Interview with Andy B, Discover By Rail

7 September 2021

Welcome to the first in the series of Rail Chatter.

We're talking with AndyB from Discover By Rail; a rail influencer, host of Ride The Rails podcast and a rail travel architect.

As a world Rail Explorer (yes that is an official title), he has travelled on trains in well over 80 countries and has a mission to ride every passenger rail line in Europe for his #allthelineseurope project. He has travelled by train on every continent, bar Antarctica, and sampled most of the world's luxury trains.

AndyB is probably one of the best travelled rail geeks having been on the train since the age of 15 - some 40 years. Mention a train route and he has undoubtedly ridden it.

Interview with Andy B Travels for Days Out By Rail

Interviewer: Emily Roberts

So, hello Andy, it is nice to have you on board. I imagine for a man that lives his life travelling the world by train, the past 18 months have been confining. But you've used the pockets of freedom between lockdowns to explore more on home soil. Where have you been out and about then?

I've jumped on a train whenever possible. I've had the chance to revisit a number of lines I've travelled before and made some new adventures. I teamed up with a rail buddy, Mr Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61 and we did a couple of trips. The first was exploring the TransPennine Express routes on their brand-new fleet of NOVA trains. We travelled to the Lake District, Oxenholme, then across The Pennines to York. We even managed a trip to the seaside and took the train to Scarborough for a 99 ice cream.

Interview with Andy B Travels for Days Out By Rail - photo of the Lake District
Lake District National Park taken from on board a Cumbrian Coast Line service

A flake and raspberry sauce?

No raspberry sauce! We enjoyed the 99's so much planned another trip to East Anglia riding the brand-new trains in that region, which are excellent I add. We visited Norwich and Lowestoft. There is a fabulous harbour and seafront. There is no better combination than a ride through Britain's green and pleasant land and a 99 ice-cream by the sea.

Interview with Andy B Travels for Days Out By Rail, photo of Andy B at Lowestoft Beach
Enjoying an ice cream on Lowestoft Beach

You have been exploring cities, the coast and the countryside all in these short trips?

Yes. But I've also used the last 18 months to complete my #allthelineseurope Great Britain, with trips to Alloa, Maesteg, Ebbw Vale and Aberdare. These 4 lines have opened since I had completed my Great Britain edition some 15 years ago so there has been some sort of silver lining for me as I could explore and get out and about in Britain more.

Certainly seems that you've made the best of time then?

Yes, and discovering the fruits of recent investment and riding new trains has been exciting.

Anything planned in the near future?

The Staycation Express along the Settle and Carlisle line is a definite must-do!

From your previous rail trips around Britain and the ones you have travelled most recently, have you a favourite?

Travelling between Preston and Glasgow or Edinburgh on the West Coast Main Line is unbeatable in my opinion. It is not a 'tourist' line but rather an everyday passenger and freight railway which passes through the Lake District and Southern Uplands - magical! To hear the reactions of passengers to the scenery, which many are unaware of what lies beyond the window, is special.

AndyB interview for Days Out by rail. West Coast Main Line north of Lancaster
West Coast Main Line, north of Lancaster

Seems like you've been nearly everywhere possible in Britain by train, have you got any Britain bucket-list rail journeys?

As well as the Staycation Express I want to rediscover Scotland's West Highland Line and the lines from Inverness heading to Kyle of Lochalsh and to Wick and Thurso.

Given the Brits desire to escape to foreign lands (maybe we are chasing the sun, sand and sea) when it comes to holidays, have you any advice as to enjoying a staycation or days out by rail in Britain?

There are so many wonderful rail routes in the UK that one could spend a month on the rails and just start to scratch the surface. Cornwall and its delightful branch lines. The Heart of Wales line linking Shrewsbury and Swansea along a lesser known line is a pure enjoyment. The Cumbrian Coast linking Barrow in Furness and Carlisle is well worth a ride.

What is it about rail travel that you enjoy?

Kicking back, relaxing and daydreaming whilst looking out the window.

I'm a forward-facing, window seat rail traveller. Have you got a preference?

I'm definitely a forward window seat kind of traveller. Love to see what is coming up ahead and getting my phone ready to take pictures or even videos... I have so many great pictures and videos from my trips on the West Coast Mainline.

It would be fair to say you have dedicated your life to travelling by train, going back to your early days however, can you remember your first trip by train? Where was it to? How old were you? what are the memories?

Gosh! My first train memory is of the Bolton Steam Locomotive shed where a great uncle was shed master - this was in the last days of steam, I must have been 3 in 1968.

Thanks for your time and fascinating insight into all your train travels. We look forward to following you on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram and of course hearing more about your train tips and tales on your Ride the Rails podcast.

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