Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Blog 2024

January 2024

End of the line at Southminster railway station 23/1/2024

23/1/2024 - Wickford to Southminster and return

January is always a quiet month for train travel for me and after recovering from a head cold and last week's sub zero temperatures, I decided that rather going stir crazy, I would go out on a short local (for me) train trip. This involved a short twenty minute drive to Wickford, where I was able to make a quick journey to the Essex village of Southminster and back on the branch that started this website back in 2007. My fare back then was £6.10. Today sixteen years later was just £7.75, showing train fares haven't gone up that much. Mind you I did get senior railcard discount, so would have been about £10. Wickford station building has sadly been demolished and it is in the middle of being rebuilt, so a bit of a mess. My train is a five-car class 745 unit, much too big for a small branchline like this, but who am I to argue. Plus there is a guard checking tickets both ways. About twenty people get off the train when it arrives in the bay number 1 platform. It is timed to arrive to connect with both London and Southend trains and a couple get off the train from London and straight onto mine. The train leaves dead on time at 10.56 and stops at all the stations on the line - Battlesbridge, South Woodham Ferrers, North Fambridge, Althorne, Burnham-on-Crouch and Southminster. I would say that there are no more than twenty passengers on the train for both journeys, with South Woodham ferrers being the busiest station, followed by Burnham. At Southminster about five passengers get off, including me and I have just enough time to take a few photos of the train and station which has a large sign saying "To let" outside it. The massive crane and sidings used by nuclear flask trains are still in place, though I'm not sure if it is still used. The rails didn't look rusty, so maybe some trains still use it. Its a nine minute turnaround on this single track line with a passing loop at North Fambridge. The three biggest stations all have coffee shops which are open, so they must be getting enough trade to survive. An interesting journey for me after so many years not travelling on it, but its nice to see it is still going and providing a useful public transport link in a quite sparsely populated part of Essex.


February 2024

6/2/2024 - Rayleigh to Shenfield and return. Shenfield to Colchester. Colchester to Ipswich. Ipswich to Shenfield.

Went up to Ipswich for the day, meeting up with a friend. As with previous recent trips on Greater Anglia services, I am pleased to report that all the various trains I caught ran on time, with plenty of room. I noticed that on every service I caught I had my ticket checked by ticket collectors, who in some cases were supported by "Revenue enforcement officers".

13/2/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street and return.

Went up to London for the evening to attend a speaker event.


20/2/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to West Ham. London Bridge to Brighton.

Went away to Brighton for a few days with my wife. The journey pased OK with no problems.

21/2/2024 - Brighton to Lewes and return.

Went to lewes for the day by train. It absolutley poured down all the time we were there!

23/2/2024 - Brighton to London Bridge. West Ham to Leigh-on-Sea. 

Came back home from Brighton with no problems as on the trains we caught.



April 2024

After a rare month of not travelling by train at all in March, it was back to business in April.

17/4/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street and return.

Went up to a hospital in Stanmore near the tube station. 

30/4/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street and return.

Went back to the hospital in Stanmore.



May 2024

Marlow Railway Station 18/5/24

11/5/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to West Ham. London Bridge to Caterham. Caterham to Purley. Purley to South Croydon. South Croydon to London Bridge. London Fenchurch Street to Leigh-on-Sea.

Went to Croydon for a gig. Decided to go down the branch to Caterham before the gig, a journey I hadn't made since 2007. All went well with abrief stop off in Caterham before the return journey went awray. At Purley some of the doors of the train got stuck and after a ten minute delay a guard opened one and we were told to get off. Luckily a Thameslink train was just coming into the other platform, so we all rushed down the stairs to the next platform and managed to get it. 


18/5/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street. London Paddington to Maidenhead. Maidenhead to Marlow and return. Maidenhead to Twyford. Twyford to Henley-on-Thames and return. Twyford to London Paddington. London Paddington to London Liverpool Street. London Liverpool Street to Leigh-on-Sea.

Had a day out with a friend travelling on two of the branch lines off the Great Western Mainline to the west of London. I hadn't travelled on these since 2007, so quite interesting to se the changes. Also was able to take photos of the bridges across the River Thames in both Marlow and Henley-on-Thames for a new book I am writing on the Britain's Inland Road Bridges which will be published next year.   

27/5/2024 - Leigh-on-Sea to Fenchurch Street and return. London Victoria to Rochester and return.

Had a pleasant day out visiting Rochester. The travel was problem free with all trains running on time and plenty of seats available.