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Stuart0742

In my 1972 - 73 Railway timetable there is a motorail service from Sheffield to Newton Abbot

23:50 departure from Sheffield arriving 07:05 at Newton Abbot

This service had a choice of Sleeping or compartment accommodation.

Did anyone travel on this service?

or have more information?

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In my 1972 - 73 Railway timetable there is a motorail service from Sheffield to Newton Abbot

23:50 departure from Sheffield arriving 07:05 at Newton Abbot

This service had a choice of Sleeping or compartment accommodation.

Did anyone travel on this service?

or have more information?

So let me get this right

You can put your car on a train so you don't have to drive it

You can then travel on the train overnight, and even sleep on it if you want.

..and then you arrive at Newton Abbot, - a small place noted only for its racecourse! :blink:

Why?

Why would anyone actually want to do that or use this service? :huh:

I'll have a day at the races, I want to get their early but I don't like driving overnight so I'll go on the train, - Oh, but I'm still going to take the car with me (presumably to make the return journey, - is the rail ticket one way only?)

What a pointless service.

No wonder British Rail fell upon hard times.

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Stuart0742

So let me get this right

You can put your car on a train so you don't have to drive it

You can then travel on the train overnight, and even sleep on it if you want.

..and then you arrive at Newton Abbot, - a small place noted only for its racecourse! :blink:

Why?

Why would anyone actually want to do that or use this service? :huh:

I'll have a day at the races, I want to get their early but I don't like driving overnight so I'll go on the train, - Oh, but I'm still going to take the car with me (presumably to make the return journey, - is the rail ticket one way only?)

What a pointless service.

No wonder British Rail fell upon hard times.

No not pointless

Remember

1. There was no M5 etc so a drive south would be via the A38 etc

2. Newton Abbot is on the main Great Western line through Devon only a few miles from the hugely popular Torbay. and other South Devon resorts.

Not even British Rail would expect people to go to Newton Abbot for their holidays

So Newton Abbot was purely a railhead for South Devon

or course as road travel became easier to the South West this service was discontinued

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madannie77

Newton Abbot was the terminal point as it had a suitable loading/unloading dock for cars. You would then drive off to Torbay or Cornwall refreshed after a good night's sleep, having avoided the long drive from Sheffield (or somewhere else up north), and the reverse journey would be made at the end of the holiday.

The idea was to avoid the nightmare that was the journey to and from the west country before the M5 was completed. Having been on journeys to Cornwall via the A38 and sundry bits of the M5 in the 1970s I can recall how slow progress could be.

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No not pointless

Remember

1. There was no M5 etc so a drive south would be via the A38 etc

2. Newton Abbot is on the main Great Western line through Devon only a few miles from the hugely popular Torbay. and other South Devon resorts.

Not even British Rail would expect people to go to Newton Abbot for their holidays

So Newton Abbot was purely a railhead for South Devon

or course as road travel became easier to the South West this service was discontinued

Nothing to do with going to the races then,

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Newton Abbot was the terminal point as it had a suitable loading/unloading dock for cars. You would then drive off to Torbay or Cornwall refreshed after a good night's sleep, having avoided the long drive from Sheffield (or somewhere else up north), and the reverse journey would be made at the end of the holiday.

The idea was to avoid the nightmare that was the journey to and from the west country before the M5 was completed. Having been on journeys to Cornwall via the A38 and sundry bits of the M5 in the 1970s I can recall how slow progress could be.

So that begs the question of cost.

Regardless of the inconvenience of the drive compared to the overnight motorail sleeper, for a family of 4 what would be the relative costs of driving your car directly to Newton Abbott before travelling onwards or putting your car on the motorail train and travelling down overnight on the train.

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Stuart0742

So that begs the question of cost.

Regardless of the inconvenience of the drive compared to the overnight motorail sleeper, for a family of 4 what would be the relative costs of driving your car directly to Newton Abbott before travelling onwards or putting your car on the motorail train and travelling down overnight on the train.

Not sure of the cost (Yet) , but it was probably cost that killed the service when motoring became so cheap and easy

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hilldweller

In my 1972 - 73 Railway timetable there is a motorail service from Sheffield to Newton Abbot

23:50 departure from Sheffield arriving 07:05 at Newton Abbot

This service had a choice of Sleeping or compartment accommodation.

Did anyone travel on this service?

or have more information?

I remember the Motorail loading station although I never used it myself.

It was located right at the end of Suffolk Road just before the Granville Square roundabout.

It seems to be in use presently as a re-fueling station because there are two huge diesel tanks at the end of a short rail spur.

The Co-op Funeral parlour was built on the site of a rail turntable and the loading bay was adjacent.

It's a long time ago now but I seem to remember the cars were driven along a raised dock and into the end of special transporter carriages. I guess there wouldn't be room in the old loading guage to drive in the side, at an angle, as they do on the Channel Tunnel link.

I attended a course at Granville College in the early sixties and I remember watching them load in the late evening.

HD

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Stuart0742

I remember the Motorail loading station although I never used it myself.

It was located right at the end of Suffolk Road just before the Granville Square roundabout.

It seems to be in use presently as a re-fueling station because there are two huge diesel tanks at the end of a short rail spur.

The Co-op Funeral parlour was built on the site of a rail turntable and the loading bay was adjacent.

It's a long time ago now but I seem to remember the cars were driven along a raised dock and into the end of special transporter carriages. I guess there wouldn't be room in the old loading guage to drive in the side, at an angle, as they do on the Channel Tunnel link.

I attended a course at Granville College in the early sixties and I remember watching them load in the late evening.

HD

Thats the place HD.

I lived about 200 yards away in the mid to late 60's.

From memory the were 2 adjacent sidings with end loading facilities, one had platform access, this one was used for the sleeping coaches and the other for the enclosed car wagons.

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Peter Hall

Very briefly.

This Summer only service continued in this form until the Summer of 1977, it being a portion of other Summer Friday night holiday trains that past through Sheffield. The return left Newton Abbot at c22.00 on Saturday night.

From the Summer of 1978 the southbound train departed around midday on the Saturday being a portion of the York-Newton Abbot service. The return continuing to leave Newton Abbot on Saturday evening.

The last summer of operation was 1980.

I would need to dig into my files but I believe from either 1977 or 1978 sleeping cars ceased to be conveyed with passengers accommodated in First Class seating carriages in both directions.

The fact that the service lasted until 1980 is evidence that it was well used.

After the Summer of 1980 Sheffield ceased to be an originating/destination station on the Motorail network. The Newcastle to Bristol Motorail service continued to pass through Sheffield until it was withdrawn in May 1982.

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hilldweller

So let me get this right

You can put your car on a train so you don't have to drive it

You can then travel on the train overnight, and even sleep on it if you want.

..and then you arrive at Newton Abbot, - a small place noted only for its racecourse! :blink:

Why?

Why would anyone actually want to do that or use this service? :huh:

I'll have a day at the races, I want to get their early but I don't like driving overnight so I'll go on the train, - Oh, but I'm still going to take the car with me (presumably to make the return journey, - is the rail ticket one way only?)

What a pointless service.

No wonder British Rail fell upon hard times.

You have to remember that motoring down to the West Country in the 1960's for the average family was a formidable undertaking.

The average car in those days was nothing like as reliable as modern cars and even the recovery services were only likely to dump you and your passengers at the nearest village garage. The days of get you to your destination were still in the future.

I have memories of trips to Cornwall taking ten hours plus and many people attempted to drive overnight to save holiday time.

More than one Sheffield family came to grief when tiredness set in.

From what I remember the Motorail service was very popular at the time.

HD

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You have to remember that motoring down to the West Country in the 1960's for the average family was a formidable undertaking.

The average car in those days was nothing like as reliable as modern cars and even the recovery services were only likely to dump you and your passengers at the nearest village garage. The days of get you to your destination were still in the future.

I have memories of trips to Cornwall taking ten hours plus and many people attempted to drive overnight to save holiday time.

More than one Sheffield family came to grief when tiredness set in.

From what I remember the Motorail service was very popular at the time.

HD

When you go to Cornwall now HD you can drive down in your 70mph charriot with your 8mph charriot in the boot and then use that around Cornwall before reversing the process to come home.

I suppose that's a bit like a motorail service without the rail but a similar level of convenience.

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Guest bus man

I agree with everthing that as been said I seem to rememebr around 8pm on a friday night u would see a line up of cars waiting to go on to it . Think there could have been other destinations

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  • 3 weeks later...
Stuart0742

Here is an extract from a 1967 British Rail Timetable

As to value, you decide

High season return for car, 2 adults and 2 children was £31 in the summer of 1967 <_<

Petrol was 5/5 per gallon in 1967

by a modern motorway route its 530 miles round trip

what sort of mpg for a 1967 family car? say 25 mpg

thats about £6 and say 8-10 hours each-way

What was the average wage in 1967?

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  • 1 year later...
Guest Chr220

Yes, I travelled on this service. My Mum's side of the frailly came from Somerset. Driving down there by car took forever around 1970. My Dad worked for British Rail so I guess he got free or discounted tickets. I remember this being quite an adventure.

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Unitedite Returns

The motorail service was a lifeline for those holidaying in the South West at that time. Sometimes we used it, when we could afford it and sometimes not.

I remember travelling down to Cornwall by car in the 1960's and 1970's and it was a formidable undertaking.

We used to leave Sheffield about 10.00 pm at night, in order to avoid the traffic hotspots, and drive down to Leicester and pick up the Fosseway, which was essentially, a B-road, more, or less, down to Bath, where you again picked up the A38, down to Exeter.

You actually drove through most towns and cities as few, if any, were bypassed at that time and from memory, ten hours seems about right.

I doubt that there were many times, or places where you could reasonably exceed 50 mph.

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Waterside Echo

My grandparents lived at Southey Hall farm in the 1930s. This photo shows them leaving for Devon on their annual holiday in 1934. Allowing for punctures and minor breakdowns their journey would averaged a day and a half. W/E.

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lysander

In the 1960s the trip, by road, from Sheffield to Cornwall, in the height of the holiday season, could take upwards of 12 hours. A family with young children often found this a daunting journey, despite leaving home before dawn...especially when they hit the dreaded Exeter by-pass! For those who could afford it, the option of traveling by rail...with the car... was a Godsend and, thinking about it, environmentally friendly. Arguably, the subsidy to British Rail, in real terms, was less than we now pay to the profit oriented current crop of Train Operators who offer overpriced and overcrowded services to the West. :rolleyes:

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I remember going from Sheffield to Cornwall by car, not once but twice, in my parents' usually trusty Hillman Minx, in 1960 and 1962 I think. I can't remember if we stopped at a hotel somewhere overnight, but I don't remember the journeys being particularly fraught. Dad was the only driver so I suspect that we did break the journey somewhere.

Thanks for starting this thread - despite being a railway enthusiast I had totally forgotten about the Motorail services.

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  • 2 months later...
Unitedite Returns

I had long forgotten that I had taken this image which shows the Moto-rail formation being shunted by a Class 08 Engine at Sheffield Midland Station.

The image is dated May 1977, but for those who you who would like a more precise date, it was on the occasion that Pendennis Castle came to Sheffield as part of it's final UK tour and prior to it's subsequent departure to Australia.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Stuart0742

In 1960 there was a 4:00 am Kings Cross to Sheffield Victoria via Retford and a 11:50pm St Pancras to Sheffield Midland.

In the 1967/68 timetable there was a Sleeper service that left St Pancras at 00:05 to Leeds calling at Sheffield Midland at 04:03.

Looks like today the last train is 10:25pm

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madannie77

Quite a lot of the overnight trains out of London and Manchester were newspaper trains which had passenger accommodation attached. The loss of the newspaper traffic meant that those services ceased.

Use of the sleeper trains diminished with improvements in the road network and the introduction of faster trains. Some years ago my other half used the London to Manchester sleeper in order to be in the Manchester area in good time for morning business meetings. Given it is now possible to get from Euston to Manchester in just over two hours there is no need for that overnight train. Some later departures from London would not go amiss, however.

Not that I need worry too much. Carlisle has a 2300 departure from London Euston. It takes over 6 hours, though, as opposed to less than 4 hours during the day.

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