Poems on the Theme of Trains; Memoirs & Poems about Train Journeys, The Flying Scotsman, Mallard

Updated on July 28, 2017
annart profile image

Ann loves to write poetry and stories. Current poetry about certain themes, e.g. Trains & English Counties, Poetry Month, Travel & beyond.

Trains? Where?

Dad's photo - typical of his sense of humour
Dad's photo - typical of his sense of humour | Source

Are you a Fan of Trains?

Do you like travelling by train? Do you enjoy the freedom it affords you? Do you depend on its routine? Perhaps you’d rather take the car and sit in traffic jams and be late for appointments. There are constant complaints in Britain that the trains never run on time. They’re not the best in the world at keeping to schedule but, for the main, they do get us from A to B within our expected arrival times.

There are many lines which were axed, starting in 1963, by Dr Beeching, a physicist and engineer who wrote a rather short-sighted report causing our well-linked system of railways to fall apart and serve far fewer people. However, some of those lines have been taken over by volunteer organisations who have pulled them back together, refurbished the lines, the engines and the carriages and now provide some of the best leisure routes we have. Much of those include steam trains, such as the Bluebell Line in Sussex, the West Somerset Railway from Taunton to Minehead, the East Somerset Railway and many more.


Grand Old Engine

Dad's photo of a steam engine
Dad's photo of a steam engine | Source

Rhythm, Speed & Delay!

A train journey has a rhythm. You begin gently, pick up speed, go clickety-clack, skim the rails, then reverse all that until you imperceptibly regain a state of inertia. Train travel reflects the rhythm of life, the changes of pace, the highs and lows. It gives us a glimpse of the open fields, then plunges into a forest of trees; or takes us into rarified air before throwing us into a tunnel of ear-splitting fear. Then the lights go off, there’s a collective intake of breath, before the tunnel ends and all shoulders are released.

Waiting at a station is not such fun. Maybe you’re waiting for a train to take you to a meeting; it’s late and it’s cold and you wish you’d accepted that lift even though it was from someone whose driving scared you stiff.

Maybe you’re waiting to meet someone. The wrong sort of leaves are on the line and there’s been a delay. The worst of waiting is when you’re on your own. You look around at others on the platform; all of a sudden they become sinister, full of bad intentions, scheming against you or planning to rob or worse. If it’s raining or dark, that is. If it’s sunny then everyone’s your friend. Strange how our minds work.

The following was written whilst waiting for my love to arrive by train.


Your Train's Late

Train late,

Tunnel problem,

Our date

doesn’t bother ‘em.

Never mind me in the cold,

getting hungry, growing old.

Wanted to see you soon as poss’,

now you may be tired and cross.

Should’ve waited by the phone

but then you’d be on your own

at the station, so I thought,

but instead it’s me who’s caught.

Yet more time waiting to see

your blue eyes looking at me,

waiting for your warm embrace,

your soft kisses on my face,

your strong voice to say ‘gudday!’

I’m so glad you’re not far away.

At least I know that soon we’ll be

together again, you close to me.


Ann Carr (late 1990s)


Another Week Awaits

(referring to memories of taking the train back to college)

Sunday evening,

busy town,

at the station

up and down

the platform go

those migrant bodies,

departing now

p’rhaps back to studies,

or to weekly work away,

missing family every day,

or returning to their homes.

Break is over, check the phones,

messages to meet at 9,

that is, if the train’s on time!


Ann Carr (early 1970s)


Clayton Tunnel on the way to School - noisy!

Northern Portal of West Sussex Clayton Tunnel By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Northern Portal of West Sussex Clayton Tunnel By Diliff (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons | Source

Taking the Train to School

I recall a poem from my childhood; I used to go to school by train and part of the track rattled through a tunnel under the South Downs. This poem, by Robert Louis Stevenson, makes me relive the rhythm, the noise and the excitement of the whole journey.

I’ve loved train journeys ever since. They provide such scenes over the countryside, parts you don’t see any other way unless you walk endlessly over hill and dale. You can get up and walk the length of the train if you wish, you can look out of either side or your carriage, you can even walk along to a restaurant car and have a meal. ‘Let the train take the strain’ used to be a British Rail advert and it’s a great idea. No driving, no traffic jams, mostly on time and a comfortable ride with free countrywide tours. Snap-shots of life are on offer, changes of weather affect your vista and moments of mystery can set your mind following an altogether different path!

Here is the poem:

From a Railway Carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,

Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;

And charging along like troops in a battle

All through the meadows the horses and cattle:

All of the sights of the hill and the plain

Fly as thick as driving rain;

And ever again, in the wink of an eye,

Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,

All by himself and gathering brambles;

Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;

And here is the green for stringing the daisies!

Here is a cart runaway in the road

Lumping along with man and load;

And here is a mill, and there is a river:

Each a glimpse and gone forever!


Robert Louis Stevenson


Steam Train from Scotland

Another train journey I took many years ago was one from Fife in Scotland to Kings Cross, London. I was 13. I’d never been on such a long rail trip before, certainly not one fired by a steam train. I remember going through Durham and seeing the cathedral in all its dark red stone. I remember the change of scenery from north to south, the change of house stone, of soil and architecture.

What about the steam engine’s view? Steam train travel is something I’m privileged to have experienced before they all became private concerns on purchased previous lines, run by volunteers. The famous Flying Scotsman had a personality of its own, as did all those majestic engines with names like Sir William Hyde, Black Knight, Mallard.


About the Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman first made its journey in 1862, on the East Coast Main Line. It operated from London Kings Cross and Edinburgh Waverley. Since then it has seen changes of railway owners and names. In 2016, having been totally restored, the magnificent engine pulled a distinguished passenger list of privileged people from London to York; my sister and her grandson were amongst them!

The Flying Scotsman & Mallard

Flying Scotsman in Doncaster
Flying Scotsman in Doncaster | Source
Mallard - beautifully sleek engine, my favourite
Mallard - beautifully sleek engine, my favourite | Source

The Flying Scotsman (Journey to London)

Holiday in Scotland,

aunt was ill;

all went home

but me, until


she was better,

then with me,

travelled homeward,

flying free!


The Flying Scotsman

fared us well,

clattered and steamed

by tor and dell.


Sturdy Durham

saw us pass,

cathedral deep red stone,

steadfast.


O’er bridge and river,

clouds of steam

filling tunnels,

serving dreams,


finally into Kings Cross,

majestic in its livery fine,

safely delivered passengers sigh,

having to leave this historic line

of iron horse slowing to rest.. kissing bumpers.. exhaling breath.. to sleep,

day done.

A final wisp of steam remembers home, awaits tomorrow’s return.


Ann Carr 2017

Thomas the Tank Engine

Then Thomas the Tank Engine came to the Avon Valley Railway near Bristol. The enchanted looks on the children’s faces made the day. The journey was only a few miles there and back but flags were flown, faces were painted and sandwiches were bought and consumed, followed by ice cream at the platform café on our return.

The books by Reverend Awdry were adapted for television when I was young. I loved the adventures of Thomas and his friends on the Island of Sodor and even now they appeal to children from 2 to 99.


Thomas - a Really Useful Engine

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Thomas at Bitton Station, South GloucestershireGranddaughter at the Fun Day!
Thomas at Bitton Station, South Gloucestershire
Thomas at Bitton Station, South Gloucestershire | Source
Granddaughter at the Fun Day!
Granddaughter at the Fun Day! | Source

Train Travel

To this day, I love travelling by train, be it steam powered, diesel or electric. I've experienced the French TGV (Train de grande vitesse - high speed train), from St Pancras, London to Gare du Nord, Paris, as well as from St Pancras to Lille. It's FAST!!

I would love to be a passenger on some of the trans-continental locomotives, such as in Australia and the USA. Often, they alone have access to mountains, tunnels and bridges in remote areas. To be able to watch magnificent scenery go by, have glimpses of countryside one can't drive through and enjoy the luxury of letting someone else do the work, what a dream!

Let me know about any train journeys you've been on, whether in childhood or later, whether good or bad, in the comments below. In the meantime, happy travelling!


Your Experiences

Do you enjoy train travel?

See results

Which mode of propulsion?

Do you prefer....

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Ann Carr

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      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        4 months ago from SW England

        Thank you, Frank! How kind of you.

        There are a few hubs coming up. I've been away since before Christmas and only just getting back into my stride. Batteries are recharged and reading to go!

        Ann

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        4 months ago from Shelton

        since there isn't anything new from you I thought I'd check this little series of poetry again... feels brand new to me having read it again a year later...:) awesome

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        7 months ago from SW England

        I'm amazed that you've never been on a train, Jackie! You must experience it - there's nothing else like it. I would do all my travelling like that if it weren't so expensive here.

        Thank you so much for reading and providing your interesting input.

        Ann

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 

        7 months ago from The Beautiful South

        I have always wanted to ride a train and still have not! When I was 5 or under my grandparents would take me with them to pick up my young aunt (their daughter) from the train and it was always after dark so maybe not just the train but all the bright lights that go with night a small child like I was not used to added to the glamour.

        I still hope I will get that chance one day. I am sure I will love it!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        8 months ago from SW England

        Thanks, Anusha; good to see you this morning.

        Yes, I'd heard that about JK Rowling; to have a whole series formulate in her head during one train ride is indeed amazing.

        I'm looking forward to reading your poem on trains. The rhythm used to be so much better with the old trains, though, when they went 'clickety-clack'!

        Ann

      • anusha15 profile image

        Anusha Jain 

        8 months ago from Delhi, India

        You've got some cool poems here in this collection. Just a little tidbit about train journey. JK Rowling has mentioned in an interview that when she sat in a London local train, (going from or to Kingcross, don't remember exactly) the whole idea of Harry Potter had emerged in her brain. Isn't that amazing?

        I agree with you about the rhythm that's associated with a train journey. I didn't till date write a poem with a similar theme, but someday maybe I will :)

        Add Your Comment...

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        8 months ago from SW England

        Thank you, Peg, for all your lovely and kind comments. I'm glad you liked this. I used to love going through that tunnel on the way to school.

        Thanks for reading; I appreciate your support.

        Ann

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 

        8 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        This was magical and mysterious and wondrous, the photos, prose and sentiments about trains. My favorite has to be the West Sussex Clayton Tunnel photo. And "Taking the Train to School" was delightful. Love the phrase, "Let the train take the strain." Good one.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        11 months ago from SW England

        Thank you, Glenis, for your superb input. Yes St Pancras is wonderful and I totally agree with you about the Gare du Nord!

        Steam trains had a mystery and magic all of their own.

        Ann

      • Glenis Rix profile image

        GlenR 

        11 months ago from UK

        What an engaging article, Ann. I love train travel for longer journeys and when visiting my family in Aberdeenshire always travel the East Coast mainline - it's a wonderful journey, hugging the coastline for much of the route. The Flying Scotsman passed through my home town many times when I was a small child, and Dad usually took us to the station to watch the spectacle. There was something magical about steam trains - though I always seemed to get bits of soot in my eyes on the station platform. St.Pancras is a wonderful station but what a disappointment at the end of the line - the Gard du Nord seemed to me the dirtiest station I have ever visited (worth it to see Paris, though).

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        15 months ago from SW England

        Thanks manatita, for the comments, especially the 'prose... as poetic as your poems'; very kind of you. I love the French GTVs too. I've taken the Eurostar to Lille and then the GTV from Lille to Paris; couldn't believe the speed!

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 

        15 months ago from london

        Your prose is at times as poetic as your poems. I know you as an excellent writer but your poems are great too. The short lines seem to suit you and flows with tempo.

        That train going through the tunnel is a real beauty!! I love trains and I sometimes use the ICE, (I think the Germans pronounce it like 'itsiah.') from Frankfurt to Heidelberg via Manheim. The French high speed trains are awesome and I have taken them to the village of Crux la Ville, some 200 or more Kilometres away.

        Great Hub as always and 'cool' history of trains and waiting.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Lawrence Hebb: Thank you for your visit and comments; glad you like the poetry.

        Lucky you being in NZ though - I love it there. I know what you mean about taking the train to London for the day though. It's great to be able to do things like that relatively easily.

        Ann

      • profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        17 months ago

        Ann

        That's probably the one thing I miss about England, over here passenger trains are so rare, I think one runs from Auckland to Wellington three times a week (in summer only).

        I used to enjoy jumping on the train and half an hour later arriving in Manchester, or going to London for the day.

        Great hub, loved the poetry

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thanks, Linda, and I'm glad this brought back some good memories. Where in Britain did you live?

        The scenery is one of the great benefits of train travel, especially when the route takes you where roads don't go. I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

        Ann

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        17 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I love this article, Ann. It brings back some very pleasant memories. I enjoyed travelling by train when I lived in Britain. Looking at the scenery as we moved through it was always interesting.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thank you so much Nell! I'm glad this recalled some good memories. It's amazing how many pubs are named after trains and engines too! I appreciate your kind comments.

        Ann

      • Nell Rose profile image

        Nell Rose 

        17 months ago from England

        I loved this! and your journey from Scotland down south reminded me of our good old Marlow Donkey train! it was a steam train and it stopped back in the 60's but I remember it! we still have the pub next to the train station called the Marlow Donkey with its sign still up. I often travel by train and could feel the bump de bump within your poems! brilliant!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Hi Jo! I always thought the system in the USA was good! But what do I know?! It's not brilliant here but I still love to travel by train. Thanks for taking the time to pop by.

        Ann

      • jo miller profile image

        Jo Miller 

        17 months ago from Tennessee

        Trains are my favorite way to travel, but I have so little opportunity to do that here in the USA. Our train system sucks.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Well, thank you Mike! What a lovely comment! I'm so pleased you liked this. I enjoy writing poetry and was trying for the rhythm so I'm happy.

        Ann

      • mckbirdbks profile image

        mckbirdbks 

        17 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

        What an enjoyable read. It had the right tone and rhythm. The flow of your poetry was excellent.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        thanks, Flourish. I'm glad you like this and I enjoyed reading about your daughter.

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thank you, Chris. We do have a reasonable system but I don't think it's as efficient as it used to be; there are many problems at the moment. However, it's still fun!

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thank you, Dora, for your lovely comment and compliment. I hope you're keeping well.

        Ann

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        17 months ago from USA

        This is a refreshing theme, Ann. I love your poems and although most of the trains I've been on have been in foreign countries, I have always enjoyed the experiences.

        When my daughter was little, she had a train fascination and we had to go hunting for freight trains and wait for them. There was also an abandoned caboose and rail car that were on display nearby, and she would climb in and on them for as long as I'd let her. Good memories.

      • cam8510 profile image

        Chris Mills 

        17 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

        Ann, thanks for the enjoyable article and poetry. I love the idea of trains, but don't have much opportunity to use them. Do you know that the fastest trains at present only go about 30 mph faster than the fastest steam trains of the 1930s. Across the pond, you've done a much better job making rail a realistic form of modern transportation than we have.

      • MsDora profile image

        Dora Weithers 

        17 months ago from The Caribbean

        Haven't had many train rides, but I like reading about yours. You attach significant meaning and make them memorable. The poems are also enjoyable.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Maybe it's not so good now but I wouldn't mind finding out! So many journeys to make, so little time. Thanks for the info, John.

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Haider Mama: thanks for reading and for the interesting input.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        17 months ago from Queensland Australia

        Yes, Ann, The Ghan goes through the centre of Australia from Adelaide to Alice Springs and Darwin. I have never travelled on it though I would love to. I don't know how our long distance trains compare to European ones for comfort. It was fine when I travelled to Perth but that was 30 years ago.

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thank you so much, John. You must have done hundreds of journeys by train! Great to hear about your work and memories. We thought about doing the Indian Pacific but the reviews weren't good regarding the comfort of such a journey. Might manage it sometime though - I'd love to do it! There's also the 'Ghan, isn't there?

        Glad you liked the poetry. I have an urge to write it at the moment - comes and goes!

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thanks, Ruby, for your kind comments and for sharing your memories. Yes, the clickety-clack can be really soothing - I can't sleep on transport usually, except for a train!

        Ann

      • Haider Mama profile image

        Haider 

        17 months ago from Melbourne

        I do not like train for its sake but for the scenery. I live in Australia and have traveled very little on train for long distances, like city to city, but I have plans to travel across Australia by train.

        Give me a call when you come to Australia so we can travel on train, I would be happy to give you a company :) haha, just kidding.

      • Jodah profile image

        John Hansen 

        17 months ago from Queensland Australia

        This was great, Ann. Especially to an old railway man. I worked in the railways for 17 years and travelled to work and back everyday.

        I love trains and went on train journeys when on holiday. I travelled from Brisbane to Cairns on the Sunlander, and from Sydney to Perth via the Trans-Australian/Indian Pacific.

        Would love to take a ride on The Orient Express. Your poetry was great, as was the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. I wasn't aware he wrote poetry, but then most good writers did. Well done.

      • always exploring profile image

        Ruby Jean Richert 

        17 months ago from Southern Illinois

        I have only been on two trains in my life, once as a child with my married sister Stella. I remember enjoying it. I think the click clack rhythm was what I liked the most. In 1980 I was living in Houston, TX. and took the Amtrak train to ARK. and had a blast. I love your poetry!!

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        bodylevive: Thanks for dropping by. What a shame you can't just jump on a train any more. That must have been fun with your mother. I've been a rail traveller all my life.

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thanks, bill! Glad you liked it. Train travel is definitely romantic. I'd love to do the 'Orient Express' but sadly it doesn't really exist in its original (London to Istanbul) but only London to Venice I think. Dressing up to suit 'La Belle Epoque' would've been fun! But that's just me...

        Have a sumptuous Saturday, bill!

        Ann

      • bodylevive profile image

        BODYLEVIVE 

        17 months ago from Alabama, USA

        Lovely poetry and I am a fan of trains. I use to ride when I was a little girl with my mother. We do not have a depot here any more, what a shame to have to drive more than a hundred miles to ride the train.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        17 months ago from Olympia, WA

        I've only been on three trains in my lifetime. Here on the west coast, train travel is not as common as on the east coast. The times I did take the train I loved it....it seems like a rather romantic way to travel, don't you think? Like a trip back to another time, another place, simpler times.....anyway, blah, blah, and blah...I actually stopped to tell you I loved this article. :)

        bill

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Bonginkosi: Thanks for reading and leaving a memory here. I like to be able to remind people of past experiences and it's so interesting how many have enjoyed trips and holidays by train. Good to see you. I have followed you but couldn't leave a comment because it wouldn't show up, so do start writing and I look forward to reading your work.

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Hi Eric! Thank you for your kind and entertaining comment; you had me smiling. What escapades you got up to; quite a jack the lad, eh?! I love hearing about other people's travel and fun rides.

        Ann

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thanks, Theresa, for your kind comments and for your interesting input. I always find train travel so restful and educative - plus you get to see into people's gardens and snapshots of life!

        I hope all is well with you and yours. Big hug from me.

        Ann

      • profile image

        Bonginkosi 

        17 months ago

        Thanks for the train poem bring back great memories, the last time I travel by train is 10 years back me and my sister Dorah with a school trip that was my first and last time since.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        17 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Such wonderful beauty. I would hope that others enjoy this like I do. My first train ride was with two buddies, call em Bill and Doug - their real name. We ran hard and hopped upon an empty freight car. Rode for 30 and jumped out Williams AZ. Buddies there hooping and hollering and beer flowing our off the back of my 53 chevy. We rode it to Winslow also.

        Eurorail and Amrtrack came later. Victoria Station always brings a smile.

        Thank you for the rails down train memory rail.

      • Faith Reaper profile image

        Faith Reaper 

        17 months ago from southern USA

        Ann, I love your poems on trains and this hub is great!

        We have trains that go through our town and I love hearing them in the distance. I've only been on one passenger train from Rockport, Massachusetts into Boston and back when we went up there to visit my Aunt.

        I would love to travel by train one day. Seems it would be so romantic.

        Peace and blessings always,

        Theresa

      • annart profile imageAUTHOR

        Ann Carr 

        17 months ago from SW England

        Thanks very much, Frank. Great to hear from you. I notice you've just published so will go to have a look.

        Ann

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 

        17 months ago from Shelton

        Love the theme, love the ride, and really enjoyed the poetry, awesome hub my friend :)

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