Public phones on trains

Discussion in 'Railway History & Nostalgia' started by Quakers Yard, 4 May 2014.

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  1. Quakers Yard

    Quakers Yard Member

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    I recall the 158 alphalines had a phone fitted in for public use in early 90s.

    How long did they last? Did other types of trains also have them?

    They used the old phonecards not coins.
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2014
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  3. hacman

    hacman Member

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    The 158's on the Transpennine route also had this back in the day. Not sure how much use they would have been given the number of tunnels and black spots along the route though!

    Interestingly they were a standard BT payphone too!

    Jon
     
  4. cjmillsnun

    cjmillsnun Established Member

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    I always thought they were phonecard only.

    IIRC they were also in Intercity stock (in the buffet car), as well as the 442s.
     
  5. Hyphen

    Hyphen Member

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    I seem to recall Central Trains' 170s having signs internally pointing the way to a payphone. Never saw one though, so I can't tell you if they did originally come with one, or if Central just used the same stickers on the 170 as they did on their 158s.
     
  6. The Planner

    The Planner Established Member

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    Cross Country used to have them on the loco sets, useful if you didn't have a mobile phone and had to ring someone up to say the class 47 had failed yet again and you would be back about 5 hours later than intended....
     
  7. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    HST's had them (before my time), and up until a few years ago, there was an old "carphone" style phone fitted in the buffet of HST's. I've been told (but never seen in writing) that after the payphones were removed, passengers could use this free in case they needed to make an urgent call (but we never advertised this, for obvious reasons).

    On-train staff now all have their own mobile issued - and can be charged for calls to non-authorised numbers (over a certain limit).

    I allow passengers use my work phone for calls if they are stuck.
     
  8. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    I used the HST phones a fair bit back in the mid 1990's with my phonecard. They worked quite well, but, like a lot of people I stopped using them when I got my first mobile phone!
     
  9. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Certainly there were cardphones in the buffet cars of HSTs in the 80s and in the inner end vestibules of 158s from new in around 1990. CrossCountry has been mentioned and I think the Mk4 sets were also fitted - were they standard for Intercity trains including WCML?

    They were externally identical to the standard BT cardphones of the time, but presumably different internally to connect to whatever generation of the cellphone network was current at the time. Due to the extortionate rate and the likelihood of being cut off they were strictly for emergencies only!

    At one time the quality standard for a service to qualify as Alphaline was air conditioning, payphone and a catering trolley. I think this was when Regional Railways briefly adopted the branding for all the routes that were originally branded Express, but quite soon privatisation intervened and only Wales and West continued with the brand name.
     
  10. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    442s were originally built with a telephone 'kiosk', I think it was at the inner end of the DTFso as delivered.
     
  11. CyrusWuff

    CyrusWuff Established Member

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    The Turbostar family (including Chiltern's 168/0s at least) had them by the accessible toilet if memory serves. Think they were on a reversible module that had the phone one side and a bike support on the other. (Or it may have been multiple modules that could be swapped out).
     
  12. cjmillsnun

    cjmillsnun Established Member

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    Payphones were indeed standard for all IC stock of the time.
     
  13. D7666

    D7666 Member

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    c.1980 the buffet cars of 4Rep 3012-3015 were payphone fitted.

    IIMU these were the first fleet installation payphones for normal use on BR trains excluding HST, although there might have been prototype or pilot installations in other stock.

    Not sure when they were removed, the units had a overhaul / asbestos strip 1984/1985 so it might have been then ?

    The other 4Reps did not have payphones. IIRC it was a space thing rather than anything else ... 3012-3015 buffet conversions were from LH 19xx RU but the first 11 were from LH 17xx RB.

    --
    Nick
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2014
  14. Carlisle

    Carlisle Established Member

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    They had card operated pay phones on voyagers in the first few years of operation don't think pendilinos ever had them though
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2014
  15. Flamingo

    Flamingo Established Member

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    Phone cards! I had forgotten all about them!
     
  16. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    I can even remember when phone cards were on Tomorrow's World as the thing of the future. These were the ones where there was something on the card that got gradually burned away by a laser on the phone as the units were used up.
     
  17. davetheguard

    davetheguard Member

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    I wonder if they're still available fore sale?

    At one time some stations used to stock them for sale at ticket offices; I'm not sure how common it was though. Certainly the four staffed stations down the Cotswold Line (Charlbury; Kingham; Moreton in Marsh; and Evesham used to sell them.
     
  18. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I can remember seeing a train payphone on a programme and being amazed at how such a thing could work !
     
  19. Darren R

    Darren R Established Member

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    I'm pretty sure that you could buy Phonecards from the buffet counter on Inter-City services. I think the smallest denomination available was a quid!
     
  20. Muzer

    Muzer Established Member

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    Where were the phones in the 158s?
     
  21. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Right next to the gangway between the two cars. Modern Railways commented that this was the noisiest place possible.
     
  22. NSEFAN

    NSEFAN Established Member

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    Presumably the earlier mobile payphones were entirely analogue, as GPRS wasn't around until the early 2000s? There must have surely been backbone infrastructure along the railway lines to keep calls up?
     
  23. Be3G

    Be3G Established Member

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    GSM, which is the digital standard for mobile phone communications, has been around since the early '90s; it's what made SMS possible. Every mobile I've owned, going back to the ones with a SIM card that was actually the size of a credit card, has been GSM-based, so I don't know exactly when it became possible to purchase/install devices using the technology. GPRS became available much later though as you allude to, but that's specifically for the transmission of data so presumably had nothing to do with on-train payphones.
     
  24. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    I think I am right in saying the 319/2s had phones fitted for a short while too, though I don't think they lasted long.
     
  25. Buttsy

    Buttsy Established Member

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    Used a card phone on a IC XC loco hauled set in 1989 to make sure the test match at Old Trafford was going ahead that day (a Monday, Russell or Emburey got a ton in the 2nd Innings, but England were thrashed by the Aussies).
     
  26. talltim

    talltim Established Member

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    Some of the Northern 158s still have the 'booth'
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I commuted on these when they were new and don't remember seeing them
     
  27. eastwestdivide

    eastwestdivide Established Member

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    There was a good reason for the smallest denomination - when I used one on a cross-country Mk2 (maybe early 1990s?), it cost me that much for the call, which basically of consisted of bellowing "HELLO! I'M ON THE TRAIN!" as if I had a mobile, then running out of cash.
    Still, good value for a taste of the future (perhaps!).
     
  28. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    They would have been by the disabled loo, if fitted.
     
  29. Carlisle

    Carlisle Established Member

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    Presumably before the mid 90s introduction of GSM the BT card phones on trains must have used the old uk wide Cellnet and maybe also the Vodafone analogue mobile networks that were closed down around 2000 ish I think
     
    Last edited: 7 May 2014
  30. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    365s also had a payphone, and on some of the trains you can still see where they were as there's a gap and a longitudinal seat/bench. In fact, there were (are?) even stickers pointing to the phone long after they had gone.

    The 365s were made in the 90s so presumably the phones used GSM by then, but before that they were, obviously, using analogue (TACS/ETACS) but I am not sure which network. I believe it was Vodafone, not Cellnet. In any case, the phone module itself probably looked identical to any other payphone, regardless of what was inside (or in a separate box further away).

    Vodafone generally had better coverage out of London, while Cellnet was better in London.
     
  31. theblackwatch

    theblackwatch Emeritus Moderator

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    The Platform 5 books dated 1986 list 19 Mk.3b coaches (11083-11101) as having a 'train telephone', and just two HST coaches, 41041 & 41066, which were formed in the Yorkshire Pullman and Tees Tyne Pullman sets. I do remember us coming back from London once, and it must have been on one of the Pullman HST rakes as a family friend went down to the telephone to try the phone out by calling his wife on it!
     
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