Agatha Christie on Train Travel

  • Agatha Christie obviously had a soft spot for trains and railways as they are mentioned a good many of her books not least Mystery of the Blue Train and Murder on the Orient Express. Hercule Poirot and his sidekick Captain Hastings use the train to get to cases many times throughout the books (ref: http://bit.do/buRt4).

    In her autobiography she says: “Trains have always been one of my favourite things. It is sad nowadays that one no longer has engines that seem to be one’s personal friends”.

    She goes on to say: “As for trains – what can beat a train? Especially before the diesels and their smell arrived. A great puffing monster carrying you through gorges and valleys, by waterfalls, past snow (sic) mountains, alongside country roads with strange peasants in carts. Trains are wonderful; I well adore them. To travel by train is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers – in fact, to see life”.

    This may have been written many years ago when steam reigned supreme and there were a lot more country branch lines, but it is still pertinent today. To travel on a community rail line is, as Agatha says, to see life.

    On the train itself in early morning it may be an office worker, a midwife, an apprentice plumber or children off to school or students off to university. Later in the day it will more than likely be shoppers, ladies who do lunch, tourists or an ageing rail enthusiast filling in time on their favourite line.

    As well as passengers, community rail lines often carry a variety of other things; prams, cycles and suitcases but occasionally you may spot some more interesting things such as a fridge on a sack truck, golf clubs, a trampoline (albeit in a box) and on one occasion a large piece of oak veneered furniture! At least once a year in darkest East Lancashire you will find a barrel of Moorhouse's beer and some blues musicians!

    What can be seen off the train can also be at worst interesting and at best inspirational! Community Rail Lancashire’s lines pass through areas that are rich in our industrial heritage, history and beautiful scenery. Take the Clitheroe Line (Ribble Valley Line) as an example – starting in the heart of Manchester, one of the country’s fastest growing cities, the line follows the River Irwell valley to Bolton and then over the spectacular West Pennine Moors to Entwistle. From there it is through one of Lancashire’s longest tunnels to the cotton towns of Darwen and Blackburn. After Blackburn we enter the Ribble Valley with excellent views towards Longridge Fell and the Yorkshire Dales and finally arriving in Clitheroe, nestling under Pendle Hill, and home to a castle with the country’s second smallest keep.

    Whether it is for shopping, walking, cycling, golf, getting to work or college or visiting friends and family the community rail lines of Lancashire, and those of the rest of the country, offer up a greener way to get to where you need to be. The community rail movement is helping keep these lines buoyant and to encourage community involvement through friends of stations groups and general station adoption.

    To discover more about community rail visit www.acorp.uk.com and to see the work we do in Lancashire visit www.communityraillancashire.co.uk or keep in touch via our Twitter feed @comunityrailman.

    Simon Clarke
    November 2015

4 comments
  • Celia  Minoughan
    Celia Minoughan Thanks for this Simon. A great quote I can use for the Agatha Christie murals on Torre Station. We are featuring both 'The Mystery of the Blue Train' and 'Murder on the Orient Express' on our murals, as well as 4.55 from Paddington. Nothing like a murder...  more
    December 15, 2015 - 2 like this
  • Ian Dinmore
    Ian Dinmore We can't claim any connection to The Orient Express in Norfolk, but when the Chinese Takeaway closed in Diss, the place became Diss-orientated
    December 15, 2015 - 2 like this
  • Hazel Bonner
    Hazel Bonner Great piece Simon!
    December 16, 2015
  • Martin Yallop
    Martin Yallop On a recent visit to Marple station I note they have made much of their link with Agatha Christie, an interesting example of station branding.
    August 18, 2016 - 1 likes this