Bidding farewell to the GWR HSTs on Saturday, 18 May, I decided to avoid the crowds at Paddington for the four evening departures. Instead, I opted to witness last day operations on the two routes that I know best, the Cotswold Line from Oxford to Worcester and the Golden Valley route from Swindon to Cheltenham Spa.
First up was a trip to Moreton-in-Marsh, a place I featured last month with its current IET Class 80x series-operated services. My aim was to get there early enough to photograph the 11.22 ex-Paddington from a good vantage point I had discovered south of the station then photograph its 15.29 return departure, as the last-ever up HST service from Moreton. Continue reading “Cotswold lines bid HSTs good-bye”
While the wait goes on for its newly-installed colour light signalling to be commissioned (see my previous post “A Wherry big delay”), one feature to savour on the Wherry Lines in Norfolk is the remarkable number of working semaphore distant signals.
These distinctive yellow and black arms, with their fishtail ends, have all but disappeared in many other places – there is only one left in Scotland and two in Wales – yet the 46 miles of route from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft features almost a dozen working distant signals. Continue reading “Wherry Lines’ working distant signals”
Hard to believe after 40 years, but in less than three weeks’ time long-distance High Speed Trains (HSTs) will make their final journeys on the GWR network, going out in style with a planned four departures from Paddington between 18.03 and 18.30 on Saturday, 18 May 2019.
These Inter-City 125 trains transformed perceptions of rail travel following their introduction across the network in the 1970s, arresting the decline in passenger numbers and paving the way for the seemingly constant growth in travel by rail that is now somehow taken for granted. Continue reading “GWR HST Farewell”
Re-signalling of the charming Wherry Lines in Norfolk was due to be completed about now, but this £67m project has joined Crossrail and Great Western electrification in falling hopelessly behind schedule.
New signals along the 46 miles of route linking Norwich with Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft have been installed, but remain shrouded in black bin liners, with one insider telling me that the new equipment may not now be commissioned until March 2020. Continue reading “A Wherry big delay”
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Almost a century after the first colour light signals appeared on Britain’s railways in the early 1920s there are still a considerable number of places where the passage of trains is controlled by the Victorian technology of a signaller in a signal box pulling a mechanical lever that will tug up to ¾ mile of wire that then moves a signal arm up or down.
Replacement of mechanical signalling has been going on in earnest since the 1960s and continues apace, with losses over the past couple of years at Blackpool, North Wales, Humberside, and at a number of locations in Scotland. Next to go will be the delightful Wherry Lines between Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. Continue reading “Gareth’s next book – coming 30 June”
Paying an Easter Saturday (20 April 2019) visit to Moreton-in-Marsh there had been a fair bit of change since my last visit almost two years ago, when the rolling stock featured in photos accompanying my August 2017 blog included Class 166 and 180 units as well as the now fast-disappearing HSTs.
Today virtually all Cotswold Line services are in the hands of Hitachi Class 80x units, with the final scheduled HST working now less than a month away and a due to be the 18.22 Paddington to Hereford service on Saturday, 18 May. Continue reading “A new look at Moreton-in-Marsh”
After the recent completion of re-signalling at Pitlochry and Aviemore, another of Scotland’s wonderful manual signalling outposts will disappear this summer, when completion of Phase One of a £170 million programme to upgrade the Aberdeen to Inverness route will see the loss of semaphores at Inverurie.
Together with the listed signal box at nearby Dyce (though no mechanical signals), Inverurie box will be closing as part of a project that should have seen a re-doubling of the 17 route miles to Aberdeen by December, introduction of half-hourly Aberdeen to Inverurie services, and provision for a planned new station at Kintore. Continue reading “All change at Inverurie”