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Britain's railways have always been a mix of tradition and modernity. It has been common to name engines and even trains. In the 1980s British Rail rolled out Pullman branded first class services to spiffy up what had become a staid and stuffy, albeit very expensive, service devoid of at-seat services and other amenities provided by airlines and even buses. Below right is the interior of the coach service available on most local trains. By the mid-1980s the traditional compartment trains were being phased out in favor of these more modern designs.


One of my favorite areas of the UK is North Wales, easily accessible from Liverpool, where I have spent a lot of time, and London, from which trains serve Chester and the port of Holyhead and its ferries to Ireland. The first photo below is of an intercity train passing through the beautiful castle and port town of Conway.


The next three photos were taken in and near the Llandudno Junction station, which is just across a river from Conway, and serves Conway and trains to the towns of Llandudno, a resort town on the Irish Sea, and Betws-y-Coed, and Blaenau Ffestiniog (with connections to coastal lines) to the south.



                                               Below is a 125 HST running on the West Coast Main Line between Doncaster and York.

On the left is a restaurant car on a train I took between London and Inverness, Scotland, in 1979. Take a look at my lunch's menu.  Check out a typical Intercity menu from the 1980s. Service in restaurant cars, usually a first class section converted for food service, could be very expensive and, in those days, quite stuffy. For savvy second class riders, one could often spend most of a trip in this setting with the purchase of a meal. This practice is continued by some of the privatized companies today, though I have found many restaurant cars too crowded for this to be a successful strategy. The most popular meal in the 1980s was 'The Great English Breakfast', a caloric bomb of eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, banger sausages, bacon and bread. We'll be doing a special set of pages on the privatized railway, but it is fair to say that the food offerings in Britain are far more diverse (with regional dishes available on some lines) and even elegant than in the US. Some companies (eg. Virgin) pile on free food for first-class and business customers, leaving coach passengers to use the buffet care, while others still offer either restaurant cars (eg. Great Eastern) or full meals at one's seat (eg. Midland Mainline).  The photo on the right is the ancient trainboard in the English Channel resort city of Brighton.



On the left a typical presentation of train services, in this case in Leeds. On the right a view from my 125, rolling through South Wales.


We end with a shot of Invincible, a BR engine leading an intercity train into the sunset -- for British Rail and its passengers -- from Reading, on the main line to the West of England. We don't know the fate of this engine, but we do know that to many it was inconceivable that the British Railways system was so vulnerable to the political pressures which led its end -- and many current arguments for its return in the face of growing public need and vastly inadequate private and public investment.


Return to this page because we will be unearthing more photos from our British Rail travel. We'll soon be posting many pages of our extensive travel on the privatized system, as well as on Scotland.