Scuds scrambled

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Over the past three years of visiting the Wherry Lines to photograph its loco-hauled services and its semaphore signalling, one consistent feature has been the sight of Class 153 one-coach units, usually operating singly, but occasionally in pairs.

As the quintet of “Scuds” has now departed East Anglia to join some of their classmates in South Wales, this seems like the right moment to share a short selection of my favourite images of Class 153 action on the Wherry Lines. Continue reading “Scuds scrambled”

Wherry new trains, Wherry old signals

IMG_0301Less than two months from now and the Wherry Lines transformation will reach its final stage, with a three-week shutdown to complete and commission long-delayed re-signalling of the lines from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

Already this year we have seen the end of loco-hauled Class 37 services and, more recently, the rather less-lamented exit of the single car Class 153 “Scuds”, as the new Class 755 units make their delayed appearance.

Having written many articles about the line’s signalling attractions over the past three years, I was delighted to be invited by Network Rail to pay visits on Tuesday, 3 December to the five splendid signal boxes that will close early next year.

Continue reading “Wherry new trains, Wherry old signals”

Railways and the 2019 General Election

 

IMG_2157Transport and the railways was never going to take centre stage in an election that is dominated by Brexit and the NHS, but with all the manifestos now published there are a pretty wide range of promises being made to improve and expand our rail services.

So, without fear or favour, here is a review of what is being said by all the political parties on the future of our railways, looking in particular at four key topics, namely ownership and control, HS2, electrification and network expansion/re-openings.     Continue reading “Railways and the 2019 General Election”

A scenic walk over the Firth of Forth

IMG_9538Having been to the same school as one of the two engineers who designed it (Sir Benjamin Baker), I have always had a special affection for what, three years ago, was voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder, the truly remarkable and iconic Forth Bridge.

Travelling over it by train on a clear day gives fantastic view of the Firth of Forth looking east and the two road bridges to the west, but it is only by walking over the original Forth Road Bridge that you can fully appreciate its magnificence. Continue reading “A scenic walk over the Firth of Forth”

Britain’s most northerly semaphores

IMG_9713After recent visits to Britain’s most south-westerly semaphores (St. Erth) and our most easterly (Lowestoft), another bargain-price Scotrail Club 50 £17.00 flat fare offer gave me the chance to pay a welcome return visit to our most northerly outposts of mechanical signalling.

Unlike St Erth and Lowestoft, Keith Junction has only enjoyed its geographic accolade for the past two years. It took the honour from Elgin, the next station westwards along the Aberdeen-Inverness route when a re-signalling exercise, completed in October 2017, led to elimination of both Elgin West and Forres signal boxes. Continue reading “Britain’s most northerly semaphores”

The end is nigh at Yarmouth Vauxhall

IMG_9521Grandest of the seven surviving signal boxes along the Wherry Lines from Norwich to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft must surely be Yarmouth Vauxhall, a Great Eastern Railway type 4 Design that dates from 1884 and boasts a 63-lever Saxby & Farmer frame.

Unlike many other historic signal boxes, its appearance has not been ruined by the replacement of traditional glazing with ugly uPVC windows. But its days are sadly numbered and its levers will be pulled for the last time less than three months from now, for the 23.34 service to Norwich on Friday, 31 January 2020. Continue reading “The end is nigh at Yarmouth Vauxhall”

A trip on the new-look GOBLIN

IMG_9375After what seemed like an interminable wait, users of the North London orbital rail service linking Gospel Oak with Barking finally have the train-set and services they have been waiting for, and a good service it seems too.

The 13-mile long GOBLIN route was long-regarded as one of those Cinderella services that suffered from old, inadequate and unreliable rolling stock, as other parts of the London Overground network got new, longer and more frequent trains, and saw passenger numbers leap. Continue reading “A trip on the new-look GOBLIN”