Astonishingly Britain boasts around 150 stations where if you want the train to halt you must hold out your hand, just as if you were stopping a bus.
Often half-abandoned or a penstroke away from closure many of these stations have extraordinary histories.
There are request stops that were built to serve long since abandoned industries when the first wagons were pulled by horses.
Some were created for cavalry barracks, army camps and holiday camps, while others have plainly been brought into existence just to see what would happen next.
There’s even one – Duncraig, near the west coast of Scotland – that was constructed by a Victorian drug-trafficking millionaire for his private use.
Today its single, minute platform on the shores of Loch Carron boasts one of the finest views from any station in Britain.
Found the length and breadth of Britain these quirks of our railway network often offer peace, tranquillity and perhaps best of all a window on to something that is all but forgotten.
Here’s our top 10.
BERNEY ARMS, NORFOLK
Stranded in the middle of marshy fields Berney Arms is reputed to be Britain’s shortest station.
As the name suggests it serves a pub which must also be one of Britain’s remotest.
Far from the nearest road the only ways you can get to this watering hole are by boat along the River Yare, on foot, or by rail on one of the few trains that will stop here even if requested.
A riverside stroll from Great Yarmouth to sink a few jars here before getting the train home makes for a satisfying day out. Just don’t try it in winter: the pub’s closed.
SHIPPEA HILL, CAMBRIDGESHIRE
Don’t you just love the Cambridgeshire idea of what constitutes a hill? Any crease in the landscape no matter how insignificant is saddled with the name.
At Shippea Hill they take this idea to extremes because not only is it not a hill, it’s actually below sea level.
The station also has a rather darker claim to fame.
On December 3, 1976 at a nearby level crossing a train collided with a lorry loaded with carrots, killing the train driver.
When it comes to unusual ways to die, Death By Carrot Lorry is right up there.
LLANFAIR PG, ANGLESEY
It’s almost certainly true that more people in the world can recite the longest named station Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, even while drunk, than know that it is a request stop.
In the 1850s the denizens of the then village of Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll discussed how train travellers could be enticed into hopping off there and spending some money.
Some say a cobbler from Menai Bridge came up with the idea for the sesquipedalian moniker while others claim a local tailor was the source.
Whoever it was the ruse proved extremely successful, though not quite successful enough for the station to be a compulsory stop.
Y FALI/VALLEY, ANGLESEY
Travel further west on Anglesey and you’ll come to a windswept village near RAF Valley where trainee jet pilots go hurtling about.
The railway station had been bumbling quietly along for nearly a century when in 1940 an aerodrome was hastily built next door to protect Merseyside from air raids.
Unfortunately the runways are right next to huge dunes whose sand clogged up aircraft engines, giving Valley one of the war’s worst safety records.
Oh, and for those still fretting about Shippea Hill not being on a hill, look away now: Valley is not in nor anywhere near, a valley.
DENTON, GREATER MANCHESTER
If you want to travel to Denton the 10.13 on Fridays from Stockport to Stalybridge is definitely the train to catch.
In fact you have no choice: the so-called Denton Flyer is the only train that will stop at the station in either direction (and only if someone requests it).
Miss this and you’ve got a 168-hour wait for the next.
You’ll almost certainly be alone if you do: Denton sees fewer than 20 customers a year.
Despite this it’s beautifully maintained by volunteers so don’t forget to bring your own tumbleweed.
THE LAKES, WARWICKSHIRE
Unlike normal stations built to serve a town, city or village, The Lakes owes its existence exclusively to the polluting powers of factories and mills.
Desperate for fresh air Midlanders flocked to Earlswood Lakes on days off.
They messed around in boats, fished and ambled about in such profusion that the lakes became known as The Scarborough of the Midlands.
The Lakes Halt was duly built in 1935 to cater for the masses.
Said masses now tend to fly to Spain to escape, leaving the lakes and their tiny station peaceful once more.
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ST ANDREWS ROAD, NEAR BRISTOL
For those who favour concrete over countryside there’s St Andrews Road, a station so urban and gritty it has thrown away its apostrophe.
It’s also an extraordinary oasis amid the austere beauty of an industrial landscape.
Built to serve a smelting works the station is now surrounded by solemn business units and dwarfed by towering coal hoppers that pierce the sky like the spires of some Danté-esque cathedral.
(But if it all gets too much, lovely Severn Beach is just a stop away.)
Why was Altnabreac station ever built?
There are plenty of theories but no real answer.
Two stops from the far north coast of Scotland the station stands amid a vast wilderness of pine plantations, dark little lochs and endless expanses of bog.
It’s 10 miles to the nearest road and another eight to the nearest village.
Still, in 1874 it must have seemed like a good idea to plop a station here and modern-day walkers and cyclists are in for a treat: there’s a 16-mile circular trail from Altnabreac that takes in the very best of the nothingness.
A station that must have thought its glory days were over when the anti-aircraft training camp it served was abandoned in the 1940s.
However a bonus 15 minutes of fame came one blustery night in autumn 1972 when a group of Ugandan Asians alighted here.
Forced to leave Uganda by Idi Amin 1,300 refugees came through Tonfanau station to live in the camp.
It’s heartening to relate that though many locals had never seen anyone of Asian origin before they made a special effort to spruce the place up and befriend the newcomers.
Once a village with no roads Lochailort now boasts two major A-roads but, alas, no village.
However Inverailort House is still standing.
The former shooting lodge was turned over to the wartime Special Operations Executive and jokingly renamed The School of Ungentlemanly Warfare.
Years before James Bond’s Q they invented exploding pens, bombs disguised as horse manure and, er, the string vest.
Heart-throb-inwaiting David Niven was trained in the dark arts here so it’s fitting he was the first on-screen 007 (albeit in misfiring spoof Casino Royale).