The Pines Express

The last Pines Express to run over the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (SDJR) was on 8 September 1962. It was hauled by the last steam locomotive built by British Railways, BR Standard Class 9F 92220 Evening Star. The train was then diverted over ex-GWR metals via Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton. In 1964 a Pines Express was the last passenger service worked over the Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway before the line closed to all traffic between 1965 and 1967. From 4 October 1965 it was extended to Poole, but the last train was run on 4 March 1967.

BR Standard class 2-10-0 9f 92220 Evening Star

The Pines Express was a named passenger train that ran daily between Manchester and Bournemouth in England between 1910 and 1967 However It did not run under the name Pines Express until 26 September 1927. It is believed to have been named after the pine trees growing in the Chines in the Bournemouth area. When the service first ran, unnamed, on 1 October 1910, it was run jointly by the Midland Railway and LNWR; and was introduced in response to a LSWR/GWR service between Birkenhead and Bournemouth. The Pines Express became known as the top express to use the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR); a steeply-graded railway line through photogenic hilly countryside between Bath Green Park and Bournemouth West station, much loved and sorely missed by enthusiasts. On this line, trains often had to be double-headed due to gradients, producing spectacular photographs and film footage. Ivo Peters, in particular, took many amateur photographs and cine films of the S&DJR.

The two termini used were nominally Manchester Piccadilly (then ‘London Road’) and Bournemouth West stations. However, for many years before the demise of the service, the northbound Pines terminated at the adjoining Mayfield station. This practice probably arose because the arrival time coincided with the evening rush hour when the London Road platforms were fully occupied. During the late 1950s this was the sole use of Mayfield station for passenger services.

InterCity (British Rail) revived the Pines Express name for several years as part of the CrossCountry network and revived many of the named trains running on what would now be called CrossCountry, although these were rerouted and timed to fit into the standard hourly service pattern through Birmingham New Street. All named CrossCountry trains finally lost their names as part of Virgin CrossCountry’s Operation Princess in 2002.

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