On This Day – Strathclyde PTE-liveried Multiple Units

15 years ago today I was driving from Balerno (a suburb of Edinburgh) to Banavie in the Scottish Highlands and had decided to stop at as many railway stations as I could get away with before my wife got fed up with my antics! 😁

Curriehill, on the Shotts line, was first and after a couple of minutes 156437 (allocated to Corkerhill Depot in Glasgow) put in an appearance on the 09.26 First ScotRail service from Edinburgh Waverley to Glasgow Central.

156437-20050903156437
Curriehill station, 3 September 2005

The station opened on 5 October 1987 and stands on the site of the Caledonian Railway’s ‘Currie Hill’ station which was closed by British Railways on 2 April 1951.

Next was Balloch, another newish station, and I arrived to find 320302 (allocated to Glasgow Shields Road Depot) waiting to depart with the 11.38 First ScotRail service to Drumgelloch.

320302-20050903320302
Balloch station, 3 September 2005

The ‘new’ Strathclyde PTE carmine and cream livery is more obvious in this pic and to my eye looks far more ‘railway-like’ than most post-privatisation liveries. It finally disappeared from the national network in December 2019 following withdrawal of the Class 314 electric multiple units.

Balloch station opened on 24 April 1988 and replaced the former Balloch Central station which closed the previous day and had been situated on the other side of the busy Balloch Road. The building just visible in the background is the former station building, now a tourist information centre.

I’ve just checked with the excellent trainlogger website and both units are still in service with ScotRail, wearing the current Saltire blue livery.

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.

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.