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Thomas Blampied's Railway Photography: UK Rail Photography
Thomas Blampied’s Guide to Trainspotting in the UK

Below is a selection of my favourite trainspotting locations in the UK.  Due the increasing number of cases of photographers being stopped at the London stations, I am not including them in my list.  However, Kings Cross and St Pancras are worth a look.

This page is no longer updated.  The information may no longer be accurate.

Location Name: York/NRM

Location: York Station and the National Railway Museum, York, North Yorkshire, England.

Directions: Take any train to York Station, a major junction on the East Coast Main Line.  To access the National Railway Museum, follow the signs across the footbridge.  Admission is free!

Map Link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Lots of local and InterCity passenger trains, some freight (most uses the avoiding line to the south).  The Museum includes exhibits from the earliest days of rail up to today.

Remarks: York is a classic location for any trainspotter.  The station features iconic curved platforms, making for good photos.  The platforms are mostly wide and offer plenty of room.  The Museum features some of the most important locomotives and railway exhibits in history (such as Flying Scotsman [being rebuilt] and a Japanese Bullet Train).  The Museum can easily take up a day.  Many of the exhibit rooms are quite dark and can present a problem for photography.  There is a trainspotting lookout at the Museum which looks out over the north end of York Station.
Location Name: Peterborough S.P.

Peterborough Stabling Point
Location: Mayor's Walk bridge over the East Coast Main Line, Peterborough, Cambs, England.

Directions: Take any train to Peterborough.  Leave the station and turn left and walk along the footpath to the parking.  Keep walking under the road bridge and turn right.  Take the ramp up to the road level.

Map Link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Local passenger and InterCity trains on the East Coast Mainline and plenty of freight. 

Remarks: This bridge offers good views of the ECML (in both directions) and of the DB Schenker Peterborough Stabling Point.  The stabling point is used mostly for class 66s, but 60s and 67s can sometimes be seen.  The track layout at the station can be frustrating so this location becomes more convenient.  Beware of the fast-moving traffic on the road.
Location Name: March West Junction

March West Junction
Location: Footbridge to the west of March Station, Cambs, England.

Directions: Take a train to March, leave the station from platform 1 and follow a footpath off to the right.  Follow the footpath and turn right at Robin Goodfellow's Lane into Lime Grove.  The footbridge is at the end of the road.

Map link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Local passenger trains, some freight and movements in and out of Whitemoor Yard.

Remarks: This footbridge offers views of the line between March and Peterborough and also the west approach into Whitemoor Yard.  The view of eastbound trains stretches for miles, but a curve hides westbound trains until the last minute.  This location is somewhat isolated so be vigilant.

Location Name: Ely

Location: A town in the Cambridgeshire fens, England.

Directions: Take any train to Ely.

Map Link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Local passenger trains and some freight.

Remarks: Ely is my favourite trainspotting location anywhere in the UK.  There are many different locations to choose from and all are within walking distance of the station.  The two longest walks are detailed here: Ely Walk 1 and Ely Walk 2.  There is an excellent view of the Cathedral: leave the station and cross the line and walk along Bridge Rd and turn left at Queen Adelaide Rd.  Everyone will find their own favourite angles and locations at Ely.
Location Name: Norwich Station

Location: Norwich Station, Norwich, Norfolk, England.

Directions: Take a train to Norwich.

Map Link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Both local and Inter-City passenger trains, some freight comes into the yard.  There is often a class 47 and/or a class 90 stabled near the station on rescue duties.  Some track equipment is also often stabled near the station.

Remarks: Norwich is best on a cloudy day for the most angles.  The variety of stock is one main attraction to the station but Norwich is one of the few places left where a class 47 is almost always present.  The ticket barriers do hamper platform access more than used to be the case, but if you have a ticket you can move freely throughout the platforms.  One highlight is the class 47-hauled "drags" during the summer months.
Location Name: Coldham's Common Footbridge

Coldham's Common Footbridge
Location: Footbridge at Coldham's Common, Cambridge, Cambs, England.

Directions: Leave Cambridge Station, turn right and walk through the parking lot.  Climb the steps on the left and cross the railway using the cycle bridge.  Turn left and walk along Rustat Rd., turn right to Argyle St. and walk along it to the sharp bend.  Turn right to follow Argyle St., turn left into Cockburn St.  At Mill Rd., cross and walk along Sedgwick St.  At the complicated traffic junction, keep left (the road becomes Cromwell Rd.).  When you reach the Coldham's Lane junction, cross and walk across the common towards the footbridge.

Map Link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Limited local passenger trains and the very occasional diverted freight.

Remarks: This is a quiet location which offers clear views of the single-track line.  This location is particularly useful for diverted freights because the line is not electrified.  The best shots are from noon onwards.  The line is not busy and most of the time sees only two trains per hour.
Location Name: Ipswich Station

Location: Ipswich Station, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.

Directions: Take any train to Ipswich.

Map Link: Google Map - click here.

Rail Traffic: Both local and InterCity passenger trains and lots of freight.

Remarks: Ipswich is a trainspotter-friendly station.  The station is next to the Freightliner stabling point and there are plenty of opportunities for freight and freight locomotive photography.  Try Saturdays for the most freight locomotives stabled.

Some of the above locations are quite remote, always be alert and watch your camera gear!

You may be stopped by the police while you are trainspotting; be polite and answer all their questions. Once you tell them that you are trainspotting, they are normally happy to let you continue. MAKE SURE THAT YOU DO NOT TRESPASS ON RAILWAY PROPERTY, it is illegal in the UK and you may be fined up to £1,000!  I have never been stopped in the UK, most people accept (albeit ridiculing) trainspotters as a part of the landscape.

Remember that trains cannot stop quickly, do not put yourself in danger while trainspotting. If you see anyone in immediate danger on the railway (eg. car stalled on level crossing), it is recommended that you call 999 or the British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40.

Photography in public places in the UK is legal (except for sensitive areas such as prisons, military installations, courts etc.). Trainspotting is also legal. The above locations have all been checked (at time of writing) for photography and all permit it. Note: The status of photography in the UK is changing daily and there are many stories of people being stopped, searched and even arrested for taking photographs.  Trainspotters should be familiar with the following documents and carry a copy with them at all times:

- The National Rail Guidelines for Railway Enthusiasts: click here.
- A guide to photography and the law: click here.

Amateur Photographer magazine profiles cases of photographers being stopped.  Their websites is worth a look: click here.

All of the above information was accurate at time of writing (August 7, 2009). I will not be held responsible to other people’s actions as a result of the above information. The above information is designed solely as a guide and should not be construed in any other manner.

If you have any questions or comments regarding the above trainspotting locations and guidelines, please contact me:

For more good trainspotting locations, consult the Trainspots website: click here.

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