Still active at 50 – the Class 37s

When three Class 37 locomotives left the Watercress Line during 2016, it was not because the 50-year old diesel locomotives had found a new home in preservation. Instead they were sold back into mainline service, with two being acquired by freight operator Colas Rail (37324/37901) and one going to UK Rail Leasing (37905).

This trio form part of a once 309-strong fleet of English Electric Type 3 locomotives, delivered between 1961 and 1965, and along with the Brush Type 4 (Class 47s) one of the most enduring features of British Railways’ modernisation plan of 1955, which heralded the end of steam and also saw introduction of many far less successful diesel designs. Continue reading “Still active at 50 – the Class 37s”

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Favourite photo-spots: Reedham

IMG_6631.jpgReedham can claim to be one of the most picturesque places on the Norfolk Broads, but for me the real magic of the place is finding a country junction on the busy Wherry Lines route from Norwich to Lowestoft, where a branch diverges off for Berney Arms and Great Yarmouth, complete with fine signal box, an array of semaphore signals and a working swing bridge, with a very pleasant pub alongside.

IMG_6610.jpgFrom a photographic point of view, Reedham has everything, with good vantage points from no less that three road over bridges, all within a mile of the station and one offering a view over the swing bridge, as well as panoramic views of trains as they head in a south easterly direction to and from the terminus at Lowestoft. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Reedham”

Farewell Forres

One of the most evident features of a £170 million upgrade programme on the Inverness to Aberdeen route in north east Scotland will be at Forres, where some £35 million is being spent on a brand new two-platform station to the north of the existing one, that will straighten out a major curve in the line, and allow elimination of the manual signal box and loop east of the current station.

Work on the new station was well under way at the time of my March 2017 visit, and looks set to be completed on schedule in October 2017, when the manual signal boxes at both Forres and Elgin West, the most northerly signal box in Great Britain, are expected to close. The result will be a slightly faster journey on this increasingly important rail corridor, but mean the loss of another part of our rich signalling heritage.

Favourite photo-spots: Ulverston

IMG_8480.jpgThere are numerous photogenic locations on the Cumbrian Coast route from Lancaster to Barrow and on to Workington and Carlisle, but one which I found particularly attractive was Ulverston, birthplace of comedian Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame, and home to an attractive Grade II-listed station. This opened in 1874, replacing an earlier Furness Railway terminus station on completion of the route to Barrow.

IMG_8565.jpgIt has an unusual layout similar to that at Yeovil Pen Mill in having an island platform and a main down platform with platform 2 not in regular use (and not numbered) so all up trains serve platform 3, while in the down (westbound) direction train doors are only opened on platform 1. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Ulverston”

Save money with a £172 ticket to Ryde

Ryde_IMG_2851Spending £172 to buy an annual season ticket covering a one-mile train journey on the picturesque Isle of Wight may sound like a rather bizarre way to save money on rail travel, but  it is a deal which savvy rail travellers in London, the south of England, the West Midlands and East Anglia would do well to consider.

IMG_9473While the annual “Gold Card” from Ryde Esplanade to Ryde St. John’s Road covers a journey which few of us will ever make, as the cheapest such ticket for any daily journey within the South West Trains franchise area, it represents a sound investment for anyone not qualifying for any railcard apart from the Network Railcard and looking to save money on their train travel.
Continue reading “Save money with a £172 ticket to Ryde”

Ghost train to Paddington

Ghost_02Take a trip out of London on a West Ruislip-bound Central Line service and for a lengthy part of the journey – from North Action to South Ruislip – a little used and partly single track railway line runs alongside, and there are even a clutch of mechanically-worked semaphore signals to be seen as the tube train approaches Greenford station.

This is what was once grandly known as the New North Main Line, but is now less glamorously known as the Acton to Northolt line, running for a total distance of 11 miles from just west of Old Oak Common depot on the Great Western Main Line to a junction with the Chiltern Railways route from London Marylebone at South Ruislip. Continue reading “Ghost train to Paddington”

Favourite photo-spots: Yeovil Pen Mill

IMG_2467.jpgDespite having been scheduled for replacement during 2016, Yeovil Pen Mill signal box remains an isolated outpost of semaphore signalling in the south of England, where the nearest surviving manual signals are those at Liskeard in Cornwall and at Marchwood on the freight-only Fawley branch near Southampton.

Pen Mill is a delightful station, standing on the eastern side of the town alongside the Pittards leather goods factory, with relatively easy opportunities to photograph signalling at either ends of the station and two excellent pubs close by (the Great Western and the Pen Mill Hotel) to pass the time between trains. Continue reading “Favourite photo-spots: Yeovil Pen Mill”