Tuesday 10 October 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine returns clean from rehab and looks to the future.

Discovered languishing and shit faced with James. Thomas the Tank Engine has had a rough week. But luckily his 'Friends' (get it?) are here to help out the cheeky billionaire in his hour of need.

Ryan Hagan of Sodor Island Forums takes over the Bash Mash to explain.

Contrary to the previous Bash Mash article, rumours of Thomas the Tank Engine’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Thomas is going through his biggest format change to date and there’s some natural apprehension from long-time fans of the series, who have a clearly-defined perspective of how and what the series and stories should be.

From 2017’s Journey Beyond Sodor and partway through Series 21, Thomas and his friends have been able to make more expressive movements, moving their frames to sway, lean and bounce to make them a little more ‘human’ – albeit, not as exaggerated as Chuggington.  Market research by Mattel has found that this is something kids will respond to, and provide a fun visual element to the series.

In recent years, it’s also been found that Thomas & Friends has a serious contender for the world’s favourite Pre-School Brand title.  Peppa Pig and her muddy puddles provided a slight irritation and a few butterflies in the stomach, but Paw Patrol’s sweeping popularity is causing some serious headaches at Mattel, taking a real bite out of Thomas’s market share.  Very bright, colourful and fast-paced, it’s enraptured a lot of kids and currently appears to be occupying that “Sweet Spot” as the Must-Have Kids Toy of the Moment – like Peppa Pig, Teletubbies, Furby and Buzz Lightyear before it.

In a bid to combat this and refresh the series, Mattel performed extensive market research across Thomas’s major territories to find ways and means of improving the performance of the brand across merchandise sales and television ratings.  The result has been an overhaul of the series format, which will make it more gender-inclusive and multicultural, with more fast-paced stories, featuring fantasy elements and musical sequences throughout the episodes.

Thomas has been subject to two major format changes – the first in 2004 with Series 8, where the cast was streamlined to eight focus characters – nicknamed the “Steam Team”, who became the primary focus of the series – this was to re-establish the core characters, and aid familiarity for new viewers.  It re-established Thomas & Friends in the United States, and proved a successful move.  In 2009, the move was made to full CGI and away from the traditional models.  Viewing figures rose as a direct result.  However, these two changes remained sympathetic to the established series, whilst Thomas’s next format change is due to be on a much larger scale.

Thomas & Friends: Big World, Big Adventures is due to launch in 2018, first with a 70-minute film where Thomas will begin an adventure taking him on a journey across five continents, followed by a 26 episode series of the same name.  The series will feature stories from his Round the World trip, and from what can be inferred from the recent press-releases and interviews ahead of the relaunch, seeing what his friends on Sodor are up to as well upon his return.  On a personal level, so long as there’s a South African Garratt and a Darjeeling B-Class, I’ll be happy.

However, there have been some creative decisions which have caused a bit of upset among the older fans.  In a recent episode, A Shed for Edward, Edward the Blue Engine – the first character to be featured in the Rev. Awdry’s stories – left the home of seven of the series’ eight central characters at Tidmouth Sheds, and went to live at Wellsworth Station in his own shed there.  This has led to widespread speculation that Edward has been downgraded from central character status to recurring or background roles to make way for new female characters to fill the space left.  Given that these eight core characters aren’t the sole focus of episodes as they were back in 2004, I’m not unduly concerned about Edward’s future role in the series.

Similarly, the role made famous by Ringo Starr has been removed entirely from the series – Thomas himself will now be our ‘Storyteller’, introducing the episode and its theme, and proceed to be our guide on his journey in order to make the series more interactive and immersive for kids as he goes on his journey.  The Storyteller has been a central figure from the beginning, and as much as the role has became marginalised over time, it's comforting to have someone to fill in gaps in knowledge which can't be done as convincingly in dialogue or visual exposition.  I’ll miss Mark Moraghan’s enthusiastic narrative throughout the upcoming episodes.

I’d be more apprehensive about these changes if they hadn’t been handled by the team who has restored Thomas back to his former glory.  The series’ Railway Consultant, Sam Wilkinson is both a life-long fan of the series and been very active and passionate in the railway preservation world since his teens.  Creative Executive Ian McCue made it his mission to draw Thomas back to a standard of storytelling which the Rev. Awdry would (hopefully) have approved, whilst maintaining a balance of fantasy and fun to appeal to the target audience, which he has done with excellent proficiency throughout his tenure with the brand, with the brilliant Andrew Brenner helming the new writing team for the series as Head Writer.  I only have praise for current Producer, Micaela Winter, who’s been assigned a weighty task in reimagining the series for a new generation and implementing changes to compete in a challenging market.

I can only really speak for myself in this regard, but I have faith in the team running Thomas & Friends right now.  Mattel want to ensure the survival and growth of the brand in the face of fierce competition, and let’s face it, when you’ve spent £425 million on a purchase, you want to get more than five years of use from it, and you want to keep the #1 engine in the #1 spot.

Overall, love it or loathe it, Thomas has been the entry point for a lot of us who are passionate about railways.  Kids who watch Thomas visit their local railways and develop a deeper interest, some will become future volunteers.  

It’s because of Awdry’s stories and characters that I’ve developed such a deep interest in railway history, spent time over the past ten years learning about and visiting the places that inspired him to write like the Talyllyn, the Corris, the Ffestiniog and Ravenglass, and amassing a large collection of railway books which is known affectionately among friends as ‘The Archive’ – texts from which have been loaned out on many occasions for SLIPS research!

My greatest personal hope is for Awdry’s Famous Engines to carry on as long as humanly possible.  They’ve been a great part of my life, creating wonderful childhood memories, presenting me with opportunities I’ve thoroughly enjoyed and forging friendships throughout my life, much as they have done with everyone who has read the books, watched the series or played with the toys.  

It’s great seeing the enthusiasm I felt as a child being passed on to the next generation of fans, who are going to love their journey with Thomas and his friends as much as I did.  The adventures they have will undoubtedly be different, but I hope they are every bit as fun.  They keep the dream alive, and I think above everything else, the Rev. Awdry would be delighted to know his characters are still creating happy childhood memories seventy two years later.

What do you think to the change? You know what to do and where to shout.

The views below are entirely those of Ryan Hagan and not representative of the Sodor Island Forums and Fansite or the Thomas fandom as a whole

Sunday 8 October 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. 1984 - 2017.

The regime of 'The Fat Controller' was put under the spotlight recently. Many were asked why they stood to one side when an engine called Henry was entombed for life or a locomotive called Smudger sentenced to a crippling death.

After all this bad press and reports, it seems the 'other story' may not come after all. Thomas the Tank Engine is over.

We will openly admit at this juncture to being mere bystanders in the regime known online as 'Thomas Fandom', these are hardcore enthusiasts of a children's set of books, popular TV series and 'loadsa money' merchandise that began with the Rev W Awdry telling his son a bedtime story, and forever humiliating any Dads efforts to putting children to bed until the iPad and locking the bedroom door from the outside hit parenthood.

Despite appearances, we are normal, we lived normal childhoods and watched normal Children's TV. This included the much maligned Britt Allcroft TV Series which took on these stories by the Rev W Awdry and turned them into one of the best loved children's TV series of all time.

Maligned as green locomotives seemingly 'got wood' by looking at Forests. Double Track signalling on narrow gauge railway lines was thrown by the wayside and the professional development of every driver on the Island of Sodor disappeared from the pockets of every incompetent member of staff as they 'jumped clear' saving there own skins.

Our childhoods were opened to the world of Ringo Starr having  a go at a Scottish accent. But Thomas now finds himself 'fessing himself' rotten as we watched in horror as the models disappeared to Drayton Manor and the computer nerds took over with our much loved friends appearing in 'CGI'.

But, among changes - and we say this as occasional watchers, stories were quite funny. and an entertaining series was regurgitated from the ashes of those models. Who wouldn't want to see the Fat Controller slipping on his arse after sentencing several locomotives to death or entombment? The Thomas tree was bearing fruit again.

Thomas Fandom.

What's happened?

Well this was the innocent tweet that was sent and triggered tears and anger across the Twittersphere of Thomas Fandom. 

Here are the facts.
  • The next series of Thomas and Friends will be called 'Big World! Big Adventures!' and will see Thomas travel the world.
  • The narrator is gone.
  • Thomas will speak directly to the audience. Think 'Dora the Explorer'.
So. That really is all folks. Should we care about the outcome of a childrens Television series that passed most of those reading this wibble by many years ago?

We have asked the Fandom to explain and reassure us, we look forward to their insight but the facts above are surely enough.

Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. RIP.

Saturday 9 September 2017

Army of Rail Enthusiasts with nothing to complain about causes panic on the streets

The unused energy combined from Railway Enthusiasts with nothing to moan about would be enough power 3 million keyboard warriors' internet routers for 9.3 weeks.

There is a strange phenomenon which not only scares us, but should have every rail enthusiast worried down to the very core. The inability to moan about shit that drives us mental - like liveries, restore it now, diesels on the front, Network Rail gauging and other serious matters.

We are assured by every 'Steam Railway' magazine front cover, hidden behind those cellophane wraps as we try to flick through on the shelf in WH Smith, that York based anger continues to drive many an enthusiast to go and lock there favourite artefact in the Great Hall for fear of it being sold off to the lowest bidder.

But, we must be honest. We're ready for something to really rile us all up. This is when the army of rail enthusiasts come into there own by combined anger. Then we sit back and watch as the one person who disputes common sense bravely storms into the comment section to offer there expert (wrong) opinion. Then they remove there account within hours of fightback.

Can we think of a world without keyboard warriors?

We have an American President that is spoiling the whole phenomenon for us. How can we compete with the most powerful person in the world when complaining about any new yellow stripes on Duchesses?

The good old days of another locomotive heading into BR Late Crest livery just doesn't fill us with the rage we are accustomed to anymore. Mainline railways are consistently late or we simply don't like slagging off any company called 'GWR' as much as we did to the corporate undertones of 'First Great Western'. Kicking Brunel in the bollocks is not something we're a fan of so we are holding back. 

Well, here's the thing, we're setting out our stall to bring back the keyboard warrior. Think of the most ludicrous rail based anger and post away on social media. The winter months are long and cold. 

Give us something to warm us all up. What's riling you up uncontrollably?

Saturday 2 September 2017

Nuclear War declared after child steps in front of a Photograph of Railway Locomotive.

As the world waited patiently for disjointed Leaders to increase their war of words. It was a 47 Year old photographer who triggered Nuclear War when a child stepped in front of his photograph of an InterCity 125.

Lets be honest, it was always going to happen. The organisers of a large scale event not only ask people to stay off the tracks in front of big Green Engines but tell Big Green Eyed Photographers to stay calm if little Johnny, in amazement at seeing a Steam Locomotive for the first time, happens to spoil one of his million photographs of a stationery locomotive.

Kudos to GWR for breaking the curse
"Photographers are asked to be patient and polite"
 Ah, you've got to love the hope and tinge of naivety as a GWR Spokesperson sends out this message to the keyboard armed Army of 'Railway Photography Group' members. The message is not sent with the normal fire and brimstone that comes along from Epping & Ongar volunteer supreme leaders (Group Admins). So who knows, perhaps being nice and respectful to photographers may be a new wave we could get behind?

The theory of paying hundreds of quid to watch a music concert, to then spend it watching behind a mobile screen all night long - to then buy the concert on VHS (?) after in glorious HD with proper angles and editing. This is because we want to watch our shakey, shouty version taken from our Nokia 3310s. Obviously.

The epitome of these events is now everyone armed with smartphones ready to take the master shot and send into the BM must accept a simple fact. A child or uninitiated will spoil your photo at some point during these events. Accept it, put on a horse mask and enjoy the event regardless.

Here is hoping the magical 'photographers only' events, in the dark, silent cold shed yards with nothing but the sound of Hi Viz vests being adjusted keep the photographers anger at levels befitting not having to snap your SD card.

And if you do see an angry photographer, take a photo and send it in. They are hilarious.

Thursday 27 July 2017

Border between Lancashire & Yorkshire broken as 'Arseholes' found in both counties

One of the fiercest borders in the world, the one keeping Lancashire folk away from Yorkshire folk is deemed ineffective as little vandal shits have been found in both counties.

We spent the day beaming Live from The North Yorkshire Moors Railway this week, seeing first hand the destruction caused by vandals, but more importantly the community coming together to show brute force in cleaning up, repairing and restoring to glory all that vandals tried their hardest to wreck. 

As we beamed Live on Facebook, a large group of overseas students were on a field trip to Pickering Station gathered by a bruised and battered Gresley Buffet car. The behaviour of the students was impeccable, but what must they have thought of the mess of broken glass they were looking at? How possibly can we explain the actions of members of a community tearing apart its most valuable asset.

Not one to withdraw from the news too easily, heritage railways were again the victim of vandalism as the East Lancashire Railway was trashed by 'young vandals' who were arrested quickly. Whether they trashed, then fell asleep in the filth they had created has yet to be seen.

So, where do we go from here. BBC News may not pick up on the next spate of vandalism as just 'another one of those things' that we've all heard before. The Downton Abbey train being wrecked is news, perhaps the Train from Hollyoaks doesn't have the same ring to it. 

Complacency on Heritage Railways being wrecked is as dangerous as the people who deem it a hobby to break peoples hard work into pieces without care. 

Celebrating all that Heritage Railways give to the country and the world is equally as important as reacting with an Angry Face when someone attempts to smash it to bits. You're all intelligent people reading this article and picking up on grammatical errors contained within. You know what value Heritage Railways add to the world.

The big question is how it is showcased beyond those who turn up for 'Scotsman' Galas or Days Out with Blue Engines. The question is what do we need to say or do to convince people to not become ultimate scrotes wielding fire extinguishers on Snapchat.

Answers on an Angry Postcard.

Sunday 23 July 2017

New species of 'Dickhead' discovered in North Yorkshire.

Just when you thought the human gene pool was safe out of the water, we find ourselves a new level of idiot that suggests evolution took a wrong turn at Malton and is heading back into the North Sea.

You're all bloody angry at the events on the NYMR over the weekend. Yes, quite rightly so. The creepiness that surrounds a 1960s Music event in Pickering taking place is not just down to the 'Shoop Shoop Song', but the fact that metres away - the crown jewels of the biggest heritage railway in the world were being destroyed by vandals.

We need to be shocked, there needs to be a level of shock and anger that counteracts the run of destruction both in our social system and how we conduct ourselves being acceptable in society.

Many of you are angry that the faces haven't been released of those that set out to damage the LNER Teak set of prize coaches at Pickering. We're upset too. But of all the stupid things we've released into the wild - Pictures (and videos) of vandals hard at work destroying years of work in minutes is too much to stomach.  

While you are all angry, there is a community heart wrenchingly sad at the events. An air of sadness that is palpable by the support the rest of the Railway community has shown over the last 24 Hours by donating in there thousands to get those historic vehicles back in service as quickly as possible.

A video of the crime is not what is needed, a 'F*** you' attitude is what is required. We've seen hideous things occur in this country, on our own streets, in 2017 and we are often only left with putting a filter on our profile photos and standing with people as they suffer at the consequences of despicable idiots. 

The society of Snapchat and producing videos, at any cost to anything is a dangerous one. What is the best way to stop it? Perhaps not displaying the 'efforts' of these mindless videos and cutting off the oxygen to the hits and views they so clearly desire. The videos of destruction, in the dark aboard those Teak carriages would have lasted for 24 Hours unless the Police hadn't taken a keen interest in them. Then they would have gone.

The lasting damage is in the broken glass beside the track and the sadness in the volunteers who have to pick it up and repair their work back to the standard at which they want it. 

The repair bill amounts to the appreciation of the work of volunteers around the world who put in their hard work, energy and time to keep our history alive. It is down to them alone. There is not a Harry Potter Studio Tour at each town to take each prized Steam Railway asset undercover and polished reaping in thousands of pounds of profit. There are only so many steam engines you can paint blue and call 'Thomas' to pay its own way. The rest doesn't make money. They are an accountants living nightmare only made sense by a dedicated band of 'amateurs', bred from Titfield ancestry.

Our industrial heritage is out there, day in and day out in the rain, wind and sunshine so everyone can experience it on our heritage railways. The people that put them out there for you is the volunteers. 

Reject the mindless idiots who set out to damage this generous offer to the public. Support those who made a choice to dedicate the best parts of there lives to sharing our Railways heritage with you.

Friday 21 July 2017

Top 5: How to meet other Rail Enthusiasts

The big wide world gets bigger with every new Railway Photography Group posting, banning and frog march to the arch-Admins of Internet Forums. But, how do we all survive when we break free of the armchairs and meet actual real people in the real world?

As the Bash Mash Tour heads to the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway. 

We are here to help.

#BashMashTour Special
Top 5 ways to meet Real People at Real Railways

5. Saying Hello

Here's the thing, we are rail enthusiasts and with it - a little awkward. We are all in the same boat of awkwardness looking down at RealTimeTrains rather than at other people. There is a level of acceptance that we are all deleting our browser history of what was on the last Tanks from Gresty Bridge.

Accept it. Then say Hello.

4.  The internet doesn't count

Yes, you've been dragged down to face a Court Marshall at Epping and Ongars Admins Lair (which is online in a Facebook Forum) and received a right royal banning. But that doesn't count. The internet doesn't count. Should you face the Admin of your least favourite Facebook Group, remember this and rise above the banning. 

(They'll hate it)

3. Everyone likes Green Arrow

As much as the hatred towards Pacers is universal. If you are stuck for something to say to your new friends and acquaintances that you find yourselves with in a Mark One heading to Winchcombe, remember that a conversation starter begins with the numbers 4771. 

'When they getting Green Arrow back then?'. And job done for conversation for the rest of the day.

2. Take photos, take photos of everything

Come on folks, we have the BM to run. Take photos of anything weird, normal or funny and send them in. Making it to BM is the ultimate accomplishment.

1. Do it again

Simply revert back to No.5 back to No.2 and don't think about this No.1. We all love numbers, start to love numbers that aren't on the side of DMUs and you will thank us later.

Increase in Diesel Thrash Enthusiasts at Swansea, Sheffield and Windermere announced by the Government

Outrage as Lake Windermere is not to be surrounded by god awful Overhead Electric Gantries and will be served by hellfire diesel traction - and hellfire diesel traction fans.

Now the inevitable has happened with out of depth Network Rail struggling hard in shit creek with only one very expensive paddle. They have been forced to suddenly lean over the side of their sinking boat, just by Westminster and say 'Actually lads, we don't have a chance of electrifying even a Hornby layout, never mind to bloody Swansea'.

The honesty that you are out of depth is refreshing, not quite as refreshing when it's an honesty while holding an increase of £1 Billion of public money in one very wet hand. This isn't as important as Northern Ireland and keeping a PM in the bumbags she is accustomed to so the Network Rail aftertaste is a little sour. 

The technology behind the recent announcements that their has been another almighty balls up with projects on Britain's railways is that railway technology is catching up. The future of Britain's Railways is one of a Driver, who while also guarding their train, will be leaning out with a big pole to raise the pantograph on their hybrid Loco when they reach the richest parts of Britain.

You will know when the poorest parts of our country are reached by train, your driver will nervously step out of his cab, lock the door, lower the shutters on the windows, suck in their gold teeth and fire up those diesel engines. Clag will pour across the ghettos of Northern England and West Wales as your Hybrid Loco then chugs on past Hovis Bikes and Cobbles littered with shoe shiners trying to earn a Quid to ask 'Please Sir, I want some more'.


This is of course, great news for those campaigning for Battery Trains. OId Trains that have nipped to Poundland for the most 'Durexacell' batteries, and raided their Sky remotes to pile in as many batteries as they can fit in the space where an electric engine once sat. 

Wrapped in crusty Gaffa Tape, these batteries will fire old trains into a new lease of life on the shittest of shit train lines around the country. The places where electrification is only known as being on the manifesto of the local UKIP supporters, and where the only diesel engines are fueled by Red Diesel nicked from the nearest farmyard.

It all suddenly seems that diesel trains are likely to make a big comeback on the back of being capable to run on both electric lines and non electric lines of beauty. This new fangled idea is a big surprise.

Especially to those who remember it from 1962.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Top 5 'Getting off your arse onto a Steam Train Summer Steam Mix'

This will piss you right off. No other purpose for this list to do but to annoy you. We want to prod you with a big stick and ask what will get experts out of armchairs, professors from National Preservation, David Baileys from The Railway Photography Group and onto the steam railways of the UK this Summer.

Disagree, let us know. Comment and Email your anger to budge your favourite onto a list. Rise up. This is trains, this is important.

Our 2017 Summer Steam Mix

5. Bluebell Railway

The first person into the Next Sale will always get the best deals on underpants. This is simple odds. As the Bluebell was the first on the standard gauge preservation scene it had the pick of the goodies to take on. And they still have them. For £19 this is a day in a living museum where everything is just right. The relics actually work so enjoy and fill up on goodwill ready for that return trip to York. 

There is something quite nice about white neat ballast isn't there? Or is that just us.

4. Talyllyn Railway

Have you seen 'Railway with a Heart of Gold'? If so, then go.

The scenery is no Ffestiniog Railway, there is no Fairlie up front. This is the Railway with heart and soul that you get for your £19. Let's be honest, this is Wales. It will probably rain, but just imagine if it's sunshine on your day in Wales. The strut down those inclines if you strike gold with a sunny day will have Shaft quaking in his thigh high boots. 

3. North Yorkshire Moors Railway

The behemoth. You can take to the NYMR as the ultimate Summer challenge. You can either plan the hell out of your day to avoid the 'heritage diesels' at all cost or admit that a Sybilla on the front of the train is not such a bad thing. But it ain't no B1 is it?

There's reasons the NYMR is the beast of Steam Railways. Nick Berry. That motorbike had us weak at the knees every Sunday evening and its never looked back. Oh, and there is Grosmont bank. At £31 the challenge is on to get the most of your Rover, and the most chips and beer inhaled at Whitby before rejoining the queue to get a seat. The challenge is on.

2. Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

Bit small innit? Well we would tend to agree but size doesn't necessarily always matter. KWVR is 'the small but give it a chance' railway. Did you know it was in The Railway Children? Its place in history is confirmed. It fits into our Summer Mix because its the ultimate Day Rover railway. 

£16 and agree with your 'dragger along-er' that you are spending the day at your nice clean table with a couple of cold beers watching the engine run round a couple of times. Get misty eyed every time you pass through Oakworth, shit faced in Bronte Country. Everyone is a winner.

1. West Somerset Railway

Yes, we've heard the past experiences of two railway organisations declaring war on one another - and loved it. No, of course we didn't. It has been an interesting recent history on the West Somerset but we hear a truce has been called and the two fragments of the WSR are now working to playing trains together.

But, take the rowing away and you're left with the longest standard gauge heritage railway in the country and £18 to play on it all day long. It is summer, it is the seaside, it'll probably rain. Welcome to Britain by Steam Train.

Thursday 22 June 2017

Trains to be banned from Rush Hour to improve public image.

Special Advisers for the Rail network have advised rail chiefs that running trains during Rush Hours is bad for its own public image and withdrawing all services would be best for the public.

We are at the cusp of big changes to the rail network in Britain. The 'Azumas' (Bless you..) are on trial and are ready to breed at a rate not seen since Fifty Shades of Grey and a cool breeze had the nation reproducing faster than bacteria in a Voyagers bog. 

The second HS2 bill has just been announced as a done deal by our strong and stable government meaning the landscape of railways in Britain is going to change whether we like it or not.

Railway lines will become faster and with every faster minute you get to London, this will be lauded by Google Trains (or whoever wins the franchise that year) in competition with Daily Mail Express East Midlands. There profits will simply swell as we all swelter in the aisles of there low capacity new trains. 

Within several years, years that are closing in, the Pacers will be gone or going. The GWR will become devoid of its roaring HSTs. The scrapyards will again be filling with DRS Class 37s as whirring new hybrids take their place. British engineering quite simply ending up on the scrapheap.

No one will argue with the need to modernise and good ole Britain is light years behind other countries but as railway enthusiasts there is a twang of sadness as we watch the next mechanical signalbox be ripped to pieces and replaced by a nice square of gravel and weeds instead.

The gap between our heritage railways and the big mainline network will widen and continue to widen with every new train that arrives on a boat from a far away cheaper manufacturer. The gap will lessen with every DRS 37 that avoids the scrapheap and becomes the 'Heritage Diesel' hauling your delicious Teak set  on the 09.50 20mph service.

Perhaps this is the revolution that moved the horse from being bloody knackered and blinded working down mines to becoming the prize asset of any Conservative MPs daughter? The railway as we know it today will become heritage and we will look back fondly on the Pacer as it stars in the GCR 'Pre-Brexit Gala'.

With the quest for speed and High Speed lines as the racetrack for new trains well and truly on its way, who will be able to tell that this direction was better than a 'improve capacity and reliability on existing services so that you get a seat on a comfortable train that may be 2.3 minutes slower getting to the queue at Euston Burger King' model that seems to have been thrown to the wayside.

In other words, buy a bike to pedal to your nearest Heritage Railway while singing the Hovis theme tune and leave those fast tin cans to race themselves. 

Tuesday 20 June 2017

Living on Small island with Trains that talk and crash every hour announced better prospect than living in Britain.

Brutal dictator 'Topham Hatt', known for reckless disregard of rail safety or capital infrastructure spend seen as better leader than current British Government.

Blimey readers, just when you though things couldn't get less tragically mad in the world it goes up to the next level with every bleep of our BBC Breaking News app. 

Yet again the cause of 'Railway Enthusiasm' garners new members and recommendations, because however mad standing at the end of platforms with a new Canon camera or arguing the toss over the colour of a Bulleid Pacific, it can't be any worse than what is going on with the rest of this mad world.

We're not going to kid ourselves that the world of Sodor and Gordon the Big Blue Engine was not an intrinsic fabric of our childhoods as it obviously was. We also learn daily of the 'fandom' that surrounds these well loved books that turned into a global empire of selling toys.

We look at today's world and the different factions that emanate, get angry and then seem intent on wiping out other factions. Then you can visit Twitter and see what the 'fandom' is up to, and you see a whole new level of 'importance' in peoples lives.

Here's the thing, we are called Bash by name and so must Bash by nature? The uneducated in BM folklore may think this is the case. But one thing that happens with every beep and gasp at those BBC Breaking News 'dings' is the realisation that the happy person on Twitter sharing photos among his fandom friends about talking steam engines becomes a happier person. They become a symbol of everything that isn't screwed up in this world.

We are forever advocates of this railway enthusiasm and will bang any drum to support it and challenge it where needed, but if there's one lesson learnt out of the bloody awful mess the world, and in particular Britain, is in at the moment - its that liking Trains and being enthused by aspects of them is bloody nothing compared to what people could be doing.

A grown man or woman who is intent on sharing the disgraceful way Drayton Manor looks after the original TV models from the Sodor we all grew up with? Will it cause world ructions. No, but there in lies someone who cares about something and should be respected for doing so.

We have an inbox full of Cone photographs to go through and share with the big wide world. Why? Because you get it and are part of our community. 

So maybe, just maybe, wanting to bugger off to a fictional island by the Isle of Man, where you are guaranteed to be a passenger aboard a talking train that will crash, doesn't seem such a bad prospect after all.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Station Cats add terrorists to list of people they couldn't give a shit about

Today, the Station Cat at Manchester Victoria joined Larry the Downing Street cat by simply not giving two f*cks to the hatred distributed as Terror by the vile being in Manchester.

Yes, we have no right to comment on the atrocity bestowed on the children and families on the streets of Manchester. This is merely a daft train site. You'd be absolutely right if you thought this, but when real world comes knocking on our thermos flasks - knocking what ever we thought was important in life by taking a swift kick, out of our garden and into next doors garden, it is difficult not to respond.

Why Station Cats?

This morning, as we all woke to the horrific news from Manchester. There stood the Political Correspondent at 7am in the morning on the streets of Downing Street. There he stood telling us that democracy was on pause due to a maniac. A maniac who had robbed the lives of 22 people. The silence from London, in respect and in unity for Manchester was deafening.

But, behind him, there was Larry the Cat. The typical cat who had his tea the night before then pissed off out for the night without a care in the world. He then decides to show up at his minions door for his breakfast. The perils of the changed world throughout the night as he strolled around not even registering as a tinkle on his collar bell. 

This morning, Station cats across the North of England will have gone about their daily lives while we were all glued to the News for the telling horror of rising death tolls and lost children that have been put in contact with a nail bomb. 

The lifelong aim of a cat to ignore anyone that doesn't feed it, ever unchanging despite beliefs or disgraceful aims in life.

The Steam Railway began in Manchester and threaded its double track towards Liverpool in a form of transport that would change the world - forever. 
The 'Rocket' led the way for railways around the world, from Manchester. In 1940 the Manchester Blitz was an attempt on annihilating the North West of England by vicious enemies - it failed.

As terror lands on the top of Railways at Manchester Victoria - it will fail. 

The Pacers will return - we will moan about them,
The drivers will place funny destination names on their blinds - we will groan at them,
A Black 5 will storm away on a railtour with the wrong colour coaches - we will moan about them,
Class 37s will be repainted again - it will be the wrong shade of paint,
You will get sat next to a stag party from Newcastle - they will spill their Lager on your laptop,

The Station Cat will return to Manchester Victoria,
It won't give two shits about anyone trying to change its way of life. It will carry on.

Saturday 20 May 2017

Woman spotted at Diesel Gala - Insists she was lost

After turning in fury when hearing the words 'Look, Clag', the woman managed to retain her dignity by leaving the Diesel Gala immediately.

Now, we are not ones for sexist stereotypes here at the BM but with the influx of political posts being outdone by posts containing lots of blokes enjoying a Swallow (Intercity variant), we have been left wondering:

1) Who are Diesel Galas for?
2) Where's Kevin?
3) Where are all the women at these events?

We have to tip our hats to the SVR, who put on a fine display and showcase of Diesel Heritage that is unparalleled to anything similar, in fact many railways seem to have given up the concept, the red pens and the cancellation of star guests at the last minute.

It was until this weekend that we were left wondering who the Galas are for, to see mainline diesels normally on the other side of Kidderminster thrashing out of the other side of Kidderminster - then immediately slowing to speed limits.

The tide has changed from seeing a 'replacement' diesel on the front of your Heritage train to your train being hauled by a 'Heritage Diesel'. It is a masterstroke of publicity that railways will be most relieved to enjoy as their most beloved of steam engines fails in the small hours.

The Diesel Gala then sits at the top of this publicity quite awkwardly, it could be seen as a collection of AA recovery vans that rescued all of the classic cars through the year. A celebration of your generous car insurance policy. 


Heritage belongs to us all, the days at looking at a Victorian steam engine and remembering when you were running to your Air Raid Shelter while wiping away the coal you ate for breakfast from your petticoats may be coming to an end.

A rake of Intercity Mk3s with an Intercity Class 47 on the front is now heritage - we are all very old. 

Diesel Galas make us feel older than our times.

So why don't we see lots of children at Diesel Galas? Perhaps the lies persuasive arguments for dragging their offspring to look at a Class 88 were ondone, when arriving at said Heritage Railway behind a Class 88. Perhaps it all unraveled quicker than explaining the storks are just very busy and begin their work in back seat of a 1989 Cortina.

So why don't we see lots of women at Diesel Galas? Perhaps the blokes don't want to invite them so they can stick on a gas mask, inhale cheap tinned Lager, flail like a demented toad looking for water and then post the results on The Railway Photography Group?

Case closed.