpool St to Tilbury Riverside back in the early 1980s to connect with Russian cruise ships. If memory serves a pair of 308/2s were used, which worked the newspaper trains and had extra luggage accommodation.

    There used to be a poster in Russian by the departure platform at Liverpool Street.
     

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