is the latest version of my Index page dated November 2018. I
update this monthly around the beginning of the month. Below,
you will find a version of my latest email update which goes out to
those on my mailing list. Email me if you would like to receive this by
email. My previous Index page has been renamed Recent Reports
and has links to tours and visits in the last few years primarily to
China, Bosnia and Indonesia. That page will be adapted to its new
in Winter Tour 8-17
This goes ahead but as a
private tour for just 2 of us. Details are being sorted out with Jun.
The only reasons to mention this here is in case anyone wants to join
us* or in case my visit in December means that I'm less keen to go back
there in April (see China NG Tour 2 below).
you want to join us, you will need to work fast. Ideally, you will
be a seasoned China hand who has been to Sandaoling before and know how
to get a China visa or have one in your passport already. The dates are
still accurate except that you will need to arrive in Beijing by very
early morning on 8 December (there is a BA flight that achieves this
or the day before (which is when I will arrive on a KLM/China Southern
code share flight 06:55). The price you pay will be the cost price.
That is, whatever we need to pay directly to a provider (for hotel,
transport, food, etc.) or are able to negotiate as a package with Jun. Please
contact me immediately if you want to join us.
China Narrow Gauge II &
Sandaoling 16 March - 14 April (new dates) - tour now includes a
starts in Chengdu. Unless you can arrive in Chengdu by early-mid
morning on 17 March, please plan to arrive the day before and meet up
at the group hotel or at the airport next day . This is because we will have a 4 hour transfer to Guangyuan on 17 April and I'd like to start by late morning for this.
Part 1 Sichuan & Chongqing (16 March for) 17 March - 25 March (8 days)
Train transfer Chongqing - Chenzhou or leave tour in Chongqing
Part 2 Hunan and Henan 26 March - 1 April (7 days)
Plane and train transfer via Urumqior end tour with high speed train to Beijing
Part 3 Sandaoling, Xinjiang 1 April - 9 April* (10 days but 9 days if included with Part 2)
Plane transfer to Beijing 9 April - depart for home on 10 April
* as mentioned above,
if I don't feel a second trip to Sandaoling so soon after my December
trip is warranted, there is an alternative Part 3 which would involve
flying to Jiamusi, visit Hegang and Jixi to see sg 'crocodile'
electrics as well as the Huanan ng steam tourist train and a relatively
unknown ng diesel cement railway near Yichun north of Jiamusi. If this
appeals more than Sandaoling, please let me know. This would occupy the
same 1 - 9 April slot as Sandaoling.
The total tour would be 24 days
and people can join and leave along the way but preferably at the
beginning or end of Part 1, 2 or 3. This tour is not yet priced.
The idea for my second China narrow
gauge tour is that we start from
Chengdu, China and travel across the
country east to Zhengzhou stopping at narrow gauge lines along the way.
The route from Guangyuan (the city close to Rongshan, 4 hours north of
Chengdu) to Chongqing has around 10 narrow gauge coal mine lines. There
will be time to find out what if anything has happened at Rongshan.
There are 3 more lines close to Chongqing including the long 762mm
electric line centred on Honglu. We will then move on by train to Hunan
province where there are a further 11 narrow gauge lines but we will
focus on Matian and 2 other lines near to Chenzhou before taking
another train to Zhengzhou in
Henan with a visit planned to the Yujian narrow gauge steam and diesel
tourist line currently under construction. We expect to have one or
more charters here. The narrow gauge part of the tour ends with a high
speed train the Beijing and then home. However, if you would like to
visit the standard gauge steam holdout of Sandaoling at a pleasant time
of year for watching trains, wandering
over the desert landscape between the Pipe, Kenkozhan, Dongbolizhan and
the 'Washery' branch for a variety of phots, you may want to join this
standard gauge Part 3 to the world's last great steamy industrial
Java Sugar Mills 2-3 weeks in the 23 July - 22 August period My thoughts at the moment:
Use Yogya-based Agus as driver/guide with Combo
for a short time in the Situbondo area. Depart UK (- 1) Fly to Jakarta or Surabaya (arrive + 1) Meet up in Yogya (+2)
Train or plane from Jakarta or
Surabaya (my own choice would be train from Surabaya)
Yogya - 1 mill (+3) Solo for Tasikmadu - 1 mill in
passing (no overnight), continue to Madiun (+4) Madiun - 4-5 mills (2 with real
working steam, conventional and fireless) (+5, 6, 7) Train to Probolinggo for (+8) Kedawung - steam charter, field
lines (+9) Lumajang for (+10) Jatiroto - field lines (+11, 12) Jember for Semboro - field lines, fireless
(+ 13) Prajekan in passing on way to Situbondo (+ 14) Situbondo for Wringinanom field lines (+ 15) Olean field lines (+ 16) Asembagus mill re-opened? field
lines still in use? (+ 17) (or repeat Wr or Ol) transfer to Surabaya and home* (+
18) arrive home (+ 19) (depart home adds 1 day = 20
* or add a few more days in Situbondo to explore the Wringinanom
field lines at leisure and enjoy this small East Javan town and the
beach at Pasir Putih.
The East Java
section will again focus on mills with diesel field lines, mills with
real working steam and the the best mills for internal stationary steam
engines. Steam charters are getting increasingly unreliable and may now
be poor value for money and no longer satisfying. However, the steam
charters at Kedawung are new and it's worth trying to get steam out
into the fields there (but I note two visits in 2018 have not had a steam
charter due to boiler tube issues). Those signing up for the East Java
the tour will be asked whether they would like to also attempt charters
at Kedawung,Olean and Semboro and a majority decision will be taken on
to organise those.
Bosnia This tour ran 8 - 14
October with an extension to Mostar (for general railway and
non-railway explorations). The tour was successful with wonderful sunny
weather and more locos in steam than expected. We certainly didn't
expect to see a class 62 (the local version of the WWII USA tank) in action at
Oskova in 2018. At the end of the tour, rather than thinking, 'That's
the last time we'll do this!' it was more a case of 'Should do it
again?' I think we concluded that we wouldn't be able to guarantee the
perfect weather nor the quantity of steam on any future visit and that
we would want to again try adding Mokra Gora (Serbian narrow gauge) to
the tour. Mostar is definitely worth a visit. A report of this tour in the form of daily
updates is here http://www.rabylee.uk/bosnia2018.html
If you are interested in a Bosnia-Serbia real and charter steam tour in 2019 or 2020, please let me know.
Just selecting one of these at random, I offer you 'mallets in Eritrea':
This is the first of 8 parts from an Eritrean video from 2009 filmed on a FarRail tour.
latest upload to YouTube has been prepared for the Lincolnshire Coast
Light Railway's AGM on 3 October. By request, I have prepared a short
video showing the participation of LCLR stock in the July 2018 'Tracks
to the Trenches' event at Apedale.
Salt Railway at Fuzhouwan, China (see Just for Fun below)
Just for Fun - November
While many public railways carry passengers and many industrial and
agricultural products or raw materials, other railways are or were
dedicated to just one product such as a sugar cane. What other types of
single-use railway can you think of? Some easy ones are coal railways,
palm oil railways and logging railways. Some more obscure ones are
necropolis railways (there was one from London Waterloo), hospital
railways (often associated with mental asylums), water cress railways
(Hampshire) and water railways (used in Namibia to carry drinking and
water for the diamond processing). What are some of the more
interesting single-use railways that you have either photographed or
heard about? Send me a digital photo if you can for inclusion next
Jincheng Reed Railway (used to supply reed to a paper factory), also in China.
This month's video - October
Sit back, relax and watch this gentle night ride at Statfold Barn in
the growing darkness with 'Harrogate' in charge of a special run for
staff, volunteers and the crew of the steam road and farm vehicles that
attended the September Statfold Barn Gala.
Just for Fun - October
There is no Just for Fun this month except to add that there are
various Indian and Sri Lankan railway novels including (about Indian) The
Penguin Book of Indian Railway Stories, Ruskin Bond (editor) and John
Masters 'Bwohani Junction'. From Sri Lanka we have 'Yakada Yaka' by
Carl Muller part of the Burgher trilogy. More ideas for good reads
that are also railway novels would be most welcome. Email me with your
ideas. This month's
I've uploaded a video to YouTube showing the Lincolnshire Coast Light
Railway's steam loco Jurassic on regular 2 coach passenger trains this
summer. The line now has a short extension and a new run round loop.
Just for Fun 3 -
How many of you are fans of railway fiction? Not many, would be my
guess. However, if the railway background and operating practice is
authentic, they can be an enjoyable way to relive the days when steam
was in regular use around the world.
I think the first book of railway fiction I read after Rev. Audrey's
'Thomas the Tank Engine' books was 'Jennie' by J.B.Snell which is based
on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales.
A more recent find was C
Hamilton Ellis who is famous for his non-fiction railway titles.
However in the 1940s he wrote several ripping yarns based on railways
with illustrations by Terence Cuneo no less! The most difficult to
acquire was the first one I heard about in 'A Railway Holiday in Spain'
was 'Who Wrecked the Mail'. If you can find this or any of his other
The Grey Men (Scottish in WWII)
The Engineer-Corporal (American Civil War)
Rails Across the Ranges (Australian North East)
they are all recommended.
Did you know that the C in C Hamilton Ellis stands for Cuthbert?
This seems to be the modern approach to the railway novel. The best
writers use their extensive historical railway knowledge and research
to create a realistic railway crime story. The lesser ones skimp on the
historical accuracy and tell a crime story in a vaguely plausible
I consider Martin to be the best of the authors in this genre. The
specific historical locations are well researched and described and his
detective is a former loco driver so he tends to get hands on on the
footplate at times as well. The topics include the London Necropolis
Railway, WWI in France, WWI in Iraq, Colonial India, etc. All of the
railway detective novels by Martin are worth a read.
This one is topical with the
WWI 100 year commemorations taking place 2014-2018
Can anyone recommend other railway fiction that I (or other readers of
this mailing list) might enjoy?
I try to add new videos each month
and this month I am uploading my
video from Saturday at the recent Apedale 'Tracks to the Trenches 3'
event. Volunteers from the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway were
invited to attend, man a stand and enjoy the event as 3 of our stock
items were in use - bow-framed Simplex 'Nocton', our unique WWI
Ambulance van and a WWI 4-wheel rations wagon.
for fun2 Sometimes, the only way to begin to
appreciate something is to model
it. The Alford & Sutton Tramway (1884 - 1889) lasted such a short
time and disappeared so long ago that it's hard to image its slow
roadside progress along the A1111 from Alford to Sutton on the 7 mile
run, climbing up the 'hill' at Hannah and the steam trams running round
their trains outside the Bacchus Hotel on Sutton High Street.
along with a suitable carriage and
a couple of trucks. I also needed to
replicate the A&ST logo for the sides of the tram and vehicles. I
just need a Lincolnshire roadside tramway for it to run on. The loco is
vertical boilered No. 1 which was joined by No. 2 and No. 3 both
No. 1 of 1883 Black, Hawthorn &
Company No. 2 of 1884 Merryweather &
Sons No. 3 of 1885 Dick, Kerr &
Company I wonder if No. 1 was up to the
job. I suspect Nos. 2 & 3 ended up
doing most of the day-to-day work.
My model with the photo of the
original on the left and the Bacchus
Hotel, Sutton-on-Sea where the tram terminated and ran round on the
right. When the line closed, all 3 locos
seem to have disappeared without
trace but surely all or most would have found new use elsewhere around
My best attempt
at the A&ST logo
Have you created models of long
lost railways or locos?
I try to add new videos each month
and this month they are of Statfold
Barn on the occasion of its June 2018 Open Day. If you've been to
Statfold Barn, you'll know what to expect. If you haven't be prepared
to be amazed by the quantity and variety of narrow gauge steam in use
at this private location. If you only have time to look at one, I can
especially recommend the views from the front balcony of the parallel
for fun1 (from July) If you are one of the many who
visited China and didn't come away with
a souvenir more interesting than a railway spike, how about making your
own Chinese railway souvenirs? All of us will have noted and probably
photographed the rustic railway crossing signs on industrial and narrow
gauge lines. Those photos can easily be the basis for your own Chinese
crossing signs. Here are my attempts at copies. The originals appear
below my versions.