Passenger Train Services over Unusual Lines
listing regular passenger trains over obscure rail routes in the British Isles
Compiled by Richard Maund
This page was updated on 3 December 2015
This publication's long established title is, perhaps, something of a misnomer - hence the addition of the subtitle. The objective is to tabulate the passenger trains using obscure rail lines in the British Isles. The lines included here are those scheduled to be used reasonably regularly - albeit not necessarily frequently - by passenger trains that may not readily be evident from the official publicly-available rail timetable for Great Britain, its accompanying map (when published) or the equivalent publications of other railways. The categorisation adopted by other, unofficial publications has no bearing on the selection of lines for inclusion in PSUL.
The facility is offered partly to those wishing to travel over such "unusual" lines but also as a data source for those interested in the history of such obscure services. With the latter in mind, the aspiration is to make available, on this website, information in respect of earlier years too.
Many may know the title as a small pamphlet, originally issued through the auspices of The Stephenson Locomotive Society, but latterly by the Branch Line Society, who still issue a printed booklet version of the data from this website.
If you have visited this site seeking current train service timetable information you should consult the on-line journey planners of National Rail(for Great Britain), NI Rail (for Northern Ireland) or Iarnród Éireann (for the Republic of Ireland).
Some services may be shown in abridged form rather than by full listing of all trains. In editions from 1993 onwards, lines which had service in the previous timetable period but have no service this time are endorsed either "Service ceased", where a regular service has been withdrawn, or "No service", where only temporary engineering diversions had previously operated. Lines which did not have service in the previous timetable period, but which now see use, are specifically endorsed.
A review of lines which fall in the indeterminate area at the edges of the criteria for inclusion/exclusion resulted in adding - from the 2013 edition - four existing routes. While neither "rare" nor obscure to most users (the routes are clearly shown on the Network Rail system map accompanying the national timetable), these may be helpful for less experienced users: Stoke Works Junction - Abbotswood Junction; Weston super Mare avoiding line; Colwich Junction - Stone Junction; Morecambe - Heysham Port. Excursions which are expected to be using "obscure" routes on more than a once-off basis are also now included (although no attempt has been made to include multi-day "land-cruise" trains); it should not be assumed that these trains run every week - consult operator's publicity.
Advertised times are used (although the occasional working time - which may vary by a minute or two - may have inadvertently crept in). Be particularly aware that, in some areas, a leaf-fall timetable is introduced in October which may result in some trains running slightly earlier than the rest of the year. The National Rail Timetable and its printed derivatives omit some trains or parts of their routes which are advertised in train operating companies' own timetables; a note is included below in relevant cases that have come to notice.
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Explanation of references
M = Mondays
W = Wednesdays
F = Fridays
Su = Sundays
T = Tuesdays
Th = Thursdays
S = Saturdays
plus O = only or X = excepted
Some diversions are pre-planned in the working timetable and these are listed herein, prefaced by the days/dates of operation (in CAPITALS in some editions, with the symbols ¶ or <+> in some editions). Some train companies' websites give outline information of forthcoming engineering work, as does the National Rail website. Late information may be available through the Gensheet Yahoo! Group.
Other service changes
From 2012, Network Rail has published the current Sectional Appendices and working timetables on its website. Transport for London have followed suit, so current London Underground working timetables are online. Working timetables for Docklands Light Railway, Manchester Metrolink and Tyne & Wear (Nexus) Metro are accessible through responses to Freedom of Information requests through the What Do They Know website (use their search facility).OpenTrainTimes and Realtime Trains websites enable checking for any amendments or short term variations to working timetable details for specific train schedules.
Quasi-regular excursions and land cruises
Brief mention was, until the Summer 2002 edition, made of some of these arrangements, where timings appeared in the working timetables or where the route was reasonably established. There was always debate about whether such trains warranted inclusion but when they appeared in the working timetables it seemed sensible to cover them. Subsequently, the degree to which many (even when still running) disappeared from the working timetables and transferred to short-notice advice, and the relative infrequency of some routes, led to inability to provide reliable total coverage, leading to inconsistency. For this reason, they were deleted with effect from the Winter 2002-3 edition, apart only from the VSOE "line service" between London, the Channel and Venezia until that ceased to use the Folkestone Harbour branch after 13 November 2008. For 2012, steam and other excursions which followed a regular schedule over a number of weeks (usually during the summer season) were again incorporated, while from 2013 abridged details are included for those excursions expected to be using "obscure" routes on more than a once-off basis. However, no attempt has been made to include multi-day "land-cruise" trains such as Royal Scotsman or similar offered by other operators.
Details of forthcoming railtours over non-passenger lines can be found at the Railtours Advertising Rare Routes and Railway Herald websites.
Grouping of lines
The listing is sub-divided, as follows:
Within each region, lines are listed generally from west to east, with more northerly lines before southerly ones.For reference purposes, against each line some or all of the following may be shown (not applicable for all editions of PSUL):
And now the small print:Copyright and Disclaimer Notice:
Any facsimile representations of documents reproduced in this website are with the agreement of the original publishers, who reserve their rights. Otherwise, copyright of this website in its entirety is reserved by the compiler. Copies of any part of the website must be for personal use only - use for commercial purposes will be regarded as breach of copyright. The information contained in the website is for general reference only. The formatting and content of the documents may only be altered to suit your own computer or printer.
The right of Richard Maund to be identified as the compiler of this work in this format has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988. All rights, including copyright and publications rights, are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without written permission of the copyright holder.
Please click on the service period you wish to consult:
Current edition: year 2016Past editions - for reference: Year 2015
The following editions open as PDF files through Dropbox:
July 1991 - May 1992
May 1990 - July 1991
May 1989 - May 1990
May 1988 - May 1989
The following editions are presented in two parts (both PDF files) - a facsimile scan of the original and a listing of amendments and corrections thereto:1987-8
The first edition: 1963 Summer opens an introduction, and leads to a facsimile of the first edition.
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Elsewhere in the world
If you are interested in information about similar obscure lines in Europe, visit theEnthusiasts' Guide to Travelling the Railway of Europe; refer in particular to the "Lines with obscure or sparse passenger services" sections.
History of PSULYou can find a note of the origins and history of PSUL here.
If you have any information, comments on or updates to any of the documents, you can e-mail the compiler.
Copyright© Richard Maund, 1963-2016