Tag Archives: London

Flash from the Past: Southern Region Slamdoor EMUs at Herne Hill, London.

I exposed this vintage Fujichrome colour slide using a Nikon N90s in March 1999.

My reason for selecting Herne Hill was to picture the Eurostar in third rail territory on its run from Waterloo International to the Channel Tunnel. Catching this suburban train as it passed the junction was just happen-stance.

The old slam door cars are now more than a decade gone from revenue working, and to me this photo seems like a long time ago.

Tracking the Light is on autopilot while Brian is Traveling.

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London St Pancras Station on 3 May 2016.

On this day two years ago (3 May 2016), I spent the morning photographing London’s St. Pancras Station.

The old terminal of the Midland Railway is my favorite London Station, and among the most influential railway stations in Britain.

I’ve featured this station in a number of books, including Depots, Stations & Terminals published by Voyageur Press in 2015, and my new Railway Guide to Europe, now available from Kalmbach Publishing.

https://www.amazon.com/Railway-Depots-Stations-Terminals-Solomon/dp/0760348901

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

These photos were exposed digitally using my FujiFilm X-T1. Although I exposed the images in RAW and JPG, all of these images represent the colour and contrast of the in-camera JPG with Fujifilm colour profile.

London St Pancras on 3 May 2016. Exposed with a FujiFilm X-T1 fitted with 18-135mm Fujinon zoom lens.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.
London St. Pancras. Exposed digitally using a FujiFilm X-T1 with Zeiss 12mm Touit.

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London— May First 2016.

On this day two years ago, I was photographing in London.

My father and I had arrived via the Channel Tunnel on the Eurostar on the previous day.

It was a bright morning and I made good use of my Lumix LX7, photographing London stations and trains as I explored the Overground network that follows an orbital route around the city.

 

London Victoria on 1 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.

 

West Brompton.
West Brompton.
Clapham Junction.
Clapham Junction.

London is a great place to explore by rail and among the featured cities in my new Railway Guide to Europe published by Kalmbach Publishing.

Click here to order Brian Solomon’s Railway Guide to Europe.

I exposed the cover photo in Germany’s Rhein Valley using my FujiFilm XT1 with 18-135mm lens.

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Virgin HST at London Kings Cross.

This is among the hundreds photos I chose for final consideration for my book on European Railway Travel. It is not an outtake. Instead this is among my selections for the section on railways of Great Britain.

Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.

In the text I discuss the great London terminals, and I use this photo to illustrate Kings Cross. I like it because it features a vintage HST in nice light with a dynamic view of the classic train shed beyond.

The HST (High Speed Train) was introduced by the then nationalised British Railways (BR) in the mid-1970s as the Intercity 125.

As a 125 mph train capable of operating on many existing lines with minimal changes to infrastructure and signaling this represented a significant improvement over older trains that allowed BR to speed schedules and more effectively compete with other modes.

More than 40 years later, many of the old HSTs are still on the move.

Exposed on 3 May 2016 using my Lumix LX7. This image was adapted from the camera RAW image for maximum dynamic range.

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Old Gatwick Express at Clapham Common.

To improve this image, I’ve cropped distracting and unsightly elements (boxes and graffiti) from the left and the right hand sides of the frame.
To improve this image, I’ve cropped distracting and unsightly elements (boxes and graffiti) from the left and the right hand sides of the frame. Exposed on Fujichrome and scanned with a Nikon LS-5000.

On 25 March 2007, Hassard Stacpoole and I were photographing the evolving British railway scene in the London area. Among our subjects for the day were the specially styled Gatwick Express class 460 Juniper train sets, such as this one, and Eurostar trains working via 3rd rail and serving London Waterloo International.

While the core of old Gatwick trains still exist, the distinctive styling was removed.

We knew then that both services would eventually change. The Gatwicks  services were re-equipped while the Eurostar was routed into St. Pancras.

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Tracking the Light presents: London Terminals—May 2016; a Dozen new Photos.

London boasts some of the most historic and most famous big city railway terminals.

Earlier this month I visited several of these stations during the course of my travels.

Soon Euston may be dramatically redeveloped. Yet, owing to its 1960s design, this terminal may be among the least photographed in modern times. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.
Soon Euston may be dramatically redeveloped. Yet, owing to its 1960s design, this terminal may be among the least photographed in modern times. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.
Euston Station, London.
Euston Station, London.
Departure boards at London Euston in May 2016. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.
Departure boards at London Euston in May 2016. FujiFilm X-T1 photo, May 2016.

Hassard Stacpoole brought me on a tour of London’s 1960-era Euston Station to show me sites of anticipated changes to this busy terminus as result of its planned redevelopment.

My favorite London station is St. Pancras. Which is yours?

The most elegant and ornate London terminus is St. Pancras. The head house originally served as the Midland Grand Hotel as well as booking offices. Today the grand old building is again a hotel, while the station serves Eurostar trains to Paris, Lille and Brussels as well as domestic services using the old Midland route. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with Zeiss 12mm lens, May 2016.
The most elegant and ornate London terminus is St. Pancras. The head house originally served as the Midland Grand Hotel as well as booking offices. Today the grand old building is again a hotel, while the station serves Eurostar trains to Paris, Lille and Brussels as well as domestic services using the old Midland route. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with Zeiss 12mm lens, May 2016.
St. Pancras train shed was restored during redevelopment in 2007. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with 12mm Zeiss lens, May 2016.
St. Pancras train shed was restored during redevelopment in 2007. FujiFilm X-T1 photo with 12mm Zeiss lens, May 2016.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Grand Central train at Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Grand Central train at Kings Cross, London, May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
Statue of Isambard K. Brunel at Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
Statue of Isambard K. Brunel at Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
Paddington Station, London. Lumix LX7 photo.
London Victoria on a quite Sunday morning. Lumix LX7 photo.
London Victoria on a quiet Sunday morning. Lumix LX7 photo.
I feature several of London’s stations in my recent book Railway Depots, Stations and Terminals published last year by Voyageur Press.

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All Change! Photographing trains and Clapham Junction and Vicinity—May 2016.

On my visit to London earlier this month, I called into Clapham Junction to visit with my friend Hassard Stacpoole who lives nearby.

Hassard brought me on a tour of the area to highlight the changes south of the Thames since my last visit.

London is a dynamic city. There are cranes and construction sites everywhere you look.

The area around Battersea Park is rapidly being transformed from an old industrial area to a modern residential community.

Using my FujiFilm X-T1 and Lumix LX7, I made these photos from our tour of the area.

Five car Overland trains now serve Clapham Junction.
Five car Overground trains now serve Clapham Junction.

My intention is to compare these images with similar views exposed years ago, as well as photos showing further change from my next visit.

FujiFilm X-T1 digital photograph at Clapham Junction.
FujiFilm X-T1 digital photograph at Clapham Junction.
Clapham Junction.
Clapham Junction.
Wandsworth Road looking toward Battersea Park. Construction now dominates this horizon.
Wandsworth Road looking toward Battersea Park. Construction now dominates this horizon.
The old Battersea Park Generating Station is being repurposed.
The old Battersea Park Generating Station is being repurposed.
Massive modern apartment blocks have sprung up around Battersea Park like mushrooms after the rain.
Massive modern apartment blocks have sprung up around Battersea Park like mushrooms after the rain.
Transportation changes are part of the story.
Transportation changes are part of the story.
Thames bridge on approach to Victoria. Look at all the new building underway.
Thames bridge on approach to Victoria. Look at all the new building underway.
Looking south from Victoria toward Battersea Park.
Looking south from Victoria toward Battersea Park. Here the background is the subject.
In London little remains unchanged for long. Even the train companies play musical chairs with the franchises every few years. How much longer will South West Trains serve Clapham Junction?
In London little remains unchanged for long. Even the train companies play musical chairs with the franchises every few years. How much longer will South West Trains serve Clapham Junction?
A view south of Clapham Junction Station.
A view south of Clapham Junction Station.
A South West Trains emu clatters along south of Clapham Junction.
A South West Trains emu clatters along south of Clapham Junction.
It's been a long time since the London, Brighton and South Coast was a going concern. This is the old station at Clapham Junction.
It’s been a long time since the London, Brighton and South Coast was a going concern. This is part of the old station complex at Clapham Junction.

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London Underground‑May 2016; Ten New Photos.

Tracking the Light presents new material every day! 

Digital photography has made photography of the London Underground vastly easier than with film.

ISO 400 too slow? Notch it up to 1000, or 1600, or higher.

In the old days with film I’d rarely experiment with any lens longer than 100mm underground. Not only were my longer lenses relatively slow, but trying to keep them steady at low shutter speeds was impractical.

Today, I push up the ISO and snap away.

The adjustable rear screen on my FujiFilm X-T1 is a great tool for photographing from the hip. Back in the old days, I’d take the prism off my Nikon F3T for a similar technique, but this made focusing difficult.

I made these photos in Early May 2016. For me the Underground is more than just photos of the trains and tunnels.

Which is your favorite?

Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo.
Lumix LX7 photo at West Brompton.
Lumix LX7 photo at West Brompton.
Telephoto view at Embankment with my Fuji X-T1.
Telephoto view at Embankment with my Fuji X-T1.
I like a bit of subtle humor or irony in my photos. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
I like a bit of subtle humor or irony in my photos. FujiFilm X-T1 photo.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo. Auto white balance is a blessing when working with artificial light.
FujiFilm X-T1 photo. Auto white balance is a blessing when working with artificial light.
View of the Circle Line at Embankment.
View of the Circle Line at Embankment.
Some of the Tube is well below the surface.
Some of the Tube is well below the surface.
Bond Street Station at Oxford Street.
Bond Street Station at Oxford Street.

Underground_DSCF7158

This is London Euston, please mind the gap!
‘This is London Euston, please mind the gap!’

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British Railway’s HST 40 years on.

It’s been more than 40 years since British Railway’s HST (High Speed Train) made its commercial debut.

These comfortable diesel powered 125mph push-push train-sets have worked intercity services on a variety of routes ever since.

Today they are one of the few types of 1970s-era equipment surviving in regular traffic in the United Kingdom.

I detailed the history and development of the HST in my book Railway Masterpieces (Krause Publications, 2002). Here’s an except from my text:

“[British Rail marketed the HST] as the Intercity 125, a name obviously playing on the HST’s high-speed ability. The most successful aspect of the HST development and where BR really scored a coup was how they used the trains. Where the old school might had ordered just a few trains to offer just a handful of premier high speed services, BR introduced a full service of high speed trains on the lines west of Paddington. The Intercity 125 was not just fast, new, clean and more comfortable than older trains, but operated frequently as well and did not cost any more to ride. When the full HST schedule was in service, there were some 48 daily Intercity 125s. This was exactly the sort of convenience needed to lure people away from their cars, and the strategy worked.”

HST at Reading on the old Great Western Railway route from Paddington.
HST at Reading on the old Great Western Railway route from Paddington.
Trailing view of an HST Class 43 locomotive power car at Reading. All HST sets work with Class 43 diesels at each end with Mark3 carriages between.
Trailing view of an HST Class 43 locomotive power car at Reading. All HST sets work with Class 43 diesels at each end with Mark3 carriages between.
Evening view of an HST at Reading. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.
Evening view of an HST at Reading. Exposed with my Lumix LX7.

Rebuilt HST sets continue to serve several private operators in Britain.

Earlier this month, I traveled on HSTs with my father, and made several opportunities to photograph the trains in some of their most recent paint liveries.

In the shadow of Mallard; a Virgin HST idles at London's Kings Cross on 3 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.
In the shadow of Mallard; a Virgin HST idles at London’s Kings Cross on 3 May 2016. Lumix LX7 photo.

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HST’s Paddington—Contrasts

London offers wonderful contrasts linking the 19th century Victorian-era with more modern eras.

Paddington Station was the terminal for the Great Western Railway—Brunel’s broad gauge empire. Since that time the world has changed beyond recognition.

Today, albeit much enlarged, Paddington remains as an important urban hub.

When I visited in May 2010 the shed was filled with 1970s-vintage HST sets in modern paint, operated by First Great Western.

Paddington, May 2010. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Paddington, May 2010. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.

Such a difference in decades fascinates me.

What will this scene look like in another ten years? In another 100 years?

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Victoria Station Jul 2000—Tracking the Light Daily Post

Capturing a bit of History.

London’s termini are fascinating places to make photographs. A constant parade of trains and continual bustle of urban activity combined with a blend of classic and modern architecture allow for endless visual opportunity and juxtapositions.

In July 2000, I was photographing at Victoria while waiting for a friend to arrive. I made this view from the steps that lead to an elevated shopping area above the platforms.

London stations.
A view of Victoria Station in July 2000, preserved on Fujichrome Sensia using a Nikon N90S with 24mm AF lens.

What caught my eye were the antique slam door carriages that were slated to soon be withdrawn. These commuter cars had doors for each set of seats that allowed for rapid loading and unloading at busy stations, yet required passengers to open and close doors using an outside handle reached through a window.

While the essential door design had been a standard feature for generations of British trains, the modern health and safety regime in the United Kingdom frowned upon such primitive appliances and discouraged their continued use. It was only a matter of time before scenes like this one would be history.

As it turned out, the classic “slam door” BR era electric multiple units out-lasted ill fated train operator Connex South Eastern. In 2003, Connex lost the South Eastern Passenger Rail Franchise (that served some routes to Victoria among other London termini).

The revolving door of British railway franchises makes for a seemingly unending tapestry of modern railway names. The days of Connex’s London operations have been largely forgotten, yet some of the old BR slam door EMUs have been preserved. I saw some at Clapham Junction on a visit in July 2013.

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Tomorrow: Dublin station lit for Paddy’s Day.

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Bluebell Railway Revisited, July 2013-Part 1

 

A Pleasant Saturday Time Travel Experience.

British Rail class 9F 2-10-0 92212
British Rail class 9F 2-10-0 92212 makes an impressive arrival at East Grinstead. Canon EOS 7D photo.

At the end of July, my friends and I made a pilgrimage to the Bluebell Railway, traveling by Southern Railway electric muliple unit from London to East Grinstead and transferring to the Bluebell’s steam train there.

This was my second trip over the Bluebell this year. While not the best day for photography, owing to a humid hazy morning with flat dull light and rain showers in the afternoon, I managed to make a variety of images of this classic British preserved railway. Regardless of the weather, Bluebell offers a pleasant trip to an earlier era.

In the last dozen years, I’ve made about a half dozen Bluebell visits that have allowed me to better appreciate the line and more fully experience it. It is one of just several dozen top notch preserved railways in Britain.

British Rail class 9F 2-10-0 92212
Engine driver on British Railways locomotive 92212 at Kingscote station. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Signal levers.
Levers at Sheffield Park signal box. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Privatization of British Rail has invoked nostalgia for the old days of a unified nationalized network. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Privatization of British Rail has invoked nostalgia for the old days of a unified nationalized network. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Horsted Keynes is a popular mid-line layover.
Horsted Keynes is a popular mid-line layover.

See my earlier posts on the Bluebell for more details and photos of the line:

Bluebell Railway April 2012 and Bluebell Railway April 2012-Part 2

 

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East Midland Trains

Trip on the old Midland Railway from St. Pancras to Market Harborough.

East Midlands Trains is a franchise operating in its namesake area north and east of London. Detail of an HST Class 43 power car (locomotive). Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands Trains is a franchise operating in its namesake area north and east of London. Detail of an HST Class 43 power car (locomotive). Lumix LX3 photo.

I’d pre-booked tickets to ride from St. Pancras north on the old Midland Railway. The last time I made this journey I traveled on Midland Mainline trains, but this franchise was reconfigured in 2007 and now East Midland Trains handles the run.

Although my day’s journey began on the London Tube, the real part of the railway trip started from St. Pancras, a virtual cathedral of British Railways. (See my previous posts: London April 2013, and London Stations). Here the colossal Victorian era shed shelters Eurostar trains bound for Brussels and Paris.

St. Pancras
William Barlow’s classic St. Pancras balloon arch train shed as seen in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Rebuilding and reconfiguring of St. Pancras in the mid-2000s, resulted in an inspiring interpretation of the historic architecture. However, domestic long distance trains were then relegated to the newer, less inspired train shed extension beyond William Barlow’s pioneering balloon arch.

I arrived looking for the 0930 departure, only to find the place in a bit of turmoil. When I enquired of member of East Midland’s staff where the 0930 was, he said to me, ‘Don’t know mate, the place is in a kip this morning, all the trains are running late, check the boards.’ An honest answer. I accept that.

Eventually, the same East Midlands man found me again, and said, ‘your train’s on platform 3b.’ Right. We only left about 7 minutes after the advertised schedule. However, we were out of path and got stuck in behind a slower moving First Capitol Connect electric suburban train and lost a few more minutes.

The old Midland route is one of the busiest mainline railways in Britain. It’s a four track electrified line from St Pancras to Bedford. Fast lines are good for 110 mph and used for express passenger trains, with slow lines accommodating stopping First Capitol Connect electric services to Bedford and freights.

It’s a thrill to be racing along at 100+ mph and overtake another train. The route is virtually saturated. This means that based on limitations of current infrastructure and signaling, the Midland route is accommodating the maximum number of trains possible at peak times.

I rode out on a class 222 Meridian diesel-multiple unit, and back to London on a 1970s era HST. The HST offered a nicer ride and more spacious accommodation.

I’m a biased fan of the HST, so the modern cramped facilities of the Meridian just wouldn’t impress me, although it’s a better option than a plane or bus, given a necessary comparison.

British Rail ticket
Macro view of my seat reservation from London to Market Harborough. Although the nationalized and unified British Rail network was broken up in the mid-1990s (with passenger services now provided by private companies operating designated franchise routes and to a limited extend via open access arrangements) the old British Rail logo is still used on tickets and related documents. Lumix LX3 photo.
St. Pancras
An HST powercar looms in the darkness of the modern St. Pancras shed extension. The station was officially renamed in 2007 and is now St. Pancras International using airport style lexicon to reflect its enhanced status among British railway stations. Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands poster
East Midlands poster at Market Harborough in July 2013. This advertises 84 miles in 61 minutes. I wish Amtrak’s Acela could boast that sort of running from Penn-Station to New Haven Connecticut. Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands Trains.
East Midlands class 222 Meridian trains at Market Harborough. Fast and comfortable, but not as nice as an HST. Lumix LX3 photo.
Meridian train
An East Midlands express blitzes the up platform at Market Harborough. Lumix LX3 photo.
East Midlands Trains HST high speed train
An outbound East Midlands Trains HST (powered by class 43 diesels fore and aft) accelerates away from the down platform at Market Harborough. Just to clarify, this is the rear of the train, a similar powercar is roaring away at the head end. Lumix LX3 photo.
View from a London bound HST overtaking a First Capitol Connect suburban electric train south of Bedford. The old Midland Railway four track mainline is among the busiest long distance routes in Britain.
View from a London bound HST overtaking a First Capitol Connect suburban electric train south of Bedford. The old Midland Railway four track mainline is among the busiest long distance routes in Britain.
Commemorative plaque on an East Midlands Trains HST. Lumix LX3 photo.
Commemorative plaque on an East Midlands Trains HST. Lumix LX3 photo.

My 84 mile trip from London to Market Harborough was accomplished in a little more than an hour and fifteen minutes, with station stops and delays. It was even faster on the return leg. It was a good trip!

 

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London Transport Museum

 

Historic Vehicles on Display at Covent Garden, London.

London Transport Museum
The London Transport Museum offers interpretive display of old transit vehicles. It is popular with kids and tourists. Lumix LX3

I’ve visited the London Transport Museum on several occasions, owing to its convenient location at Covent Garden in central London, and my general interest in transport.

Central to the public displays are a variety of historic conveyances ranging from horse-draw omni buses and horse cars to tube trains, buses, a double deck tram and a lone trolley bus.

London Transport Museum
Old double deck buses on display. I found it remarkable how small these buses are in comparison with those working London’s streets today. Lumix LX3

Perhaps more important than the equipment is the context the museum offers. London is one of the most transit friendly cities in the world and has a long history of offering public transport.

This year the London Underground is celebrating its 150th anniversary. As part of the city celebrations, the London Transport Museum has a display of Underground posters.

 

On my July 2013 visit, I made a few photos of the equipment on display at the museum using my Lumix LX3.

London Transport Museum
Vintage London Tube car on display at the London Transport Museum. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Transport Museum
This Victorian-era tube train displays a relative dearth of windows. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Transport Museum
Looking down a set of stairs on a double deck tram. How was the use of steps regulated when the tram operator was at the front of the car? Anyone? Lumix LX3 photo.

 

 

 

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London Tramlink

 

Greater London’s Modern Streetcar.

Croydon Tramlink
Croydon Tramlink features street running in the classic tradition. Canon EOS 7D photo.

In my last post I covered the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Today, I’m focused on the London Tramlink (an network centered on Croydon and previously known as the Croydon Tramlink). Here the terminology can get a bit confusing because while ‘Light Rail’ and ‘Trams’ are sometimes used to describe the same type of service, in London these services are distinctly different.

The DLR is an automated grade-separated rapid-transit type of service, but features stations that very close together while taking advantage of very tight curvature. By contrast, London Tramlink features street running and is largely a ground-level operation, with drivers on each car.

Where the DLR uses trains consisting of ‘light rail vehicles’ adapted on modern streetcar design, Tramlink uses trams or ‘streetcars’ and generally runs these singly, with a driver (or operator, if you prefer) on each car.

However, while the styles of operation vary, both systems provide intensive localized rapid transit that is fully integrated with the London transport network. Both systems also have lines on former ‘heavy rail’ rights of way.

I first experienced the Tramlink in January 2006. On a particularly bleak winter day, I rode most of the existing network and made a few color slides. The lighting was flat and very dull, so my photos from that effort have remained in the processing boxes.

Croydon Tramlink
A tram passes Lloyd Park. Lumix LX3 photo.

Last week, I had few hours to spare between appointments, and since it was sunny and bright, I opted to revisited the Croydon tram lines with the specific goal of making photos.

I was surprised to learn that the paint livery had changed. In my 2006 visit the trams were red and white, last week they were largely green and white, although there were a few running around in advertising colors. Also, there were some newer trams augmenting the older cars, which added to the variety.

I made photos with both my Lumix LX3 and Canon EOS 7D. All of these images were exposed in just a couple of hours. Thankfully, the trams operate on a close headway allowing for plenty of photo opportunities.

Croydon Tramlink
A tram approaches Lloyd Park on the line to New Addington. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D and 28-135mm lens.
Croydon Tramlink
A tram at Lloyd Park on the line to New Addington. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D and 28-135mm lens.

 

East Croydon
Contrasts in modern design; a tram at East Croydon. Lumix LX3 photo
Tramlink_modern_Tram_closeview_IMG_0637
One of Tramlink’s new Stadler Rail Variobahn Trams glides along near East Croydon. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Croydon Tram
This tram was difficult to miss in its iridescent special livery.
London Tramlink
Another unusually painted tram was this car which wore a scheme similar to the red and white that I remember from my earlier trip. Lumix LX3 photo.
Tramlink
Older trams such as this one were built by Bombardier. The Tramlink was well patronized. Canon EOS 7D Photo.

 

 

 

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London Docklands Light Railway July 2013

Visions of Ultra Modern Rail Transport.

Docklands Light Railway
London’s Docklands Light Railway is a rolling example of modern artistic design. Lumix LX3 photo.

Last week (July 2013), I made a visit to the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) on my urban exploration of London.

DLR appears as the manifestation of a future vision. What I mean is that, it seem like the sort of ‘futuristic’ transport envisioned in the 1940s or 1950s. In many places the trains run on purpose-built elevated structures while serving spacious modern stations.

London's Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway trains pass near Canary Wharf in July 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Most remarkable is its driverless automated operation. In this regard it’s more like an airport monorail than conventional urban rail transport. Except that it has several routes that meet with complicated flying junctions and dozens of stations.

Perhaps the best part of the DLR is the ability to watch out of the front of the trains as they roll along. Going west toward Bank/Tower Gateway the DLR runs adjacent to the suburban line to Fenchurch Street operated by C2C.

I made this selection of DLR photos with my Lumix LX3.

London's Docklands Light Railway
DLR train at Canary Wharf in July 2013.
DLR map
DLR map.
London's Docklands Light Railway
View from the front of a DLR train bound for Bank. Lumix LX3 photo.
London's Docklands Light Railway
DLR involves some intensive infrastructure. Lumix LX3 Photo.

 

 

 

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London Underground July 2013—Part 2


More Views of the Underground.

As a follow up to yesterday’s post London Underground July 2013—Part 1, I’ve assembled some of my favorite images from last week’s exploration in London.

Underground Station at Covent Garden
The classically tiled Underground Station at Covent Garden is easily identified. Lumix LX3 photo.

The Underground cleverly blends transport and style. In my experience it is one of the world’s most popular public transportation systems. Phrases like ‘Mind the Gap’ appear on mugs and T-shirts, while many shops sell stylized maps of the Underground network.

There’s a lesson here.

Charing Cross Underground station
Charing Cross Underground station is the preferred way to access The National Gallery and other nearby museums. Lumix LX3 photo.
Tube station.
The National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are among London’s largest tourist attractions. This poster describes Victorian interest in art and places photography in period context. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Tube.
A passenger prepares to board as a Piccadilly Line tube train glides into the Kings Cross St Pancras Underground station. July 2013 photo exposed with a Lumix LX3.
Tube Train.
By placing the camera against the ceiling of the tube train, I secured an unusual angle, minimized vibration to allow for a long exposure, while momentarily attracting the interest of fellow passengers. Lumix LX3 photo.
Air raid signs
Historic Underground signs recall the fear from sky-bourne warfare. Canon EOS 7D photo.
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Bluebell Railway April 20, 2013

Visiting a Preserved Steam Railway.

The Bluebell Railway is Britain’s first standard gauge preserved steam railway. It dates from the early 1960s, and for more than 50 years has offered excursions over a scenic portion of former Southern Railway, ex London, Brighton & South Coast Railway. Today the railway runs from East Grinsted to Sheffield Park (south-southwest of London), and includes a relatively long tunnel.

Bluebell Railway.
Departing Kingscote behind a British Railways class 9F on April 20, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

Bluebell, like many of Britian’s steam railways, is a fully functioning preserved line, complete with stations, signal boxes (towers), authentic period signal hardware (including semaphores), engine sheds and lots of staff (presumably mostly volunteers), all of  which contributes to the appearance of an historic British railway. In other words, it’s like a time machine!

Bluebell Railway.
Bluebell’s staff wear period railway attire. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

On Saturday April 20, 2013 David Hegarty and I traveled from London by train via East Croydon to East Grinsted. It was a beautiful clear bright day. Bluebell had just recently reopened its line for connections to British rail network at East Grinsted.

Bluebell Railway.
New track! On April 20, 2013, our train from East Grinsted navigates the recently completed connection from the British rail network. After more than five decades of isolation from the British rail network, Bluebell is finally connected.

While not especially photogenic, I found the new East Grinsted transfer a big improvement for reaching the Bluebell. On previous visits, I’d hired a car and drove directly to Horsted Keynes—a mid-point station on the Bluebell. All things being equal, its nice to arrive by rail.

Engine driver on the Bluebell.
Enginemen on Southern Railway 2-6-0 1638 at Horsted Keynes. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

It was interesting to travel behind steam (British Railways 2-10-0 class 9F) over newly laid track. We spent a full day wandering up and down the line by train. At one point we went for a long hike following signposted footpaths to a known good spot (what friends like to call a KGS). I’d found the spot, north of Horstead Keynes, about 10 years ago.

Bluebell Railway.
Bluebell’s dinner train departs Sheffield Park on April 20, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

Biggest challenge to making photos on the Bluebell is their operating practice of locomotives facing north, which can present some difficult lighting angles considering most of the line is on a north-south alignment.

Bluebell Railway.
My known good spot: here a Bluebell train works the bank north of Horsted Keynes. Lumix LX3 photo.
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Northern Lights HST at Kings Cross

Fast train delayed because of a suspected points failure.

On Monday, April 22, 2013, a well-known industry communications manager and I paused at an overhead bridge beyond London’s Kings Cross to watch the departure of the 1400 (2pm) East Coast train to Aberdeen. This is called the Northern Lights and features a 1970s-vintage HST, thus making it among the more interesting trains serving Kings Cross.

What ought to have taken just a few moments, dragged on and on. We could see the HST on the platform, but at 2 o’clock it failed to depart on time. I knew something was up when a man, who appeared to be the driver, left the cab of the train. (Just for clarification: in British terminology the person who runs—or ‘drives’—the train is known as a ‘driver’ rather than an engineer.)

Two minutes turned into five, and the HST still hadn’t left. Then two railway employees appeared by a slip-switch beyond the end of the platform. They began disassembling the cowling that covered the switch machine motor. The incident was shaping up to what they call a ‘points failure’. (In Britain, track switches are called ‘points.’)

Before it was all straightened out, there were four men dressed in orange safety clothing on the ground managing the uncooperative points. Finally, just after 1412 (2:10pm), the HST marched out of Kings Cross in parallel with another East Coast train, this one hauled by a common class 90 electric (and was probably destined for Newark Northgate).

Kings Cross, London
I used my Lumix LX3 to catch the late departure of East Coast’s Northern Lights (on left) on Monday April 22, 2013. On the right is the class 90 electric with another northward train. It’s been more than 45 years since the famous Gresley-designed A4 Pacific’s worked this route. Much more than the locomotives has changed, and continues to change. The whole area around Kings Cross is a construction site.

 

 

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London Stations

 

A brief photographic tour from April 2013.

Kings Cross renovation
Signage around Kings Cross helps place renovations and modernization in context. St Pancras looms in the distance. Lumix LX3 photo.

During my wanders around London in April 2013, I visited a variety of London’s stations. For me, London’s stations are far more interesting than the trains. Where the trains tend to be fleets of modern multiple-units, the stations range from Victorian gems to austere examples of Lego-block architecture.

My favorite station is St Pancras. This is a classic railway cathedral.  A few years ago it was transformed in to a modern multimodal center. Today, it serves as an international station as well as both a long distance and commuter railway station. It features a shopping mall and luxury hotel. Most impressive is the original architecture, including the pioneer example of a balloon-style arched train-shed, which has been successful integrated into a modern facility.

St Pancras
St Pancras’s head house is the Midland Grand Hotel, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott—one of London’s best remembered 19th century architects. I made this view with my Lumix LX3 on the morning of April 19, 2013
St Pancras
St Pancras: railway cathedral as viewed on April 20, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
St Pancras
In my book, Railway Masterpieces (published by Krause in 2002), I wrote of St Pancras, “The station’s great balloon arch train shed, the very first of its kind, spans 240 feet, measures 689 feet long, and rises to 100 feet above rail level at its peak. It was designed by the Midland’s engineer, William Barlow.”
On April 19, 2013, light tickles a Eurostar highspeed train under the famous shed. Lumix LX3 photo.
St Pancras
Modern additions to St Pancras offer a contrast to the Victorian splendor of the original station. Lumx LX3 image exposed on April 20, 2013.

Kings Cross is adjacent to St Pancras. This has also been recently transformed, and blends historic and contemporary architecture. Interestingly, Kings Cross may be most famous for its mention in the Harry Potter stories. Today, there’s both a Harry Potter shop and a light-hearted platform 9 ¾ for visitors.

Kings Cross
Kings Cross on April 18, 2013 after a spring shower. Renovations are on-going. Lumix LX3 photo.
Kings Cross
Today, Kings Cross is a blend of contemporary and historic architecture. Lumix LX3 photo exposed on April 22, 2013.
Kings Cross
A 1970s vintage HST under the shed at Kings Cross. Years ago I saw graffiti scrawled on the side of an American boxcar that read, ‘Kings Cross is the best, forget the rest.” A line from a song?
These days Kings Cross is best known because of its role in the Harry Potter stories.
These days Kings Cross is best known because of its role in the Harry Potter stories.

On this trip, I passed through London Bridge station and was shocked to see that the old train shed has been demolished! All I saw was a few vestiges of the old iron columns. Fifteen years ago, I made some memorable images inside the shed, and now that it’s gone, I’ll need to dredge these photos from the archives. Another change at London Bridge was nearby construction of a monumental skyscraper, colloquially known as ‘The Shard’.

The Shard looms over London Bridge Station on April 20, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
The Shard looms over London Bridge Station on April 20, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Blackfriars
A First Capitol Connect train rolls into Blackfriars on April 21, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo with 28-135mm lens.
Charing Cross Station
Not to be forgotten is London’s Charing Cross, located near Embankment, and just a short walk from Trafalgar Square. Lumix LX3 photo on April 19, 2013.
Victoria Station
Victoria Station; two terminals with one name.
Waterloo
Waterloo Station, is one of London’s busiest. Waterloo is named for the Belgian town where Wellington prevailed over Napoleon. Ironically, this was the London-Paris Eurostar terminal for more than a decade before international services were shifted to St. Pancras. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Euston
Like New York’s late, great Pennsylvania Station, the classic Euston Station was demolished in the 1960s to make way for uninspired modernity. Progress doesn’t necessarily make things better. Lumix LX3 photo.
Euston Station
This statue of British Railway pioneer Robert Stephenson is displayed in front of Euston Station. Euston, Heuston, what’s in an ‘H’ anyway? LX3 photo.

Clapham Junction is famous as Britain’s busiest station. Still images cannot convey the power of place. Watching trains at Clapham Junction is akin to watching the tide flow in. At rush hours an unceasing parade of trains passes Clapham Junction, with trains flowing in waves. Most impressive is standing at the north end of the station when as many as six trains approach simultaneously.

Clapham Junction
Clapham Junction is difficult to properly appreciate in still photos.
Clapham Junction
Buses converge outside of Clapham Junction Station on April 22, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.
Clapham Junction Platform 13 destination board on the evening of April 22.
Clapham Junction Platform 13 destination board on the evening of April 22.

 

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London Overground—Part 2

 

 

More Views London’s Overground Network

Yesterday’s post (London Overground–Part 1 posted April 27, 2013) offered a cursory survey of London’s Overground network. Here I’ve posted a follow up with more images.

London Overground Train.
London Overground Train. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.
London Overground.
Overground train approaches Brondesbury on April 19, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Since Overground primarily serves neighborhoods in London’s outer reaches and is a much more recent addition to London Transport, it is undoubtedly less-familiar to visitors than the Underground. Yet, Overground is a boon for the railway enthusiast, since it connects a variety of interesting railway hubs and junctions.

 

London Overground with canal.
Overground crossing the Regents Canal at Haggerston on April 17, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Train interior.
Interior of London Overground train on April 21, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

Overground services are fully integrated with other elements of London Transport, and there are many places allowing cross platform transfers to Underground and Network Rail services, as well as connections to buses and the Docklands Light Railway. Overground is open to holders of Day Travel Cards, Oyster Cards and other urban fares.

Class 59.
An EMD-built Class 59 diesel leads an empty stone train through Kensington-Olympia station on April 19, 2013. The Overground offers a convenient link to freight routes. Exposed with a Canon EOS 7D and 28-135mm lens.
London Overground.
London Overground train approaches West Hempstead station on April 19, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens set at 135mm.
London Overground train at Clapham Junction. Lumix LX3 photo.
London Overground train at Clapham Junction. Lumix LX3 photo.

On the down side, many Overground stations suffer from austere, utilitarian, and otherwise uninspired architecture (if the term can be applied to the line’s platforms and shelters). Yet, I found the services well run, and stations and trains clean and easy places to make photographs.

An EWS Class 66 diesel leads a northward container train through the Overground station at Wandsworth Road on April 22, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
An EWS Class 66 diesel leads a northward container train through the Overground station at Wandsworth Road on April 22, 2013. Canon EOS 7D photo.
Wandsworh Road on April 22, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.
Wandsworh Road on April 22, 2013. Lumix LX3 photo.

 

Mirror-view of London Overground.
A platform mirror catches a view of an Overground train at Willesden Junction on April 19, 2013. Lumix LX-3 photo.
Hoxton Station
Hoxton Station on London’s Overground. Lumix LX3.
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London Overground—Part 1

Exploring London’s Overground Network

 

London Overground platforms at Clapham Junction. Lumix LX-3 photo.
London Overground platforms at Clapham Junction. Lumix LX-3 photo.

London’s Overground system provides a regular-interval rapid transit service on various radial railway routes. These routes utilize a mix of Network Rail mainlines, new specialized Overground lines, and lines converted from former Underground lines. Over much of its network, Overground services share tracks with franchise long-distance passenger train operators, freight services, and in a few places with Underground trains.

London Overground train approaches Wandsworth Road on its run from Clapham Junction to Highbury&Islington on April 17, 2013. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D.
London Overground train approaches Wandsworth Road on its run from Clapham Junction to Highbury&Islington on April 17, 2013. Exposed with Canon EOS 7D.

Recently, Overground completed an outer orbital ring. This allows passengers to make a complete circle around London (albeit requiring a couple train changes). Since this circle intersects several significant freight lines, I found it useful for studying and photographing freight trains in the London area.

Overground provides an easy link from popular places to photograph freights such as Kensington-Olympia, Wandsworth Road, and a variety of stations on the North London line. My experience on this most recent trip produced mixed results.

London Overground at Hamstead Heath
An Overground train approaches Hamstead Heath on the North London Line. Freights often use this line, filling paths between scheduled Overground services. Lumix LX-3 photo.
GB Railfreight locomotives.
GB Railfreight EMD-built Class 66 diesels roll toward London’s Kensington-Olympia station on April 19, 2013. Exposed digitally with a Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.
Class 66 diesel-electrics.
An EWS Class 66 diesel leads a Class 92 electric on a unit freight at Kensington-Olympia on April 19, 2013. The high volume of freight transiting London on this line, make Kensington-Olympia popular with photographers. While photographer’s lunch droppings make the station popular with pigeons. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.
An EWS Class 66 diesel leads a Class 92 electric on a unit freight at Kensington-Olympia on April 19, 2013.
Trailing view of a freight led by an EWS Class 66 diesel and Class 92 electric on a unit freight at Kensington-Olympia on April 19, 2013. Canon EOS 7D with 28-135mm lens.

Since, Overground services have been much expanded since my last visit, I focused my efforts on riding and photographing routes that not previously experienced while re-exploring places I hadn’t visited in several years. As result, I wasn’t as patient waiting for freights to pass. While I saw many freights from the windows of Overground trains, I made only a few successful images of freight movements.

My time in London was limited and I had variety of social and business engagements. Also, I visited a variety of London’s museums, pubs, and other attractions.  Yet, I made good use of my time on the Overground. These are images are just a few of my results. Check London Overground—Part 2 for more views.

A London Overground train at Willesden Junction on April 19, 2013. Compare this view with the image of the London Tube train presented in an earlier post.
A London Overground train at Willesden Junction on April 19, 2013. Compare this view with the image of the London Tube train presented in London Underground Part 2.

 

London Overground Train.
London Overground Train. Exposed with a Lumix LX3.

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London Underground April 2013—Part 1

Digital Images of Urban Transport.

 

London Tube
Caledonian Road Tube Station on the London‘s Piccadilly Line, April 19, 2013.

During 2013, London’s Underground network has been celebrating 150 years of service. This milestone is marked by posters and artwork around the network. For me the Underground is both a convenience and a subject for photography.

London Underground 150.
London Transport Poster celebrating 150 years of service on the Underground. Lumix LX-3 photo, exposed at Bank station on Sunday April 21, 2013.

The Underground is one of the world’s most complex and extensive railway rapid transit networks, and is well integrated with the rest of London transport.

Photographing on the Underground has its challenges. Space is often constrained, it tends to be dimly lit underground, and trains and platforms are nearly always crowded. The system boasts that it carries more than 1 Billion passengers annually! At times it seems that each and every one of these billion are in the way. Yet, the passengers are the reason for the system and often make for the most interesting images.

I’ve included a small selection of photos of the London Underground that I exposed over the last week. Most were made with my Lumix LX-3, which owing to its compact size and ease of use makes it my choice camera for making Underground images. Use of flash is prohibited; a tripod is impractical, so all of my images were made handheld with existing light.

Tube Station.
Highbury&Islington Tube Station on the Piccadilly Line, April 19, 2013.
Escalator at Leicester Square Tube Station.
London Underground Station at Leicester Square on April 22, 2013.
Escalator at Leicester Square Tube Station.
Classic Underground mosiac on the wall of the Tube. Lumix LX-3 photo.

 

London Underground
Escalator at Leicester Square Tube Station.