Things we learned visiting every station in Great Britain

 

Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe have completed an epic journey to visit all 2,563 railway stations in Great Britain.

Having raised £38,654 through crowdfunding, the couple spent 14 weeks, six days, eight hours and 22 minutes ticking off all the stations listed by the Office of Rail and Road, making 60 videos along their journey.

So what did they uncover that surprised them?

1) A large part of the network still relies on surprisingly old technology

Ms Pipe: 'I didn’t realise how many "old style" bits of infrastructure are still in use across the rail network. Semaphore signals were something I thought belonged in the past, but in fact they’re quite common across parts of the network.

'In places such as the Morecombe branch, the driver has to get out of the cab to change the signal themselves.

'Another thing I didn’t realise still existed was manually-operated level crossing gates. The crossing person’s role used to be widespread but automation has changed that.'

2) Organising the staffing of the railways is a feat of logistical brilliance

Mr Marshall, who is a twice world record holder for visiting all the London Underground stations in the shortest time says: 'I’d heard about how complex it is organising the staff roster so a train can get from its start to its destination using multiple drivers, but seeing it in action was mind-blowing.

'Most people think you get on a train and the driver takes you from A-F. But there could be multiple drivers along that route, as some go to drive other trains, or are returning at the end of their shift.'

3) Everyone thinks their line is the worst in the country 

'When we would say where we were off to, people would always tell us "good luck getting to where you want to on my line, it’s the worst",' says Mr Marshall.

'It’s understandable because these are the lines they use the most and don’t have much experience of others. In fact 98% of our trains were on time, and nine in 10 trains nationally run on time.'

So what’s the worst line? 'You’d have to look at the performance tables for that,' says Mr Marshall. 'But I reckon Southern can’t be performing too well.'

Ms Pipe chips in: 'The amount people complain shows how vital the railways are for everyone. People we spoke to, whether they liked travelling by train or not, were going to visit friends, or going to work or seeing someone in hospital – and rail was the best way to get there. The railway is like a huge offline social network linking people up in different parts of the country.'

4) People on trains are happy to talk to you

'Maybe it’s because we’re from London that this surprised us, but we generally found it very easy to strike up conversations with people on trains,' says Mr Marshall.

'It’s definitely made me want to start talking to more people when I get back to London, even though I’ll probably get some bad looks as a result.'

5) Older trains are more sociable

'I’ve developed a love for Pacer trains [1980s-built British Rail classes 140, 141, 142, 143 and 144 diesel multiple unit railbuses],' Ms Pipe says.

'The seating layout is much more sociable than modern trains. Pacer trains have benches opposite each other so you can strike up conversations with people, or people who are already friendly can easily bump into one another.'

Watch Geoff and Vicki’s adventure on their Youtube channel, or see the All The Stations website for more information.

Register now for full access


Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

 
comments powered by Disqus
 
 
highways jobs

Highways Estimator

Ringway
Competitive Salary
As the Highways Estimator you will join a busy environment and become an integral part of the team. Hounslow (London Borough), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Ringway

County Highways Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
Seeking a highly motivated leader and an excellent communicator, who has a proven ability to build relationships and trust, leading by example. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Local Highways Manager (East) - Lincolnshire County Council

Lincolnshire County Council
G12 £43,662 - £50,430
Seeking someone who combines excellent technical knowledge with a dedication to the customer. Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Assistant Director (Planning, Regeneration & Transport)

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
£87,791 per annum  
This is an exciting time to join Rotherham and make a real difference. We are looking for an outstanding Assistant Director who will bring... Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Recuriter: Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Corporate Director

Islington London Borough Council
Up to £135k
You will share our values and be passionate about helping us shape the Islington of the future. Islington, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Islington London Borough Council

Assistant Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£21,074 - £30,756
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Junior Energy Manager Apprentice

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
The right person for this job will be pro-active and innovative in finding a way forward. Wembley, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Career Grade Drainage Engineer

Swindon Borough Council
£19,092 to £40,680 p.a
Working in the asset management team, you’ll support the work of the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and Highways Authority. Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Highway Construction Project Manager

Brent Council
£50,442 - £53,526 p.a. inc.
We are looking for an accomplished highway construction project manager to support the delivery of two high priority highway schemes. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Traffic Signals & UTMC Manager

Bristol City Council
£42,683 - £45,591
Looking for someone with proven management experience, enthusiasm, creativity, vision and good communication skills. City of Bristol
Recuriter: Bristol City Council

Principal Highways Project Engineer

Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council
£34,106 - £35,229 per annum
The post holder will be responsible for project managing the delivery of two highway projects on the Key Route Network. Knowsley (Metropolitan borough), Merseyside
Recuriter: Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council

Traffic Schemes Officer

Oxfordshire County Council
£22,021 - £29,636 per annum
An exciting opportunity has arisen to play a central role with the Traffic Team in the maintenance of the highway network... Kidlington, Oxfordshire
Recuriter: Oxfordshire County Council

Traffic Engineer

Telford & Wrekin Council
£29,055 to £30,756
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team! Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Assistant Engineer – Traffic Regulation

Telford & Wrekin Council
£23,866 to £25,463
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Traffic Management Team. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Environment Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£29,909 – £32,233 Grade 11 - £33,136 - £35,229
All Environment Officers lead, project manage and/or co-ordinate large environmental projects... Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Quantity Surveyor

Leicester City Council
£30,756 - £33,136 pro-rata per annum
Working in the Highways Maintenance Group, you will be responsible for the operational highway maintenance activities Leicester, Leicestershire
Recuriter: Leicester City Council

Highways Engineer/Inspector

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£22956 - £32637 per annum
Highways Engineer/Inspector - PermanentThere are plenty of reasons to take a closer look at Royal Greenwich.Royal Greenwich is undergoing a huge trans England, London, Woolwich
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Project Engineer

Derbyshire County Council
Grade 13 £39,867 - £43,282 per annum
Derbyshire County Council is looking for an enthusiastic, enterprising and experienced laboratory manager Derbyshire
Recuriter: Derbyshire County Council

Engineer - Bridges

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
We have a vacancy for a Structures Engineer working within the Bridge’s team! Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£32,825 - £35,401
You will be required to lead the delivery of a wide range of highway improvements and maintenance projects... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council