200 years old

FEBRUARY 21 marks the 200th anniversary of the first journey of a steam locomotive running on rails. Richard Trevithick’s 7 tonne machine hauled five wagons, 10 tonnes of iron and 70 passengers for about 15 km on a tramway at the Pen Y Darren ironworks, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales.

The UK’s National Railway Museum and the railway industry will be marking the bicentenary with Railfest 2004, a celebration of railways to be held in York between May 29 and June 6. A replica of Richard Trevithick’s locomotive will be on show, along with a range of rolling stock illustrating the development of railways from the earliest industrial tramroads to the Alstom Pendolino trains used on the West Coast Main Line.


CAPTION: Britain’s 10 surviving travelling post office trains were withdrawn after their final journeys on the night of January 9 - 10.

Royal Mail has revised its distribution network to use only road and air transport, claiming it will save £10m with the withdrawal of the TPOs. Automation has reduced the need for sorting mail on the move; around 1·45 million letters were being sorted on the remaining TPOs, 1·8% of Royal Mail’s daily total

Photo:Chris Heaps


A second-hand tramcar from Jena is being modified for solar-powered operation. A workshop in Hamburg is fitting the VEBWaggonbau Gotha vehicle dating from 1960 with a battery and on-board photovoltaic cells. Once completed, the tram will be tested in Halberstadt