Welcome to the Queen of the Railways

The latest content from Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain, self-styled and appointed Queen of the Railways - a mix of news, creativity, innovation and fun!

With a passion for public transport and especially rail, Daisy currently works as Innovation Manager at East West Railway Company.

Did you fall for my April Fool this year?

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Congratulations Derby for securing the home of GBR!

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the move would make Derby "the heart of Great Britain's rail industry". Derby is home to the UK's largest train factory, which employs about 2,000 people, and the former Railway Technical Centre in the south-east of the city - currently a business park - has been earmarked as a potential site for the HQ.

A truly amazing and inspiring day was organised for young people by Community Rail Lancashire (CRL) for International Women's Day - an all-female crewed & staffed run on the Flying Scotsman! As organiser extraordinaire Karen Bennett of CRL said "120 pupils and their parents came for a ride on a train, a careers talk, a tour of the museum and to hear Bessie Matthews' famous story 'Arlo Adventures'... What a perfect day to use an icon from railway past to inspire young people to look to careers in railway future!"

In disappointing, but sadly unsurprising news, around 80% of UK employers pay men more than women on average in their organisation — a percentage that has worsened since the start of mandatory gender pay gap reporting six years ago.

In transport specifically, in 2017, the gender pay gap between men and women was 9.6%, and in 2022 it was 10.4%.

We are actively going BACKWARDS in transport - something we simply cannot afford to do. We have a huge skills gap looming, so for just that reason alone we cannot afford to alienate half the population. There is also the plain fact that women are socially conditioned away from jobs in STEM - if you don't believe me, pop down to your local toy shop and see what's sold for little boys vs little girls - and that once women do get into the sector, they can often come up against terrible misogynistic attitudes

I have to show off the best gift ever received!

I now have my own mini-departures board, with real-time data, and I can set it to any station - it even does announcements if desired!

You can view it in action here: https://twitter.com/RailwayQueen/status/1610303153030762498

And the supplier is here: https://ukdepartureboards.co.uk/store/product/desktop-departures/?desktop=true

Royal Travels

It’s been a busy couple of months! I’ve been all over, from Amsterdam down to Malaga;

Destination #1 - Frankfurt 

The Railway Interior Innovation Summit Europe took place at the IdeasTrain Hall in Frankfurt-Rödelheim, Germany (organised by RedCabin), and as the name suggests, focussed on interiors and innovation within rail. Alongside being a fab conference with great speakers (shout-out to Kirsty at PriestmanGoode for her brilliant management of the whole thing), I loved exploring the Ideenzug; or, the Ideas Train, from Deutsche Bahn & neomind. This is a 1:1 mockup model of a real train which is used to construct and test onboard concepts; from tamer ones to new seating layouts, to blue sky-thinking ideas like onboard fitness suites. 

I loved the airline-style first class seating pods and the classic 'click-clack' convertible train seat which allows passengers to face either direction, and I hated (sorry, yes, hated) the semi-standing leaning seats which airlines have also considered to maximise capacity. Please, please, no. Frankfurt's also got a brilliant transport system; with trams, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, and buses, all for incredibly low prices (as in all European cities, try not to be as jealous as I am...)

Destination #2 - Amsterdam

The World Passenger Festival (organised by Terrapinn), was next, with loads of UK companies represented (nice!) and brilliant speakers in a beautiful city.

There was one thing that did completely enrage me, however. There was a fantastic panel on equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) featuring an all-female and highly knowledgeable panel; but as this panel was beginning, roughly half the audience left the room. It was an exodus of pale, male and stale attendees (and more than a few women!), who had clearly decided that this part of the agenda simply didn't matter to them. Perhaps the industry feels all our issues in ED&I are solved, despite the fact that we all have huge skills gaps looming on the horizon? Genuinely incredibly disappointing.

Destination #3 - Malaga

My last trip, and the only one I had to fly to (sorry, don't hate me!) was for the Rail Live! (organised again by Terrapinn). This event was very Spanish (less international), which was genuinely very interesting to experience; a real deep look at transport in Spain specifically. We definitely need to build up the UK company representation there next year! Also, can we have it in a train-reachable country for those of us using the Eurostar to connect, like Barcelona, please?

I love love love Avanti’s Pride train - visual representation is so important for inclusion, especially in a space like rail with an ongoing and rising issue of hate crime.

Not only does this tell people that they belong, but it also goes towards making it clear that hate crime and harassment won’t be tolerated.

Of course, visual representation by itself isn’t enough, and work by operators, BTP, society as a whole and more is essential in tackling the root issues of these crimes.

A brilliant rail advert in Manchester - a big, bold, obvious advert that tugs at the heart strings. Excellent!

A new scheme from rail operators will see those people with an assistance dog provided with a laminated card, which they can use as an aid to explain why their assistance dog needs to sit under an unoccupied seat. Assistance dog owners can also book a free extra seat in advance for their dog to lie under.

Elsewhere in rail inclusion, an £800,000 accessibility upgrade project has begun at Manchester Piccadilly to build an inclusive and accessible Assisted Travel Lounge. Funded by Network Rail, a disused room near platform one will be made into a quiet and inviting waiting space for passengers with additional mobility and sensory needs. The lounge will include accessible seating and wheelchair bays, an accredited Changing Places toilet facility, a sensory space for people who find stations overwhelming, a staffed welcome desk and more.

This is seriously cool; "the Rhaetian Railway (RhB) – the largest Alpine railway in Switzerland – has broken a world record, by taking the world’s longest narrow gauge passenger train in the world on the UNESCO World Heritage route from the Albula Tunnel in Preda to the world-famous Landwasser Viaduct just outside Filisur.

The longest narrow gauge passenger train, measuring a whopping 1,906-metres, travelled along the Albula Line, with 25 fourpart Capricorn railcars meandering along behind. Travelling at a speed of around 30 to 35 kilometres per hour, the journey took around an hour. Seven drivers and 21 technicians were at work on the train to ensure it made the journey." https://news.railbusinessdaily.com/worlds-longest-train-breaks-world-record-in-switzerland/

Royal Travels

I’ve been travelling in and around Naples! I took a great trip on the Circumvesuviana; a network of lines running out of Naples to the east of the city around Mount Vesuvius. It’s a popular tourist route, with frequent, cheap trains out to Sorrento and Pompeii. For being a popular tourist route, some interesting choices have been made... For example, is that an incredible view outside the window?! You'll never know, because we covered the windows of some of the trains in film! The majority of stops also have step-free access from the platform to the train, a feat still far, far off in the UK, but not access from the station to the platform at many of the stops.

Of course I also used the funicular! There are four funiculars in the city, some nearly totally underground and some offering views over the city. During the 19th century Naples experienced booming growth in construction, with the development of hilltop neighborhoods Vomero and Arenella; leading to the construction of their popular funiculars. For example, inaugurated in 1928, the Central Funicular of Naples (just one of the four) is one of the most used funicular railways in the world, and carries over 10 million passengers per year.

I also learned about the Art Stations project (Stazioni dell’Arte), which brought in artists and architects to bring art to people’s everyday lives. Toledo (with the blue tiles, above) is one of the very best, and was even nominated as the most beautiful station in Europe. There's science here too - the LED lights that soar upwards through the ocean-like artwork are part of a tool developed at the INFN National Laboratories of Gran Sasso. Cosmic rays arrive on earth with a flux of about 100/200 particles per square meter per second. These are particles with electric charge, mass and energy, and can reach a depth of 50 meters, hence this genius observation system built into the metro. Each illuminated LED indicates that a particle has passed, as well as showing its trajectory. I love this intersection of science and art; I'd love to see something like this in the UK!

NightJet have revealed their simply amazing new trains (the sleeper arm of Austrian national rail firm ÖBB). NightJet’s new routes cover Paris, Vienna, Milan and more, and the trains look stunning; definitely on my list to try!

The new generation of seven-carriage Nightjets have two seating cars, three couchettes and two sleeping cars, with ultra-modern design and comfort throughout.

All sleeper compartments are fitted with their own toilet and shower facilities, plus a seating area allows relaxed working, reading or eating during the journey. Most exciting of all, new Mini Cabins for solo travellers are compact, unique and look really fun! The multi-function wagon will provide improved transport options for active travel too -  bicycle storage spaces for cycling enthusiasts as well as more space for luggage, and even space for skiing and snowboard equipment.

On 17 September 1963, Raghbir Singh became the first person of colour to work on a bus in Bristol, after mass campaigning and a four month boycott forced the dropping of a 'colour bar'.

Royal Travels

This was my first InnoTrans (Berlin, Germany) and wow, it’s huge! Nearly 3,000 exhibitors from 56 countries ply everything from miniscule components made of futuristic compounds, to entire locomotives, and everything in between. On our stall, we hosted amazing companies including GoMedia, UrbanThings, Chrome Angel Solutions, Incremental, Atmo and Esoterix. The Global Centre of Rail Excellence (GCRE) was there promoting the future of transport development in Wales, accompanied by the team at PAULEY, with a digital twin of the space in virtual reality. I enjoyed exploring the Škoda 36T tram, to be used in Germany’s Mannheim in the cities of Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen, and run as a tram-train on regional lines. It also features low-floor entry, double-wide doors and top-of-the-line information systems; promising a safe and smooth ride for all passengers. Something that didn’t impress me was the gender balance and the gendered roles at the event. Every stall which had catering or drinks (usually the large multinationals), had serving staff to deliver their offerings. Without exception (from my observation), the serving staff were women; it seems that these large organisations, who undoubtedly have diversity and inclusion policies, simply didn’t think about the visual impact of their stalls being staffed and led by men, but served by women.

Royal Travels

I was lucky enough to travel with Locomotive Intercity Limited on 90002, the 'Wolf of Badenoch', and experience their Friday Charter offering! I could talk about what we all know: yes, the seats are bigger and yes, it’s got that vintage charm, but the main thing here is the sense of joy it brings which was just lovely to experience on the mainline (as much as I do love my trips with Avanti and I do have a great fondness for Pendolinos). As you'd expect, the service attracted a lot of attention before we departed London Euston; including a famous face!

The journey itself was a comfortable ride and a great experience; the staff are a major highlight - the customer service they deliver is simply superb, it's worth the trip for them alone. The catering is also great; huge, fresh sandwiches which are so cheap given their quality and size at £3.50, plus champagne if you really want to push the boat (train?) out. If I was splitting hairs, the one area to improve are the onboard toilet facilities. They’re fine - functional and clean - but do show the age of the train much more than the rest of the service. A toilet upgrade could be a welcome addition if Locomotive InterCity intend to keep these services running into the future from EUS-MAN (and gosh, I hope they do), though perhaps the more vintage toilet feel is a draw for some! I’m also not sure if I saw an accessible toilet or a wheelchair accessible space in the carriage, though this may be something I just didn’t see personally that is available. (Edit 06/09/22: Loco InterCity confirmed they have an accessible toilet and wheelchair spaces, both usually in coach F).

There are lessons to be learned here; as COVID moves us away from the traditional commuter model, we have to think about how we attract the casual/leisure traveller. Services like this one, from the comfort factor to uniqueness, the catering to the staff, really show how train travel can be part of the day out or holiday experience itself, rather than something to be suffered in order to reach a location. Combine these lessons with modern technologies and materials; you have a winning sustainable travel alternative.

On 1st September 1968, the first section of the Victoria line opened (Walthamstow Central to Highbury & Islington), with some fantastic poster designs. Via lan Visits.

I love this article about the most luxurious train rides in the world. I haven't been on a single one (but I am open if anyone wants to send me to review... Cough cough...), but they are all simply stunning and examples of how rail is undeniably the best way to travel. From Seven Stars in Japan to the eponymously luxurious Orient Express, and Belmond services to the Transcantábrico Gran Lujo in Spain, these are all examples of the absolute pinnacle of opulent rail.

"From Paris to Berlin
And every disco I get in
My heart is pumping for love
Pumping for love"


Once again looking at women in railway history, I found this truly excellent poster in the brilliant book 'Railwaywomen' by Helena Wojtczak.

At least four station mistresses are known to have worked on the Isle of Wight prior to 1915. In about 1900 Emily Merwood took over Whippingham. The station, on the Newport to Ryde line, had been built to serve Queen Victoria’s home, Osborne House, though it was later opened to the general public. In 1908 a full-page feature about Mrs Merwood was published in Horner’s Weekly with photographs showing her pulling levers, posting bills and flag-signalling.

In rail community news, Network Rail has teamed up with Mitie to install vending machines in the public toilets at all three stations, providing access to free sanitary products such as pads and tampons for all those who need them.

Period poverty – a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints – is an issue that affects women, girls and people who menstruate across the globe. Studies have shown that around 10% of girls aged 14 to 21 in the UK are unable to afford sanitary items, with the average annual cost of purchasing tampons and pads totalling approximately £128, or £10 a month. One in seven female students have had to rely upon their friends to provide them with the products they need owing to affordability issues.

It is hoped that by providing easy access to free sanitary products, Network Rail and Mitie will help passengers to travel with dignity and confidence.

Not for the first time, I'm hugely jealous of Paul Lucas, and specifically his amazing trip on the Arlecchino train from Milan to Venice! This magnificent train, whose original design dates to 1952, has been beautifully restored and is running special tours.

As we look at a bleak winter for many, we have to urgently consider what we can do to support all people with the cost of living across the UK. Whilst COVID has changed travel patterns, a major impact could be made in the cost of transport and rail.

The Campaign for Better Transport has called for a fare freeze, with chief exec Paul Tuohy commenting; “Even a minus RPI rail fare rise next year will hit passengers hard and could mean people stay away from the trains altogether. The Government must go further and commit to a fare freeze for 2023 now so that commuters are not left with the uncertainly of whether they’ll be able to afford to get to work next year.”

In other price news, take a look at this brilliant map outlining costs from selected European cities to others by rail and coach/bus. I would love to see this map for the UK!  

Royal Travels

I’ve been in Scotland! There are no images of my journey up North - this is because it took approximately 8 hours (from Manchester) in the end after a power failure near Lockerbie and a diversion to Glasgow... I wasn't in a photographic mood! Once I actually got to Edinburgh, though, the sun was shining and the Fringe crowds were joyous - almost making up for the difficulty of the travel. My reason for being in Scotland was the phase 2 launch of the Scottish Rail Cluster; an incredible innovation support programme for rail in Scotland led by Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Engineering. The launch was hosted by Progress Rail - I was tremendously impressed by their conservation efforts, including branded hedgehog homes on-site!

In Copenhagen, the Metro has party trains with DJs and dancing! A great idea when we could all use a little bit more joy.

After being featured by Heritage Railway as a content creator they love, I believe I'm now officially famous! Read here: https://www.heritagerailway.co.uk/15569/rail-enthusiast-content-creators-were-loving-right-now/

A beautiful photo by @l_photo_collection! August is a great time to see Sunflowers in Japan and the Tokaido Shinkansen passes this stunning field (Ogaki Sunflower field, Gifu Prefecture) between Nagoya and Kyoto. If you visit the Ogaki Sunflower field, you may even catch a rare glimpse of the special Doctor Yellow diagnostic train!

Have you noticed how hot it is? Gosh, isn’t it hot? Well, Geoff Marshall has you covered with this air-con tube map!

Look at this fascinating comparison; the first map shows travel times by train from Paris in 1882 - the second map (via Benjamin Td at Chronotrains) shows how far you can travel by train in 5 hours, starting from Paris. How times have changed!

Is this really the UK’s only free first class rail journey? (Being on a pendolino that is so crowded that it becomes declassified doesn’t count!)

Currently experiencing major wanderlust from this list of super-speedy trains; the fastest and the slowest (though the word hardly applies) on this list are the two I most want to experience (one for the first time and one again!)

Have you ever wondered why so many rail, tube and bus seats sport the patterns they do? Love it or hate it, moquette prints range wildly; from tube seats sporting London landmarks to seemingly random, semi-70’s colourful blocks. These fabrics have to meet stringent standards around fire (retardancy, low smoke, low toxicity and low heat-release materials), graffiti/soiling resistance, durability, comfort (which varies too…) and more. However, beyond this, the patterns (in many cases) are designed to distract from all the muck they're hiding. Instead, we're focussed on the pattern, rather that the dirt that may be on them!

Congratulations to the amazing Lionesses! What a great tribute from GWR!

Following strong applications from 42 local authorities across Britain in the competition to find a location for the headquarters of Great British Railways, six locations have been shortlisted. Choose from Birmingham, Crewe, Derby, Doncaster, Newcastle and York, and vote here: https://gbrtt.co.uk/hq-competition-public-vote/ I'm going to break cover and say (whilst I do think any of these 6 would be a great location)... I am betting it will be York. If it ends up being Birmingham, they're going to have to do something about the terrible platform arrangements at New Street!

Royal Travels

Before we get to Paris, we have to go through St Pancras (or Sanny P, if like me, you grew up in London). It's truly one of the most stunning stations in the world; need I say more? The Eurostar is just such a fantastic service; it's so much more relaxing than the stress and strife of the airport. What more can we do to promote this option for reaching the continent over flights? Recent Eurostar sales will certainly help, but I can't help but feel like more promotion is needed (as well as more trust and improvement in UK rail service punctuality). The cafe space in particular is great; offering a social area away from seating.

Travel within Paris itself holds its own charms. Firstly, a single ticket across the city, including the funicular, is extremely cheap. Including the Metro, RER, buses and trams within Paris - a single ticket can be used on any of the four modes for a single journey, for only €1.90. A weekly Navigo travel pass, across all zones, for a week, is only €22.80.

On another note, I love that some of the metro trains still have manually-opened doors (such fun!), but the system leaves a lot to be desired in terms of accessibility, with very minimal step-free access and a lot to be desired in way finding and signage.

An incredible public art project; the government of Schaerbeek, a suburb bordering the city of Brussels, now installs any mosaic, either created by residents or a local artist like Whitney Orville, FREE of charge!

Beautifying public spaces is so vital, and this sort of project fosters close community links and pride in living space! We need more of this in the UK; it puts me in mind of community rail work in our stations!

Many people are choosing portraits of their furry companions, although the designs range from depictions of wildlife to urban scenes. The project was initially started by by artist Ingrid Schreyersspurred.

I loved learning about Bob the Railway Dog, who travelled the South Australian Railways in the late 19th century! Bob was known to venture to and from Petersburg, sitting in the front of the coal space in the locomotive tender, travelling thousands of miles. According to the Petersburg Times, "His favourite place on a Yankee engine; the big whistle and belching smokestack seem(ed) to have an irresistible attraction for him...he lived on the fat of the land, and was not particular from whom he accepted his dinner".

Bob did not like suburban engines because of their cramped cabs, and was known to clear out third class compartments by "vigorously barking at all stations, usually succeeding in convincing intending passengers that the coach had been reserved of his special benefit". He had no owner, but was befriended and enabled by the engineers (for whom he seemed to have a special affinity) and other workers, and was permitted to "ride for free, like a politician."

Are you making the tea correctly?!

Sarah Guppy patented the ‘New Mode of Constructing and Erecting Bridges and Railroads without Arches’, a method using piling for the construction of a suspension bridge in 1811 (remaining unknown by many today as well as ahead of her time. Brunel, for example, was only five years old at the time). She was the first woman to patent a bridge and developed a range of other domestic and marine products.

Of course my first webpage post has to be a map! This tube map is arranged by lexical-gustatory synaesthesia (a phenomenon where an individual can 'taste' words or sounds).

James Wannerton, President of the UK Synaesthesia Association, has visited every tube, DLR and Overground stop on the network and described what the station name tastes like to him. 'Quay' seems to be currants (Heron Quays is eccles cakes and South Quay is Garibaldi biscuits), Ruislip is cherries and 'west' is chocolate.


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© 2022 Daisy Chapman-Chamberlain

The content of my mailer and this website are personal opinions and news unaffiliated with any other company. Credit is given to original content creators wherever possible, however please contact me with any corrections or additional citations.

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