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Volks Electric Railway (Brighton)

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The world's oldest operating electric railway. The railway runs just over a mile along Brighton seafront between Aquarium (for Brighton Pier) and Black Rock (for the Marina).

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      09.06.2009 20:31
      Very helpful



      Dating from 1883

      Running for a length of around two kilometres along Brighton's seafront Volk's Electric Railway is the oldest operating electric railway system in the world. Established in 1883 it was not the first electric rail system of its kind, that award goes to a similar system at Lichterfelde, Berlin that predates this one by a couple of years. However that one no longer operates so Brighton's version qualifies as the oldest one still in use.

      Brighton's electric railway is a narrow gauge railway that was the brainchild of Magnus Volk. It operates between the Aquarium, adjacent to the pier to the marina and the length of the queues at the stations at both end during the recent Easter Bank Holiday prove that it is still a popular attraction.

      There are only three stations along its route; the Aquarium at the eastern end of the line close to the pier, Black Rock Station at the western end, close to the vibrant Brighton Marina and an intermediate station called Halfway Station. There are a total of five different trains, each of which are lovingly cared for and frequently restored although only two trains operate along the route at any one time.

      During my recent trip to Brighton I walked from the pier to the marina and then feeling a bit lazy caught the train back. The cost of a single adult fare from the marina to the pier was £1.70, which is about the same as the bus (£1.60) but a lot more fun.

      Tickets are purchased at the station and the queue was quite long. In fact we didn't get on the train that was in the station when we arrived and had to wait for the next one but fortunately they operate every 15 minutes throughout the day. Our train had six carriages and there was a plaque inside our carriage that dated it to 1902.

      The interior of the carriages are quite basic and there's not a great deal of leg room but the leather seats were comfortable enough and since the journey only takes about ten minutes anyway this wasn't really a problem. The windows open fully so it is suggested that parents keep hold of small children but the train only moves along at about five miles an hour anyway. There is a roof above each carriage too so at least if the weather isn't good then you're not exposed to the elements.

      There are several ticket types available

      Adult single: £1.70 (full journey) £0.90 (halfway) day return £2.70
      Child single £0.80 (full journey) £0.40 (halfway) day return £1.30
      Discounted fares are available for senior citizens and family tickets are also available.

      Volks Electric Railway has been operated by Brighton and Hove District Council since the 1960's but there is also a dedicated group of enthusiasts known as VERA (Volks Electric Railway Association) that renovate the carriages and help out with the general day to day running of the line.

      I enjoyed my trip on this train, it certainly has a bit of novelty value that makes you want to give it a try so if you are ever in Brighton and want to see the marina then I would suggest that you give it a try, especially considering that parking at the marina can often be quite difficult.


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