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

Updated on March 4, 2017

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.


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)


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)


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


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!

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.


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!


Copyright annart/AFC 2017


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    • annart profile image
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      Ann Carr 8 weeks 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 8 weeks 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

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

      Ann

    • annart profile image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 4 months ago from St. Louis, MO until the end of June, 2017

      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 Isaac Weithers 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 months ago from SW England

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

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 4 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 Fuller 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 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 4 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 4 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 image
      Author

      Ann Carr 4 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 4 months ago from Shelton

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

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