Semaphores and Class 37s at Moreton-in-Marsh

After a welcome sighting of Network Rail’s New Measurement Train (NMT) on a recent trip to Dawlish, I was inspired to take day trips to a couple of my favourite photo-spots in the hope of seeing the “flying banana” once again as it visited Yeovil and Moreton-in-Marsh, on its everlasting tour of our national rail network.

But things did not quite go according to plan, and on a dismal and foggy day (25 January 2023) the NMT failed to make its scheduled mid-afternoon appearance at Yeovil Pen Mill, when its circuit from Derby to Bristol via Weymouth was seemingly curtailed, while the following day produced a rather different NR test train at Moreton-in-Marsh.

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Surviving semaphores at Hastings

There are a trio of major seaside destinations along the South Coast that retain some mechanical signalling interest, with four semaphores apiece at Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, but no less than seven surviving semaphore arms at the charming East Sussex resort of Hastings.

Unlike its two West Sussex counterparts, Hastings lost an attractive 1931-vintage neo-Georgian station building when it was replaced in 2004, but fortunately it retains its 1930 Southern Railway signal box, with its 84-lever Westinghouse frame. 

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HSTs along the Sea Wall

The sight and sound of High Speed Trains (HSTs) has been an enduring feature of the railway scene in South Devon since their full introduction on services between London Paddington and Penzance in May 1980, and their introduction on cross-country services two years later.

But after more than 40 years’ service things will look very different by the end of 2023, with GWR committed to retiring the last of its 2+4 Castle sets by December, leaving just the handful of XC 2+7 sets passing this iconic location on their journeys between Plymouth and Edinburgh Waverley.

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Eleventh hour reprieve for world’s oldest pier railway

It was less than 48 hours before what had been billed as its last ever sailing when things began to look a little brighter for the historic Hythe Ferry, which links the waterside village with Southampton, and the 100-year old narrow gauge railway that takes passengers along the 700-yard Hythe Pier to the ferry.

Mounting losses and withdrawal of council financial support had led operator Blue Funnel Ferries to announce that the ferry would close on New Year’s Eve 2022, when the final sailing would have left Southampton’s Town Quay at 17.30. But on the evening of Thursday, 29th December came a glimmer of hope that the link could be saved.

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