“ for Inquiries: Union Street / Bo'ness / West Lothian EH51 9AQ / Scotland „
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Boness and Kinneil Railway - Union Street - West Lothian - Boness - EH51 9AQ
We first discovered Boness and Kinneil railway whilst reading one of my sons Thomas the tank engine magazines, they where advertising a Thomas day. We decided to surf over to their website and see what was on offer. After spending a few hours on their site we decided to pay the station a visit.
From Edinburgh - On to City Bypass (A720) - Then head west on the M8 - Take junction 2 off M8 - On to M9 (Sign Posted Stirling) - Take junction 3 off M9 - Then follow signs for Boness - In to Boness then follow tourist signs for Steam Railway - Approximate travel time is 40 minutes from Edinburgh city centre.
Nearest railway station is Linlithgow which you can get to from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Fife and Dunblane. When you get off the train you need to then get a local bus from Linlithgow to Boness. Approximate cost of train from Edinburgh and Glasgow is £9.60 for adult and £3.70 for child return. The bus you require to take cost £1.10 per person and will take 20 minutes.
You can get a direct bus to Boness from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling - You will need to check with local provider. I made a phone call to Edinburgh bus station for the benefit of this review and they advise there cost is £3.60 single.
I drove there by car using my satellite navigation, on arrival to Boness and Kinneil railway I was very surprised to see that the car parking was free. However the surface was a little bit of a shock, it was loose stones and a definite trip hazard after we got out the car. I did notice that they had reserved a small amount of spaces for disabled users, these where being policed by staff.
Timetable and Fares
Bo'ness and Kinneil railway is not open all year round they work to a very strict timetable, Opening most weekend from the 15th of March through until the 26th of October 2008 apart from the month of July when the railway station is open every day. As you would expect they depend a lot of special events and for that they have special time tables. The train between Bo'ness and Bikhill departs 4 times a day when open and takes approximately 20 minutes.
Adult is £5.00 - Child is £2.50 (5-15) - Concession is £4.00 and for a family its £13.00
In addition to the standard train trip between the two station they also have special event days such as, Thomas the tank engine, Easter weekend, Fathers Day, Santa Trains, Diesel days, and Hogmanay Special. As I have said already I went to the Thomas day and I can advise that the ticket cost £8 per person regardless of age.
Paying for your tickets
You can pay for the tickets on arrival at the railway by cash or debit/credit card at no extra charge. If you're going to a special day then you can buy the tickets online and have them posted to you for £1.65 which is a bargain. *Off topic - Tesco club card deals can also be used at this venue, so rather than pay using cash you can use club card tokens.
More about Bo'ness station
I was amazed how well maintained the railway station is, It's still dated back when the railway station was first open in 1981. The traditional ticket office, Ladies and Gents toilets is just amazing. Nothing posh about this place, it's like going back in time. My wee boy just loved walking around looking at the old doors, signs and buildings. The station also has a souvenir shop which is well stick with little goodies that all the kids want, the shop also has gifts for the more serious train people. You can expect to pay a little more in the shop as most of the funds raised in the shop go back to maintain the station. The small cafe shop was modern, bright, and spacious. Service was very quick and the choices available where excellent for the size. A good variety of freshly made sandwiches, rolls, toasties, hot pastries and for the kids they have kids meal deals which included a sandwich, crisps and juice. Once again the cafe was a little pricey but to be honest I expected that.
There is a tourist information desk within the railway station which can provide you with full information on local events, accommodation and much more.
More about Birkhill station
Birkhill station is where the steam train will take you from Bo'ness; it takes about 20minutes before you arrive at Birkhill. When you get off the train you will see that there is a little shop which sells refreshments, you can pick up water here at only 40p per bottle, yeah I know it's a bargain. Prices at this shop are very fair and reasonable. Toilet facilities are also available here. A perfect grassed area is also available here should you wish to have a picnic.
*During the Thomas Day - There would be a magician at this point for the children to enjoy, they also have swings for the kids to use (funfair type) these are all free and are included in your ticket price.
If you have taken the train to Birkhill then I would certainly suggest that you visit the mine, set not far from the railway edge is the entrance to the mine. Down what feels like never ending steep stairs you will be gobsmacked with what you see. I never thought for a second I would be in what used to be a real working mine. Your tour guide will tell you many interesting facts about the mine. The temperature in the mine is a lot colder than I expected too. Unfortunately the mine is not suitable for disabled customers due to the amount of steps. Cost to visit the mine is £3 for adult - £2 for child and £2.50 for concession.
Unfortunately I am no expert on trains other than that of Thomas the tank engine; however after a little research he is a few facts about the train you go on between the two stations. The steam engine was first built in Glasgow in 1907 and in the early 60s the steam engine was withdrawn from service. Now known as engine no149 it was renovated in early 2000 and ever since it has been a regular feature of the railway. My son calls the train the "Blue" one
Staff at the stations
Most of the staff where very nice and helpful throughout the entire day we spent there.
I have decided to break staff down -
Booking Staff - Two elderly ladies who where lovely and very professional.
Souvenir shop staff - On arrival they were too busy chatting to see my 3ft nothing son, once we got their attention they were very nice.
Train Conductor - One of the nicest men you will ever meet, very friendly and chatty to all
Cafe staff - Looked like it was school staff, they where pleasant to the customers, however I felt as though they spoke about inappropriate things when nobody was waiting to be served. Girls remember customers have ears too.
Mine staff - I hold my hat off to these staff, you are an absolute delight and very passionate about your job well done.
Can I add that most of these staff are volunteers and do not receive any payment for their services.
I can't fault anything about the entire experience and would certainly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in trains. Just to stand on the platform and wait for your steam engine to chug in was just amazing, the noise and to see all the steam fill the sky was just breath taking. I had my two kids there and they loved everything about it. I especially liked that fact that the railway station is wheelchair friendly which meant I had no problems what so ever with the buggy. Onboard the steam train the staff helped place the buggy in the correct storage and at the other end they helped us off load. I would definitely suggest that you take your digital camera at the very least.
I have also posted this review on Ciao that review includes pictures.
For more information visit - http://www.srps.org.uk/
Enjoy Scotland's countryside and experience the uniqueness while riding on a steam train.