About the blog

British railways are run on a foundation of paperwork. Everything must have an instruction; a list; a rule. The railway was once such a huge, chaotic system that the only way to manage it was with reams and reams of paper. Today the system is much more compact but the mountain of literature upon which it is run is greater than ever. This is simply a collection of pages from railway documents. They may be old or new, interesting or tedious, large or small. Most are obscure and esoteric. Many feature interesting diagrams and all share the same strange mix of dry railway language and exotic nomenclature that has hardly changed in 200 years. I love these documents and have a large collection to share. If you want to see more of something or less of another, please get in touch or leave a comment.


Saturday, 7 April 2012

Leave the driving to us...

Brochure - Motorail Leave the long distance driving to us; British Rail Intercity, 1990

British Railways originally started a service conveying passenger's motor cars between Kensington Olympia and Perth in June 1955. By 1966 the concept had become a brand - Motorail - and had grown to encompass many more routes as well as both day and overnight trains. If you have ever travelled any distance in a typical 1960s car, you will instantly understand the appeal of not starting your holiday by driving one from Newton Abbot to Inverness but rather handing your car over to a porter at the station, spending the long journey North relaxing on the train and being presented with it once more upon arrival. Though always relatively expensive, Motorail was popular for a time but eventually the growth of foreign holidays and increasingly comfortable and reliable cars led inextricably to the demise of the network in 1994*. Privatisation was the final nail in the coffin as the railway became increasingly unable to cope with the complex operational burden of these services.

This 12 page brochure dates from 1990, when services had been curtailed to three Northbound daytime (two from Euston to Carlisle/Edinburgh; one Bristol to Edinburgh) and five overnight (Euston to Carlisle/Edinburgh/Fort William/Aberdeen/Inverness; Bristol to Edinburgh) departures per day. Southbound services followed the reverse pattern. It gives comprehensive information on the whole Motorail package. To take the Euston to Fort William service as an example, each Adult would pay £110 Return for a standard class twin berth sleeper cabin (£65 per child) and the one-way ticket for the car would cost between £75 and £200 depending on length and the time of year. On board insurance for the vehicle was an optional extra at a cost of 50p per £100 up to the value of the car. The leaflet is replete with photos of Scottish scenery and a happy looking nuclear family enjoying their Motorail holiday; dad watching with interest as an Austin Montego is unloaded from the train in Inverness, mum eating a sandwich and grinning broadly at a mountain through the train window, the 2.4 kids excitedly preparing for bed in the sleeper cabin and - bizarrely - the whole family relaxing on the bonnet of their red Ford Sierra in the middle of a boggy field, while dad points out an eagle or a flying saucer or something... 

*First Great Western reintroduced a car carrying service between London and Penzance in 1999 but it wasn't a great success and was wound up in 2005. By all accounts it wasn't very well marketed, as well as suffering from limited availability and eye-watering prices.

No comments:

Post a Comment