With the current COVID-19 crisis, the opportunity to get out and enjoy our hobby has been drastically cut, so with that in mind we are asking everyone to take advantage of our live cameras and do a bit of #SpottingFromHome.
Simply screen grab any interesting train movements you see on our cameras as you are watching, post them to Twitter and tag us, @railcamlive and we will give our favourites a like/retweet throughout the day.
All we ask is that you don’t crop the images. You can also tag the train operating companies involved if you like, and please do include the hashtag #SpottingFromHome
The COVID 19 Coronavirus crisis will present some challenges to Railcam UK. We plan to continue running the website as normal, but with the some restrictions.
The following will be halted until the crisis has passed and Government advice makes such activities possible again :
Development of new camera sites – with over a dozen sites in various stages of development, this is particularly disappointing.
Upgrades to cameras
Repairs to existing cameras. This means that if cameras go off-line, they may stay that way for a prolonged period.
The same applies to our diagrams and data services.
With so many people working from home and/or self-isolating, we expect that certain parts of the Internet infrastructure, as well as our own systems, may come under unprecedented strain. It’s possible that this may affect our ability to stream everything at the same quality as normal.
These are exceptional circumstances and we hope that you’ll bear with us if things don’t run as smoothly as usual. In the meantime, we hope that Railcam will provide a welcome diversion, as so many of us find ourselves having to stay at home.
No guarantees can be made, but we will do our level best to keep it all running.
We hope that our Railcam family all stay safe and well through this difficult time.
David Rochelle – Dave539 on Railcam was an enthusiastic and generous supporter of our website, but sadly passed away in December.
In 2015, we arranged to have a memorial bench installed at the Crewe Heritage Centre, on the viewing gallery area, in honour of Michael Rochelle, David’s son, who had died some years earlier. The two of them had shared an interest in railways and David thought that having his bench at the CHC was a fitting way to remember him.
With David’s passing, we thought it would be nice if we could get a second bench at the Heritage Centre, to remember David himself. The two benches will be placed close to each other at Crewe and will hopefully help many other Fathers and Sons to enjoy the railway as David and Michael did.
Railcam would like to thank John Pepper for his work refurbishing the older bench so that they both look like new, ready for the 2020 season.
It has become a tradition with Railcam that Model Rail Scotland is too good an opportunity for the senior admins to get together for a catch-up. With Railcam being a national site it’s fair to assume that the admins are as scattered as the cameras. This being the case 7 of us traveled on the Caledonian Sleeper to reach our colleagues, friends and fellow admins.
Not being one to miss an opportunity I contacted Caledonian Sleeper and asked if they could assist or had any objections to a feature article for our supporters.
I am always delighted when dealing with PR departments of TOCS. They tend to be very nice, chatty, accommodating and proud of both their own brand as well as the railway in general. Of course, they agreed but sadly things didn’t go quite to plan….
We had been offered early access to the set of mark 5 CAF built sleeper coaches and duly arrived half an hour ahead of check in to do a walk through with the cameras and notebooks. So far so good! While others waited patiently behind the barriers we were ushered through and greeted by duty manager Colin Jackson.
Colin is just what you would expect, a fine ambassador for the Serco owned sleeper. Chatty, friendly and welcoming before sharing the bad news. The new stock has been beset with so many issues since last year’s introduction and it is very sad to say that some of those issues are still on-going.
At this stage, the computers weren’t communicating and the whole 1/4 mile train had to be shut down and rebooted a number of times. Nobody was sure what the problem was but, after conversations with some of the on-board staff, this isn’t unusual with water and electrical failures still commonplace.
Quite clearly Jamie and I were both unable and unwilling to board the train while staff worked on solving the issues. That would have been completely unfair and so instead I had a half-mile walk up and down the platform and shared a Facebook Live instead.
By the time we got back to Colin, it was clear that this was potentially turning into a situation where the service may well be canceled altogether. He wasn’t sure what was happening with it being unclear if the issue was stock or locomotive related. All he could say was that people were desperately working to solve the problem.
Now not all of the Caledonian Sleeper problems are down to the stock. Initial teething problems, brake issues and failures gave the “All-New Hotel on Rails” a bad start. Those times seem to have passed for the main part and the more recent problems were with the GBRF operated class 92 locomotives and Network Rail delays.
Caledonian Sleeper operates both the Highland and Lowland services with each train being made up of 16 coaches when departing Euston. The Highland service departs first, splitting into 3 at Edinburgh before continuing on to Inverness, Aberdeen and Fort William. The Lowland service serves Glasgow and Edinburgh. The new stock is PRM compliant and has space for a number of wheelchair users.
By now we had been joined by passengers expecting to be boarded and sat enjoying a nightcap in the lounge car. Far from a late-night tipple, we were all stood waiting behind the barriers. There were a few grumbles as always but Colin did regular visits through the group to explain as best he could.
My professional qualifications are in Hotel Management and if Caledonian Sleeper wishes to market themselves as a hotel on rails they need to up their game. You just can not leave customers and guests as they should now be referred to, stood on a cold platform for over an hour! Get your hosts off the warm train and down with those guests offering a warm drink at the very least. Communication and service are key in the hotel industry and never would you expect to be locked outside of a hotel feeling second rate.
The sleeper is an expensive way to travel. If you have berths booked, especially the higher-end ones now available, the cost will exceed the flight alternative. Make this an experience that those guests wish to repeat because it’s a taste of the old-fashioned luxury experience.
After an hour of standing around with Colin doing his best, the lights flickered on the train and optimism returned! Were we about to get the nod to board? Another ten minutes and we were off down the platform finding our coaches and hosts to book in with.
We all had the classic berth. Very small, narrow bunk-beds and quite claustrophobic if you struggle in confined spaces. If you are sharing a berth, you will struggle to pass each other on the way to the sink so bear that in mind when booking.
The club and double berths offer more room I believe but sadly we weren’t able to have a look due to the earlier problems. It’s certainly worth considering an upgrade but this will always come down to value for money.
The berths are very modern. USB and sockets are plentiful. Reading lights and complimentary water and night pack containing an eye mask, ear-plugs, and soap. It’s an improvement on the old dated stock but I just can’t allow myself to call it a hotel in the classic berth.
We gathered in the Lounge-car for our late night and long-awaited tipple. One side of the car is given over to booths for 2, 4 or 5 travelers while the opposite side has stools and a crocodile tooth bench for single guests. A small menu is available if required and a host, the lovely Nancy in our case, will collect and deliver your orders to your seat. I believe there is an at-seat service available in the seated coaches also.
The Lounge-car is very brightly lit and the seatbacks are rather high which for me didn’t quite work for a relaxed atmosphere. When I wandered down the train at 2 am the lighting was dimmed and it was much better.
While we sadly couldn’t do our run-through, I did have a brief opportunity to take some phone shots when I covered the Aberdeen Azuma launch. This is as much as I can offer at present but the seated coaches do look reasonably comfortable for the journey and over-head lockable storage is available for your valuables.
We departed Euston around half an hour late but at least we were on our way. Everyone then wandered off to their berths for what we hoped would be a comfortable night’s sleep before waking in Glasgow refreshed and raring to go.
That may have been the plan but… I certainly couldn’t get to sleep. Maybe I’m not used to being confined in a 2ft 6 bunk? maybe it was the claustrophobic feeling and unfamiliarity? I put it down to one of those things and headed off to chat with Nancy in the Lounge-car who kindly offered me a coffee and a chat about her experience as a sleeper host over the years.
After calling at Preston around 4.20 am I decided to move back to the berth and leave the staff to set up for breakfast. This is not included in classic but can be ordered if desired. We did get a coffee and biscuits delivered though which did me just fine.
We arrived into Glasgow on time and we gathered on the platform until our number was complete. It wasn’t until this point that we discussed our sleeper experience as a group. None of us had slept well if at all. The only thing we could put it down to was the ride of the mark 5 coaches. Many of the team have made this journey before but not on the new stock.
When sleeping on a train you expect a few bumps and bangs along with that unusual feeling of movement but this was quite telling. I’ve had discussions with other writers and it would appear that the general consensus within the industry press is that while the investment and standard of the new stock are welcome, the ride just isn’t as good. Do let us have your feedback if you have an opinion you wish to share.
I do try to travel on a service a few times before making up my mind and so if Caledonian Sleeper wishes to invite me back anytime I’ll gladly give an update.
Overall? It’s not a hotel on wheels… yet. It’s not cheap but if you can upgrade to a larger berth then do so. Cleanliness is excellent. Facilities excellent, staff fantastic, punctuality is mixed due to departure and waiting issue but we did arrive on time, comfort average. Overall I’ll give the service a 7/10 which would be around an over-priced 3 star hotel with room for improvement in some areas.
Our thanks of course to the Caledonian sleeper team for accommodating us and being open to all we asked.
My apologies for the delay in publishing this but Sadly I have been unwell and am behind in my reporting.
Railcam Admin will be making our now annual pilgrimage to the SEC in Glasgow for Model Rail Scotland on Saturday 22nd February 2020. Whilst this is very much a social gathering of the Railcam admin team, we welcome any members to join us at the event, or afterwards for a beer. Our media team will also be covering our entire trip to Glasgow for a future write up, which will feature on this very page.
Model Rail Scotland is always one of the highlights of the model rail enthusiasts calendar, and this year will be no exception. Over 3 days the SEC in Glasgow will be home to,
150 Exhibitor Stands
Plus the superb Free Exhibition Guide!
Some of the biggest names in the model railway world are once again supporting the event, including Hornby, Bachmann Europe, Railway Modeller, Peco, Continental Modeller and Squires Model & Craft Tools.
10:30am – 6:00pm
10:00am – 6:00pm
10:30am – 5:00pm
Adult: £14 (Door) £13 (Advanced)
Child: £6 (Door) £5 (Advanced)
Family: £30 (Door) £29 (Advanced)
Advanced ticket holders can enter 30 minutes prior to official opening times.
The latest in Martyn Hilbert’s series of North-West books is Network Greater Manchester.
Like the previous two excellent titles (Network North West and Merseyrail Electric), this is basically an “album” type book, stuffed full of photos from the authors own camera, stretching back from the 70s up to the present day. Unlike most books of this type though, the captions are detailed and informative, demonstrating Martyn’s depth of knowledge as well as his eye for interesting photographs which capture the infrastructure and atmosphere as well as the trains.
This is highly recommended and an ideal thing on which to spend that book-token / Amazon voucher or Christmas-card cash.
Greater Manchester covers an area of 493 square miles and is a diverse part of North West England, it is home to 2.8 million people.
At its heart is the vibrant and ever-changing City of Manchester, the large conurbation having borders with Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Cheshire and Merseyside.
It has a complex, varied and historic heavy rail network that contains ninety-six stations on a 142 mile network, part of which was the first passenger railway in the World.
Greater Manchester is also home to the largest light rail system in the UK – The Metrolink Tram system has a current network of 57 miles and 93 stops, its expansion has aided some traffic reduction in an area that has the highest percentage of Motorway network than any other county in the UK.
Network Greater Manchester is a detailed photographic journey over the system that chronicles the constantly changing scene since the late 1970’s to the present day and illustrates how the services, rolling stock and infrastructure have changed with the passage of time.
We would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year and all the very best for 2020.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of the Railcam story, not just in 2019, but for the entire 10 years we have been broadcasting. This is just the beginning of our journey, and here’s to the next 10 years!
We can’t name everyone, as we would no doubt miss someone out, so keeping it simple,
To our members, supporters, heritage partners, camera hosts, admin and moderators, everyone who has supported us with even the smallest thing, those who have spread the good work we do, liked, shared and commented on our social media posts and supported us in the launch of our news & features section. Thank you, you are all part of our history.