Paying a visit to Littlehampton and Bognor Regis last month to photograph the semaphores and Class 313 workings, I had noticed a couple of foot crossings west of Barnham station that had distinct potential as photo-spots.
So making a return visit to this busy junction, my challenge was to see if I could capture a final glimpse of Class 313s working all six of the weekday West Coastway diagrams they are scheduled to operate until their final withdrawal from service on 20 May 2023.
After taking an easy 15 minute walk along the road north from Barnham station, then following a slightly muddy path around the perimeter of St. Philip Howard Catholic High School, I reached a foot crossing of the route towards Chichester, with another crossing over the Bognor Regis branch just a short distance away.
My luck was in on Monday, 3 April 2023, when in the space of exactly one hour I was able to photograph all six of the Class 313 units in use on West Coastway services, though sadly ‘big blue’ 313201 was once again not amongst them.
For those unfamiliar with the location, Barnham is where the Mid-Sussex route from London Victoria via Horsham to Bognor Regis crosses the West Coastway route from Brighton to Portsmouth, and a place which sees an endless succession of trains to and from Southampton, Portsmouth, Bognor Regis, Littlehampton, Brighton and Victoria.
West Coastway Class 313 workings currently comprise services from Portsmouth to Littlehampton and Brighton, along with shuttle services between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis as well as workings from Bognor Regis to Barnham, which terminate in platform 1.
Witnessing the rather shabby-looking 313s in their final weeks of working life it is hard to believe that these were a revolutionary type of dual-voltage EMU when they first entered service 47 years ago. A total of 16 units remain in service with Southern from the original fleet (313201-220) that came to the South Coast in 2010, with at least one unit destined for preservation, though possibly not “big blue” 313201.
Having got the shots I wanted from the two foot crossings and the field between them, I took an even muddier path heading south through what looks set to become a new housing estate and then turned left up Church Lane to find a marvellous Fullers pub called the Murrell Arms, where I enjoyed an excellent pint of London Pride (£4.70).
For the record, the six units in West Coastway action on 3 April and their diagrams were 313204 (B1702), 313206 (B1703), 313208 ((B1701), 313213 (B1709), 313215 (B1706) and 313220 (B1704).
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