Trains in the U.K.

From the time our ship docked in Southhampton, our most efficient transportation in the United Kingdom was by train. We cleared customs quickly and boarded the "boat train" for London. After some sightseeing in London we settled down in a small "Bed and Breakfast" hotel near the train station to be ready for the rail trip to North Wales on the following day.

We had been tremendously impressed with the efficiency of the train service in Great Britain, so we were surprised to find this steam engine still in service. The last steam engine in the U.S. had been retired from regular service several years.

Another surprise came when we saw the wide variety of sizes of rail cars. These cars are more the size of a truck trailer in the U.S. There were larger freight cars, and the passenger cars were comparable to the sizes in the U.S., but we were sometimes amused by the tiny freight cars. Compared to the huge U.S. freight cars they looked like toy trains.

Most of the trains were pulled by coal-burning, steam-driven locomotives. Most of the freight cars were so small as to be amusing - they looked to be not much larger than a 2-ton truck body. The whole train- flatcars, boxcars, tank cars and caboose look like U.S. trains reduced to about 1/5 scale.

Our initial rail trip to North Wales was through Chester to Bangor and it was very efficient, taking only four hours for the 200 mile trip. We enjoyed the countryside and looking at everything along the route on this our first trip in the United Kingdom.

The train passed through slum areas, but these differed from their U.S. counterparts in that every available spot was planted in flowers. The cars are small, and of course driven on the wrong side of the road and there are a large number of bicyclists.

We may have been amused by the freight cars, but we were very pleased with the passenger service. We could get to London in four hours, a straight-line distance of 200 miles. By contrast, it took about eight hours to drive it. The situation in the U.S. is just about the opposite: if it takes you four hours by car, it will probably take you eight hours by train, if you can get a train.

Beaumaris, Anglesey

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