Historic UK train journeys from iconic locomotives are being recreated for the first time in 3D thanks to Edge Hill University.

A team of academics and students, working alongside volunteers from local primary schools and Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Society, have plotted the routes of locomotives as they were around 100 years ago using Bradshaw’s 1906 railway timetable, travelling across the country through current and long forgotten stations.

Initially focussing on lines across Liverpool, Lancashire and Yorkshire, the project will be rolled out creating the possibility of virtual journeys across the UK’s entire train network.

Professor Mark Anderson, Director of the Research Centre for Data and Complex Systems at Edge Hill, who is leading the programme with Honorary Research Fellow Brian Farrimond, said:

“This is really exciting as it has never been done before.

“Our 3D parametric modelling programme allows us to use the power of 3D graphics to bring our industrial heritage to life. By using Bradshaw’s timetables we’re able to visualise heritage railways operating as they did in their heyday.

“The computer software can be used by children and adults with very little tuition to create complex, dynamic models and visualisations.

“Using these timetables, alongside original documents and photographs, we’re able to accurately recreate locomotives, stations and scenery such as bridges and buildings.”

He added: “We’ve also used old engineering plans to bring legendary trains such as the Aspinall 0-6-0 and the Atlantic Highflyer to life, alongside models of engines that were planned but never built including the Flamme.

“This computer programme allows us to create whatever we want, buildings, scenarios, objects including things which never existed or just made it to the planning stage.

“We can take these locomotives apart visually and view them from different angles and perspectives allowing users to view the journey from unique perspectives.”

The University will now create an online 3D parametric modelling community environment to enable schools and volunteers to showcase their work and collaborate online.

This online platform will help volunteers link up sections of railway track creating virtual journeys across the UK.

This latest programme builds on the success of earlier versions of the 3D modelling tool launched including ChurchBuilder, software to create tours and video of churches; ThingBuilder, to build animated models of ships, coaches and wagons and ScenarioBuilder to create and visualise scenarios such as paddle steamers on the River Mersey in 1909.

Anyone who would like to volunteer should email brian.farrimond@edgehill.ac.uk