Time-Lapse Captures the Train Ride from London to Brighton in 1953, ’83 and 2013

When the BBC first captured the non-stop train ride from London to Brighton in 1953, it was simply because they wanted to show how the magic of time-lapse photography could get a Londoner to the seaside in only four minutes.

When 1983 came along, they decided to re-capture the journey to see the differences. And now, in 2013, it only seemed appropriate to continue the every-30-years tradition and capture the trip once again.

The video that the BBC put together at the top shows all three of these trips side-by-side, and although it’s a little bit hard to follow all three feeds at once, it’s interesting to note some of the more obvious differences.


Most obvious — perhaps because it covers pretty much the entire journey — is the increase in vegetation around the track from 1953 to 2013. This is because the trains in the 50s ran on steam, and so trees were cut down so there would be less risk of them catching fire from the hot ash.

Additionally, a few stations and track junctions have been removed to make for a smoother ride. But really, it’s almost just as fascinating to see how much has managed to stay the same — unless you know what to look for, much of the ride looks the same now as it did 60 years ago.


To be fair, the fact that the scenery hasn’t changed much isn’t an indicator that technology hasn’t helped the train along. In 1953, the non-stop trip took a full hour as the train maxed out at 75mph. Today, even with two stops, the 90mph train will get you to Brighton in 52 minutes … even if you have to pay £18.75 instead of 75 pence.

As for the people riding the trains, well, that’s the part that has changed the most. “The Brighton passengers are fatter and slower on their feet 60 years on,” writes the BBC’s Paul Clifton. “And as for their fashion, well, anything goes.”

P.S. If you like blast from the past train rides, check out this old video of the New York City Subway system captured all the way back in 1905.

  • tarena1991

    so …nothing has really changed at all.

  • cb

    Star Guitar!

  • Eric

    Fitting music for this video!

  • Gman

    How thrilling, can’t wait for 2043!

  • Guu

    There appears to be direct correlation between the train prices and the number of people in station…

  • someguy

    Aw. You win. ;)
    But yeah, nice choice.

  • Carl Meyer

    British punctuality sure has changed, now even “on time” you arrive at your destination late and that when the train departures on time.

  • Satureyes

    It’s not really time lapse as such, it’s not a frame a second etc. Its a film of the whole journey speeded up..

  • ProtoWhalePig


  • Drew Marold

    That hurt my brain a little trying to process all 3 feeds simultaneously to look for differences.

  • Jordan Butters

    The biggest difference that I noticed is that we used to dress so much better than we do now…

  • George

    Did anyone else notice how the 2013 one clips the sky (and end-of-tunnel) highlights completely, while the 1983 film version doesn’t? It’s not just the clouds, you can see clear sky in the 1983 one too.

  • Guest

    Right before it entered the tunnel I knew I’d see something exciting about film vs digital as it exited!

  • Marcus Dashoff

    I saw that too. I’m curious if it has to do with the dynamics of film compared to digital sensors.

  • Fred

    Wow, that was really dull…