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Manea, Cambridgeshire, on Ely-Peterborough line.
Railway type and traffic
Passenger services: Central Trains class 158 and 170 DMUs, Greater Anglia class 150, 153 and 170 DMUs. Several per hour each way. Freight services: DB Schenker (mainly 66s, some 60s), Freightliner (66s), GBRf (66s), plus infrastructure services to and from Whitemoor Yard.
An unstaffed station in the middle of the fens, over a mile from Manea village. Signalbox is staffed; a few houses nearby. You will probably see no-one else! There is a 'bus shelter' on the down (westbound) platform, which has a seat in it.
Park at the side of the road, near the level crossing (there is an open space).
Manea station has almost no train service. The local bus operator is Stagecoach Cambus, which runs to Manea village, but probably very infrequently.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
Chip shop and a few other shops in Manea village (just over 1 mile away), also a pub. Otherwise, nearest town is March - with the usual Sainsbury's and Tesco supermarkets and other amenities.
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Manea Station general view map
Manea Station close up map
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The line runs north east - south west. There are a level crossing (with siren and full barriers), ex-GER signalbox and semaphore signals. There are no station buildings other than a 'bus shelter'. The level crossing and mechanical signalling gives plenty of warning of trains approaching, but note that it is not possible to cross the line once the crossing barriers are down.
Up (eastbound) trains - best lighting from mid to late morning until mid afternoon (or later without the sun on the nose). Stand on the country end of the down (westbound) platform. A long (200mm) lens is very useful to reach the semaphore signals, as is a long freight rather than a 2-car DMU! Watch for shadows from trees in the winter. Up trains can also be shot from the up platform earlier in the morning, but the shot is much more head-on.
Down (westbound) trains - not so good, but acceptable. From late morning (mid afternoon for the sun on the nose) stand on the open area by the road on the south side of the level crossing - a set of steps might be helpful to see over some of the vegetation. With a short or medium telephoto lens this pulls in the disused loading gauge. Walking a short distance down the road past the houses gives a shot across the fields, with trains (and signals) in the distance - this would be good for videos. Alternatively, there is a fairly head-on shot from the down platform, which can include the signalbox. A shot is also possible from the up platform in the morning, although without the sun on the nose - this includes the signalbox.
There is also a going away shot of up trains as they pass the box, taken from the down platform - the sun is on the 'nose' (the back of the train) from mid to late afternoon.
General views - All photographs © Brian Carter unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking west
The classic shot at Manea, looking towards March with an eastbound train - late morning or early afternoon is best for the light. This was taken on 19th February 1999 using a 200mm lens.
Fig 2 - Looking east
Looking towards Ely with a westbound light engine, taken from the area by the side of the road, using a 135mm lens (I think), also in February 1999. A set of steps is useful when doing this shot, which can also be done with a shorter lens. As far as I know, the brakevan (behind the 'X40' sign) is still on the disconnected remains of the former down loop.
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