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Dover / Folkestone - Calais / Ostend to Australia by Train

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parkender102

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In 1989 my girlfriend and I travelled to Australia from Chester using the following (mostly Overland) Route mainly by Train:

Chester – London Euston – (Tube) – London Victoria – Dover – (Hydrofoil) – Ostend - (Night Sleeper) – Vienna – Budapest - (Night Sleeper) – Moscow - (Trans Manchurian Express) – Beijing - (Night Sleeper) – Hong Kong – (Air) – Bangkok – (Air) – Perth.

My question is I’m not 100% sure about the Dover to Ostend via Hydrofoil leg. I can’t find any reference on the Internet to a now discontinued Hydrofoil Service between Dover and Ostend and I’m starting to question my sanity. Was it between Folkestone and Calais instead or some other combination? Any information on the service would be appreciated. I know we definitely left by train from London Victoria and I know we definitely took the night sleeper to Vienna from the port we arrived at in Belgium / France or wherever we docked – the train station located at the port I think.
 
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Hornet

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In 1989 my girlfriend and I travelled to Australia from Chester using the following (mostly Overland) Route mainly by Train:

Chester – London Euston – (Tube) – London Victoria – Dover – (Hydrofoil) – Ostend (Night Sleeper) – Vienna – Budapest (Night Sleeper) – Moscow (Trans Manchurian Express) – Beijing (Night Sleeper) – Hong Kong – (Air) – Bangkok – (Air) – Perth.

My question is I’m not 100% sure about the Dover to Ostend via Hydrofoil leg. I can’t find any reference on the Internet to a now discontinued Hydrofoil Service between Dover and Ostend and I’m starting to question my sanity. Was it between Folkestone and Calais instead or some other combination? Any information on the service would be appreciated. I know we definitely left by train from London Victoria and I know we definitely took the night sleeper to Vienna from the port we arrived at in Belgium / France or wherever we docked – the train station located at the port I think.

Ostend Dover Jetfoil Vid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGxcZPqU4Lw
 

sarahj

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I have two books, 'the ostend ferry from start to end' and a book on sally line, both go into to details about the jetfoils. They were made by Boeing. I think excess fuel costs made them a bit of a liability on a route where foot passengers were down.
When I did that route in 92 (I think) it was back to the ferry. The Prins Fillip. (now back on the DFDS Dover-Calais route under a new name). Direct train from there to Basle.

Ostend station is right next to the ferry port, is was a short hop and then onto many trains all over europe. The station is still there, the destinations are not, just bog standard SNCB IC's through Belguim.
 
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parkender102

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Thanks for all the replies - sounds like it was Dover - Ostend then and followed by the overnight Sleeper to Vienna. I remember the Jetfoil being a bit of a let down as it was more like being on a plane as you were seat belted and there was not much room and restriction on moving around - however it was very quick.

The Wikipedia article on Hydrofoils doesn't seem to mention Dover to Ostend in it's 'Discontinued Operations' list.

I like the fact we managed to get to Hong Kong from Chester by surface travel and not using a plane. We were running low on cash by the time we got to Thailand and to meet the Australia Working Visa entry requirements we decided to get a cheap flight to Perth. The original intention was to head overland via Indonesia to I think West Timor which is about as far as you could go and then it was a short flight to Darwin. Maybe getting a ride on a ship would be an option.

Nowadays it is also possible to make a journey from China to Thailand via Vietnam and Laos using Bus and Train rather than flying.
 
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Groningen

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I travelled at least 1 time from Oostende to Dover and had to pay 8 Pounds extra. Somewhere i still have the ticket. Believe that the Jetfoil was orange in the 1980's.

2014-2209_0.jpg
 
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@parkender102,

That sounds like an epic rail adventure! I'm very envious!! I'd love to read a trip report.

@Sahraj,

Yes, Oostende Station is a shadow of its former self now sadly with the overall roof gone. It looked very rundown when I was last there in March on the way to Brussel. I think there are plans now underway to redevelop the area around the station and port though.
I took a push-pull formed of I11 rijtuigen and a single I10 Eurofima with the cushy seats behind the loco on an IC bound for Ëupen. :)

I wouldn't refer to the NMBS in the Français acronym in that neck of the woods though with the whole Flanders - Wallonia language dispute, the Flemish are known to get easily upset about such things! Especially the older generation -(as I've experienced!) :lol:

@Groningen,

Nice pic!
 

Groningen

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Credits go to a postcardcompany. It was posted on a Belgium website dedicated to the history of Oostende.
 

STEVIEBOY1

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I remember the Jetfoil, I think there were a couple of others that operated to France or Belgium, one from near London Tower Bridge and another from Brighton or Newhaven.
 

parkender102

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@parkender102,

That sounds like an epic rail adventure! I'm very envious!! I'd love to read a trip report.

In those days you could buy a one way ticket to Beijing in communist countries for £150. So we headed to Hungary and sorted the necessary tickets and Visas and explored Budapest and Hungary before taking the sleeper to Moscow. This allowed you a day in Moscow before taking the Trans Manchurian train (6 days). We shared a 4 berth sleeper with a variety of characters – Siberian Car Salesmen and Polish sailors returning to ships in far off ports. Also lots of Chinese returning home for Christmas (we did the trip in October). It was fairy tale landscape with snow everywhere and clear blue skies all the way – temperatures of minus 17. I remember steam trains running regular passenger services in Northern China – in Shenyang during a break big black monsters of steam engines at the station. Also remember the drastic change in temperature from minus 4 in Beijing to virtually tropical in Hong Kong after a 2 day sleeper journey. Hong Kong still under British rule in those days. The trip home after a year in Australia was via New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii and US. We spent 6 weeks in the US travelling around by Amtrak train on an unlimited pass for $250. We spent some nights sleeping on the train in seats that reclined to almost horizontal with pillows and blankets provided by the train staff. A great way to see the country from ground Level and meet a variety of interesting Americans who were mainly retired or students. The route we took was LA – Las Vegas – Glenwood Springs – Chicago – Memphis – New Orleans – Houston – Dallas – LA – San Francisco – Seattle – Chicago – Washington DC – Miami – Orlando – New York. Would love to do the trip again but children, mortage and work seem to get in the way! The trip was 18 months which was 9 months travelling and 9 months working (Perth and Sydney). We travelled for 3 months around Australia in a VW camper we bought from a retired couple and sold at the end of the trip. Happy Days!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
@parkender102,

That sounds like an epic rail adventure! I'm very envious!! I'd love to read a trip report.

@Sahraj,

Maybe I'll put a longer version on here if there is a trip report section!
 
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Gordon

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I remember the Jetfoil, I think there were a couple of others that operated to France or Belgium, one from near London Tower Bridge and another from Brighton or Newhaven.


Yes there was a Brighton - Dieppe jetfoil. I used it a few times. It ran from Brighton Marina to Dieppe inner harbour, both better and faster than the parallel ship, as was the case with the Ostend service the Jetfoil was a very useful timesaver on the longer 4 hour channel ferry routes.




.
 

tranzitjim

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That sounds very interesting, and may interest me when I hope to visit the UK some year soon.

Are there any other viable railway routes between the two countries?

From Australia, Perth, and now Darwin can be used. Also Cairns in north Queensland also.
 

parkender102

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That sounds very interesting, and may interest me when I hope to visit the UK some year soon.

Are there any other viable railway routes between the two countries?

From Australia, Perth, and now Darwin can be used. Also Cairns in north Queensland also.

Yes I think the train lines extend now to Darwin (not in existence in 1989 - you could only go as far as Alice Springs). I've done Brisbane to Cairns by rail on another trip in the 1990's. One highlight I remember was a 'Disco Car' - a bar with a dance floor and flashing disco lights and blinds on the windows to keep out the sun - try dancing on a moving train when you've had a few drinks. Health and Safety probably wouldn't allow it nowadays!

The Man in Seat 61 covers all the main routes from UK to Australia:

http://www.seat61.com/Australia-overland.htm#.V-I3KU0UUiQ

London to Singapore can be done entirely by train apart from 2 bus journeys between Saigon and Poiphet on the Vietnam/Thai Border. Then it's a ferry to Indonesia and most of Indonesia can be crossed using a combination of trains, buses and ferries - see Seat 61 Indonesia Page:

http://www.seat61.com/Indonesia.htm#.V-I3tE0UUiQ

However the missing link seems to be between West Timor and Darwin so unless you can go by sea that's where the overland journey ends (or begins if you are coming from Australia. In 1989 there was a flight from Kupang in West Timor to Darwin for around AUS $100 but no longer exists. You can still fly from Dili in East Timor to Darwin. In reality if not going as a passenger on a container ship then Bali is probably the point at which you'd have to break the Overland Journey and fly to Australia.
 
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D6700

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I must say I've enjoyed reading this thread, which has brought back a few personal memories.

During a family trip, I travelled on the Dover to Ostend jetfoil. We started from York with a Speedlink liveried Class 90 to London, whilst the next leg took us into Dover Western Docks station - the only time I used it.

Knowing we were only doing the jetfoil on the outbound run, at Ostend, I looked in awe at the giant Prins Filip conventional ferry - and hoped we would be getting that back, but it wasn't to be. Instead, a much smaller ship operated our service! On the return, the same Class 90 took us back to York.

Regarding Disco coaches, I saw one earlier this year at Norddeich Mole in Northern Germany on a charter train operated by Euro-Express. They have a section on their site about their "Partywagens", including this PDF. I've also seen their stock in South West France a couple of times over the summer - it certainly gets about!
 

Tim R-T-C

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This thread needs a lot more pictures of 1980s Russian and Chinese trains!


Please.
 

parkender102

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I must say I've enjoyed reading this thread, which has brought back a few personal memories.

During a family trip, I travelled on the Dover to Ostend jetfoil. We started from York with a Speedlink liveried Class 90 to London, whilst the next leg took us into Dover Western Docks station - the only time I used it.

Knowing we were only doing the jetfoil on the outbound run, at Ostend, I looked in awe at the giant Prins Filip conventional ferry - and hoped we would be getting that back, but it wasn't to be. Instead, a much smaller ship operated our service! On the return, the same Class 90 took us back to York.

Regarding Disco coaches, I saw one earlier this year at Norddeich Mole in Northern Germany on a charter train operated by Euro-Express. They have a section on their site about their "Partywagens", including this PDF. I've also seen their stock in South West France a couple of times over the summer - it certainly gets about!

Excellent! Pretty much like the Australian one on the Brisbane to Cairns route. I'm amazed they can still operate those with all the Health and Safety about nowadays. I suppose it's only the same as walking in a train.

I sort of miss the old days when there was no tunnel and you had to take a train to the south coast to take a ferry. I remember on that 18 month trip around the world looking back at the white cliffs of Dover thinking 'when will I see those again?'

Of course you can still do the train / ferry combination - I must try it sometime. I think the inspiration for that trip was the year before was the first airing of Michael Palins 'Around the World in 80 Days'
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
This thread needs a lot more pictures of 1980s Russian and Chinese trains!


Please.

I may have some at home - I'll try and scan and post. Definitely got some of remote Siberian Stations and trains in the snow and bright sunshine. Also remember the Cold War feel of the last station in Russia before the Chinese Border - lot's of Communist Posters - think I bought a few postcards with similar themes. Not sure whether there was a Bogie change at the Chinese Border for the different gauge in China. Then the Border Crossing in the dark and peering out of the windows at the no-mans land of barbed wire and Chinese Soldiers standing alone in the dark. The Chinese Dining car was added after the border crossing and all the Chinese were in Party Mode as they were on home soil and they had food they were familiar with. Think we bought a bottle of brandy in the Chinese Dining Car to go with our meal.
 

Groningen

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I think that pictures of Russia and/or China are more easy to make today than say 30 to 50 years ago. Spionage!
 

parkender102

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I think that pictures of Russia and/or China are more easy to make today than say 30 to 50 years ago. Spionage!

When we turned up at Moscow for the Trans Manchurian Train there was a small group of ‘Western’ tourists who had booked their trip through an official Russian Agency – they were allocated to one compartment along with a ‘Tour Guide’ who I assume was there to keep an eye on them (probably employed via the Government). The ‘Tour Guide’ was rather put out as she had no knowledge that we were going to be on the train as we had booked independently in Budapest. We were in a completely separate carriage from her ‘Guests’ but I always felt she was keeping her eye on us!
 

sarahj

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I must say I've enjoyed reading this thread, which has brought back a few personal memories.

During a family trip, I travelled on the Dover to Ostend jetfoil. We started from York with a Speedlink liveried Class 90 to London, whilst the next leg took us into Dover Western Docks station - the only time I used it.

Knowing we were only doing the jetfoil on the outbound run, at Ostend, I looked in awe at the giant Prins Filip conventional ferry - and hoped we would be getting that back, but it wasn't to be. Instead, a much smaller ship operated our service! On the return, the same Class 90 took us back to York.

Regarding Disco coaches, I saw one earlier this year at Norddeich Mole in Northern Germany on a charter train operated by Euro-Express. They have a section on their site about their "Partywagens", including this PDF. I've also seen their stock in South West France a couple of times over the summer - it certainly gets about!


That was one of the issues that faced RMT (the ferry operator), was that they built a brand new ferry, the Prins Filip, but their other ferries were old, small and worn. They then moved to Ramsgate and the numbers crashed, and that was that. The Prins Filip was sold and went somewhere else, but it's now back on the DFDS Dover-Calais route as the Calais Seaways.
I have a good book on the whole route, bought from this lot: http://www.ferrypubs.co.uk/
 

parkender102

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I seem to remember also on that trip being given a Die Cast Badge by one of the Train Conductors on the Trans Siberian. It depicted the logo of the Trans Siberian Railway or the train itself - not sure which but I have it at home somewhere.
 
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