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Railway Renaissance

RR_CoverGareth’s first book – published September 2017

 Pen & Sword Books Ltd

ISBN: 9781473862005

Order at Waterstones or Amazon

When a 35 mile stretch of the former Waverley route from Edinburgh to Carlisle reopened on 6 September 2015, it became the most significant reopening of any UK railway since the infamous Beeching Report, ‘The re-shaping of British Railways’, was published in March 1963.
   In his report, Dr Richard Beeching recommended sweeping closures of lines across the UK to improve the financial performance of British railways, which led to wholesale closures over the following decade and a reduction in the UK rail network from 18,000 miles in 1963, to some 11,000 miles a decade later.

Continue reading “Railway Renaissance”

Favourite photo-spots: Worcester

 

IMG_1505For a chance to savour Britain’s finest collection of lower quadrant semaphore signals, and a number of other unique historic features, it is well worth spending a few hours on and around Worcester’s two stations, Shrub Hill and Foregate Street.

The triangular layout north of these two stations is controlled by signal boxes at Shrub Hill and Tunnel Junction at the far tip of this triangle, while signals west of Foregate Street and its up platform 1 starter are controlled by a third box, Henwick, standing out of sight on the opposite side of the River Severn. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Worcester”

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All change at Wolsztyn

 

IMG_1273In what could well be the final year of daily scheduled steam operation, a major change to the workings from Wolsztyn depot in western Poland is taking place immediately after its famous May Day “Parade” event, which occurs this year on Saturday, 4 May.

The start of a much-needed rebuild of the line from Wolsztyn to Leszno means that from 5 May until early September weekday steam operation will be switched to the shorter Wolsztyn – Zbaszynek route, meaning the return of daily steam operation to a short section of the Berlin-Warsaw main line. Continue reading “All change at Wolsztyn”

Rare freight action at Haslemere

IMG_1175    Freight services made a re-appearance on the Portsmouth Direct Line on Saturday (2 February), when engineering work in the Southampton area led to a handful of car-carrying services to and from Southampton Docks being diverted along the route through Haslemere and Guildford.
   The last regular freight had been oil traffic from the Holybourne terminal near Alton to the Esso refinery at Fawley, but this twice-weekly working ceased in September 2016.
   Two of the diverted services passed through Haslemere in day-light, the first being a long train of empty car-carrying wagons from Southampton Eastern Docks to Halewood (Jaguar Cars) at 10.50, hauled by 66170 (698P).IMG_1196
Next up was service 496Q, conveying cars from from Morris Cowley plant at Oxford to Southampton Eastern Docks, hauled by 66181 and seen here (above and below) approaching Haslemere at 14.25, running 35 minutes late.IMG_1204
The week-end engineering work between Eastleigh and St. Denys also saw diversion via the Portsmouth line of SWR’s hourly fast services between Waterloo and Weymouth.IMG_1183

 

Metrobus yes, but where’s the metro train?

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Anyone who had spent one hour 50 minutes on a bus travelling the ten or so miles from Cribbs Causeway shopping centre to Temple Meads station, as I did this week, would realise how serious Bristol’s traffic congestion has become.

Whilst my choice of a 73 bus, rather than the shiny new m1 metrobus and its route via the M32 motorway, inevitably slowed my journey, it still took around half an hour longer than scheduled and underlines the need for some radical action. Continue reading “Metrobus yes, but where’s the metro train?”

How green was my valley

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Investment in upgrading the important Valleys Line services radiating north from Cardiff has been on the political agenda for some considerable time, with ambitious plans announced for partial electrification and/or conversion to light rail.

Yet while all the bold talk continues, the saga of delayed electrification to Cardiff and cancellation onwards to Swansea is a warning not to take anything for granted, and a mainstay of Valleys Line operations today remains the reviled Pacer (Class 142/3) units. Continue reading “How green was my valley”

A trip to Tondu

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Along with those at Pembrey and Ferryside, featured in my previous post, another South Wales signal box potentially being replaced during Network Rail’s Control Period 6 (2019-24) is Tondu, sole passing place on the eight-mile branch from Bridgend to Maesteg.

The former Tondu Middle box is another Great Western Railway Type 3 design and dates from 1884 although, unlike Ferryside, has been subject to some subsequent alterations.

It stands immediately north of the station and controls a passing loop (currently out of use), as well as access to a seldom-used diversionary route to Margam and a remaining stub of the closed Blaengarw branch. Continue reading “A trip to Tondu”

South Wales’ last main line semaphores

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Travel down Brunel’s Great Western Main Line towards Bristol, pass through the Severn Tunnel into Wales and, after a change of train at Swansea, it will be exactly 208 miles from London Paddington before you reach the first of two semaphore signalling outposts on the South Wales Main Line.

Pembrey & Burry Port marks the start of old technology in signalling terms, and is the first of six surviving boxes between here and Clarbeston Road (junction of the Fishguard and Milford Haven routes) that are due to be closed during Network Rail’s forthcoming Control Period 6 (April 2019-March 2024). Continue reading “South Wales’ last main line semaphores”