is the latest version of my Index page dated September 2018. I
plan to update this monthly around the beginning of the month. Below,
you will find a version of my latest email update which goes out to
those on my mailing list. Email me if you would like to receive this
monthly email. My previous Index page has been renamed Recent Reports
and has links to tours and visits in the last few years primarily to
China, Bosnia and Indonesia. That page will be adapted to its new
role. In setting up my new index page, I note that most of the
other linked pages also require a tidy up. I'll see what I can do about
that sometime soon!
Bosnia This fully-booked tour runs 8 - 14
October with an extension to Mostar (for general railway and
non-railway explorations). A report of this tour in the form of daily
updates (internet access permitting) will be here http://www.rabylee.uk/bosnia2018.html
starting early in the tour.
The tour start is just over 3 months away but currently interest is
low. This may be because people can't go in December but could go in
January or February. With no-one currently signed up and one person
interested in going but not in December, I feel it's OK to ask if
anyone would like a final look at Sandaoling in January or February
rather than December. Subject to Jun's approval, we could go anytime in
those 2 months although I suggest we avoid Chinese New Year 5 February
and at least one week before and after. My own preference would be for
January. Are you interested? If so suggest some dates!
China Narrow Gauge II 25 March - 15 April (minor date
change) - back home for Easter
Nothing to add to my previous report which I will include below except
that I now hope to get to the start of the tour in Chengdu via some
Sumatra palm oil and rubber plantation railway explorations rather than
direct from the UK. I have 8 expressions of interest in this tour.
The idea for my second China narrow
gauge tour is that we start from
Chengdu, China (direct flights from Amsterdam arriving 25 March and
easily accessible via other Chinese cities) and travel across the
country east to Nanjing stopping at narrow gauge lines along the way.
The route from Guangyuan (the city close to Rongshan, 4 hours north of
Chengdu) to Chongqing has around 10 narrow gauge coal mine lines. There
will be time to find out what if anything has happened at Rongshan.
There are 3 more lines close to Chongqing including the long 762mm
electric line centred on Honglu. We will then move on by train to Hunan
province where there are a further 11 narrow gauge lines (and possibly
a chance to find out what happened to the Chenjia Narrow Gauge line -
the last to use C4 locos) before taking another train to Zhengzhou in
Henan with a visit planned to the Yujian narrow gauge steam and diesel
tourist line currently under construction. We expect to have one or
more charters here. The final hop by train is to Nanjing. There are 2
narrow gauge lines close by as well as a standard gauge industrial
electric line at Maanshan which is only 90 minutes away in Anhui
province. On completion of the tour, travel to Beijing or Shanghai for
The details are still being worked
out. Jun has made contact with an
experienced guide in Sichuan but plans to make a personal visit to
Hunan to explore what is possible there. He is already in discussion
with the Yujian Railway about possible charters. Let me know if you are
interested in this tour and you can be involved in the tour planning as
it evolves. To see the wealth of narrow gauge available, please
Sumatra Palm Oil & Rubber Railways 16-23 March
I now hope to explore these railways after a short NGRS members' visit
to the United Plantation palm oil railways in Malaysia. The dates above
are starting and ending in Medan, Sumatra. I'm waiting to receive more
details from Aditya (potential guide and local organiser) about a visit
to fill the gap between the NGRS UP Tour and the start of my China NG 2
Tour. I hope to be able to give more information next month. While this
may be of interest to those on the NGRS Malaysia Tour or my China NG 2
Tour, it will also be open to others.
Java Sugar Mills 2-3 weeks in the 23 July - 22 August period
A pre-tour visit to Sumatra should be possible but if I manage to get
to Sumatra myself in March, this pre-tour may be guided by Aditya but
without me. If so, you will be able to meet up with me and the Java
tour in Surabaya at the end of the Sumatra pre-tour. The period that I
am free to lead this tour has now firmed up as 23 July - 22 August and
I would expect to offer a 2-3 week tour within that 1 month window.
This is an amended version of what I wrote last month:
Sumatra and Java narrow gauge lines
sometime in the period July - August 2019 - I'm looking at 10 days in
Sumatra and 15-20 days in East Java - that should cover palm oil,
rubber, gold* in Sumatra and sugar cane lines in Java. The East Java
section will again focus on mills with diesel field lines, mills with
real working steam and the the best mills for internal stationary steam
engines. Steam charters are getting increasingly unreliable and may now
be poor value for money and no longer satisfying. However, the steam
charters at Kedawung are new and it's worth trying to get steam out
into the fields there. Those signing up for the East Java portion of
the tour will be asked whether they would like to also attempt charters
at Olean and Semboro and a majority decision will be taken on whether
to organise those.
*The isolated gold railway would need 4-5 days to do it justice so in
10 days, perhaps the visits should be to palm oil and rubber lines
which are accessible from Medan.
This month's video
I've uploaded a video to YouTube showing the Lincolnshire Coast Light
Railway's steam loco Jurassic on regular 2 coach passenger trains this
summer. The line now has a short extension and a new run round loop.
Just for Fun -
How many of you are fans of railway fiction? Not many, would be my
guess. However, if the railway background and operating practice is
authentic, they can be an enjoyable way to relive the days when steam
was in regular use around the world.
I think the first book of railway fiction I read after Rev. Audrey's
'Thomas the Tank Engine' books was 'Jennie' by J.B.Snell which is based
on the Talyllyn Railway in Wales.
A more recent find was C
Hamilton Ellis who is famous for his non-fiction railway titles.
However in the 1940s he wrote several ripping yarns based on railways
with illustrations by Terence Cuneo no less! The most difficult to
acquire was the first one I heard about in 'A Railway Holiday in Spain'
was 'Who Wrecked the Mail'. If you can find this or any of his other
The Grey Men (Scottish in WWII)
The Engineer-Corporal (American Civil War)
Rails Across the Ranges (Australian North East)
they are all recommended.
Did you know that the C in C Hamilton Ellis stands for Cuthbert?
This seems to be the modern approach to the railway novel. The best
writers use their extensive historical railway knowledge and research
to create a realistic railway crime story. The lesser ones skimp on the
historical accuracy and tell a crime story in a vaguely plausible
I consider Martin to be the best of the authors in this genre. The
specific historical locations are well researched and described and his
detective is a former loco driver so he tends to get hands on on the
footplate at times as well. The topics include the London Necropolis
Railway, WWI in France, WWI in Iraq, Colonial India, etc. All of the
railway detective novels by Martin are worth a read.
This one is topical with the
WWI 100 year commemorations taking place 2014-2018
Can anyone recommend other railway fiction that I (or other readers of
this mailing list) might enjoy?
I try to add new videos each month
and this month I am uploading my
video from Saturday at the recent Apedale 'Tracks to the Trenches 3'
event. Volunteers from the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway were
invited to attend, man a stand and enjoy the event as 3 of our stock
items were in use - bow-framed Simplex 'Nocton', our unique WWI
Ambulance van and a WWI 4-wheel rations wagon.
for fun Sometimes, the only way to begin to
appreciate something is to model
it. The Alford & Sutton Tramway (1884 - 1889) lasted such a short
time and disappeared so long ago that it's hard to image its slow
roadside progress along the A1111 from Alford to Sutton on the 7 mile
run, climbing up the 'hill' at Hannah and the steam trams running round
their trains outside the Bacchus Hotel on Sutton High Street.
along with a suitable carriage and
a couple of trucks. I also needed to
replicate the A&ST logo for the sides of the tram and vehicles. I
just need a Lincolnshire roadside tramway for it to run on. The loco is
vertical boilered No. 1 which was joined by No. 2 and No. 3 both
No. 1 of 1883 Black, Hawthorn &
Company No. 2 of 1884 Merryweather &
Sons No. 3 of 1885 Dick, Kerr &
Company I wonder if No. 1 was up to the
job. I suspect Nos. 2 & 3 ended up
doing most of the day-to-day work.
My model with the photo of the
original on the left and the Bacchus
Hotel, Sutton-on-Sea where the tram terminated and ran round on the
right. When the line closed, all 3 locos
seem to have disappeared without
trace but surely all or most would have found new use elsewhere around
My best attempt
at the A&ST logo
Have you created models of long
lost railways or locos?
I try to add new videos each month
and this month they are of Statfold
Barn on the occasion of its June 2018 Open Day. If you've been to
Statfold Barn, you'll know what to expect. If you haven't be prepared
to be amazed by the quantity and variety of narrow gauge steam in use
at this private location. If you only have time to look at one, I can
especially recommend the views from the front balcony of the parallel
for fun1 (from July) If you are one of the many who
visited China and didn't come away with
a souvenir more interesting than a railway spike, how about making your
own Chinese railway souvenirs? All of us will have noted and probably
photographed the rustic railway crossing signs on industrial and narrow
gauge lines. Those photos can easily be the basis for your own Chinese
crossing signs. Here are my attempts at copies. The originals appear
below my versions.