Two Leicestershire towns in need of a train service

IMG_9214Among the many railway revival schemes around the country, one of the most longstanding and compelling is the 31-mile long “Ivanhoe Line” linking Burton-upon-Trent and Leicester.

Despite closing to passengers in September 1964, it survived to serve the many collieries along its length and today remains a vital access by rail to the stone quarries at Bardon Hill, near Coalville.

British Rail had planned a revival of passenger services in the 1990s, but that fell by the wayside at privatisation, since when two separate consultancy firms have produced feasibility reports that have put a relatively modest cost on re-opening to passengers, but not forecast sufficient passenger traffic to make it viable. Continue reading “Two Leicestershire towns in need of a train service”

Advertisements

Preserving Britain’s remarkable signalling heritage

IMG_9044Finding new uses for redundant Signal boxes is often no easy matter. While some do find a new lease of life – cafes at York and Totnes being good examples – many other fine structures are simply boarded up and left unloved, where the years inevitably take their toll, or they eventually succumb to fire damage.

Happily that was not the case with the 1913-vintage Exeter West box, a fine wooden structure, with a 131-lever frame (only installed in 1959), that was made redundant by re-signalling in 1985.

It was painstakingly re-built at the Crewe Heritage Centre, after failing to find a home on the Severn Valley Railway, at Bristol Temple Meads and then at Swindon’s new STEAM museum, and was ceremonially re-opened almost exactly 25 years ago, on May Day 1993. Continue reading “Preserving Britain’s remarkable signalling heritage”

Steam-hauled to Hel and back

IMG_8556Poland has been totally transformed over the past three decades since the drab and sinister days of communist rule were overthrown by Lech Walesa and his brave shipyard workers, and nowhere is that change more evident than on PKP, the national railway network.

Pictured above is Pt47-65 arriving at Chełmża on 13 April 2018 during the first day of its trip to Hel and back.

Having been the last European country to retain steam traction, 1988 marked withdrawal of the last true main line class, the Pt47, with steam then rapidly disappearing over the next three years and eliminated entirely by 1992, except at the remarkable museum depot in Wolsztyn. Continue reading “Steam-hauled to Hel and back”

Avon Rail Link: it’s time for action

IMG_8334

Having reviewed the many railway re-opening prospects around Britain for my book Railway Renaissance, one of the most compelling candidates is unquestionably the Avon Rail Link – a missing nine miles of line that would give Stratford-upon-Avon a southern link to Oxford, London and the South-West – by reinstating a section of line that has been the subject of re-opening efforts for decades.

Pictured above is 37608 approaching Long Marston on 31 March 2018 towing EMU 350263, which formed 535Z, the 08.55 from Northampton EMD, with the EMU being taken to Long Marston for corrosion repair work

Shakespeare’s birthplace has been a terminus to passengers on local services from Birmingham and Leamington Spa ever since the end of services to Evesham and Worcester on 5 May 1969, yet its attraction as one of the UK’s foremost tourist destinations meant that more than a million passengers passed through its station in 2016/7, the first time that seven-figure total had ever been achieved. Continue reading “Avon Rail Link: it’s time for action”