Back in Business – The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway

A couple of weeks ago I paid a (socially distanced) visit to the recently re-opened Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (EVR), treating myself (and the people in my ‘bubble’) to a ‘Bounce Back’ ticket.

33103-20200801c33103 SWORDFISH couples onto the 13.20 to Duffield
Wirksworth Station, August 2020

The EVR have chosen to operate a simple timetable of three return trips per day, all starting at Wirksworth with no break of journey allowed.

Tickets are being sold on a compartment basis and each group (of up to six people) is allocated a compartment on arrival and the carriages are clearly marked as to which door to board at.

Limited catering facilities were in operation (although we’d packed a picnic) and apart from the masks and the railway’s staff helping to keep the small groups of people apart everything felt very ‘normal’.

'SWORDFISH'SWORDFISH nameplate (33103)
Wirksworth Station, August 2020

33103 ‘SWORDFISH’ (the former D6514, b.1960, BRCW) made light work of three beautifully turned out BR Mk.1 carriages and a few groups (us included) were lucky enough to be allocated a first class compartment!

33103-20200801d33103 SWORDFISH runs round its train
Duffield Station, August 2020

The EVR (and all the heritage lines that have managed to re-open under these difficult circumstances) really need our support to survive… If you can, buy a ticket and enjoy a ride!

On This Day… Night Riviera

57604-2014080657604 PENDENNIS CASTLE
Exeter St David’s station, 6 August 2014

Six years ago today I was staying in Exeter and decided to have a bash at photographing the First Great Western ‘Night Riviera’ sleeper service as it paused at St David’s station at around 1am.

57604 ‘PENDENNIS CASTLE’ (looking splendid in Great Western Railway livery) had departed from Penzance bang on time at 21.45 and would eventually arrive at London Paddington at 05.01 with its seven coach train.

57604 is one of four class 57/6 locos converted from class 47s (47209 in this case) in 2004 for use on the sleeper service between London, Devon and Cornwall and still carries the special livery that was applied in 2010 to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR) being incorporated.

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.

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

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’.

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.

Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’

In the post Industrial Action – Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0DH No.482 of 1963 I mentioned having a better image of ‘DRAKE’, the 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive that now calls the former Andrew Barclay’s Caledonia Works offices ‘home’.

AB 0-4-0ST 'DRAKE' (works no.2086 of 1940)-19990829Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd. 0-4-0ST ‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940)
Rutland Railway Museum

‘DRAKE’ (works no.2086 of 1940) is another product of the Andrew Barclay, Sons & Co. Ltd factory in Kilmarnock and was supplied new to Stewart & Lloyds Ltd’s Newport Tube Works in Monmouthshire, remaining there until the site’s closure in the early 1970s.

Although initially preserved by the Dowty Railway Preservation Society at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire, by 1989 ‘DRAKE’ had moved to the Rutland Railway Museum near Cottesmore (now rebranded as Rocks by Rail) where I photographed it in August 1999.