Spotted Today – 43238, the ‘Flying Tomato’

43238-2020072743238
Beeston Station, July 2020

Former London North Eastern Railway (LNER) High Speed Train (HST) power car 42238 leads train 1B48, the 13.45 Saturdays and Sundays Excepted (SSuX) East Midlands Railway (EMR) service from Nottingham to London St Pancras International through Beeston on 27 July 2020.

I was under the impression that EMR were replacing their fleet of HSTs with those withdrawn by LNER in 2019 as the LNER fleet was more compliant with the 2020 disability access regulations but so far I’ve only seen the former LNER power cars being used with EMR trailers…

For the record, 43305 was on the rear of this service.

Signal Box Safari – North Staffordshire Survey

A few weeks ago I paid a (socially distanced) visit to a friend in Tutbury, Staffordshire, and en route I crossed the Derby-Stoke railway line here…

Tutbury Crossing-20200630Tutbury Crossing
June 2020

Tutbury Crossing signal box was built for the North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) c.1872 by McKenzie & Holland (McK&H). The type 1 structure was fitted with a McK&H 1886 patent 5″ frame (now reduced to nine levers) in 1897.

Tutbury Crossing signal box-20200630Tutbury Crossing signal box
June 2020

Having some free time I decided to explore a little further down the line and a quick study of Google Maps revealed two more signal boxes nearby, the first being…

Scropton Crossing signal box-20200630Scropton Crossing signal box
June 2020

Scropton Crossing signal box is a NSR type 2 structure dating from the 1880s and is fitted with a 22-lever McK&H 1873 patent 5″ frame.

This also caught my eye at Scropton…

Marker post, Scropton Crossing-20200630Marker post, Scropton Crossing
June 2020

I’m not certain but this may be an old level crossing gate post. ‘N.S.R. Co.’ clearly refers to the North Staffordshire Railway, what appears to be ‘1884’ could refer to the build date of the box itself and ‘L.M.S. 1923’ must refer to the year in which the NSR became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS).

Finally I called at Sudbury…

Sudbury signal box-20200630Sudbury signal box
June 2020

A North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) type 1 structure dating from 1885 the box is fitted with a McK&H 1873 patent 5″ 25-lever frame. There’s more than a hint of McKenzie & Holland (McK&H) design here though and the box closely resembles Great Northern Railway (GNR) structures of the same period.

One other signal box remains in the area, at the former Egginton Junction, but I understand it’s almost impossible to view unless from a passing train.

Military Manoeuvres – AD 34

Ever since I found out that the railway scenes in the 1966 film The Great St. Trinian’s Train Robbery were filmed at the Longmoor Military Railway in Hampshire I’ve had an interest in the sometimes secretive world of the railway systems used by our armed forces.

Happily these days, an interest in such matters isn’t likely to get you shot (at least here in the UK) and a considerable amount of information has now been published about such systems. In addition, a lot of former military railway equipment has passed into the hands of preservationists all over the country.

Locomotive AD 34 is one such piece of equipment, now preserved at the Golden Valley Light Railway in Derbyshire.

HE 4wDH AD 34 (works no.7009 of 1971)-20180207Hunslet 4wDH AD 34
Golden Valley Light Railway, February 2018

Built by the Hunslet Engine Co Ltd (HE) in 1971 (as works no.7009), AD 34 was one of five such locomotives supplied new to the Ministry of Defence, Royal Ordnance Factory Eastriggs in Dumfriesshire (now Dumfries & Galloway) to move munitions around the site on a vast 2ft gauge railway system.

Fitted with a 28hp Perkins diesel engine and a hydraulic transmission, AD 34 has a top speed of 4mph (would you want to go any faster with a trainload of munitions in tow?)

By 1996 all five locos had been transferred to the Department of the Environment Lydd Gun Ranges in Kent where they were used to haul maintenance and personnel trains on the extensive rail network there.

The other four locomotives also survive in preservation; AD 35 (works no.7010) can be seen at the Statfold Barn Railway in Staffordshire (see image below) while AD 36 (works no.7011), AD 37 (works no.7012) and AD 38 (works no.7013) can all be found at the Old Kiln Light Railway in Surrey.

HE 4wDH 35 (works no.7010 of 1971, reb.1988 by HAB, works no.6941)-20110917Hunslet 4wDH AD 35
Statfold Barn Railway, September 2011

Re-opening next week – The North Norfolk Railway

July 8 sees one of my favourite heritage railways emerge from its Covid-19 induced slumber and start to run trains again.

The North Norfolk Railway (NNR) have announced that they will be opening their doors to the public with a limited timetable that will make use of this beautifully restored rake of coaches…

Hunslet 16in 0-6-0ST 'RING HAW' & GNR 'Quad-Art' set no.74-20110706Hunslet 16in 0-6-0ST ‘RING HAW’ & GNR ‘Quad-Art’ set no.74
North Norfolk Railway, July 2011

The Great Northern Railway (GNR) ‘Quad-Art’ was an experiment by Nigel (later ‘Sir’ Nigel) Gresley to reduce the weight and therefore improve the acceleration of commuter trains on the Metropolitan Widened Lines to Moorgate station in London. This set, built in 1924 at Doncaster, is the only one still in existence.

GNR 'Quad-Art' set no.74-20140707GNR ‘Quad-Art’ set no.74
North Norfolk Railway, July 2014

The four coach sets were articulated (hence ‘Quad-Art’) on five four-wheeled bogies instead of the usual two bogies per coach, this reduced the rolling resistance of the set (and its weight) and improved acceleration considerably, especially when the trains were hauled by the GNR’s powerful N1 and N2 0-6-2T locos.

GNR 'Quad-Art' Third 48863 (interior)-20140707GNR ‘Quad-Art’ Third 48863 (interior)

GNR 'Quad-Art' Third 48863-20140707‘All the Threes!’
GNR ‘Quad-Art’ Third 48863

As each passenger compartment is isolated from the next, the ‘Quad-Art’ set is particularly well-suited to socially distanced operations and rather than booking individual seats passengers will book a whole compartment, capable of seating up to eight people.

Set no.74 was withdrawn from British Rail service in 1966 and preserved the following year, forming the backbone of the NNR’s passenger services until 1979 when its poor condition forced its withdrawal again.

A Heritage Lottery Fund-assisted restoration took place between 2003-2008 and the set returned to service in July 2008, its use now being mostly restricted to special events (usually anyway…)

GNR 'GNR 'Quad-Art' set no.74-20110706GNR ‘Quad-Art’ set no.74
North Norfolk Railway, July 2011

Now, can I wangle a trip to Norfolk anytime soon?

A little surprise in France… SNCF class Y 2400

A couple of years ago I was driving down to Nevers (prefecture of the Nièvre department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in central France) when I was suddenly confronted with this…

SNCF class Y2400, Y 2406-20180801aSNCF class Y2400

A small, diesel shunter (or ‘locotracteur’) plonked in the middle of a roundabout that had been made to vaguely resemble a railway turntable.

SNCF class Y2400, Y 2406-20180801bSNCF class Y2400

SNCF class Y2400, Y 2406 (works plate)-20180801SNCF class Y2400, works plate

The works plate gave me a clue to the little critter’s identity and a bit of research revealed its identity to be Y 2406, one of a class of 112 built for the Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF) between 1962 and 1969 by the Société Anonyme Decauville.

Quite what it’s doing in the middle of the commune of Varennes-Vauzelles though I’m still not sure…

On This Day – Grand Train, Paris

Four years ago today I was travelling back to the UK from Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire in central France and took the opportunity of a few hours between trains in Paris to visit the ‘Grand Train’ exhibition at the former La Chapelle locomotive depot.

Le dépôt de La Chappelle was opened by La Compagnie des chemins de fer du Nord (CF du Nord) in 1845 and served the railways north of Paris for almost 167 years until closure in January 2013.

Occupying a prime spot in central Paris the site was put up for sale by the Société nationale des chemins de fer français (SNCF) but the depot was to welcome trains once more before the developers moved in…

From 30 April to 16 October 2016 the depot played host to not only a number of historic railway related exhibits but also restaurants and bars, a bookstore, a number of markets and best of all, entry was free!

These are just a few of the many photos I took that day…

SNCF class BB 9300 109301, class A1AA1A 68500 668523 & class CC 72000 472029-20160618SNCF class BB 9300 109301, class A1AA1A 68500 668523 & class CC 72000 472029

SNCF 230.D.9 (CF du Nord 230 3.521)-20160618SNCF 230.D.9 (CF du Nord 230 3.521)

The only steam locomotive on display… built in 1908 by the Compagnie des chemins de fer du Nord.

Grand Train map-20160618‘vous êtes ici’

SNCF class X 52100 Autorail X 52103-20160618bSNCF class X 52100 Autorail X 52103

SNCF TGV Sud-Est power cars 23113 & 23114-20160618SNCF TGV Sud-Est power cars 23113 & 23114

The legendary Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV), these two power cars belong to one of the eight-car two-voltage ‘Sud-Est’ sets (57).

SNCF class BB 9200 9291-20160618cSNCF class BB 9200 9291

This class BB 9200 loco is one of the two 250km/h high speed variants used on the ‘Capitole’ service between Paris and Toulouse. The red ‘Capitole’ livery led to the locos being given the nickname ‘BB rouge’.

Multiple Unit Monday – A Wickham in Wales

Class 109 DTCL E56171-20140816D.Wickham & Co. Ltd. DTCL E56171 & DMBS E50416
Carrog Station, Llangollen Railway, August 2014

This two-car diesel multiple unit (DMU) was built by D.Wickham & Co. Ltd. of Ware, Hertfordshire in 1957 and was one of five such sets allocated to branch line services in East Anglia.

As more and more branch lines closed in the 1960s these Wickham sets were deemed surplus to requirements and were withdrawn from service. Two were exported to Trinidad, two were scrapped but the fifth (E56171 and E50416, later renumbered TDB975006 and TDB975005) was converted into a saloon (complete with kitchen facilities) for use by the General Manager of British Rail’s Eastern Region, remaining in use until 1980.

Eventually preserved by the Llangollen Railcars group the unit was restored at the Midland Railway-Butterley thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant and it returned to service in 2004.

Class 109 DTCL interior-20140816Interior of DTCL E56171
Carrog Station, Llangollen Railway, August 2014

The beautifully restored interiors are a very comfortable and stylish way to travel and the large windows give a fantastic view of the Denbighshire countryside that the Llangollen Railway passes through.

The Wickham sets were withdrawn before TOPS* classification was applied but they were allocated Class 109 by British Rail.

*The TOPS computer system for managing locomotives and rolling stock is something I’ll be going into more detail about in a future post.

From the Archives – Caledonian Sleeper

In my previous post I briefly mentioned the Caledonian Sleeper service that links London with Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness.

Two trains depart from London Euston six days each week, the Highland Sleeper is made up of three portions that divide at Edinburgh to serve routes to Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. The Lowland Sleeper has two portions serving routes to Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central.

15 years ago a holiday at Banavie gave me an opportunity to photograph the portion that winds its way through the Highlands to and from Fort William.

37417-2005090337417
Fort William station, 3 September 2005

Monday 3 September saw a rather tatty 37417 Richard Trevithick stabled beside the station with a five coach train, the last vehicle of which was British Rail Mk.3 Sleeping Car with Pantry (SLEP) 10506.

BR Mk.3a SLEP 10506-20050903BR Mk.3a SLEP 10506
Fort William station, 3 September 2005

The diesel loco only works the train as far as Edinburgh, where an electric loco takes over, so I wasn’t surprised to see 37417 return the following day.

37417-2005090437417
Fort William station, 4 September 2005

The next day brought a loco with a more ‘Scottish’ name to Fort William in the shape of 37406 The Saltire Society (The Saltire Society is an organisation which aims to promote the understanding of the culture and heritage of Scotland).

37406 (nameplate)-2005090537406
Fort William station, 5 September 2005

37406-2005090537406
Fort William station, 5 September 2005

37406 returned the next morning and was stabled beside the station with its train and I grabbed a quick pic of British Rail Mk.2e Unclassified Open Brake (BUO) 9809 (for passengers not making use of the Mk.3’s bunks) before heading off for the day.

BR Mk.2e BUO 9809-20050906BR Mk.2e BUO 9809
Fort William station, 6 September 2005

The sleeper service continues but the Class 37s and BR built coaches are no longer in use… The 37s were replaced in 2006 by Class 67 diesels (themselves replaced in 2019 by Class 73/9 electro-diesels) and the coaches by brand new CAF-built ‘Mk.5’ stock that also entered service in 2019.

On This Day – Barbies at Edinburgh Waverley

Seven years ago today I was returning home from a short break in Scotland’s capital city (travelling by train of course).

Having arrived at Edinburgh Waverley station a little early I had time to take a few photos…

90019 was stabled in the former Motorail bays at the eastern end of the station and was due to work that evening’s Caledonian Sleeper service to London Euston.

90019-2013060690019
Edinburgh Waverley station, 6 June 2013

The imposing structure in the background is St Andrew’s House, the headquarters building of the Scottish Government that stands on the site of the former Calton Jail.

At the other end of the station was 158711.

158711-20130606158711
Edinburgh Waverley station, 6 June 2013

The Balmoral Hotel (formerly the North British Station Hotel) dominates the skyline. Built by the North British Railway (NBR) the hotel opened 15 October 1902. The hotel’s clock has always been set three minutes fast to ensure that the people of Edinburgh wouldn’t miss their trains. The only day that the clock runs on time is on 31 December (Hogmanay) for the city’s New Year celebrations.

I didn’t make any notes as to the service 158711 was operating but as a unit allocated to Inverness depot it’s reasonable to assume that Inverness was its next destination.

Both 90019 and 158711 are carrying the ‘First ScotRail’ colour scheme that enthusiasts soon dubbed ‘Barbie livery’, presumably thanks to the bright pink stripe!

From the Archives – M&GN Joint Railway Society members’ day, October 2011

A quick follow up to my previous post

Another image of the Great Eastern Railway (GER) bogie tramcar No.7 at the North Norfolk Railway (NNR), captured during the M&GN Joint Railway Society members’ day on 1 October 2011.

LNER class J15 0-6-0 65462-20111001LNER class J15 0-6-0 65462 approaches Bridge No.303
North Norfolk Railway, October 2011

Here the society’s London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) J15 class 0-6-0 steam locomotive 65462 (built as class Y14 No.564 by the GER at Stratford Works in 1912) approaches Bridge No.303, east of Weybourne, with what I believe was the last service of the day. No.7 is clearly visible as the first vehicle in the train.

And this is the view of 65462 from the balcony of No.7, captured earlier in the day!

View from the balcony of GER Bogie Tramcar No.7-20111001View from the balcony of GER Bogie Tramcar No.7
Sheringham station, North Norfolk Railway, October 2011

(My face was covered in smuts from the loco after I’d travelled the full length of the line standing on said balcony…)

65462 was withdrawn from British Railways service in September 1962 and initially stored at Devons Road Depot in Bow, East London. Short spells at Stratford (East London) and March (Cambridgeshire) followed before 65462 finally arrived at the NNR on 4 June 1967.

A stalwart at the NNR, 65462 ran for thousands of miles before being withdrawn for significant boiler work in 1989, not returning to traffic until 2002.

In 2015 the locomotive returned to service following another major rebuild which included not only a repaint into full GER blue livery but also a number of modifications that backdate its appearance to ‘as built’ condition.