The great British railway has been part of our cultural heritage for nearly 200 years now and there's certainly been some interesting developments along the way!
Here's some facts and stats about the trains, stations, tracks and characters that have all helped to make our amazing rail system what it is today...
- The first ever locomotive-hauled railway in the world was the Stockton to Darlington route. It opened in September 1825, and George Stephenson's revolutionary "Locomotion 1" pulled the train.
- When the railway was first introduced. many people were suspicious of this new form of transport. There were even protests against the running of services on Sunday, the day of rest; by 1889, the Anti-Sunday Travel Union had 8,000 members and nearly 60 branch offices dotted throughout the UK.
- There were three classes of accommodation to choose from in the early days. First-class travellers reclined in luxury, and second-class passengers weren't much worse off, but travel by third-class and you got a rougher deal! No carriages were provided, and so you had to ride in the open-top goods wagons, seated on uncomfortable wooden benches drilled with holes to allow the rainwater to drain away.
- One of the earliest films made by the Lumière brothers, L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de La Ciotat (1896), featured a close-up shot of a steam train pulling into the station. Moving pictures were still a new phenomenon at the time, and rumour has it that the audience were so terrified on seeing the approaching train that they screamed and fled to the back of the room.
- 3.5 million passengers travel by train every day in the UK, making ours one the busiest railways in Europe.
- Britain's longest railway tunnel, apart from the Channel Tunnel, is the Severn Tunnel at 4.5 miles (7km) long. It would take you two hours to travel through the tunnel on foot (although obviously we don't recommend trying this!).
- Approximately 70% of UK train journeys either start or finish in London! So it's no surprise that London's Waterloo is the UK's busiest station (100 million people travel through it every year), closely followed by Victoria and Liverpool Street. Glasgow station is the most well-used station outside of London.
- We often come across unusual "lost property" that's been left behind on a Hull Trains service. Past finds include false teeth, an eight-foot surf board and an urn complete with ashes!
- There are 40,000 bridges and tunnels, 9,000 level crossings and 9,941 miles (16,000 km) of railway tracks in Great Britain's rail network.
- The longest UK train station name goes to the extremely hard to pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Anglesey. Some of the three-letter contenders for shortest station name are Ash, Rye and Ely.