Linesiding with John

Tours & Videos

  September 2018

Recent Reports
Former Index Page

Contact Me
This 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 Tour October 2018 - Tour Fully Booked
Winter Sandaoling Tour December 2018 - Would January or February work better?
March-April 2019 China NG II Tour - Tour Overview. Date Adjustment
Summer 2019 Sumatra - Java Tour - Updated Ideas
Jurassic on Regular Passenger Trains on the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway
Just For Fun 3 - Railway Novels

Statfold Barn June Event Videos - now available on YouTube
Just For Fun 1 - A souvenir you can make for your house/garden
Tracks to the Trenches 3 - Footage from the Saturday available on YouTube
Just For Fun 2 - A souvenir you can make for your house/garden


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 starting early in the tour.

Sandaoling in Winter Tour 8-17 December

I've uploaded a portfolio of Jun's 2017-8 Winter Photos

Tour details are here:

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!

Please contact me as soon as possible if this is of interest.

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 flights home.

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 see

You can read about the China Narrow Gauge I tour here:

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.

At this point, an expression of interest is all I need.

Jatiroto Steam Shed in 2015 - around 20 locos were stored here and despite the appearance of smoke, none had moved in many years

Jatiroto Steam Shed in 2017 with all of the steam locos removed (and scrapped). Only 3 locos survived outside, the sister of the Semboro Jung and 2 others stuck behind it. Their fate is unknown.
Wilson reports that this shed has now been razed to the ground and the area redeveloped. Read the summary of his recent visit to Java - see link below.

You can read about the 2017 trip here:

See also what Aditya our guide to Sumatra has to say:

You can read an illustrated summary of Wilson's emails about the 2018 Java sugar cane season at

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 - Railway Fiction
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 fiction titles:

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?

Railway Detectives
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 railway setting.

Andrew Martin
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?

John Raby
Linesiding with John
September Update


This month's videos
I have a large number of videos on YouTube but I now use this site primarily to make my videos available to a selected audience (those who read this update or who look at my website). You can se all of my videos here:

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.

Tracks to the Trenches 3, Saturday 14 July

Just 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.

There are a few photos (see

and a book by George Dow on the subject but I made a 7 mm ng* model from Smallbrook Studio to try to replicate this photo.

* O scale running on OO track'zeus'-model-of-alford-sutton-tramway-no.-1/3771775

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 horizontal boilered

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 1890.

My best attempt at the A&ST logo

Have you created models of long lost railways or locos?

This month's videos (from July)
I have a large number of videos on YouTube but I now use this site primarily to make my videos available to a selected audience (those who read this update or who look at my website). You can se all of my videos here:

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 running!

Statfold Barn June 2018 Event
1. Linesiding
2. Train & Tram Ride
3. From the Front Balcony
These 3 videos are also embedded below this update for you to watch on this page.

Just for fun 1 (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.

That's all for this month.

John Raby
29 June 2018