Boat Trains

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

  1. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    First RORO to the Channel Islands was the Caledonian Princess, which we used as foot passengers in 1975. No train connection though, think we had a taxi.
     
  2. EbbwJunction1

    EbbwJunction1 Member

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    It actually runs from Newport - I saw it on Saturday!

    It leaves at 10.40 and calls at Cardiff (10.54 - 10.58), Bridgend (11.19), Llanelli (12.00 - 12.10), Whitland (12.45) and Fishguard & Goodwick (13.17), arriving at Fishguard Harbour at 13.27.

    From memory, I think it was a Class 150, but I wasn't taking much interest.
     
  3. berneyarms

    berneyarms Established Member

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    The daytime boat train service to/from Fishguard is booked for a Class 158 and the night time for a Class 150.

    However like anything this can change!
     
  4. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    We've caught the morning Fishguard boat train a couple of times to get back to Llanelli quickly, either after staying in Cardiff or when we've made an earlier start than usual from somewhere like London or Reading.

    Strangely enough, it's always been a 158 when we've gone west, but when we've taken it the other way, in the PM from Llanelli, it's been a 150 more often than not!
     
  5. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    Are you sure about that?
    My memory is that the first two RoRo vessels at Weymouth were the Falaise (which served Cherbourg) and the Maid of Kent (which served the Channel Islands)
     
  6. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    I recall the summer Saturday daytime Paddington-Fishguard HST in the 1990's. If memory serves me right it ran non stop Reading-Cardiff, then non stop Cardiff-Llanelli then the normal stopping pattern.
     
  7. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Neither of us is quite right. Maid of Kent did Cherbourg, Falaise did a season on the CI run before Caley Princess,. I'd missed that - I visited in 73 when cars were still being craned (or not, as there was a dockers strike IIRC) and 75 when (so I thought) the service was new. 1315 off Weymouth rings a bell, ahead of the regular 1430 which was still Caesarea or Sarnia.

    http://www.doverferryphotosforums.co.uk is very informative.
     
  8. pitdiver

    pitdiver Member

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    My twopnnorth, I can remember the Weymouth Boat trains connecting with the two Ferries Caesarea and Sarnia.When they would moor at the Weymouth Quay Stn. Long before the RORO service began
     
  9. phil8715

    phil8715 Member

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    I've done the Northern Irishman.

    Euston to Stranraer boat train.

    Used to connect with 1900 Sealink service to Larne.

    Also the Irish Mail

    Euston to Holyhead
     
  10. randyrippley

    randyrippley Established Member

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    But can you remember the BR cargo ferries which were the island's lifeline? Brought tomatoes and potatoes from them, and took them coal, foods and other essentials. I can remember Bison, Elk, Moose and Strum. Were there any others?
     
  11. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The two longstanding cargo ships from Weymouth to the Channel Islands were the sisters Roebuck and Sambur. Built together for the GWR in their big investment in the service in 1925, scrapped in 1965. The two contemporary passenger vessels were the St Julien and the St Helier, also built at the same time, scrapped just a couple of years before the cargo pair when the Caesarea and Sarnia were built.
     
  12. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    Thanks for all the fascinating information and memories. The only boat train I can claim is the Irish Mail in about 1962 - and then only from Watford Junction to Crewe. It was my first long trip on my own and I remember being rather disappointed when it arrived in charge of a diesel rather than steam. Seeing brand new bright blue electric locos at Crewe was quite exciting, though.

    Somebody should write a book about boat trains - I am surprised there isn't one (or is there?)
     
  13. R4_GRN

    R4_GRN Member

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    Slightly off the OP but how did the train get onto the ship? There has to be a way of Aligning the rails during different tides? A steep ramp would be out so how was it done?
     
  14. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    This thread isn't about train-ferries, of which there were only two in the last century in the UK. (Harwich-Zeebrugge and Dover-Dunkerque; the second carried the Night Ferry sleeper service to Paris and Brussels.)

    Basically, the principle is similar to a roll-on roll-off car ferry, with a link span that can move vertically to cope with tides. It helps not to have too great a tidal range!

    The original Dunkerque ferry berth was in a non-tidal dock, but using the lock and manoeuvring added 90 minutes to the crossing; it was moved in the 1970s.

    The ship's docking has to be much more precise so that the rails align (the link span has little or no horizontal movement), and the connection has to be secured.
     
  15. R4_GRN

    R4_GRN Member

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    Thanks for explanation 30907
     
  16. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    The Dover-Dunquerque route used a different principle, there was not really room at Dover at the train ferry berth (just to the north of Marine station) for a long linkspan, given the large tidal range, so it had a single lock gate, the vessel manoeuvred in reverse into this, the lock gate went across, and then there was a steam-powered pumping plant alongside which equalised the impounded water level to the approach tracks. It took a while if the tide was at extremes.

    Other rail facilities, such as from mainland Italy across to Sicily today, do indeed use the same linkspan principle as car ferry terminals. The tidal range in the Mediterranean is a lot less.

    Previous train ferry services across the Channel, which had existed on and off since WW1, just had a tidal timetable. There is a mid-tide every 6 hours or so and the vessel just loaded and unloaded at that time, which works for freight but not a daily timetabled passenger service. This is actually relevant to boat trains because in the 19th Century, before harbour improvements, the passenger services were different each day due to tides. It was a misreading of that day's timetable by platelayer staff that led to the major Staplehurst accident in 1865 in which Charles Dickens, returning from Paris, was a passenger, who later wrote a well-known account of it.
     
  17. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Thanks Taunton. I had wondered about Dover, given the tidal range there.

    I was going by the surviving European train ferries which are in the Mediterranean and Baltic, both of which are pretty much tideless.
     
    Last edited: 31 Mar 2017
  18. DerekC

    DerekC Member

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    I travelled by the train/car ferry from Rodby (Denmark) to Puttgarden (Germany) across a small corner of the Baltic not long ago and from memory this had a link span. Interestingly the train got priority - all the cars were loaded, then the train arrived and went straight on. At the other end the same the other way round. Train left, then cars were unloaded. It was an undramatic affair - the train was a Danish DMU of some sort.
     
  19. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    Glad to know this link still exists - I did it in 1969, aged 21, on my way to Kobenhavn, well before UK's entry into the Common Market, with a full shilling (5p) in my pocket and not a care in the world. There I met someone British who became my wife and, for her sins, still is!
     
  20. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    Boat trains could be very challenging with inevitable marine delays - friend of mine was a relief SM on the SED , and had some uncomfortable times at Folkestone Harbour trying to persuade London based traincrew to hang on (sometimes for an hour+) to await late running inward ships. All he could do was offer tea......
     
  21. daodao

    daodao Member

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    Following the recent closure of the Rotterdam-Hook of Holland railway line, there are now no longer any European cross channel ports with boat services from the UK/Ireland served by rail directly to the port. While passenger rail is prospering for short-distance journeys within a single state, long distance international travel by rail/boat is dying.
     
    Last edited: 2 Apr 2017
  22. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    There looks to be quite a nice greasy spoon just outside Folkestone Harbour station - perhaps BR should have offered the crews a fry-up !
     
  23. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Is a Rotterdam Metro train so different from an NS suburban EMU? There have been no long distance services from the Hook for years.
     
  24. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Rail/ferry travel has been steadily replaced by fixed links which carry far more passengers than ferries used to - and medium-distance (daytime) international rail travel is doing reasonably well though focused on fewer routes.
     
  25. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    I have personally persuaded crews at Felixstowe to hang on by buying them greasy bacon sarnies at the Dock canteen. (awaiting customs clerance forr the Holyhead freightliner train)

    Claimed it back as misch expenses....
     
  26. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    A bacon sarnie with ketchup can go a long way !
     
  27. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    HP Sauce please!
     
  28. ChiefPlanner

    ChiefPlanner Established Member

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    It did the job all right - Stratford Crew of course :D - good as gold when fed and watered with tea ....
     
  29. joshy.fre_2003

    joshy.fre_2003 Member

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    Don't suppose anyone's mentioned the Leeds - Heysham Harbour service?
     
  30. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Yes, post # 28
     

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