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European Railroad Discussion > London freight?


Date: 04/16/19 05:23
London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

Good afternoon.

Work will be taking me to London later this week, and beyond that, likely frequently in the coming months.  We are staying quite close the Victoria Station, but I assume this is all passenger?  My primary interest is freight traffic, and I am wondering if there is any freight activity even close to Victoria.  On this first trip, I am likely to not venture far beyond the hotel area, but on future trips after understanding the city's layout and transportation options, I may be willing to venture further if opportunities to photgraph freight trains exist.

I appreciate any information offered!
 



Date: 04/16/19 05:40
Re: London freight?
Author: 86235

Freight trains cross London from North to South along the West London Line, which is accessible from Victoria at Clapham Junction, Wandsworth Road and West Brompton. Mainly (but not exclusively) trains carrying stone for construction purposes to a variety of terminals in and around SE England.



Date: 04/16/19 07:29
Re: London freight?
Author: 55002

As Nick mentions, Wandsworth Road is a good hot spot for freight. A bit further out on the west coast main line, the Kenton area will produce freights. chris uk.



Date: 04/16/19 08:01
Re: London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

I appreciate the quick responses, Gents!  Any rough estimate of how many freights a day pass through Clapham (or even a guess at how frequently) ?  Looks like a decent photo spot reviewing Google Earth.

 



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/19 08:03 by ShortlinesUSA.



Date: 04/16/19 08:31
Re: London freight?
Author: 86235

ShortlinesUSA Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I appreciate the quick responses, Gents!  Any
> rough estimate of how many freights a day pass
> through Clapham (or even a guess at how
> frequently) ?  Looks like a decent photo spot
> reviewing Google Earth.
>

The issue you have with Clapham is the size of the stations, freights only pass through platforms 3, 4, 5 and 6 or 16 and 17.

In terms of volumes it depends what day but the 4Y19 empty gypsum containers heading west at 14:10 is pretty reliable.

To find out what is / might be running on any particular day use http://www.realtimetrains.co.uk/search/advanced

For location put in Clapham Junction,
click 'show extra search options'
select freight and put in any time constraints.

You will get a list of train paths from Network Rail's systems (it's perfectly legal). These are not a guarantee of a train running. If under the scheduled time there is a random set of three numbers and a letter it means the schedule has been activated, still no guarantee as for some trains there is an auto activation process whether they run or not precisely two hours before departure. I tend to treat those cautiously. Freight Operating Companies like to keep hold of paths whether they use them or not.

So just click on the schedule and it's pretty obvious whether it's running. 4Y19 for instance ran today passing Clapham at 14:14:15 seconds against a schedule of 14:12.

For trains that have run it says Act pass and a time.

HTH

Nick



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/19 10:08 by 86235.



Date: 04/16/19 11:27
Re: London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

Great info, Nick.  Most appreciated!

Mike
 



Date: 04/16/19 14:25
Re: London freight?
Author: exhaustED

What about Kensington Olympia station?



Date: 04/16/19 15:19
Re: London freight?
Author: 86235

exhaustED Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What about Kensington Olympia station?

Not accessible from Victoria very easily, that's why I suggested West Brompton.



Date: 04/18/19 14:38
Re: London freight?
Author: Hartington

Always remember the UK network is predominately about passenger. Even in freight "hotspots" you're going to see a lot more passenger than freight. Somewhere like Clapham Junction the ratio is probably 20 passenger to 1 freight and possibly worse.

Realtimetrains is a great tool but when you look closely you will find more than one train at precisely the same time at the same location on the same track on occasions. That's patently ridiculous. There are schedules in the system to cater for all sorts of different origin and destination points and they don't all run.   The letters FRGT can almost certainly be taken to mean that particular service isn't running. It's also the case that FRGT can be a passenger train! Most of the non scheduled passenger trains (e.g. steam excursions) will appear as FRGT for example. If steam is of interest then have a look at uksteam.info and then cross reference to realtimetrains.Once you have a train identified/selected on RTT you can refersh the page and you'll see the timings along the route updating. 

Other places around London that might be worth a visit on later dates include Stratford, South Kenton and Gospel Oak. A little further away Didcot and Basingstoke see much the same (but not identical) freight traffic. Didcot is also home to the Great Western Society and a little further along the same line is Swindon and the "Steam" museum.

Most station staff are friendly to railfans so long as you're sensible. They are trained to look for suicides so if you go right to the end of the platform away from everyone else you might find yourslef being approached. Be careful where you set up a tripod - don't block passenger flows! You might want to read, print and carry this https://www.networkrail.co.uk/communities/railway-enthusiasts/railway-enthusiasts-and-photography-at-stations/



Date: 04/22/19 12:42
Re: London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

This is all great info, Gents!  I really appreciate you all taking the time to respond.  I did make my first London trip last week, although did not get to railfan.  It was more an excercise of work, with some time to figure out where I was.  But I will be back again in just over a week.

So, it's this-- my hotel is very close to Victoria Station.  I figured I can ride a train down to Clapham Junction.  But that brought another thought to mind.  Is there anywhere better for freight action (from a photography standpoint) to which I could ride a train from Victoria?  London was quite comfortable for me, so I am willing to get out and give the thought of a train ride outside the city a serious thought if there is a more rural/scenic setting for photographing freight trains available.

And were the weather to just be miserable, any recommendations for a good train ride from Victoria Station to enjoy the UK countryside?  I can only entertain a day trip; that is, I would need to leave Victoria in the morning, and be back that afternoon.

Again, thanks for all the great input so far.

Cheers,

Mike



Date: 04/22/19 22:50
Re: London freight?
Author: cricketer8for9

Freight from Victoria is a difficult ask. Clapham Junction is probably best, with Denmark Hill being an alternative. As for English countryside my slightly unusual recommendation would be the Arun Valley. Arundel itself is very pretty, with a nice castle and historic town centre. If the weather is guaranteed dry, and you are up to walking 6 miles or so the river bank up to Amberley is very pleasant. This depends on the time of year. In winter and some springs and autumns it will be muddy, in the summer it should be dry, though there will be no shelter. The Chalkpits museum at Amberley is another relatively unusual option. 

If you’re after Steam East Grinstead and the Bluebell Line would be my choice.



Date: 04/23/19 14:16
Re: London freight?
Author: 86235

The main freight routes in and out of London are the Great Western mainline from the west, with the compact yard at Acton the focus for the stone trains which are a feature of non intermodal railfreight in and around London. Most intermodal services cross London from east to west, connecting the major container ports of Felixstowe and London Gateway with the Midlands, North West and Scotland. So in terms of volume the North London Line (today the London Overground) between Stratford and Camden Road and the Goblin (Gospel Oak to Barking) are hard to beat. The Goblin also sees flows of cement from the Peak District in the English Midlands to terminals along the Thames to the east of London. And there are odd flows, such as tinplate for export from Trostre in West Wales to Tilbury on the Thames. There is a publication, Freightmaster, which seeks to provide freight timings through numerous locations across the country. It's available on line or from the Ian Allen Bookshop near Waterloo Station.

In terms of where to go for a day out, I'd take a Southern train to Clapham Junction and change and catch a South West Railways service to Eastleigh, just north of Southampton, another freight hotspot (Tuesday to Saturday) with traffic too and from Southampton's container and car export port. It's about 70 miles south of London.



Date: 04/23/19 14:33
Re: London freight?
Author: exhaustED

I would agree with 86235's Eastleigh recommendation. Lots of freight with some variety of freight and motive power also possible.



Date: 04/24/19 20:07
Re: London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

Great advice, guys.  I really appreciate all the help offered in this thread.

Mike
 



Date: 04/25/19 08:11
Re: London freight?
Author: wag216

Mike- I can't get to the UK any more! Too many birthdays. Will we be thinking about some of  your photos?  Thank you. wag216



Date: 04/26/19 07:40
Re: London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

I will be happy to share some photos.  I still shoot slide film, but my phone is capable of pretty nice digitals, so I will pop a few to share here.
 



Date: 05/02/19 22:46
Re: London freight?
Author: dwatry

From Victoria I think your best quickest option for freight action is to take the Victoria tube line to Caledonian Road & Barnsbury and go to the Overground line platform there, which is on the North London line and is probably easiest way to see freight in London. Much easier than Clapham Jct. I spent a year living in London and 86235 introduced me to the freight action on that line, which is best in London. If you learn how to interpret what you are seeing on “Realtime Trains” it is very accurate. Be careful though because it will spoil you - nothing like it in the US for doing reconnaissance on train movements.

Posted from iPhone



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/19 22:47 by dwatry.



Date: 05/05/19 10:21
Re: London freight?
Author: ShortlinesUSA

I appreciate the additional suggestion, and look forward to trying that out on a future London visit!  I did indeed make it to Eastleigh on Thursday, and had a very enjoyable time there.  A great spot for railfanning with many other fans present, and an accomodating station.

Agreed on Clapham Junction, as I did witness a freight pass through there while changing trains to get back to Victoria.  With that massive junction, you would have to know which way a freight would pass in advance to get to the right spot ahead of time for photos.  It was great at Eastleigh, with just the 4 tracks and almost all freights stopping for a driver change.  That, and the adjacent freight yard, of course.

It couldn't have gone better, and thanks again to you all for providing the helpful information.  I will be posting some photos either later today, or more likely tomorrow.

Cheers,

Mike
 



Date: 05/05/19 12:01
Re: London freight?
Author: exhaustED

Glad you enjoyed tour visit to Hampshire, Mike. Looking forward to the photos.



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