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Live Updates

By Frankie Ward

All times stated are UK

  1. That's it from us!

    Let us know what you thought - #TrainspottingLive

    Thanks ever so much to all of you who sent in your spots. Although we couldn't use them all, we appreciate every single one.  

    Kevin Dare, Matt Baker and Tony Peters from Didcot Railway Centre
    Image caption: Kevin Dare, Matt Baker and Tony Peters from Didcot Railway Centre

    And we have to say a huge thanks to the team at Didcot Railway Centre for being brilliant hosts and sharing their wonderful locos with us.

    We hope you enjoyed the show. Here's a montage of highlights to accompany the final moments of this epic journey.


    Video content

    Video caption: Some of our favourite moments from Trainspotting Live on BBC Four.
  2. Railway Poem by 10-year-old Joe

    Potential future railwayman Joe has a poem to see us out in style

    10-year-old train enthusiast Joe and his parents are loving Trainspotting Live, and now the young wordsmith is giving poet Ian McMillan a run for his money with a rail-themed poem on his own, written after watching Monday's programme.

    Railway Poem, by Joe

    Through the mist advancing is smoke

    Coming closer we stop, we don't choke

    We still can't see for goodness sake

    But then we gasp, it's special, the last one they were ever to make

    She roars through, majestic and green

    Wow! It's gone, we cant believe what we've seen

    We go home very happy and bright

    Then dream about our amazing sight

  3. YRG member Jordan talks us through his favourite spots

    The YRG are spotting with Dick in Clapham Junction tonight

    Jordan joined the Youth Rail Group in 2013 to meet like-minded rail fans like himself.

    Quote Message: My favourite locos/trains are LMS Jubilee 4-6-0 45699 Galatea, class 37 37401 Mary Queen of Scots, class 47 47580 County of Essex, and the infamous class 142 Pacer from Jordan YRG member
    JordanYRG member
    37401 Mary Queen of Scots
    Image caption: Jordan's snap of 37401 Mary Queen of Scots
    Quote Message: Carlisle railway station is one of my favourite spots, which has various types of trains and locomotives pass through each day, even though it's not as busy as, say, Clapham Junction.
    45699 Galatea
    Image caption: 45699 Galatea in Cumbria
    Quote Message: The YRG [is] a way to socialise and meet new friends that also have interests in the railways. It is also a safe space and you don't get criticised for what type of trains or locomotives that you like.
  4. A rediscovery of Meccano

    Who said that models had to be miniature?

    Many of you will be familiar with Hornby Railways, but did you know Meccano was made by the same company? Created in 1901, it ceased production in the UK in 1979, although it's still popular in France, the US and other countries.

    Semi-retiree Doug Hedgley, 67, has recently rediscovered his love of the construction toy, having previously given up his hobby in his teens:

    Quote Message: As a young child in the early 1950s I received my first Meccano set at the age of five and on all subsequent birthdays and Christmas's; I desired and received nothing but more Meccano. I loved it, as may be obvious, and I built many many models over the years. Being quite normal, when girls duly appeared on the scene at age fifteen or so, the whole lot was sold or given away for about five ‘bob’ (25p) to the local second hand shop.
    Quote Message: After nearly five decades, I accidentally came across some old nickel plated Meccano from the early 20s which lay about my garage for a couple of years and, after tripping over it for the hundredth time, I decided to build something with it. This was fatal; I was bitten, especially in view of the fact that I was just coming up to my semi-retirement and would be looking for a past-time other than the usual gardening, DIY, etc... from Doug Hedgley Meccano enthusiast
    Doug HedgleyMeccano enthusiast
    Red and green 1929 Meccano dealer's display cabinet
    Image caption: Doug says: "I was lucky to acquire an original 1929 dealers' display cabinet a few months ago and have since restored it to its former glory, although I have left all the dings and dents in the woodwork as that is part of its journey through time."

    After success with his first builds, Doug decided to get serious with his rediscovered love and has transformed his garage into a Meccano workshop. He buys and sells parts on the internet and even contributes images of his works-in-progress to the AC Gilbert Heritage Society website, which is dedicated to the American version of the toy.

    Doug is currently working on a homage to the Duchess class locomotive - you can see the inspiration in its glory on Doc Brown's website.

    Quote Message: A Duchess class locomotive has just been started and is in the early unpainted stages at present but is being posted to the website in the same way. It is envisaged that this also will take a year because apart from anything else, its sheer size, (it will end up with its tender attached at over 9 feet (approx 2.5m) long! from Doug Hedgley
    Doug Hedgley
    Meccano locomotive frame
    Image caption: The finished locomotive will be over 2.5m in length
    Progress continues on the Duchess class locomotive
    Image caption: Progress continues on the Duchess class locomotive

    If Doug's previous projects, such as his wonderful model of a veteran 1907 Armstrong Whitworth car, is anything to go by, his Duchess model is going to be a thing of beauty (and wouldn't look out of place itself in a museum). It's no surprise, therefore, that he's recently invested in a 1929 Meccano display cabinet for his bits and bobs.

    As Doug himself says:

    Quote Message: [This is a] hobby that has and is giving me hours of interest and relaxation and in scope is without limits. When you look at what some of the people on the various websites produce in Meccano, it is virtually unbelievable, and for a toy that’s over 100 years old, it’s remarkable. from Doug Hedgley
    Doug Hedgley
    Meccano model of 1907 Armstrong Whitworth car in green with gold trim and red leather seats
    Image caption: Doug built a model of the veteran 1907 Armstrong Whitworth car, the original of which he had driven thousands of miles over the years and now resides in the Beamish Museum in County Durham.
  5. How does timetabling work?

    Hannah Fry went to meet Network Rail and find out how they maximise the capacity of their network to the limit. The end result is called the Working Timetable, which is managed by 300 people.

    Graphs visually represent train movements in different areas. Although they look scarily complicated, they work on the principles of time and distance. But local slower trains and longer distance high speed trains sharing the same tracks can cause complex problems to solve. Short sections of extra track can help two trains run safely on the same line as their distances overlap.

    Network Rail timetable graph
    Image caption: Graphs like this help Network Rail plan to get as many trains moving as possible

    The team can work up to 30 years in advance to plan the timetables of the future, taking current knowledge and growth predictions into account.

    As Hannah herself puts it, it's "phenomenally complicated".

  6. Inside Didcot Railway Centre's signal box

    signal box
    Image caption: The upper level of this signal box is a repaired original (circa 1880 - 1890) and was taken to Didcot from Frome. The brickwork is replica and houses mechanical interlocking that makes sure that only correct sequences can be used. The interior is based on a signal box circa 1870.
    Signal box
    Image caption: Red levers are for signals, the black for points (moving the track) and blue for locking the points. Red and blue locks and signals. Pulled towards oneself (to the left in this photo), indicates an open position (or closed in the case of the blue close level).
    Webb-Thompson machine
    Image caption: Webb-Thompson machine used to communicate with drivers. Two signal boxes would be used at each junction, each with one of these machines. The first signal box would use the level on the top right of the signal box to issue a "staff" made of metal to be released in its partner machine in the other signal box. The signalman would hand this to the driver and they would give it to the second signalman in the other signal box in order to pass through.
    Image caption: On the left, clear indication can be given as to whether it is safe to pass - the signal hangs at a 45 degree angle, which means it is safe to pass. If the position of the red bar is horizontal, it is not safe to pass. The signal on the right indicates two different routes. The top says it is safe to pass, and the lower signal indicates another train is close on the line and to choose a different route.
  7. Here's the bigger picture from our EMU spotters' map

    whole nation of EMUs - map
  8. More tickets from Matt Davis' rare ticket collection

    The collector talks through three of the "oddities" from his haul

    Find out more about the Transport Ticket Society

    Child ticket from Workington to temporary station Workington North
    Image caption: "When the floods of 2009 cut off the roads into Workington, Cumbria, a temporary railway station called Workington North was hastily built so that people could get across the river from one side of town to the other - all the road bridges having been destroyed. The special trains were advertised as being free of charge, so nobody expected the temporary station to be included in the national fares database; but it was, and ticket collectors rushed to buy some for their collections before the station closed for good, about 10 months later."
    Train from London Terminals to London Terminals
    Image caption: "A journey to nowhere? - "London Terminals" is a generic "location" to which tickets can be issued, to give passengers flexibility as to which station in London they travel to. It covers all the main termini (Victoria, Waterloo etc.) and a few other central London stations. If you buy a ticket from one of the constituent stations to another, it should show the actual station name rather than "London Terminals" - but this machine at the now-closed Kings Cross Thameslink station was programmed wrongly, because this ticket to City Thameslink station was issued from "London Terminals" to "London Terminals"."
    Ticket from Tilbury Twon to Camden Road
    Image caption: "A ticket from a station which doesn't exist... Tilbury Riverside station, (which served the port and ferry terminal for ferries to Gravesend), closed down in 1992, but has a zombie-like existence as a terminus for bus services from Tilbury Town station, which still run so that people can reach the ferry to Gravesend across the Thames. The ferry used to be run by British Rail but is now privately operated. A rail ticket to Tilbury Riverside would be valid on the bus from Tilbury Town. It's even possible to buy rail tickets which cover rail travel to Tilbury, the bus fare to Tilbury Riverside and onward rail travel from Gravesend, but not the ferry crossing."
  9. The south east is a haven for EMUs!

    It's the latest from our spotters' map

    south east map
  10. Tim rides the new GWR C800

    Tim Dunn got to experience one of the most exciting rides of his life on the new Japanese Hitachi C800, which is being rolled out by Great Western Railway next year. It's part of the government’s £5.7 billion InterCity Express Programme (IEP) and the new trains will be assembled in County Durham at Britain's first rail manufacturing facility for 150 years.

    Within two years, 59 train sets will be travelling on GWR routes and Virgin Trains' East Cost Mainlines.

    But what makes this super express train (SET) so efficient? The key is its ability to accelerate to 125mph a whole minute faster than the Intercity 125 - and that means a lot more trains services could potentially fit on the lines each day.

    driver's cabin of the C800
    Image caption: High tech gadgetry in the driver's cabin of the C800

    The driver's cabin is packed full of high-tech automated computer systems, but apparently it's not as complicated to drive as it looks. Drivers will login to the system when they start their shift and they'll have loads of information at their finger tips so they can stay alert to the latest news from the network.

  11. Oddities from an expert's ticket collection

    Matt Davis, of the Transport Ticket Society, specialises in modern train tickets (computer generated) from the last 30 years.

    Here, he talks us through some of the "oddities" to be found in his collection...

    Bus journey, Penzance to Lands End ticket
    Image caption: "A rail ticket for a bus-only journey, all the way to Lands End. This would have been sold as part of a "through" journey including rail travel to Penzance (the ticket was issued at Birmingham New Street)."
    Ticket from bus-only journey from Woking to Heathrow
    Image caption: "Another bus-only journey on a rail ticket. Before the "Heathrow Express" rail link from London Paddington opened, the only way for rail passengers to get to Heathrow without using the London Underground was to travel on one of a number of coach services operated by British Rail (and later by privatised operators) from major railway stations. There has been a coach link between Woking and Heathrow for many years."
    Train ticket from Stourbridge Junction to the Think Tank museum in Birmingham
    Image caption: "Rail tickets aren't just issued to railway stations. This one covered a rail journey to Birmingham and admission to the Thinktank (Birmingham Science Museum) and the now-closed IMAX cinema."
  12. Mark from the YRG is predicting big things for the Class 700

    He's looking forward to seeing the Siemens C700 Thameslink train when it's rolled out across the network.

    Find out more on the Evening Standard website

  13. Highlights from Hugh Fisher's ticket archive

    Ticket collector Hugh has an extensive collection of tickets from railway lines across the UK (several thousand in total).

    A lot of these are stored safely in draws, but he's brought an album with him to Didcot to talk through some of his archive.

    Here, he talks through some of his wonderfully kept finds:

    British Rail Reading General train spotter ticket

    Yellow British Rail Reading general train spotter ticket
    Image caption: "One of a series introduced in 1970 at Reading (then named Reading General to distinguish it from the adjacent Reading Southern station). Each ticket featured a different type of locomotive that could be seen at Reading along with some salient particulars on the reverse. This is a Sulzer type 3, later class 33, loco. There were seven different designs, each of a different colour, which would be rotated through the week. Two shillings (10p) was quite a steep price to pay in those days, when the cost of an ordinary platform tickets had just gone up to 6d (2½p)!"

    British Railways Cranley Gardens platform ticket

    British Railways Cranley Gardens platform ticket, pink
    Image caption: "This was my “local” station when my wife and I lived in the “northern heights” of London. It is on the ill-fated Alexandra Palace branch line, which was to have become part of the London Underground network. Indeed partial electrification had been carried out, but the Second World War intervened and the project was never resumed. The ticket is dated 12 June 1954, just a few weeks before closure of the line to passenger traffic. Along with other platform tickets at that time it is priced at just 1d."

    Great Northern Railway: Finchley - Holloway ticket

    Blue third class Great Northern Railway: Finchley - Holloway ticket
    Image caption: "This was issued in December 1892, so is well before my time! Finchley was an early name for what became Finchley (Church End) and then, on electrification, Finchley Central, as part of the Northern Line (as featured in the eponymous song). It was close to the grammar school I attended - Christ’s College, Finchley - and I used the station often in my younger days. The ticket is for a journey to the long-closed Holloway station, which used to be on the main line between Kings Cross and Finsbury Park. Blue was the Great Northern Railway’s colour for third class tickets."

    British Transport Commission Maerdy platform ticket

    British Transport Commission Maerdy platform ticket
    Image caption: "I believe this is the only surviving example of this particular ticket. Maerdy was at the end of a branch line in the “Little Rhondda” valley of South Wales. The ticket is numbered 000, the first of the batch to be issued, and succeeded Great Western Railway platform tickets, which although older are more common. It is undated but was issued a few weeks before the branch closed in June 1964. At the time, the Cardiff Divisional office would withdraw all ticket stocks bar the few most common issues, shortly before a station was due to close and this is what happened at Maerdy. So enthusiasts who travelled on the last day of service would not have been able to purchase one of these tickets."
  14. Meet Josh from the Youth Rail Group

    Josh is one of the YRG spotters joining us at Clapham Junction tonight.

    He joined the society in 2015 after discovering a video about them on YouTube and loved how welcoming everyone was, and has even won the YRG's annual competition, Video Fest!

    Quote Message: Last year the topic was "all change please" where you could talk about how the railways in your area have changed, or how you have developed your interests in trains. I chose to make a video about the history of Stratford, and it happened to be that I ended up winning it! from Josh Member, Youth Rail Group
    JoshMember, Youth Rail Group
    The YRG with 35028
    Image caption: The YRG on one of their many trips

    In fact, Josh has now won first class rail tickets and vouchers for several rail services and a guided tour of Edinburgh Trams Depot - not bad for a relative newcomer. And he thinks if you're aged 13-25 and passionate about rail, you should consider joining...

    Quote Message: The reason I think others should join the YRG is because it is a very warm and welcoming group, you can make new friends and gain lots of opportunities you might not get any other time.
  15. Rail enthusiasm in American is turned up to 11!

    Peter Snow is chatting to a "foamer", the US equivalent of a British rail enthusiast.

    Here's one of his most famous videos on YouTube...

    View more on youtube
  16. Cliff Williams is up in Edinburgh Waverly for us tonight

    Cliff Williams, age 48, is an optician and rail model enthusiast.

    He blames his passion on his father who gave him Hornby Dublo as an infant. Together they would work on train models of all sizes from small N gauge, OO gauge, and since 1985 they have worked together in the much bigger O gauge. 

    At 16, Cliff started going to modelling shows and began to develop an interest in full size trains as well. Over the past 15 years he has progressed his passion and started meeting the drivers.

    He is part of a group of modellers called Scottish Diesel & Electric Group. Cliff is responsible for recreating UK rail in N, OO and O gauge. The SRPS Diesel Group also provide skills to the Scottish 37 Loco Group based at Bo’ness. Cliff was a part of team restoring the 37 403; his optician's skills came in handy when he was given the intricate task of re-profiling the 6 windows to take the new toughened glass units.

    More recently Cliff has been working with DCC control to recreate diesel sounds, smoke and lighting to help his models reach the next level of authenticity.

    Cliff and his friend John are based at Edinburgh Waverly Station, the main station for the Scotland’s capital. Covering an area of over 25 acres in the centre of the city, it is the second-largest main line railway station in the United Kingdom in terms of area, the largest being London Waterloo; and is both a terminal station and a through station.

  17. What are Will Jarman's tips for would-be model makers?

    Quote Message: Practice painting on old models and toys you might have hidden away in cupboards, or bought from second hand stalls. from Will Jarman Model maker
    Will JarmanModel maker

    Will's got a great tip for those of you who are perhaps getting into the hobby and aren't too sure about spending too much of your money on it yet.

    Quote Message: Model locomotives can be rather expensive, often over £100, but to begin with buy a couple of older second hand model diesel locomotives. These tend to have plastic bodies that snap on and off easily. If you can find a couple more bodyshells for a good price, you can end up with several locomotives for the price of one new one, so long as you don't mind sharing the chassis!

    The solid metal chassis of locomotive models includes the electric motor and wheels, which is why it's one of the costlier parts of model making. So Will suggests buying a couple of these, and interchanging them with the bodyshells you've painted at your leisure.

    Second hand locomotive models
    Image caption: Older second hand model diesel locomotives tend to have plastic bodies that snap on and off easily
    Quote Message: Old bodyshells are great for practising repainting into new liveries, or practising the art of 'weathering'- that is, gently making the body shell look a little dirty to simulate the wear and tear on the real thing.
  18. Is 3D printing the future of model making?

    Will Jarman explains how technology will influence the direction of model making in the future. He thinks that 3D printers will help people enjoy the craft in the smaller spaces many people now live in:

    Quote Message: 3D printing is perfect for small models, so imagine many more "micro" layouts taking up a small space with intricately detailed model buildings 3D printed to fit the space available. This fits in with social trends, with people having less space to indulge their creative passions. Model railways need not be just for rich older enthusiasts with a generous attic, cellar or barn!
    Quote Message: Personally, printing the "civil engineering" elements of a model railway creates more time for me to do what I enjoy; the surrounding scenery, trees and countryside. I really love this element of model making as it has more to do with painting a picture, you can make a mess, make mistakes and enjoy the results when it all goes how you wanted. You can also have those creative "happy accidents" where all the colours and textures go wrong, but it looks good anyway.... from Will Jarman Model maker
    Will JarmanModel maker

    You can see one of Will's freshly printed models below...

    Quote Message: [This picture] shows my latest 3D printing project, a boat for a friend who is making a model of a HO gauge railway crossing a Canadian river. This is where 3D printing is so useful, creating models of the odd stuff you see alongside railways, to add to the scene. This model was created from a photograph.
    Yellow 3D printed boat model
  19. What's Will Jarman's pride and joy?

    The model maker talks us through his incredibly detailed Victoria Bridge project

    Quote Message: My favourite model made so far has to be the "Victoria Bridge" diorama, I'm especially pleased with the background trees. Somehow I have squeezed a couple of square miles of Worcestershire countryside into a tiny metre-long box. from Will Jarman Model maker
    Will JarmanModel maker
    Victoria Bridge, captured in miniature by Will Jarman
    Image caption: Victoria Bridge, recreated in miniature by Will Jarman
    Quote Message: So many model trains run around without people; carriages need passengers. The carriages seen here, 3D printed narrow gauge "bug boxes" from the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales, feature a cheap source of seated figures. They are all old Airfix-style pilots from model aeroplanes I half finished as a kid. I obviously didn't have the patience to paint the pilots at the time, so they all ended up in a shoebox! They tend to be wearing thick leather jackets which is actually perfect, as the carriages in question are open sided and exposed to the elements, so the passengers need to wrap up warm.
    Models in small "bug boxes" from the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales
    Image caption: Will's reused passengers from his childhood areoplane model projects
    Quote Message: [This] is the locomotive seen on the onscreen footage of Victoria Bridge. It is a definite favourite of mine and comes from a tiny one-man company on the Isle of Man called Union Mills Models. It is a model of a Victorian GWR "Dean Goods" locomotive, now on display at the STEAM museum in Swindon. It makes an excellent starter project as you can easily add little details like lamps, figures and real coal in the tender, as in my version. The two crew members on the footplate really bring it to life!
    Dean Goods train model
    Image caption: This Dean Goods model appeared on your screens during our film about Will's models

    And of course, no model would be complete without a 1:148 scale version of its creator!

    1:148 scale version of Will on the Victoria Bridge model.
    Image caption: 1:148 scale version of Will on the Victoria Bridge model.