Welcome to our Great Britain, Europe and the Channel WebSite

Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:

Our feature article: Boat Train: London to Amsterdam

Train Info for the UK

Crossing the Channel

The London Underground

High Speed Trains in Europe

JPC Photos (UK)

Northern Ireland Railways

All about British Rail

Amsterdam and Railways in The Netherlands

Paris and Railways in France

Public Transportation in Nice, France

Our Reference Section

You can travel the EURO TUNNEL ("Chunnel").

We hope you enjoy your visit to our WebSite. We offer a wide range of great sites. We have a great "Portal to the World", excellent weather, reference, golf and tourist sites. As well as great WebSites on trains run for the President of the United States (and for Royalty too). We are not "FLASHy" like many WebSites, but we offer you, among other things authentic railroad history material. Much of this material is not available elsewhere on the Internet. It was painstakingly collected over many years from such sources as Yale University. We never knowingly link you to any WebSites that contain a virus, collect your personal information, or are those machine-generated sites rampant with "Ads by Google". For some of our material, there is a small nominal charge.

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Boat Train London to Amsterdam

Looking up at the TV monitor in London's Liverpool Street Station, I see my train listed with its destination as simply "continent". There is a good size crowd waiting to board. Its a summer holiday weekend in Great Britain and loud speakers have already announced that the channel ferry is completely booked. My ticket on the boat train is first class so a porter helps us find reserved seats with a table. The sixteen cars are mostly reserved since an additional section, known as the relief boat train, has left twenty minutes earlier with all unreserved coaches (carriages).

The boat train pulls out ten minutes late, but the big English road electric doesn't waste any time. Its near the end of the commuter rush hour but we seem to own the road. Its four track, all electric, heading northeast from London.

London is like Chicago with a ring of numerous rail stations surrounding the city. Trains from King's Cross go to Aberdeen, Leeds, York and Edinburgh. Euston departures are for Birmingham, Coventry and Lancaster. Paddington trains go to Bath, Bristol and Plymouth. St. Pancras is the right station for Derby, Sheffield and Nottingham. Liverpool Street trains go to Yarmouth, Norwich and other coast towns (but not Liverpool which is reached through Euston). Numerous other stations like Victoria and Elephant & Castle serve the regional commuter lines.

Rural England is covered by numerous double track rail highways. From London, it is easy to explore Britain in comfort with high-speed trains. The cars are spacious with comfortable seats and large picture windows. There is also a comprehensive suburban service covering all of London. Trains serve Gatwick airport and the docks in Southampton where ocean liners dock. Most train service by British Rail in the London area is known as "Network SouthEast" except for one line known as Docklands Light Railway. If regular rail isn't enough, there is plenty of tourist activity. The Bluebell Railway in Sussex and the Kent & East Sussex Steam Railway are two near London.

The London Underground ("Tubes") is a great way to move around the city. It will get you to all parts of central and greater London and also interconnects London mainline stations. There is direct service to Heathrow airport. Note that when England has a heat wave that the Tubes are NOT air-conditioned, however the windows really open. Also, rush hour CAN delay trains.

A "Travelcard" which costs less than $4.00/day allows the rider unlimited use of the Underground, suburban trains and busses. It is ideal for sightseeing and covers approximately a 12 mile radius of central London.

Most of our traveling was on the Underground. Our hotel was in Hamstead off the Northern line just beyond Camden Town. Lines intersect frequently and changing trains is easy. The result is that almost any place in London is easy to get to. Unlike New York City, there are no barren spots not served by public transportation. Stations have electronic signs that tell how many minutes to the next train.

One BritRail suburban train we took was between London Bridge and Charing Cross (about two miles). The coach ("carriage") was about 40 years old and had separate doors for each compartment.

Our boat train ran express to Harwich. We then got off the train and boarded a ferry. Ferry service runs twice a day from Harwich to Hook of Holland. One ferry is British and the other Dutch. Our's was Dutch and had a "duty-free" shop which the British does not. It was bigger and more luxurious than a cruise ship I had gone to Nassau on. Look for this service to disappear when the "Chunnel" goes from England to France in the 1990's. We landed at Hook of Holland the next morning.

Holland trains pull right up to dockside. We departed exactly on schedule and arrived in Amsterdam exactly on time. The train first makes a backward movement to Rotterdam, then reverses.

First class coaches versus second class coaches is a big thing in Holland. You can even read the number on the outside of the cars. The conductor moved several students briskly out of our car when he found they didn't have first class tickets and were not able to ante up the price difference.

Amsterdam's Central Station is a huge, old station with a train shed. It has two restaurants, numerous snack bars, newstands, shops and even a bike rental in the basement.

There is a subway in Amsterdam called the "Metro", but most public transportation is by "tram". They look like Boston's' Green Line and move rapidly throughout the city. Their tracks are in the center of the roads with only taxis allowed to use that portion of the street. Similar trams operate in Rotterdam and Den Hague. Fares are sort of on the honor system. Tickets may be purchased as a single day pass, a multi-day pass or by buying a "strip card" for roughly $4.00. Everytime you enter a tram you are supposed to punch the card yourself. If your trip goes into extra zones, you punch the ticket again. There are machines at each entrance to punch your ticket. Some trams were so crowded that I could not get to the machine to punch my ticket.

Some tram routes are actually interurbans. The road north from Den Hague is two lane with the interurban running alongside on a grassy route. It reminded me of old pictures of the Albany - Schenectady route. Too bad we got modern and ripped that route up. We stopped at Madurodam which is a stop any model buff should make every attempt to visit. Not only is there a model railroad and a model transit system, but there is a whole model country! Madurodam is a historically correct reproduction of an average Dutch city and its surroundings, everything to a scale of 1:25.

The Dutch national rail service carries more than half a million passengers every day. For the exceptionally busy commuter service in North Holland, there are double-decker trains. Postal mail trains operate frequently. "Sprinter" trains are used on short distance routes; they resemble our "Turbos".

Equipment was mostly modern. Some trains are of a self-propelled electric variety while others are hauled by modern electric locomotives. However, one electric locomotive in the Central Station looked just like a New Haven EP-3.

Airport connections from downtown Amsterdam only take twenty minutes. The station stop is in the basement of the airline terminal building and push carts for luggage are conveniently located right on the platform.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com

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Crossing the Channel

Channel tunnel crossing has become extremely popular since the opening of the tunnel in 1994 and crossing the channel tunnel now represents a third of the traffic between France and Britain.

There are two ways of crossing the channel tunnel. One is by Eurostar trains and the other one is Le shuttle

Channel tunnel crossing: Eurostar vs Le shuttle

Le shuttle provides a train service carrying cars and lorries with their passengers between Folkestone and Calais while Eurostar trains offer a passenger service only between London, Ashford and Calais Lille Paris, Brussels And Eurodisney.

Channel tunnel crossing journey details
Channel tunnel crossing journey time is around 35 minutes on Le shuttle and it will take you two to three hours on Eurostar if you’re boarding in London and going to Paris.

Le shuttle runs 24 hours a day , 365 days a year with at least one service per hour through the night.

Eurostar’s first train is at 5.00 in the morning with the last departure between 07:00 And 08:00 PM depending of the time of year.

YOU can travel the EURO TUNNEL ("Chunnel").

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Imagine the bicycle delivery person in the picture pedaling through a “pedestrian zone”. His first stop is a small T-Shirt store. He brings their package inside and gets a signature on his hand-held device. Next, he delivers a smaller package to a teenager in a nearby apartment. Again he gets a signature. You have just seen the tail end of the supply chain.

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High Speed Trains in Europe

In Europe, there are numerous high speed railroads.

Many of these are conventional shared-used lines with high speed trains running faster than 125mph:

Köln – Aachen, Germany: ICE and Thalys 156.25mph.
Berlin – Hamburg, Germany: ICE-T 143.75mph.
Bologna – Milano, Italy: ES* 137.5mph.
Stockholm – Göteborg, Sveden: X2000 131.25mph.
London – Leeds, UK: IC225 140mph.
Barcelona – Valencia, Spain: AVE 101 137.5mph
Tours – Bordeaux, France: TGV 137.5mph

Next are examples of new built shared-used high-speed lines:
Bruxelles – Liege: ICE 156.25mph, TGV/Thalys: 187.5mph
Würzburg – Hannover, Stuttgart – Mannheim, Germany: ICE 175mph
Karlsruhe – Offenburg, Germany: ICE 156.25mph
Roma – Firenze, Italy: ES* 172mph
Roma – Napoli, Italy: ES* 187.5mph

All these lines are shared-used with HST and conventional passenger and freight trains.

Several European high-speed rail operators recently partnered to form Railteam, a coalition aimed at improving coordination between routes.

Comprising Germany’s Deutsche Bahn, France’s SNCF, the Netherland’s NS Hispeed, Austria’s OBB, Switzerland’s SBB, Belgium’s SNCB, and the UK, France and Belgium’s Eurostar, Railteam will work to provide multi-lingual information in stations and onboard trains. The group also will try to improve connections between routes, and better coordinate train departure and arrival times.

“Railteam’s aim is to offer travelers seamless high-speed train travel across international borders in western Europe,” said group spokesman Gunnar Meyer in a prepared statement.
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History of Rail Transport in Great Britain

British Rail

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Railroads On The Rebound

Over the last 50+ years, railroads have changed a lot. Now they are about to change again.

It is all about a combination of economic factors and climate factors.

Since 1950 , railroads have consolidated. Freight moved from a "box car mentality" to a "unit train,mentality". Passenger went from a robust business to a "caretaker" arrangement called AMTRAK. This happened as everybody could drive for free on the Interstate Highway System or fly on an airline system where the government subsidized both airlines and airports. In the meantime, railroad express and railroad post offices went "down the tubes". The old Post Office Department and the Railway Express Agency could not adjust to the new way. UPS and Fex Ex could.
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What's the most environmentally-friendly way to transport goods? The answer is freight rail. The EPA estimates that every ton-mile of freight that moves by rail instead of by highway reduces greenhouse emissions by two-thirds. But what does that really mean? Our easy-to-use carbon calculator will estimate the amount of carbon dioxide that can be prevented from entering our environment just by using freight rail instead of trucks. We'll even tell you how many seedlings you'd need to plant to have the same effect.
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