Earlier this year railway adventurers Vicki Pipe and Geoff Marshall set out to visit all 2,563 railway stations in Great Britain, completing the ambitious journey in 14 weeks, six days, eight hours and 22 minutes.
From Penzance on May 7 to Wick on August 19, the pair filmed a documentary on what Britain’s railways look like in 2017, as an aged system transports more passengers than ever before.
We asked Vicki and Geoff to summarise their mammoth trip in 14 pictures, and this is how they did it:
1. Railways and railway stations have featured in music, film and TV for decades. At Cromford station we recreated the single cover of Oasis’s ‘Some Might Say’.
2. Yes, Britain’s railways can be cute! Like the wonderful Parry People Mover which operates between Stourbridge Town and Stourbridge Junction. Definitely the cutest train we’ve ever seen!
3. Art. It’s not just about the trains. Lots of stations and station staff work together with their local community. At Smethick Rolfe Street they recently unveiled a new mural created by young local artists, reflecting the vibrant and diverse cultures of the area.
4. The history and heritage of Britain’s railways are evident almost everywhere. In Bridlington we were in awe of their amazing refreshment room full of incredible railway ephemera, it was like stepping back in time.
5. Britain’s railway signs reflect the incredible diversity of languages spoken across the country, from Punjabi in Southall (West London), Arabic in Oxfordshire (Bicester Village) to Welsh (all stations in Wales) and Gaelic (all stations in Scotland).
6. It’s not just humans that want to catch a train. In all corners of the country animals and the railways live side by side.
7. Travelling on the railways is not always about moving, there are lots of spaces to pause and waiting rooms can offer that perfect moment of reflection.
8. There are currently 147 request stops in Britain. If you’ve never flagged down a train we highly recommend finding your nearest request stop to have a go, it’s lots of fun, especially if the driver toots the horn in recognition!
9. Don’t forget to look up, or step outside at stations to enjoy the amazing architecture of the buildings. Often features are not simply decorative but actually help with wayfinding, like the incredible curved structure of Wemyss Bay.
10. The type of train you travel on can really change your experience of the journey. On the Isle of Wight we were excited to discover that original 1938 London Underground Tube trains serve the national rail network between Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin.
11. There is no better way to see the changing landscape of Britain than by train. From rolling hills to dramatic coast lines you can see it all.
12. We discovered there are almost as many castles in Britain as railway stations! Many of them are not that far from the railway, like Harlech Castle in Wales, which looks impressively over the nearby Harlech station.
13. Each train operating company has its own distinct livery, staff uniforms and moquette (seating fabric) which helps to identify the services you’re travelling on. Throughout our journey we collected them all, though we do confess London Midland was our favourite.
14. Railways can take you to some of the most remote places in the country. At Berney Arms in Norfolk the railway is the only method of transport available to reach the same location.