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Backtrack Vol 35 No 10 - October 2021

Backtrack, Britain's Leading Historical Railway Journal, covers all aspects of railway history from its earliest days through to more recent events up to around ten years before now including, early railway history from the 'pre-Stephenson' era, steam, diesel and electric locomotive history, railway company history, railway carriages and wagons, railway stations, railway ships, hotels & road vehicles, railway economic and social history, railway publicity and advertising. Backtrack's contributors include many of today's leading railway history writers. From the beginning the magazine has maintained a reputation for its production values and each issue contains a wealth of photographs reproduced to the highest standards, including a generous selection of historic colour. Published monthly, Backtrack is THE magazine for all who are interested in British railway history.

United Kingdom
Warners Group Publications Plc
12 Issues

in this issue

5 min

To boldly go … Railways have been transforming their sphere of activities for as long as they’ve been around – a couple of months ago we told of how the pioneer Liverpool & Manchester Railway promoted its new and revolutionary form of passenger transport by offering exploratory excursions to the inquisitive in what the author portrayed as self-promotional ‘public relations’ exercises. Between the wars the grouped railway companies moved into the world of holidaymaking by installing camping coaches at attractive seaside and inland sites to cater for the growing market for ‘getting away from it all’ and at the same time deriving additional income from the required minimum number of train fares for the party to reach its escape destination, as delightfully portrayed in our last issue and this one. A growth…

3 min
time travels on the somerset & dorset

24 min
at risk on the permanent way 1890-1922

The author was prompted to put pen to paper on reading the sad news of the deaths of two permanent way workers near Port Talbot, South Wales (July 2019). Both men were wearing ear-defenders and did not hear the approach of the 9.29am service from Swansea to Paddington. The Daily Mail, 4th July, noted that “The tragedy comes after the Rail Accident Investigation Branch warned of ‘too many near misses in which workers have to jump clear for their lives’.” During the nineteenth century, the necessity to keep a close eye on the permanent way was essential, and deaths and serious injuries to track men were frequent. The subject is broached by Frederick Williams, author of the classic book Our Iron Roads, first published in 1883. He noted that the permanent…

21 min
br motorail trains formations and finances part two

Hybrid services Combination of car sleeper and car carrier vehicles produced a hybrid set. Basically, one or more corridor coaches, usually first class, replaced a similar number of sleeping cars in a car sleeper set, or vice versa in a car-carrier set. This gave two benefits. An operator gained flexibility, getting a car-carrier for day operation and a combined car sleeper/car-carrier overnight; in other words 24/7 availability. The second was that customers could be offered a choice of accommodation (and price) at night. Thus in 1969 British Rail advertised “Choice of Sleeper or reserved compartment available at attractive family rates on [three] overnight services”; the attraction of a compartment had gone by the mid-1970s, only seats (not compartments) being offered. The new practice was well received by customers and BR. Most…

28 min
cruising by train and circular tours

In the nineteenth century, and indeed well into the twentieth, holidays such as we have become accustomed to taking nowadays were not something normally available to those of limited means and so it would have been a rare treat indeed to be able to indulge in even a day away from home. The advent of the railways helped to make it possible for those who were slightly better off, such as clerks and their families, to consider taking time away and advertisements began to appear in publications, including the railway companies’ own timetables, which sought to exploit the possibilities of tempting them into their trains. We have seen in a number of articles in Backtrack how the railways sought to woo holidaymakers with their Holiday Haunts type of publication. In…

25 min
from the mersey railway to merseyrail: how liverpool got its modern metro

Today’s metro serving the Liverpool city region is centred on an underground section below the city, largely built in the 1970s. As in other similar systems this now links with older surface railways. Its progress was crucially aided by the existence of established electrified lines and in this article we shall look at the origins and development of the present network and the characteristics which led directly to ‘Merseyrail’, a branding introduced by British Rail in 1971. The previous electric lines provided a sound basis for more recent developments, and other relevant factors were local ownership and management, along with established interconnection between the different undertakings. Let’s begin with an outline of the four pioneering installations. • The elevated Liverpool Overhead Railway (LOR) was the earliest. Its construction on a viaduct…