Along The Railway Line | South East Mainline | Sandling Railway Station

Starting off this look at the South East Mainline, I find myself at Sandling Railway Station.

Sandling railway station

Opened in 1888 by the South East railway company ,Sandling was originally a junction station. Four platforms were here, as well as two signal boxes and a goods yard for livestock. The line branched away from the station to Hythe and Sandgate
where the wooded area is here now, but more on that in a moment.

The station building is the only remaining one of three that were originally on the site. It is of an unusual design, as it was modelled on residential houses of the time in the area.

Sandling railway station

Looking along the coast bound platform, a relatively new steep bank hides the channel tunnel rail link which was completed in 2003. This platform also used to have a pretty elaborate canopy, but this was demolished in the early 1970s.

Sandling railway station

As we enter the station building, you can really see it is one of a kind. This quaint and charming ticket office still remains, adorned with posters and paintings both recent and historic. It is nice to see the exterior and the interior of the building is still maintained to a high level.

Sandling railway station
Sandling railway station
Sandling railway station

If you stand on the large triangular platform outside the station building (which used to separate the main from the branch line) the old track bed is still visible on the right hand side. Going through a small gate, and continue along where the old platform was, we will eventually get to the old track bed, which is now a public footpath.

The start of this path is however pretty overgrown, but does open out into a pleasant track. After about five minutes, the walkway opens out into this rather wet area which at the end of it features the disused Hayne tunnel. This 94-yard tunnel was opened with the branch line in 1874, some 14 years before Sandgate station was opened.

Hayne tunnel

Now unfortunately waterlogged due to infilling east of the tunnel, the only way around is via steps up the embankment.

Hayne tunnel

Entry and exit figures for 2019 /2020 were 96, 612

Sandling is a great rural railway station and a variety of rail traffic can be seen here and there is a bonus of an unused railway tunnel if you have the time for a quick five minute walk. the station building is lovely, and very well maintained. As already said, various passenger traffic can be seen as well as freight, although this is mainly on weekdays.

A video of the station can be seen here :

Ridgmont Railway Station, Museum and Tea Rooms

Nestled on the Marston Vale line, this charming station has a lot more going for it that you would assume at first glance. It contains not only an exceptional tea-room, but also a museum which gives a great insight into the station and the line.

Arriving on refurbished class D78 London Underground stock, now classified as class 230, the station is a very quaint structure, but nonetheless impressive.

Going round to the main entrance you are greeted with the tea rooms ahead of you and the museum to the right.

I was taken on a tour of the ground floor of the building by Andy, and many of his historical facts are the basis for this next section as we move through the museum. 

The railway line here was designed by Robert and George Stephenson, and work started in 1845.  Just 11 months later in 1846, the line opened, an astonishing achievement. 

The land it runs over was mainly owned by the Duke of Bedford, and he requested that many of the stations along the line were built in the Gothic revival style.

This area was the original ticket office, and up to 1930 it was a full time job to run it.  However in the 1930’s, LMS railway began to cut costs, and it was decided that the signaller could also run the ticket office.

This remined the case until the 1960’s, when the pay-train system came to the line, which meant that you paid for your journey on board.  The ticket office was therefore shut, leaving the crossing keeper as the sole employee at the station.

In 2006, the line had all the manual crossing gates replaced with automatic barriers, and the crossing keeper also found themselves redundant.  However the operating company at the time, Silverlink, suggested that the station at Ridgmont be converted to a museum, it being the only complete station building left along the line.

With the help of the Community Rail Partnership and the Bedfordshire rural communities charity, half a million pounds was raised, mainly from the railway heritage fund.  

After much clearance work, repairs and conservation, the building opened as a museum in the mid 2010’s.  It is lovingly restored in a 1950’s, style and is a credit to the community who have helped maintain it.

Many plaques adorn the walls, as well as some nameplates from the old class 153 rolling stock.  These commemorated important figures from the stations history.

A room, which forms part of the tea rooms, has many signal diagrams from around the local area.

The other seating area for the tea rooms are situated within the old ladies waiting room.  The tea rooms offer a wide range of hot and cold food and drink.  However it is the cream teas and afternoon teas which draw the eye, and it is highly advisable to book in advance for these to avoid disappointment.  I opted for the cream tea, and it was excellent.

There is plenty of seating, and on a good day you can even sit outside in a very pretty courtyard.

Lets go back and look at the trains which serve the line, at time of writing. As previously said, they are made up of class 230 stock, basically fully refurbished London underground D78 stock which ran on the District line. Here is one example, taken at Bletchley railway station.

The interiors have been fully stripped out and replaced with new seating and toilet facilities.  They are perfectly suitable for the line and pretty comfortable, bearing in mind that they are not designed for long journeys.

You may also be lucky enough to see some freight, which occasionally moves to and from the cement works at Bletchley.

The village of Ridgmont itself has quite a rich history, and is mainly known for its brickworks which utilised the surrounding oxford clay.  It was the second largest brickworks in the world.  However, an Amazon warehouse now sits on the site.

The Marston Vale line gives the communities along it access to the West Coast mainline and Midland Main Line, via Bletchley and Bedford.

Below is a video I filmed in 2021, detailing the station, its tea rooms and the museum.

Ridgmont is a fantastic station to visit. Not only is there a fascinating museum with lots of railway artefacts, but also a very nice tea room with excellent food.  The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and certainly make you feel welcome.  I would highly recommend a visit, and hope that the rail service is increased to more than 1 an hour, as it had been affected by the lack of passengers due to the 2020 pandemic.

Canary Wharf London – Railway Transport Systems

I visited Canary Wharf and surrounding area in late 2021, as it has more than its fair share of railway transport systems. The Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Overground, Underground and soon Elizabeth line all serve this or the very immediate area. Her in this blog is a short overview of these. It is by no where a comprehensive look, but hopefully will get you the reader to perhaps go and explore these for yourself.


The concept of the DLR was first discussed around 1982 when the docklands area were being readied for redevelopment.

Construction of the first two lines, one from Tower Gateway to Island Gardens and from Stratford to Island Gardens were started in 1985.  They both opened in 1987, and over the next 20 years more lines were added as the docklands expanded.

The railway is entirely automated, enabling those at the front or rear of the train to get an unobstructed view of the track, which can be quite entertaining.  There is however a control desk at either end of the train, so that the train can be driven manually in the event of a automation failure.

New trains are due to be in service by 2023, and look the same as the current stock, albeit with a more streamlined look and less boxy.


Located on the Abbey Wood branch of the Elizabeth line, the station has been built on the West India North dock.  This has been achieved using a cofferdam, which is an enclosure  built in the water and then pumped out to create a dry space for construction below the waterline.  This picture, taken before official opening and therefore not of the actual station concourse, show that it is a great feat of engineering and very pleasing to the eye.

The excellent roof garden on top of the station building is a very clam place to spend some time, and it is amazing that such a structure should have such a pleasant area sitting on top of it. I recommend a visit to here, it really is something special.

Connecting one half of the station is a walkway (pictures below). The geometric shapes on the walls of this were added in 2020, and designed by French artist Camille WALALA.  It is intended to be a permanent installation, and certainly makes what would otherwise be a plain steel walkway into something Instagram worthy.

This is to be one of two entrances to the Elizabeth line, one either side of the dock, and alongside it are many bars, restaurants and cafes for you to enjoy.

Walking through this walkway and shopping centre will get you to the area called Middle dock. A fantastic space, and one where you can gain excellent views of the buildings, and of course the DLR.


In Middle dock, you cannot fail to see the spectacular entrance to the London Underground Jubilee line. Covered in grass, it is almost impossible to see from the air. The escalators move you down into a cavernous space, very unique across the London underground network.

The concourse is huge, and is certainly able to take the large amount of passengers using the station at peak times.  The high ceilings all around add to the sense of space.

Moving down to the platforms, and you will find these are also a very good size, and the overall feel is that of a safe and very efficient underground station.

If we now hop on a train and go one stop westbound, you will get to Canada Water station.


At Canada Water you will find a sub level platform for the Overground line. This will take you North and South in London, and as such complements the East/West alignment of the Jubilee line.

Both stations, like most on the jubilee line, are spacious and industrial in feel, with steel everywhere, and I personally like it very much, although I get it is not to everyone’s taste. My personal favourite of the Jubilee line stations is Westminster, but that is for another blog!


As spectacular as it is during the daytime, the Canary wharf area dazzles at night. Fantastic photography can be had, and here are a few of my favourites that I took on this trip:

Canary Wharf and immediate area is well worth a visit. It certainly is looks the part with its many high rise buildings, and getting here is no problem with the amount of rail travel routes you can take. I would recommend coming late afternoon so that you will get the benefit of day and night time views, i am sure that you will not be disappointed.

I filmed a vlog for this visit, and this can be seen below :

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 1 – Lakenheath

Opened in 1844 by the Northern, Eastern and Norfolk railways, Lakenheath (and also Brandon) were the first places in Suffolk to have access to steam trains.

A side effect of the railway arriving here, was that the noise of the engines frightened off the wildfowl which was trying to be captured in the nearby Lakenheath decoy.  This leads to the closure of the decoy in 1850.

The station had a brief mention in the Bradshaw handbook in 1866.

During the first world war, a temporary narrow gauge railway was built to serve the building of the aerodrome at Lakenheath.  This is now of course the US airbase of Lakenheath.

A signal box is still standing, but is in a bad state of repair and obviously disused.

The station now has only a limited service at the weekends.  Passengers who do alight will more than likely be heading for the nearby Lakenheath Fen reserve, which is a very short walk away.  Without this, the station would probably no longer exist, as the village is nearly 3 miles away.

Passenger entry and exits for 2019 / 200 were 416

After a lot of research, I could not find a lot else to write about this station. At time of visiting, the signal box was still there, but I fear not for long. Hopefully the nature reserve stays, because as already said, if that goes, so will the station.

My Vlog from this station can be seen below:

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 2 – Brampton (Suffolk)

Brampton was opened in 1854 by the East Suffolk Railway, on the same day the rest of the East Suffolk line opened.  The railway station and indeed line was absorbed into the Great Eastern Railway in 1862

It serves not only Brampton, but other villages nearby like Redisham.

Finding out any history for this station has proved extremely difficult, both in paper and internet form.  So if anyone has anything to add, please comment down below, it will be most appreciated.

It used to be a request stop, but on the day of my visit in 2021 it was not, and a check of the timetables seem to confirm that, for the time being at least, it is now a regular stop on the line.

A good set of walks in the local area get to this point, and there is even a circular walk from the station via Shadingfield, which is contained within a free walks booklet.

Passenger services at time of writing are provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units.

Passenger exit and entry figures for 2019 / 2020 were 9, 858

In conclusion, Brampton is a charming and very quiet station along this line. It is also very well maintained. The fact that it is no longer a request stop gives hope that it will remain so for a many years to come. For the enthusiast sight lines are excellent, a visit when an engineering train is due would be recommended.

Below is a video taken in 2021 as part of this series.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 3 – Somerleyton

Somerleyton was opened in 1847 by the Norfolk Railway.  This was taken over, like all on the surrounding lines, in the mid 1800’s by the Great Eastern Railway.  The village which it serves is around 1 mile from here.

As well as Somerleyton hall, which has featured in many films and tv shows including the crown as a replica for Sandringham, the village has another claim to fame.  It was home to the first testing of the hovercraft, which was built by Sir Christopher Cockerell.

The line moves towards Norwich over the river Waveney via the Somerleyton swing bridge, pictured below. This can yield some pretty good photos and video of trains coming to and from the station.

Even after extensive research , I could not find any documentation of sidings at this location, however there used to be a major brickworks nearby, so I would assume that they would have had a siding or two.  If anyone knows anymore, please comment below.

In fact, details about the station history are extremely sparse, I would welcome more information to flesh out this Blog, but unfortunately after a lot of looking this is all the history I could find.

At time of writing , passenger services are provided by class 755 Bi-Mode Units. Other movements are very rare, with just an occasional engineering, measurement or rail head treatment train.

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 10, 898.

Somerleyton is a very picturesque station, plenty of flowers and trees, plus good sweeping views of the track make it ideal for photography and videography; just check to see if an engineering train is due and it should yield a superb and unique photo. The original station building is a bonus, albeit now in private hands. Overall a superb little station which hopefully will remain open in the future.

Oh and also comment about pronunciation of this station, I am unsure of it, and wary of getting it wrong!

Below is my Vlog which I filmed during a visit in 2021 :

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 4 – Westerfield

Westerfield was opened by the East Suffolk railway in 1859, but a few years later like the rest of the stations on the line, it was taken over by the Great Eastern Railway.

At this time the branch to Felixstowe was not here, but this was added in 1877.

Bay platforms were included for trains running to and from Felixstowe from the opening of the branch line.  This continued until 1879, when most trains continued on towards Ipswich, the bays then being used for storage.

From the 1880’s, the station had sidings which served the Westerfield steam brewery, as well as a coal merchant.  During the second world war, these would also be used for storing engines, including the Polish armour train.

After the war, they were used as stabling for the Pullman camping coaches during the winter, these being moved to Felixstowe for use during the summer months.

Unfortunately like most other stations, these sidings were closed un 1964, and the booking office closed soon after, the station becoming a “Pay-Train” station, where you bought your ticket from the guard on the train.

View towards Lowestoft, the spur to the Felixstowe branch is to the right. Freight from Ipswich crosses to the right line just before the level crossing.

Modernisation of the track layout, including the addition of automatic barriers have taken place, and although not terribly busy with passengers, the line here sees much freight to and from the port, as well as the occasional nuclear flask train from Sizewell.

The original station building remains, although this is now a private residence.

As well as an electronic ticket machine, posters, bike rack and new style service information boards, the station has recently been enhanced with an extensive wildflower garden on platform one. Created by East Suffolk Lines Community Rail Partnership, Suffolk Butterfly Conservation Trust, Friends of the Earth and Greater Anglia, it certainly brightens up the station.

At time of writing, passenger traffic is provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units, with most of the passing freight hauled by class 66 locomotives.

A video is below, taken during a visit in 2021 :

Below is a link to the East Suffolk Lines Community Partnership :

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 5 – Trimley

Trimley was opened in 1891 by the Great Eastern Railway.  Its primary purpose was to fill the gap between the station at Orwell and Felixstowe beach, both of which were substantially far away from the village.

A few freight lines were here, but were withdrawn in 1964, and in 1967 the station building was closed.  This meant that together with the rest of the branch line, the station became a “pay train” station, with the guards collecting fares.  This left only the signalmen at the station, whose purpose was to operate the level crossing and signalling away from the station.

A direct line to the docks at Felixstowe was opened in 1970, and 17 years later in 1987, the spur down to the north freightliner terminal was opened to the south of the station.

The spur to the North terminal is clear to see on the right

The removal of the signal box in 1997 meant the installation of the automatic barriers, and control of these and the points was now undertaken by the Colchester panel signal box.

The station building was a version of a new Essex style, one of only two to be built outside Essex.  Its interior would have included a first class waiting room, porters lodge, booking office and combined booking hall and waiting room.  A ladies room with toilet completed the facilities.

There was also a small building on the other platform, but this was demolished a long time ago.

Although at time of filming it is in a very bad state, it is still standing, and is now under control of the Trimly station community trust.  They gained control of a long term lease in 2011.  Their ambition is similar to that of the station at Wickham Market, to transform the station into a café and meeting room whilst preserving the station fabric.

They have a long way to go, and recent months (2021/2022) have seen Greater Anglia seek improvements to the station which ‘may’ involve the demolition of the building, but nothing has been set in concrete. Hopefully in the coming months both fundraising and grants may become available, however multiple applications to the national lottery heritage trust have not borne fruit.  I do hope this situation changes for the better, as it would be a shame to lose such a quaint and historically important station.  If you wish to know more, I have provided a link in the video description below.

Facilities include a waiting shelter, help point, electronic ticketing machine and new style service information boards.

Passenger traffic at time of writing is provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units, and almost all freight is hauled by class 66 Locomotives.

A class 66 heads towards Felixstowe

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 31, 122. These figures are used as the figures for 2020 / 2021 are unreliable due to being very skewed by the pandemic.

Still a functioning station for the village, Trimley could be so much more.  I hope that the building gets funding and finally gives the village a focal point it deserves.

For the enthusiasts, obviously the abundance of freight (albeit only intermodal) plus excellent sightlines, gives plenty of video and photo opportunities.

I recorded a video for this station in 2021, and you can view it below :

Links to the Trimley station community trust :

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 6 – Oulton Broad South

Opened in 1859 by the East Suffolk Railway, it was originally named Carlton Colville.  The line like most in Suffolk was amalgamated with the Great Eastern Railway shortly after.  The station wasn’t renamed to Oulton Broad South until 1927

Just to the east of the station under the road bridge, the line split to the Kirkley branch, with services to sites on Lake Lothing.

These included sidings into Kirkley goods depot.  Companies using these would include Boulton and Pauls canning products, and confectionery from Mortons and the co-op group.  This line was fully closed in 1972, and no real trace of it remains.

A station building remains on the working platform, the line here being single running at this point since the late 1980’s.  However the other platform remains with a building which is used for small businesses.  The small goods yard which was adjacent to that platform is now a car park, but its history contains the fact that pullman camping coaches were positioned here between 1952 and the late 1960’s

This view from the road bridge shows clearly that the line used to be double tracked at this point.

Passenger services at time of writing are provided by class 755 bi mode units.

As far as facilities go, the station has an electronic ticketing machine, help points and posters not only for the regional rail network, but also information about the area. There is also this old style ‘direction of travel’ board, which is great to see.

The passenger entry and exit figures for 2019/2020 were 43, 518

Oulton broad south is a quiet station, but is still used fairly frequently.  The fact that both platforms remain is great, and the station buildings, although not being used for their original purpose, are still in situ.  For the enthusiast, although sight lines are good, the absence of freight means that traffic is very light indeed.

My 2021 Vlog from the station can be viewed below.

Top Ten Least Used Railway Stations in Suffolk | 7 – Derby Road (Ipswich)

Derby Road was opened in 1877 by the Felixstowe railway, and was amalgamated into the Great Eastern Railway in 1879.  It only had one platform originally, but due to popularity gained a second one in 1891

This popularity was due to the Ipswich tramway terminating at this point.  Passengers going to Felixstowe for the day would get the tram from Ipswich and get the train from Derby Road.  In fact, during the summer many trains would terminate at Derby Road from Felixstowe, instead of going though to Ipswich

The trams continued until 1926 when they were replaced by trolleybuses, but these too were fully phased out by 1962.  Some of these can still be seen at the Ipswich transport museum, a link to which is at the end of this blog.

Getting back to the station, it also had two sidings, which were increased during the early 20th century, but like most in the country were phased out by the late 1960’s

The station building still stands, although not used today.  Originally it had a fine canopy and a similar structure was to be seen on the other platform.  This other building no longer survives, as well as the canopy on the main building.  The other notable absentee is the signal box which was on the Felixstowe side of the station.

However, this does not mean the station has been left unkept.  In fact in late 2020, work was started to create a wildflower garden on the entrance to platform one.  Supported by the East Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, Greater Anglia Railway, Ipswich Friends of the Earth and Ipswich Council, it really adds colour to the station and makes it feel very well looked after.

An additional poppy patch is situated on the Felixstowe end of platform two.

Many of the freight headed towards Felixstowe will stop here, as the line after the station becomes single line running for a few miles. These are at time of writing mostly hauled by class 66 locomotives, and passenger traffic is provided by class 755 Bi-Mode units.

The entry and exit figures for 2019 / 2020 were 46, 808.

In conclusion, Derby road was once an important interchange for the passengers from Ipswich to the coastal town of Felixstowe.  However after the 1960’s, most passenger traffic would be confined to the local area.  The expansion of Felixstowe port has brought many more freight trains through the station, these quite often stop in the loop.  Great views can be had of both freight and passenger traffic, especially through the curves towards Ipswich.  The station benefits from the new wildflower garden, and generally speaking is a good place for the intermodal freight enthusiast.

My Vlog, taken in 2021, can be seen below

The Ipswich Transport Museum can be found here: