Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is one of Europe's smaller countries but it's railways are among the most interesting. In an era of demanning, multiple units and standardisation, it's a pleasure to find a railway with manned stations and locomotive hauled trains, a great variety of motive power and an almost infinite multiplicity of liveries. The landscape is extremely attractive with plenty of hilly country, forests and picturesque villages to include in the pictures. Over 600 selected photos from my many trips to the Czech Republic are displayed here.

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Another small central European country with an interesting rail system. Although both the Czech Republic and Slovakia share a common railway heritage, there are significant differences in some areas such as liveries and the rates at which some of the older classes have been withdrawn. One thing that the two countries do share is a very attractive landscape. The galleries now contain over 200 photos from trips in 2003 and 2011.

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Although France is Britain's nearest neighbour, French railways haven't featured on many of my trips. These pictures were taken on trips to the superbly scenic but lightly trafficked main line along the Mediterranean coast north of the Spanish border and the trunk route through the Saverne Gap west of Strasbourg. All the photos were taken on recent trips since 2008.

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It all started with a chance encounter with a 4-6-4 tank in the Black Forest in 1973. From then on I was hooked on foreign railways in general and Germanic locomotives in particular. Trips to Germany have been sporadic over the intervening years but I’m now a regular visitor and the galleries have expanded to over 300 photos covering many of the country’s scenic diesel and electric lines. All of the photos here were taken since 2006 but pictures from earlier trips will be added as time permits.

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Switzerland is famed the world over for its beautiful alpine scenery and its excellent transport system. The railways are a real delight with a huge variety of gauges, railway companies, locomotives and liveries all running through the picturesque Swiss landscape. The galleries contain more than 250 photos, with the emphasis unashamedly on the superb Rhätischebahn meter gauge network in Graubünden.

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Austria has long been a natural target for the railway photographer. Its steam locomotives were very distinctive and pockets of steam operation lasted well into the 1970s, its electric locomotives worked to a grand old age and usually outlasted their contemporaries in other parts of Europe and the scenery was magnificent. In recent years most of the variety has been swept aside but the scenery is still superb. Most of my Austrian material is on film and will need to be scanned before it can appear here. In the meantime, here are a few digital images from a 2003 trip to the Brenner Pass and an April 2010 visit to the Salzburg - Linz line.

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China [Industrials]

Although main line steam is now history, there are still a significant number of steam locomotives in industrial service in 2010. Some of these industrial operations are quite spectacular with locos working heavy trains up severe gradients. Dramatic industrial backdrops can sometimes be included in the photographs while others show lines running through remarkably attractive scenery. This gallery primarily features pictures of steam locomotives taken on trips over the past few years with a few added from earlier trips for good measure.

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China [Main Line]

China was the last country in the world to run steam in main line service and the big show lasted as late as 2002. The country was (and still is) an irresistable magnet for me with excellent scenery, heavy traffic and big engines. The modern scene is also of interest with a variety of diesel and electric classes at work in a splendidly scenic landscape. This gallery features pictures of steam, diesel and electric locomotives taken on trips over the past few years with a few added from earlier trips.

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United Kingdom

Britain's railways have become progressively less interesting over recent years but it wasn't always that way. Most of my British material is on film and I've made a start on scanning some of the early 35mm slides. In addition to a few digital images taken before I lost interest, there are some classic diesels on the East Coast Main Line and industrial steam at Bedlay colliery in Lanarkshire.

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Spain used to be home to an incredible collection of charming narrow gauge lines but most have now closed or lost much of their appeal through modernisation. The Soller Railway on the Mediterranean island of Mallorca is an exception and still retains its unique character. There are also pictures of the superb Ponferrada - Villablino line in steam days and main line diesels around Murcia.

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China [JiTong Railway]

In the mid 1990s China was dieselising rapidly and it was becoming difficult to find photogenic steam worked main lines to visit. Just when it looked like the best was over, the JiTong Railway opened its 943 km line across Inner Mongolia with a large fleet of QJ class 2-10-2s. Steam working lasted until December 2005 when the last fires were dropped. This gallery contains photos taken east of Daban during the last few years. More will be added later. Some pictures of the Daban - Haoluku section can also be found in the China (Main Line) gallery.

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The big attraction in Cuba was the sugar cane harvest that took place in spring every year. Most mills had their own rail system to bring cane from outlying loading points to the mill and many of them still used steam locomotives right up to the end of the 20th century. An unbelievable variety of engines from the main US builders could still be seen at work in the mid 1990s, most of them over 70 years old. The pictures here are from a 1996 trip but others will be added when time permits.

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Turkey is a fascinating country with both European and Asian influences contributing a unique culture. The railways are also the result of numerous foreign influences and in the last days of steam, locomotives from America, Belgium, Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany and Sweden could be seen working side by side. The current scene is a lot more uniform with EMD products working most main line services. Most of my Turkish material is on film and will need to be scanned before it can appear here. In the meantime, here are a few digital images from a March 2006 trip to see the total eclipse in Kapadokya.

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