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.