From Vauxhall to Vokzal

Phil Reeves
Saturday 20 September 1997 23:02 BST

Britain and Russia's railway histories have been entwined almost since the steam engine was invented, writes Phil Reeves. The Russian word for station, Vokzal, derives from Vauxhall station in south London. Eager to learn more about how to introduce rail transport into his vast land, Tsar Nicholas I sent a delegation to Britain in the mid-nineteenth century to study the railway system.

The Russian party travelled on the South Western Railway, and were puzzled by the fact that every train stopped at Vauxhall. The mundane explanation was that the station was the ticket collecting point before trains arrived at Waterloo, where passengers could walk off without a ticket examination. The Russians, however, concluded that Vauxhall was a key transport hub and ushered its name into their language.

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