Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Southern - Ascot review 1

Class 450 Unit at Ascot railway station 5/7/08

5/7/08 Ash Vale to Ascot
TOC: South West Trains
Traction used: 4 car Class 450 EMU
Weather: Sunny and cloudy

The train has started at Guildford at 15.00 and reverses at Aldershot, where it has waited for nearly fifteen minutes. It leaves the way it has come in and passes Aldershot Football Club on the left. The train then goes into a cutting and then a tunnel, before emerging by an army depot on the left. The line for Guildford then leaves us on the right. We reach about 60 mph and go over the Guildford to Reading line, before slowing for Ash Vale. It has modern white and blue station buildings and then we leave the main line to Waterloo, going left onto a single track in a northerly direction. We seem to be descending and pass through woodland before seeing a lake on the right. There is still plenty of housing on both sides of the track here.

We pass a canal on the right with colourful narrow boats on it. Then we are again surrounded by woodland on both sides as we continue to descend again. The main Waterloo to Basingstoke line passes over us and then the track becomes double once again. We gradually slow down for Frimley, which has a concrete footbridge and the original red brick station building on the right platform. Its windows are boarded up and painted blue. On the left platform is a cream coloured brick shelter.

We pull away from Frimley and are still very much in a wooded area, with the A331 on the left. The train speeds up as the track veers to the right and we pass under the M3 motorway.  There are new office buildings on the left, with industrial units on the right. Housing then takes over on both sides as we come into Camberley station. It has two platforms with brick shelters on each platform. They are clear of graffiti and there is a modern glass-clad booking office. There is also a pleasant wooden footbridge, painted blue, connecting the platforms. The train waits here for at least five minutes, possibly due to the level crossing at the north end of the station.

We then go into a leafy cutting and then into a wood. The line stays very straight here before bearing to the right. Back out into the open again we pass greenhouses on the left and more houses on the right. We next go onto an embankment before we come to a stop at Bagshot. Beyond the houses of Bagshot can be seen forests in all directions. It is a pleasant station with two original red brick station buildings, though there is graffiti in the smaller shelter on the right side. There is the old original wooden footbridge still in place, with an old line going off on the left, now all overgrown.

We pass a racecourse or possibly a stud farm on the left, before entering a small cutting. We then pass through more woodland, reaching 50 mph, before passing a golf course on the left. The line is not welded here, so you can hear the clickety-click of the track below us. We start to slow down as houses appear on the right and then we switch tracks as we join the line from Reading on the left. We then come into Ascot station. It has five platforms because of the racecourse, complete with royal blue station signs, because of the royalty connection. It is an unusual station in that there is a single line into platform 1 (like at Barking), so you can leave the train on either side.

Summary: A busy outer London line in a built up area of Surrey, which will continue to be well used. MC