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".