The Railway Magazine

BRITAIN'S 20 MOST DIFFICULT STATIONS TO VISIT

QUITE how the idea of visiting all the operational National Rail stations germinated in my head I cannot recall.

Perhaps it was compiling a series of UK rail atlases with my co-author Keith Turner, but in 2015 the decision to 'go for it' was made.

I wanted to start in Scotland as it was 50 years since I'd toured there with a college friend visiting steam shed sites, and 30 years since I'd honeymooned there with my late wife Shirl.

I decided to photograph the stations without trains in view whenever possible, so all the features could be included. This precluded jumping off a train and taking a quick snap - but the paucity of services at many locations meant the only alternative was to visit by foot or motor vehicle.

'Holding' system

While the huge majority posed no problems, there were a few that weren't so easy.

Skegness and Blackpool North, being terminal stations at holiday resorts, operate a 'holding' system whereby passengers are not allowed onto the platform until the train has arrived and is ready to be boarded.

A fair degree of persuasion thus had to be employed (bearing in mind I had no intention of travelling by train on those occasions). At Blackpool, a member of Northern Rail staff had to loan me an orange hi-vis jacket before I was allowed on the platform, to show I'd been authorised.

Another inconvenience was the times stations were open - or not open.

While most of the minor ones had 24 hours access, those that were staffed in conurbations generally opened and closed as per the timing of the first and last trains, but the real problems arose when the opening times were tied to events.

- Old Trafford - for example, was only open when games were being played at the nearby stadium, and apart from one service on a Friday, was restricted to when Birmingham City were playing at the nearby St Andrews stadium.

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