Sunday, 23 October 2022

A Day Out in October Using Thames Valley Ranger Ticket

Ken Jones and Roger Burdett travelled the four Thames Valley branch lines for their final day out by rail this year.

They travelled between Reading and Paddington, using a one day Thames Valley Ranger ticket, which also includes travel between Reading and Paddington mainline stations, allowing use of Elizabeth Line trains and GWR Electrostar 387 units or GWR 800 units, although they actually only used one 800 unit as the other two types give a chance to see more through the window.

It's easy to think 'start at one end and work your way through the branch lines' but timetables don’t make it that easy. In addition, they only spent a couple of minutes at the end of each line catching the same unit back to save time. They travelled the Marlow branch, followed by Greenford, Windsor & Eton and finally to Henley on Thames. 

Although the Greenford branch is a operated by GWR, from West Ealing station no GWR trains on the main line call at West Ealing and the only trains that do are Elizabeth Line ones.

There is a second station at Windsor & Eton at Riverside which Ken and Roger didn’t visit. That station is served from Waterloo for any readers based in the south and indeed there are services from Waterloo to Reading as well. 

If we take Reading as the start and finish for travelling these Thames Valley branch lines, then it took Ken and Roger 5.5 hours from start to finish. 
They live in the West Midlands so they started and ended the day at Warwick Parkway, travelling to and from Reading by a mixture of Cross Country and Chiltern Railways, choosing trains that saved money and time. 

The cost of the whole day for less than £36 each, thanks to Roger finding and booking trains in advance.

The branches were operated by GWR class 165 units during their visit and an archive article on three of the branches can be found here 

There was a surprising number of freight trains seen during the day – all container trains headed by class 59 or 66 locomotives.

All photos by Ken Jones

165 125 waits at Maidenhead with the train to Marlow

165 125 is seen at the terminus at Marlow

165 125 is seen at Bourne End where the train reverses to and from Marlow

165 136 is seen approaching West Ealing with the train from Greenford

Greenford is also on the LT tube system

The end of the line at Greenford with tube platforms either side of the 165 unit

Semaphore signals seen in the vegetation at Greenford

165 126 arriving at Slough from Windsor & Eton

Replica locomotive “The Queen” at Windsor & Eton station

165 112 arriving at Twyford from Henley on Thames

165 112 is seen at the Terminus at Henley on Thames

Below a selection of trains seen and used on the day. Tickets not valid on Heathrow Express units

Below a selection of freight locomotives seen on the day

Below, Paddington Bear seen on platform 1 at Paddington station near the clock.

Many thanks to Ken for his report and photos, if you have photos and information about an event that has taken place in 2022 please send to