Class 66 and its train heading towards Reading, Lower BasildonCredit: © Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

The train system of Britain is one of the best in the world.

It may not now, have as many tracks as it once did, thanks to Lord Beeching who, in the 1960s closed many local stations, but Britain’s railways are still widely used in spite of this.  It’s ironic that it should have happened during a time when Britain was coming up in the world with the advent of Beatlemania and the British Invasion.  Many tourists who came to visit Britain at the time, no doubt would have found themselves having to rent a car to get to many destinations that no longer had any rail transport.

Since 1993, British Rail has been in a state of privatization.  This has led to a fierce debate over whether or not privatization is in fact, a good idea for British rail systems.  Privatization means that the railways are no longer owned by one company (British Rail), but are now franchised by several companies who operate them.  The biggest of these companies being the FirstGroup, who operate First Capital Connect, First Great Western, First Hull Trains,First TransPennine Express, Heathrow Connect, ScotRail and Tramlink.  The FirstGroup is also the biggest bus operator in the United Kingdom and in addition, operate the Greyhound buses in the United States.    

First Great Western HST, CardiffCredit: Image may be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License, FreeFoto FREE USE license or see our Commercial Terms.

When I lived in Wales, I myself rode a First Great Western train from south Wales to London Paddington on several occasions.  This route, which takes about three hours maximum, is a pleasant dart straight through the middle-half of Wales and England.  The trip takes in such stations as Bridgend, Cardiff Central, Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple-Meads, Bath Spa, Chippenham, Didcot Parkway, Reading and finally London Paddington.  It always feels good to roll into Paddington, with its majestic arched roof and constant hustle and bustle.  I’ve made the trip into Paddington many times and it never gets old.  There’s always a palpable excitement amongst train riders upon finally rolling to a stop in the capital city of England; one of the most well-known cities in the world.  Many pleasant journeys are to be had on Britain’s railways.  From Paddington, you can also go down to the west country of Devon and Cornwall, taking in many charming stations such as Taunton, Castle Cary, Westbury, Salisbury, Tiverton, Newton Abbot, Plymouth, Torquay, Exeter and Penzance.  

Today, thankfully, some railway lines that Beeching closed, those more-than-40-years ago, have since been re-opened as Heritage Railways, offering the chance for passengers to travel on a steam powered locomotive with carriages that were commonplace during the 1950s.  Britain’s railways have always been a tradition and with so much to offer, will undoubtedly carry on being part of the British way of life for a very long time to come.