2 super contrasting pieces in today’s Independent:
The new silk road…
And in pain.
Wonderful – enjoy.

  • Here’s another, from the IT

    The gentle motion is taking us through landscapes where sheep and lambs are safely grazing, cattle are still slumbering, and the new day is opening over jewel-green fields and ancient stone walls, the gathering light reflecting off little rivers and small, temporary lakes, as an old Massey Ferguson queues at one of the 143 level crossings.

    That would be the 106 million euro Express to the Wesht…

  • Dewi

    cool Mark – thanks.

  • Yes, I’ve done Eurostar and TGV, ICE and Thalys. AVE, Madrid to Barcelona, is still to come. But they’re are sterile, efficient, and too clean.

    The proper experience requires a gritty plush seat at 20 mph, a smut in the eye, leather straps on drop windows, and mirrors opposite sides of the compartment which reflect a sub-Magritte tunnel of backs of your head. Not to mention being eighteen again, coming back from TCD on the Irish Mail headed by a Fowler/Stanier 4-6-0 Royal Scot, loafing in the cold early hours for an hour for the change at Rugby, then being woken in the English midlands by school-kids boarding, to see cattle thew-deep in morning ground-fog.

    So, I’m buying Michael Williams’ On The Slow Train: Twelve Great British Railway Journeys with the Amazon token subscribed by a loving daughter to keep me off the birthday booze.

    Slow Train

    By Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

    Miller’s Dale for Tideswell, Kirkby Muxloe,
    Mow Cop and Scholar Green

    No more will I go to Blandford Forum and Moretehoe
    On the slow train from Midsomer Norton and Mumby Road
    No churns, no porter, no cat on a seat
    At Chorlton-cum-Hardy or Chester-le-Street
    We won’t be meeting again
    On the slow train.

    I’ll travel no more from Littleton Badsey to Openshaw
    At Long Stanton I’ll stand well clear of the doors no more
    No whitewashed pebbles, no Up and no Down
    From Formby Four Crosses to Dunstable Town.
    I won’t be going again
    On the slow train.

    On the Main Line and the Goods Siding
    The grass grows high
    At Dog Dyke, Tumby Woodside
    And Trouble House Halt.
    The Sleepers sleep at Audlem and Ambergate.
    No passenger waits on Chittening platform or Cheslyn Hay.
    No one departs, no one arrives
    From Selby to Goole, from St Erth to St Ives.
    They’ve all passed out of our lives
    On the slow train
    On the slow train.

    Cockermouth for Buttermere
    On the slow train
    Armley Moor Arram … Pye Hill and Somercotes
    On the slow train …
    Windmill End!

    Cheers, Dewi, for givng me the chance shamelessly to indulge myself.

  • Dewi

    Indulge as much as you like Malcolm…those Chinese plans astonishing though?

  • Dewi @ 11:04 AM:

    The Chinese plan is gob-smacking, more so in political than engineering terms, I fear. I have no doubt that the Chinese could do it: they have the wealth and the ambition.

    That was my first thought.

    Then I recalled this:

    Russia has unveiled an ambitious plan to build the world’s longest tunnel under the Bering Strait as part of a transport corridor linking Europe and America via Siberia and Alaska.

    The 64-mile (103km) tunnel would connect the far east of Russia with Alaska, opening up the prospect of the ultimate rail trip across three quarters of the globe from London to New York. The link would be twice as long as the Channel Tunnel connecting Britain and France.

    An idea whose time may not yet be so nigh.

    And for the surreal clincher, Harry Harrison’s 1972 fantasy: A Transatlantic Tunnel, Hurrah!

    Then we really could go around in a global Circle Line, though not so expeditiously as Puck:

    Oberon: … be thou here again
    Ere the leviathan can swim a league.

    Puck: I’ll put a girdle round about the earth
    In forty minutes.

  • joeCanuck

    The last time I was on a UK train was about 40years ago. London to Liverpool. It was a pleasant enough journey. Is the experience now as bad as some people say, or is it just that expectations are higher?

  • Sorry, joeCanuck all that time ago, your reasonable question went unanswered.

    Still, nothing like as “unpleasant” as this business at Knockmore:

    More than 100 people escaped injury after a train ran over a section of damaged railway in County Antrim.

    However, the full incident, which took place on 28 June, was not reported to an investigation team for two months.

    The driver was unable to stop before the first of six carriages had run onto an unsupported section of track.

    The train was bound for the Irish open golf tournament, over a line not normally used for passenger services.

    The train did not derail and was reversed away.

    The Rail Accident investigation Branch (RAIB) is looking into the incident at Knockmore, outside Lisburn at 07:05 on 28 June.

    Seems like an uncanny repeat of the Malahide viaduct of 21 Aug 2009 — only this time no sea-scouts to report the wash-out.

    I’m left bemused by which is the more bizarre:

    that a span of some fifteen sleepers and tracks was unsupported, and that a train was seemingly sent on a track, usually-unauthorised for passenger service, without proper inspection;


    that it has gone two months without being reported or (apparently) investigated.

    Questions (as they say) must be asked.

  • Mister_Joe

    Really, really unbelievable Malcom; the unreporting, that is.

    Mister Joe (formerly known as joeCanuck – long story).