GWR HST Farewell

IMG_6345Hard 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”


A Wherry big delay


IMG_3817Re-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”

Gareth’s next book – coming 30 July


Pen & Sword Transport – ISBN: 9781526714732

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 July”

A new look at Moreton-in-Marsh

IMG_3772Paying 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”

All change at Inverurie

IMG_5750After 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”

Day Return to Dudding Hill

IMG_3202There are very few places to watch the flow of freight traffic along one of London’s forgotten arteries – the four-mile long Dudding Hill Line from Acton to Cricklewood – but pick of the bunch must be the bridge on Craven Park just north of Harlesden station.

Looking north from here, before leaves appear on all the line-side trees,  there are two semaphores in view –  Neasden Junction’s down (southbound) section signal  nearest the bridge, with its up outer home signal also in view as the line bears round to the right, a signal that can’t be seen when there are leaves on the trees. Continue reading “Day Return to Dudding Hill”

A trip on the world’s most expensive narrow gauge railway

IMG_2715What must be one of the busiest and certainly the most expensive narrow gauge railway in the world is a 43km (27 mile) stretch of 3ft (914mm) gauge line which carries the vast majority of visitors to the world famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru.

This is a delightful 90-minute trip down the Sacred Valley, but with a single ticket costing around $75 (£55) it is one of the most obscene rip-offs any tourist could be faced with, and a sad reflection of the privatisation process in Peru, which saw the line handed to Perurail – partly British-owned – in 1999. Continue reading “A trip on the world’s most expensive narrow gauge railway”