“Last train to somewhere, come take a ride” – Scott Gordon.
In Summer 2022, at the ripe of age of 42 and with over 200 countries already swallowed into my backpack along the journey, I finally arrived in Alderney. It was a long time coming, given that two decades prior I had already been in 5 other Channel Islands, as well as spending a summer season working on the Condor Ferries network. I have previously written about my days backpacking in Sark, Herm, Guernsey and Jersey. I learnt that Alderney has the only currently functional railway line in the Channel Islands, so naturally I had to do it. Not only that, but I was also given a guided tour of the train depot at Mannez Quarry, and with another surprise. Links for further information –
Alderney Railway Official Website
Alderney Tourist Board
Alderney Railway on Wikipedia
Buying a ticket for the train in Alderney
Despite the fact that the train is actually an old Northern Line train from the London underground system, you cannot rock up with yer Oyster card and swipe! I tried that trick but it was rejected, as here in Alderney, you get an authentic paper ticket, which is stamped on the back with the date on it, and it is then cut on the way onto the train.
“Here am I going nowhere on a train” – Noel Gallagher.
I started my epic train journey at the Braye Road station, which is well located not far from the capital city Saint Anne. I slept in Saint Anne at La Ville Hotel and also enjoyed sunset at Platte Saline. Here are some photos of Braye Road station – the terminal, the train and the wee mini museum and shop. Plenty of souvenirs and collectables are available here.
There was a huge queue when I was there and I was last to join, and also last to board. I was too busy blogging and admiring. But I got my ticket – £4 for a single one way.
Prices of the train in Alderney
Now bear in mind that I was there in July 2022, so prices are subject to change. Nobody really checks the age of the kids by the way. Payment is accepted in cash (UK GB pounds, any Sterling or even Euros) or card. If you pay in Euros, they cap the price with the UK pounds, fair enough of course 😉
Adult Return – £6.00 €6.00
Adult Single – £4.00 €4.00
Child Return (3 to 16 years) – £3.00 €3.00
Child Single (3 to 16 years) – £2.00 €2.00
Infants (0 to 2 years) – Free
Alderney doesn’t have its own banknotes but Guernsey does, they even have £1 banknotes here. I’m a souvenir geek so I also collected stamps, notes, postcards, fridge magnets, tickets and coins.
I took a third class ticket from Braye Road Station to Mannez Quarry. It was a third class ticket but all the carriages are the same. It’s only a third class ticket for the banter. The ticket looks like this –
Frequency of the train in Alderney
I was there in July 2022 and it leaves twice a day, both ways. So in other words a maximum of four journeys are made per day. Check the official website or with the tourist board for updates when you are backpacking in Alderney. I whacked all the links up at the top of this blog post. On the day I rode the Alderney Railway, the train times from Braye Road to Mannez Station were 2 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. I took the 2 p.m. one.
The route of the train line in Alderney
The train route in Alderney surprised me because there are loads of crossings on it! There are 12 crossings in total!! But only 3 of these are actual “stations”. However on this trip, I started at Braye Road Halt, and rode all the way north east to Mannez Quarry. We didn’t stop anywhere else along the way, which reminded me a bit of the metro in Pyongyang in North Korea in 2013. In contrast, my Western Wilderness Tasmanian Railway of 2010 had loads of stops. The station at Inner Harbour is not used, as this was the original use of the railway line to construct the breakwater at Braye Harbour.
The full list of station stops on the Alderney trainline are –
2.Braye Road Halt
These are red circles below in the map.
However, including the crossings, there are a total of 12.
9.Braye Road Halt
Braye Road Halt to Mannez Quarry
I was the last to buy my ticket and the last to board. When I got on board it was 1.59 p.m. and we left almost as soon as the doors closed behind me. I took a seat, made some videos, took some photos and admired the views.
Here are some photos of the views out either side as we passed a school, a quarry, the national football stadium (The Arsenal Ground at Longis Common, Mount Hale) and a War Memorial.
I was most curious about the national football stadium (pictured out the train window above), which I later backpacked to. Notably, Alderney only have currently only ONE known international footballer, Gordon William Barker who represented New Zealand. The other Channel Islands have more, including the famous Trevor Wood who is the only goalkeeper in Northern Ireland’s history to be capped and not concede a goal. Wood won a B cap and a full cap in the 1990s and Northern Ireland won those games by a cumulative result of 7-0. Alderney have played international football in the Island Games without huge success, however they are always semi finalists in the Channel Islands Muratti Vase which they last won in 1920.
Arrival at Mannez Quarry Station
Mannez Quarry Station is the last stop, it’s up hill and at the north east part of Alderney. The depot is here. The ride took about 20 minutes and was calm and pleasant. It was also very full. I was sitting beside a couple from Denmark. Wearing masks was not needed, nor where there any COVID restrictions when I backpacked in Alderney. Here are some snaps of the arrival and the main Mannez Quarry Station.
There’s a mini museum in the ticket office at Mannez Quarry.
The Depot at Mannez Quarry
Next up I was given a short tour of inside the depot, with the old trains and things like Christmas decorations for the special seasonal line. As a blogger, it was nice to get this tour – you’ll need to ask or get permission though and I am not sure if kids would be permitted with all the machinery here. Here are a few snaps from the depot.
History of the Alderney Railway Line
You might wonder where it all began. And actually it was in 1847. I won’t spoil all the history – I recommend getting the booklet (priced £2) which has photos and anecdotes from down the years, but here’s a few spoilers.
- In 1854, Queen Victoria rode on the Alderney Railway.
- In 1943, the Germans who had occupied the island pinched some of the train materials for scrap.
- In 1978, The Alderney Railway Society was set up to get the train back up and running again.
- In 2022, Don’t Stop Living is the first professional travel blog to cover the train ride in an independent post. It has previously been covered on other blogs such as Roger Farnworth (who included it in his Alderney tour) and Day Out With The Kids (who wrote about it but just for infromation).
The other surprise is that even though Alderney is the only Channel Island with a fully functioning railway, this is NOT EVEN the only railway line in Alderney. Naturally, I boarded a train and did the second trainline too. This one if a full double loop line on a miniature railway around Mannez Quarry and Alderney Lighthouse.
Here are some videos I made on the Alderney Railway: