They're visiting all 2,563 train stations in Britain

Francesca Street, CNNUpdated 3rd July 2017
(CNN) — Train travel was once the epitome of elegance. Now it's more associated with busy morning commutes. Has the romance of the railway been lost forever?
Not according to a London-based couple whose mutual love of train travel has inspired them to embark on an epic quest. Geoff Marshall is a freelance video producer who makes engaging YouTube content exploring the London Underground. Vicki Pipe is an educational professional at the London Transport Museum.
Together, Marshall and Pipe have embarked on a three-month mission to visit every station in England, Scotland and Wales -- all 2,563 of them.

A labor of love

Marshall and Pipe stopped at Shippea Hill, Britain's least used station, which usually has just 12 passengers a year.
Courtesy All The Stations/@allthestations
This ambitious project, entitled All the Stations, celebrates the idiosyncrasies of the British railway, capturing a "snapshot of today's railways for posterity," according to the pair.
The couple are documenting their rail odyssey on social media -- from Instagram posts featuring quirky stations to cheerful YouTube updates.
Their journey began in Cornwall, in southwestern England, and will finish in the Scottish Highlands. The end goal is an online documentary charting their journey, which will be given to the National Railway Museum and the London Transport Museum.
CNN Travel caught up with Marshall and Pipe six weeks into their journey.
"We're tired," admits Marshall, before adding, jokingly: "You can't use that, though, your opening paragraph can't be, 'I catch up with Vicki and Geoff, six weeks into their endeavor, there's a tone of tiredness in Geoff's voice!'"
In fact, Marshall and Pipe don't sound tired at all; they ooze excitement and enthusiasm for their project, which is evidently a labor of love.
They hope their endeavor will inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
"It has been an adventure," Pipe tells CNN, "But other people can do this. That's the brilliant thing, we're only doing what other people themselves, using the transport network, would be able to do."

The importance of the railway network

Britain's train stations include international hub St Pancras International, home of the Eurostar.
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images for Terrace Wires
The rules of the project dictate that Pipe and Marshall don't need to get off at every stop -- but every train they board must physically stop at each station on the route.
Stations in Britain range from the huge, international terminus St Pancras International -- where travelers can catch trains to Paris -- to tiny, regional stations that still house steam trains.
"We were in a place called Brundell, in Norfolk the other day," recalls Marshall. "And I was aware that manual-gate level crossings existed, but it's not until you've seen [one in real life] that you realize the beauty of a manual level crossing.
"You just assume that all crossings now are just automated with their crossing lights and stuff. It's a lovely sight to see."
The couple have also enjoyed visiting smaller-scale stations.
Courtesy All The Stations/@allthestations
Pipe agrees that it's exciting seeing smaller-scale stations in action.
"Having lived in London for a long time and seeing some of the bigger stations, like King's Cross [...] those impressive, large-scale stations, those were the ones in the foreground of my mind," she says.
"But what's really been highlighted to me on the journey is the much smaller stations, to look at they're very quaint stations, but then there's this idea that they are so important to the local people who use them.
"They're linking these people to different parts of the region, and making sure they continue to have connections with family and friends and work."

Pop-culture recreations

Pipe and Marshall recreate the iconic Oasis single cover for 'Some might say' at Cromford station.
Courtesy All The Stations/@allthestations
The British railway has long played a starring role in British popular culture; symbolizing 1940s romance in "Brief Encounter" and later 1990s despair in "Trainspotting."
Along the way, Pipe and Marshall have been recreating some iconic train-themed moments.
"At Cromford station [in the Midlands, near Derby] the Oasis single 'Some Might Say' used the beautiful old station building," explains Marshall.
This 19th century building is now a private vacation cottage. Pipe and Marshall bumped into the owner and he offered to lend them a wheelbarrow to complete the image.
"He goes into his greenhouse, lends us a wheelbarrow and we go on the platform by the station and reenact the cover," laughs Marshall. "It was an immensely fine moment."

Unexpected discoveries

These recreations might be planned, but Pipe and Marshall say the highlight of the trip has been the spontaneous interactions they have with people they meet along the way -- from a fellow traveler traversing the British coastline to raise money to fight Parkinson's Disease to a group of young students.
"They were brilliant. School kids get a bad reputation [...] but actually they're just boisterous and inquisitive," says Marshall.
"The thing to do with young people is actually ask the questions back, so that you actually engage with them -- they were great, they were just a lively bunch of kids. We had a really fun moment."
This interaction symbolizes the success of the couple's endeavor -- train travel is a unifier.
The project successfully combines nostalgia for railway travel of days gone by, with a viral sensibility afforded by Twitter and YouTube. Many of their fans are international viewers, who love the insider look at Britain's sights.
"It's an inadvertent travel documentary highlighting how wonderful Britain is by train," says Marshall. "It has become a bit of an advert for the tourist industry."
The couple have explored areas of the country they had never visited before, discovering unexpected delights along the way.
"There's a real rich history which I think sometimes gets lost," says Pipe. "You look at modern-day city centers and often it's just high streets and shops, you don't ever necessarily take a moment to look a bit deeper and think about where has this come from, what's the history behind that.
"As we're spanning east and west, and as we go further north, we're getting a sense of the country as a whole and that's really exciting."

The importance of travel

Anyone could follow Pipe and Marshall on their adventures.
Courtesy All The Stations/@allthestations
Train travel is notoriously unpredictable, but Pipe and Marshall have found this has only added to the fun. Ultimately, the couple hope they will inspire others to follow in their footsteps and grab a seat on a train.
"The best thing is that, as is often the way when you travel, you can plan it as much as you like but some of the best things are the things you discover, rather than the things you know about in advance," says Marshall. "But obviously, you have to get out there to discover them."
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