Visiting the world’s train graveyards

Tuning into Channel 4 on any given day, you will no doubt eventually see an ident featuring an airplane graveyard in a dusty desert.

This is Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California and it has been where airplanes have been coming to retire for years. Sites such as these are the final resting point for mighty birds that have patrolled the skies for decades and can make for magnificent viewing. Some planes are stored to be used for spare parts while others are just left to bask in the sun.

These graveyards are fairly common across the world with nine currently spread across the southern states of the US. Australia, the UK and Kyrgyzstan also have similar arrangements with Britain's formerly being at RAF Shawbury. It was originally opened following the end of World War II but was decommissioned and shut down in 1972.

It is not just planes that these graveyards are reserved for. In recent years, there has been the discovery of a series of train graveyards found across the US, parts of South America and Europe. There is a sense of macabre when gazing upon what was once a powerful engine reduced to not much more than a decaying piece of metal.

So what are the most talked about train graveyards across the world? Here are of the best that the globe has to offer.

Railway Museum Graveyard – Cincinnati, Ohio, US

Cincinnati's Railway Museum Graveyard is one of very few of its kind that has actively created a shrine to the locomotives of yesteryear. First opened in 1975, this four-acre museum has a wide array of abandoned and decommissioned trains. The majority belonged to the seven railways that enter Cincinnati and are relics of the city.

Yanov Abandoned Train Station – Pripyat, Ukraine

Pripyat was once a bustling city in the north of Ukraine, close to the border of Belarus, but the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 turned this part of Eastern Europe into a ghost town. People have gradually left the area after the incident, leaving places like Yanov Station.

The abandoned station is a timely reminder of Ukraine under the rule of the Soviet Union with trains harking back to that era. It also has an eerie feel to it as it lies less than half a mile from the infamous 'Bridge of Death' where locals were killed by massive radiation poisoning during the disaster.

Winslow Junction – New Jersey, US

Unlike the Cincinnati and Pripyat, Winslow Junction in New Jersey highlights the decline of railway industry in certain parts of this expansive country. Winslow Junction was once one of the busiest junctions on the east coast of the US and was the base of the Southern Railroad; over the years it has been left to rot.

This part of the US's railway network was the site of a famous train crash when in July 1922 an Atlantic City-bound train known as The Owl derailed travelling at 90mph resulting in the death of seven people, injuring many others.

Youngest steam train driver qualifies for mainline services

The youngest steam train driver in over 40 years has qualified on the mainline.

Jim Clarke completed his testing as he "passed out" as a certified driver after taking the Belmond British Pullman from London Victoria to Guildford, Surrey. The 33-year-old is believed to be the youngest person to achieve this accolade since 1968 and follows in the footsteps of father, Don who had driven steam engines since the 1960s.

Clarke Senior spent 49 years working on the railways before his retirement and has been working alongside his son to allow him to achieve this prestigious qualification. His father explained that driving a steam train requires "sheer physical effort" and that he was immensely proud that his son had gained the accreditation.

Prior to the exam, Mr Clarke Junior said: "A good few years of work has gone into it. Before, you have to be passed out as a fireman, work your time, be put forward for driving, go through the training and then hopefully today pass the driver's exam."

The Belmond British Pullman is one of the most prestigious and luxurious steam trains ever to grace the UK's tracks. Stepping aboard the luxurious carriages that have been pulled on famous 1920s services such as The Brighton Belle and The Golden Arrow. It passes through some magnificent scenic views while passengers can enjoy champagne and gourmet cuisine.

It is a voyage not only through the British countryside but also through time. Passengers are treated to a five-course lunch as the train makes its way along the circular tour of the area.

Securing a qualification to drive a locomotive of this level of prestige is a huge honour and now Mr Clarke will be looking forward to running steam services on the mainline.

Meet the eco-friendly steam locomotives

Thinking about steam trains conjures up images of locomotives barrelling through the countryside with plumes of white smoke billowing from its funnel.

For generations this has been a regular sight for passengers and trainspotters alike but, as you can well imagine, steam trains are not the most eco-friendly vehicles in the world. Tonnes of coal is carried on the back and then burned to ensure these power engines keep happily chugging away.

As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the effects of global warming, transport has become an area where we can 'go green'. Over the years, the introduction of the hybrid car, electric train and even the proposed solar-powered plane has shown that people are getting serious about reducing their carbon footprint.

In Arizona, a steam engine company is following suit. In the city of Williams, is the start of the Grand Canyon Railway which offers steam locomotive journeys to the south rim of this wonder of the world. These magnificent engines are the quintessential US train, but have one very unique difference – they are run on vegetable oil.

Since 2008, the railway has replaced its coal and wood-fired burners with those that run entirely on waste vegetable oil. This has allowed more steam engine excursions to take place without harming the beautiful landscape around the Grand Canyon.

This weekend (March 21st) sees a very special event with passengers being able to experience the canyon aboard the No. 4960 locomotive. Starting from Williams, the service heads north to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park where people can enjoy the stunning scenery this part of the world has to offer.

The two-and-a-half journey to the canyon takes in all the beautiful sights this corner of Arizona has. Travelling at an elevation of 5,000 feet it can be one of the most memorable trips a train-lover could go on.

Hogwarts Express steam train to join Warner Bros Studio Tour

It has quickly become one of the most famous steam trains across the globe and now movie fans will be able to see the Hogwarts Express in all its glory.

Anyone who has seen JK Rowling's Harry Potter franchise of films will be familiar with this locomotive. Responsible for ferrying Harry, Ron and Hermione to Hogwarts for the very first time in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone the train has been an ever-present throughout the series.

Who could forget when Harry and Ron steal the flying car and are almost run off the Glenfinnan Viaduct by the Hogwarts Express? The locomotive has had a number of memorable scenes in the film series and has been commemorated at London King's Cross Station with a special Platform 9¾ exhibition.

Now, film buffs and steam train enthusiasts will be able to view the Hogwarts Express in all its glory as it becomes a main feature of the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London. The 5972 Olton Hall locomotive forms part of a new exhibition which opens on March 19th.

Visitors will be able to sit in the same seat as Harry and enjoy some chocolate frogs while, thanks to Oscar-winning special effects artist John Richardson, the locomotive will be rigged with artificial steam. The exhibition has already been impressing some of the cast members.

Mark Williams, who played Ron's father Arthur Weasley, said: "I've really enjoyed being back at the Studio Tour, seeing the original Hogwarts Express and the superb recreation of Platform 9¾

"People don't always realise that the school train was in fact a real working locomotive which has been transporting passengers up and down the country since 1937."

The route of the Hogwarts Express was filmed in the Scottish Highlands running along the line of the current Jacobite Steam Train. This journey provided stunning sweeping shots of Ben Nevis, Steall Falls and the surrounding lochs.

Thousands set to attend Welsh weekend of steam

Wales has proud steam heritage and this weekend (March 14th and 15th) will see thousands attend a gala welcoming some of the UK's most memorable locomotives.

Organised by the 6880 Betton Grange Society, the steam gala will see six mainline locomotives attend between Llangollen and Corwen in north-east Wales. The event which began last Friday is part of a much wider week-long celebration of all things steam and will include a beer festival held at Llangollen station.

New North Wales reports that around 1,000 people are expected to attend the showpiece day on Sunday. Among the locomotives due to pull into this quaint corner of Wales for the Steel, Steam and Stars IV event include the Central Star 92214 which has delighted crowds in previous years.

Speaking to the news provider, Quentin McGuinness, Betton Grange chairman, explained that he has been pleased with how the event has gone so far and is looking forward to the upcoming weekend's activities.

Mr McGuinness said: "Some of the giant engines have also proved very popular as well, including one called Wells which is a streamlined art-deco engine. We have had local visitors and people coming from as far away as London, and still have plenty of beer and real ale available for next weekend."

The main project currently undertaken by the Betton Grange Society is the construction of a new locomotive based on the No. 6880 locomotive of the same name. The Granges trains have a special place in the hearts of the members as they represent the north-east Welsh region.

Unfortunately, after their decommission none of the 80 locomotives managed to escape the cutters yard and were all broken down. Now the group is aiming to bring one back to life through a team of dedicated volunteers and enthusiasts.

The group hopes to raise money through sales of products via their various retailers.

How to build a model railway in your garden

Have you ever seen the Northlandz model railroad in Flemington, New Jersey?

Bruce Williams Zaccagnino has spent the best part of 16 years creating a model railroad in his home. It now includes over 100 trains, 3,000 buildings, 50,000 streets and 400 bridges which span over huge canyons. Mr William Zaccagnino's has become the inspiration many modellers have had to make their own layout.

However, many simply do not have the space in their own home to create a model railway on this scale. Obviously people will opt for a much smaller version, as who can realistically have a 40 ft canyon sprawling across their basement? Taking the model railway outside to the garden can help to create a really impressive outdoor space.

It can compliment a person's garden and could even link through small water features and flower beds. So how do you go about creating a model railway in your garden? Follow our handy guide and gain some inspiration.

Plan ahead

If you are going to invest in creating an outdoor model railway you need to plan thoroughly before doing anything. You need to firstly ask yourself what you want to achieve from this project. Do you want to create a huge sprawling space full of bridges, lakes and track or do you want something much more low-key that will not require the same level of maintenance?

Next you need to set aside a space and stick to it. This is a hugely important aspect as you don't want your track to exceed its space and then encroach on to other parts of the garden. Once this has been decided then you can look aspects such as which era of railway you want it to represent. Are you going to go with the traditional steam engines of yesteryear or maybe embrace more modern locomotives?

Then there is the issue of cost. Building a model railway can be an expensive business so you would to set yourself a budget that you can feasibly stick to. Remember that a project of this ilk could take years so you need to properly plan your finances and ensure that you can finish it without breaking the bank.

Be patient

This is one of the key factors when putting a model railway together. If you are looking to embark on a long-term project then you need to be extremely patient as there will be times when your plans change. You need to be ready for moments when you find that you can not continue on the path you are going down and thus need to be amended.

You need to be flexible and ready to adjust. This is particularly important when it comes to purchasing parts. You may hit the age-old stumbling block that certain parts are out of stock meaning you have to wait a long time but that desired piece of equipment. Again, this takes a lot of patience but the end results can be hugely rewarding.

Choose your equipment wisely

Once you have decided on a style then you start looking at which equipment to buy. This is something you need to think long and hard about. Remember, you do not need to spends hundreds of pounds looking to make the railway you want and even a modest set can provide hugely rewarding.

If you are a novice, there is no need to start splashing the cash. Take a methodical approach and start by investing in a good length of track, lay it in a circle in your designated space making the radius as big as possibly can. One of the key factors is making sure that your track is of a high quality and has the durability to take on the outside environment.

Now you can start looking at some nice additions to go with your basic. This is where you can really creative and build a railway you can be proud of. The possibilities really are endless.