This page shows some of the pictures I have recently taken. I update this section on a regular basis but do not, as so many do, upload every single image taken during a photographic session. I think that there are few sights more tedious than an endless gallery of virtually identical pictures from a single location, especially when people upload 5 or 6 of the same train taken on a camera set to "fast multiple exposures". This section is intended to show any moderately interesting photographs I take regardless of the lighting conditions. There is therefore a good possibility that the sun will not feature and even if it does it may not, heaven forbid, always be on the front of the locomotive. As I've said elsewhere, my approach is to take the picture if circumstances permit in order to record the scene on that day. It may be possible to repeat the shot later in better light but equally, given the transitory nature of railways, it may not. I feel that it is more important to record workings, especially those of an unusual nature, whatever the light than to ignore them because the sun is not shining. I regard myself as a railway enthusiast who takes photographs rather than a photographer who happens to take pictures of railway-related subjects. It strikes me as strange that many railway photographers, especially those who concentrate on unusual and one-off workings, will not take an image unless the sun is fully out and illuminating the front of the locomotive. This is undoubtably due to the influence of one section of the railway press who, for no good reason, regard only such pictures as worthy of publication. This bigotry exists in no other branch of photography and indeed, the best landscape and sports pictures that I have seen were taken in what some would regard as impossible lighting conditions. Railway magazines provide news reports and surely that should include photographs of newsworthy trains taken in whatever the light was at the time? I haven't looked at a railway magazine for over 10 years but I do recall that in some publications every single shot was taken in identical lighting conditions which gives nothing like an accurate reflection of the railway scene in this country. I have a friend who takes Formula 1 photographs for one of the motorports magazines. Can you imagine such a photographer refusing to take a shot of a notable incident because the "sun was off the front"? Everyone is clearly free to take whatever images they wish but I do dislike those who sneer at those of us who choose simply to record what is there on the day without regard to the lighting conditions.      Home

The following images are not new but were taken on 13 July 1990. I have put them here rather than into the separate class sections because they were taken at the same location and therefore form a natural sequence. I wasn't able to identify some of the workings but as I saw them nearly 30 years am not remotely bothered at this juncture. This is just a small selection from the slides I took this day but with each taking between 15 and 20 minutes to process after scanning I didn't feel like doing any more. I had a visit to the long-closed station at Sutton Park on 13 July 1990 because of the quantity and variety of traffic that passed along the line at that time. The sun didn't come out until around 11.00 and shots taken earlier than this were black and white and don't appear here. This image of 20025 + 20096 was taken at 12.05 and shows an eastbound ballast train passing the buildings including the old Post Office facility, still intact but boarded up.
I do know the indentity of this train being hauled through Sutton Park by 56105 on 13 July 1990; the morning Witton to Whitwell quarry empty stone wagons. As can be seen, the former GPO depot was being used to stable OTP one of which was just about to be fired up and moved to another site. I haven't been back here in the intervening years and I very much doubt that the old platforms are as easily accessible in 2019 and I expect that fencing is in place along with a lot more tree growth shading the scene.
Class 37 movements did not create quite the same reaction from enthusiasts in 1990 as is sometimes the case today; they were simply part of the scene. In this picture from 13 July 1990 37220 + 37215 were taking a decent set of oil tanks in an easterly direction through Sutton Park, the main freight route from the Bescot direction to either the East Midlands via Water Orton or through the Washwood Heath area to the Gloucester line or to Oxford via Leamington Spa.
Class 58s on MGR traffic were so commonplace in July 1990 that by and large they went unnoticed but I always quite liked them and have dozens of pictures of them all over the Midlands. I don't know to where 58003 was heading as it passed Sutton Park on 13 July 1990 but it wasn't far as it came back with a couple of oil tanks, probably going to Bescot, within 90 minutes.
It was usual for trains such as this short departmental workings to have a possible variety of destinations depending on day-to-day requirements. This is probably a Bescot to Toton service conveying some ballast hoppers and rail carrying flats and was hauled through Sutton Park station by 31402 on 13 July 1990.
A relatively unusual sight in 1990 on the freight-only line through Sutton Park was a Liverpool to Reading locomotive-hauled ECS. On this occasion, 13 July 1990, 47508 was doing the honours and I do recall that the routing of this train was one of the reasons I had a trip over there.
After waiting for some time for a suitable gap in the traffic on 13 July 1990 there was finally a path found for DX73245 to leave the stabling point adjacent to Sutton Park station and to go off in an easterly direction.
The westbound shot through the closed station at Sutton Park wasn't great but I do remember that the sound of 37098 climbing the bank with its short steel train on 13 July 2019 being quite impressive. The locomotive was one of those having recently been repainted into a plain grey colour scheme ostensibly for use on departmental traffic but often appearing on other duties.
Yet another set of off-lease HST went for storage from Laira to Long Marston on Monday 3 June 2019. On this occasion the power was provided by 47727 + 47749 in their new colour schemes, radically different from the, in my opinion, much more attractive Colas livery which they were carrying when I photographed them in charge of the 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel train seen here at Hatton North Junction on 24 June 2009. Here's another view of 47727 running solo after another visit to Long Marston with the green FGW car carrying wagons. The early sun had gone by the time 5Z43 reached Worcester for the second time, having run via Bescot and Birmingham to avoind a run-round, although a 92 minute late start had been made up by then. In view of the weather I went just to the road bridge at Long Marston where I noticed that an old MOD building has just been modified by the addition of some exhaust or air filter equipment.
Unlike previous HST stock trains to Long Marston when there were either no power cars or two operating the train as normal the run on 3 June 2019 had a single PC, 43056, at the rear which had been idling for the entire journey presumably to provide a bit of extra braking power. At least 6 other HSTs can be seen in the storage sidings awaiting an uncertain future which, rather optimistically, may include some further use on some parts of our network. Roe deer are frequently seen in the fields around here but this one was taking its chance on the road; fortunately it soon found its way back into safer territory.
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't photographed many FGW HSTs in their final months of service so had resolved to make the effort for the farewell railtour, The Flying Banana, when it ran on 1 June 2019. The only convenient part of the tour for me was 1Z23 from Paddington to Carmarthen which ran via the North Cotswold Line and with a sunny forecast there was no point in going much further north than Moreton in Marsh especially as I was interested only in a shot with some identity to it rather than open countryside which could be anywhere. The London Road bridge just to the south of Moreton in Marsh station has some lower-quadrant semaphore signals in view so was a good choice as far as I was concerned. Here is the train approaching its booked pathing stop with the oldest extant power car, 43002, leading with the newest by some 7 years still available, 43198, bringing up the rear.
With the sunny being fully out it would have been rude not to have taken a further shot as 1Z23 entered Moreton-in-Marsh on 1 June 2019. Power car car 43198 brings up the rear as the train passes the signal box and associated semaphores including a recent additiion on the down side which allows for terminating arrivals from the south to return without a shunt being necessary. A few seconds before departure I took a final panoramic view of the station. The next section of the tour, to Worcester, was delayed for around 20 minutes by a points failure at Norton Junction but most of the lost time was picked up quite quickly.
The test train which I photographed at Henley-in Arden on 21 May 2019 ran on the following day from Tyseley to Bristol and on Thursday 23rd returned to the West Midlands via Oxford and Evesham. There seemed to be about a 50% chance of sun judging by the clouds over Stratford-upon-Avon so I thought it worthwhile to go somewhere on the North Cotswold Line for a shot, this time with 37610 leading assuming that the usual practice had been followed. Just as I arrived on the road bridge near Evesham I saw a double headlight approaching from the West and just had time to grab this image of a class 800 DMU forming 1W23, the 11.20 Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street.
A few minutes after taking the photograph shown above on Thursday 23 May 2019 a southbound class 802 came along which is seen here passing underneath the A46 Evesham Bypass and the higher bridge carrying a much quieter road to some private houses and a hotel. A recent addition to the lineside here is a solar farm which although a bit unsightly has to be better for the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels to generate electrical power. Much of the earlier cloud had cleared so a fair wattage was being fed into the grid today.
Although I have no objection to photographing DMUs I doubt that I would go to the North Cotswold Line just to take pictures of IETs. This was the case on 23 May 2019 when I was near Evesham and had just taken a couple of shots of the units while waiting for 1Z23, the regular test train from Bristol to Tyseley. The NCL was running to time and it was just as scheduled when 37610 leading the test coaches and 37521 came into view going under Mutton Bridge at Blackminster. The sun was in a clear patch of blue sky so there was no angst about losing the light, not that there was anyone else here gazing around to spot stray clouds. When in DRS colours 37610 was commonplace on test trains and here are another two shots on this line from 27 November 2006 when 1Z14 was captured passing Evesham signal box and a few seconds later as it went by the now-gone semaphore signals.
The third of this year's "Stratford Flyer" trains run by the WCRC reached the terminus on 22 May 2019. This time it was 1Z61, the 08.00 from Scarborough, with 57314 with 57316 providing the power which was sceduled to arrive into Stratford's platform 1 at 13.49. As expected it was a couple of minutes early having a good run along the North Warwickshire Line from Whitlocks End to Bearley despite having to pause for few minutes at both locations to allow local traffic to precede it. The weather was warm and bright and as the arrival time was a bit early for optimum lighting conditions had the sun been fully out some light cloud was welcome. The station is in the throes of some quite major improvement works which along with the dreadful and overbearing sight of the new high-density housing scheme on the former cattle market site dominating the scene, the visitors' first impressions of their destination were not favourable. At least the station improvements are positive and will greatly benefit passengers when complete. The other development is likely in time to make the area a no-go area after dark...
The regular test train from Derby to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon ran on nTuesday 22 May 2019. This was the first time since the previous Autumn that 1Q48 would be photographable on the North Warwickshire in daylight; its passing time for Henley-in-Arden being 18.39. It seemed likely that that the sun would be shining after a partly cloudy afternoon so I drove to Henley station where the only stretch of line largely clear of shadows was off the northern end of the platforms. The train was running a few minutes late because the preceding passenger working was late due to a passenger having been taken ill earlier in the day. This set up the very real possibility that another unit from Stratford upon Avon to Worcester might be in just the wrong place but it came and went with a good 30 seconds to spare. Here is 37521 topping and tailing the stock with 37610, substituting for the usual 67023 + 67027, approaching the station at low speed under a signal that had just been cleared from red to green. This accounts for the exhaust haze from the locomotives as the driver opened up.
A sunny afternoon and a class 67 hauled ECS was enough to tempt me out to Hatton North Junction on Wednesday 15 May 2019. On arrival at the access to the footpath in Shrewley village I was met with a sign indicating that the 47 acre site between the M40 and Grand Union canal, currently in use as a turf farm, is for sale by auction in June. This area is inside the Green Belt so hopefully, subject to no corruption on the part of the local council or a Government Inspector (ha!), it will not be available for development. The area around the footbridge habitually used by photographers has been cleared by the present owners and now offers the chance to take images without having to resort to steps or plastic crates in order to clear vegetation. A few seconds after I arrived the sound of 68012 climbing Hatton Bank with 1R33, the 13.10 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street, was clearly audible and it wasn't long before the train appeared coming aroundhe curve from Hatton station.
The ECS train for which I was waiting was 5Z52 from Eastleigh to Tyseley and was formed of 67002 with 7 or 8 coaches and 66002 dead on the rear. I was watching 5Z52 on a mapping app and it stopped outside Leamington Spa with 6M48 from Southampton to Halewood in the station's centre road and, being a long train, fouling the junction for the platform line through which the ECS would otherwise have been able to run to get around the blockage. I have no idea what the problem was but it delayed the 67's train by some 25 minutes. There was no prospect of losing the light and the colourful ensemble passed me at 15.12. Here is a view of 66002 bringing up the rear; dead in train and not acting as a banker as may have been the case many years ago when either or double-heading of heavy trains from Leamington Spa or Warwick was the norm.
One of the regular freights along here is 6M40, the Colas operated Westbury to Stud Farm ballast empties, was unfortunately cancelled on 15 May 2019 so the only other freight I was expecting to see was 6O30, the 14.27 Washwood Heath Jaguar to Southampton car carriers. On this occasion 66105 was hauling a 2 sets of enclosed wagons to protect the JLR products; on other occasions some of the cars have been on open flats.
Just before 6O30 came south at Hatton North Junction on 16 May 2019 172335 had arrived at the signal on the branch from Stratford-upon-Avon. Two northbound passenger trains on the main line were allowed to pass before 2W82, the 15.03 to Stourbridge Junction, was given the road and came around the sharp curve between Hatton West and North Junctions.
There has been a 6Z31 from Cardiff to Long Marston planned for a few weeks but on previous occasions it was cancelled. On Thursday 9 May 2019 it actually ran and with 66718 in charge. I hadn't seen this locomotive in its current colour scheme so was a bit disappointed when I realised that for various reasons I wouldn't be able to go out for a picture. Luckily, things changed slightly and I just had time to drive to Long Marston for its arrival and decided on a shot from the roadside rather than from the usual road bridge. Things nearly went wrong because 1) the new continuously welded track on the branch doesn't allow one to hear a train coming and 2) the driver didn't sound his locomotive's horn on the way here. Because of this I was on the wrong side of the road when 6Z31 appeared and with a car coming wasn't able to get across so this view isn't exactly as planned with a bit too much undergrowth visible. This locomotive has been here on several previous occasions including a visit on 23 July 2008 when it was sent to collect a brand-new set of JPA cement tanks and take them to Earles Sidings.
A schedule appeared on RTT showing that a Leicester to Long Marston light engine move followed by a class 5 train to Eastleigh would run on Wednesday 8 May 2019. I had mostly decided not to bother because I thought that it would just be an ROG class 37 with a single coach or two but after returning home from town I saw from a friend's message that it was to 57305 topping ans tailing a class 117 DMU. That's more like it, I thought and even though I was cutting it fine to say the least grabbed a camera bag and headed out. As the departure time from Long Marston was 12.15 and it was already 11.55 I went straight to Honeybourne via 3 sets of temporary traffic lights (all on red) and a clurch of slow moving vehicles. I was convinced that I would have missed it but after arriving on the road bridge saw that 5Q86 was sitting at the staff hut rather than at the signal in the station as is more usual. This was lucky for me as a half-decent shot, despite the foul weather, would be on the cards. It wasn't long before the branch signal was cleared and 57303 led the train towards the main line and off to Worcester for a reversal. As far as I can recall there were 2 class 117 sets in Long Marston; the first having been used at an open day in 2007 and the other, the former RHTT set which arrived in 2015. I am told by, and thanks to, John Beale that the unit pictured here is probably on its way to the Wareham Railway and has been in Long Marston for work including locking doors prior to being used on that line. That would explain the signs of work on the bodysides. The unit's brakes were not operational and a through pipe between the locomotives was in use; on the side not visible here. Here is another view as 48713 tails the train towards Honeybourne North Junction.
I have been following the transfer of class 172/0 DMUs from Ilford to Tyseley with some interest so when the first of the transferees to work a passenger train was confirmed for Tuesday 7 May 2019 I was keen to have a shot of it. I decided on this working rather one with several old locomotives and stock going to a diesel gala as, as I expect someone has said, "There's only one first run"; so the DMU won. I went to Stoke Prior for 1V25, the 10.50 Birmingham New Street to Hereford because 1) it's not far to go and 2) if the early sunshine happened to linger the train would be well lit. It very nearly worked out with just a trace of high cloud in the sky but hey-ho, who cares?!
On the same day as shot shown above, Tuesday 7 May 2019, some more class 172/0s were scheduled to leave Ilford for Tyseley running via the WCML, Coventry and Leamington Spa. There was some doubt over whether 5M66 would happen as 172001 had apparently derailed in Ilford Yard during the previous day but after returning home from Stoke Prior I saw that it was running, and close to right time. This gave me time for a slow coffee and trip over to Hatton station. It wasn't many minutes before 172004 appeared on the final few yards of Hatton, luckily just before the sun came out fully.
The first drag of a class 350/1 EMU from Northampton to Long Marston took place on Sarurday 27 March 2019. This will no doubt be the first of many similar moves taking EMUs for corrosion rectification work at the Warwickshire site. I originally hadn't planned to photograph this train because the weather forecast for for heavy rain and strong winds but the former didn't materialise and there was some brightness in the sky. The wind at Honeybourne was very strong and made it slightly difficult to hold my camera steady as 5Q94, 37601 + 350106, left the North Cotswold Line and joined the branch. I drove home via Long Marston and the train was just arriving as I approached the bridge; it had made the short journey much more quickly than had been the case and is the result of much of the branch's track having been relaid on concrete sleepers. That well-known chase practised by many between Honeybourne and LOng Marston may now be a thing of the past...
I returned home from the gym on Wednesday 24 April 2019 and eventually had a look at my 'phone only to see that the crew training runs involving a class 172/0 between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon were again running. I had plenty of time to drive the few miles to Wilmcote station where I arrived in time to see from a mapping app that the 12.40 Stratford to Leamington train, 2L45, had just departed the terminus. Here is 165006 arriving at Wilmcote where a solitary passenger was waiting to board. Wilmcote is a classic example of a GWR wayside station with substantial and currently well-preserved station infrastructure along with the large stationmaster's house which is just visible behind the station building's chimney.
As soon at 165006, shown above, had cleared the between Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway and Wilmcote on 24 April 2019 the signal for platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon itself was set to green and 5T75 left for its final run of the day to Tyseley. I didn't know which unit was involved and hoped that it might be 172003 which is now in the orange and purple livery of West Midlands Trains. In the event it was 172006 and here it is passing under the well-kown but distinctly tatty GWR footbridge in its dreadful non-authentic "mucky pink" paint scheme with liberal helpings of rust only too evident. On the plus side, not many stations have a modern bicycle shelter built in the style, in not the colours, of a GWR building.
While waiting for 172006 at Wilmcote on 24 Spril 2019 the 11.28 Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon via Dorridge, 2D28, went south formed of 2 class 172/2s in the new colour scheme of West Midlands Trains. As these were the first of the 2 coach units I had seen in this livery I waited a few minutes after 172006 had gone to have a record shot as they returned non-stop through Wilmcote station. The light had really caved in by the time 172212 + 172221 passed me but I took the shot anyway just as heavy rain began to fall. Here's a reminder of the train's former colour scheme as it arrives at Stratford-upon-Avon in July 2016.
There were 3 train movements at Long Marston during the morning of 16 April 2019. The first of these was a class 165 DMU from Reading Traincare Depot which was scheduled to arrive at around 10.30 with the second, a EMT class 156 due to leave the site a few minutes later. While waiting for 165136 to arrive from Honeybourne I saw 156498 move slowly around the loop and despite the misty and murky weather took the opportunity for a broadside view. A few minutes later 3 roe deer wandered into view and it was only then that I noticed that 165204 was also making its way around the circuit towards the exchange sidings prior to departure later in the morning. In the meantime 165136 was about to arrive through the misty background.
As soon as 165136 had arrived at Long Marston it joined 156498 in the exchange sidings where its lights were switched from red to white and offered an unusual chance for a shot of the 2 very different classes of DMU standing side-by-side.
As is clear from the image shown above EMT 156498, running as 5Q67 to Derby Etches Park , was ready to leave Long Marston on 16 April 2019 and soon began the run along the branch to Honeybourne. This train should have run on the previous Saturday but was cancelled an hour or so after the booked departure time.
On your marks, get set... As soon as 156498 had left Long Marston for Derby 165204, which had been waiting behind the bushes just beyond the road bridge, moved into the sidings ready for its own departure some time later offering the chance for an unusal image of 2 class 165s standing together here. The booked time for 165204 was 13.39 but I later saw that it actually went at 11.53 although it had to sit at Honeybourne until close to the booked time. Because the branch operates under a One Train Only rule with a single line staff which by now was in the Staff Hut at Honeybourne having been left there by the crew of 5Q67, someone would had to have driven there to collect it before the unit could leave on its journey to Reading via Moreton in Marsh.
After a short break the 5T7X training runs using a class 172/0 recommenced on Monday 8 April 2019. I wasn't able to photograph the first run and the second was curtailed at Whitlocks End following 172006 suffering a coolant leak which ran onto a hot exhaust initially causing fears that an engine was on fire. On Tuesday 9 April I was out walking and timed things so that I arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon station just before 5T72 was due. I lined up a shot for a platform 2 arrival but 172002 was instead sent into P3 which isn't the best for photography. I waited until the headlights had been turned on before taking a single image just before departure. Another of these units, 172003, has received the vinyls of its new operator and I had hoped that it might had appeared today, but no... One of the benefits of the station's ongoing refurbishment is the presence of a new café in the car park serving some of the best coffee that money buy, roasted just outside Stratford by Monsoon Estates the owners of which, Anne and Chris, are pictured extreme left and right in my picture of the café. Thanks to Steve Widdowson for the information on 172003/006.
Back to my normal daylight hours on Thursday 28 March 2019. There was a light engine move, showing as Colas operated, from Bescot to Long Marston during the morning with the return being with a load of presumably oil tanks to Lindsey Refinery. As it was a warm and sunny morning I took my Morris Minor out for a drive around the lanes ending up with an arrival at Long Marston road bridge a few minutes before the locomotive was due to arrive. It had passed Evesham some 13 minutes early but clearly met with some delay after leaving the main line at Honeybourne, perhaps having to await a shunter's arrival before taking the single token from the cupboard. Anyway, 70817 turned up and was soon coupled to the 6 bogie tanks which have just been cleaned and refurbished before carrying out a brake test and pulling onto the branch. Some work is being carried on other tanks as can just be made out on the extreme right midground of this image. The sun was a bit patchy but found a clear bit of sky at the right time and lifted the scene nicely, including some early blackthorn blossom. I thought about going to Honeybourne for another shot but already had an image of 70809 on a similar train there and didn't think that I take anything as good on this occasion.
I had an almost unprecedentedly early start on Tuesday 26 March 2019 with the aim of photographing the first train for several years to Ashchurch MOD. The train was scheduled to sit in Worcester TC overnight but on looking at a mapping app at 04.45 I saw that 6X34 from Marchwood MOD was actually in Ashchurch loop where it had spent the night. As I was awake I drove over and met the very friendly and helpful shunter waiting for his colleague near the track leading to the exchange sidings/yard alongside the main line. While chatting to him the train went past and reversed from the main line into the yard - his colleague had used another entrance! I walked up to the road bridge and in the distance saw a headlight which turned out to be 66772 with 6M90, the 0511 Avonmouth Hanson Sdg to Clitheroe Castle Cement. The time was 06.05 and the sun had risen into some light cloud a few minutes earlier. For anyone interested the settings on my Nikon D800 were 1/320 at f3.5 on a Nikon 50mm 1.8G lens with ISO 1600.
I was waiting for around 30 minutes on the cold and slightly frosty morning of 26 March 2019 before there was any movement from the locomotive and ground crews which I took to mean that they had to wait until the MOD were ready to receive the train of armoured vehicles. The move here involves a man walking down the track in front of the train to protect the 2 unguarded foot crossings on the branch. There are no run-round facilities so the train has to be propelled under radio control along the tightly curved track. This was never going to be a easy shot but it was worse than I had anticipated because the sun cleared its bank of cloud. Luckily, it was still too low to illuminate the train or track and the image is a just about acceptable record of the event. It was interesting to watch some commuters on Ashchurch station pointing their 'phones at 6X34 as it went along the branch; I can imagine some bemused colleagues when the footage is shown...
Monday 25 March 2019 was a largely clear and sunny day and with the prospect of a well-lit shot of large logo liveried 66789 I went to Hatton North Junction for a short session. First along was Chiltern Railways 168219 with 1R37, the 1410 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street and as it was running just a few minutes in front of 66789 it was an obvious candidate for an exposure and histogram check.
The regular empty ballast wagons from Westbury to Stud Farm is operated by GBRf, although at the time of writing not for much longer as Colas are shortly to take over this train. On Monday 25 March 2019 the sole large logo liveried 66789 was diagrammed for the train, apparently as a way to work in northwards after railtour duties in the West of England on the previous Saturday. I had a dull shot of the locomotive but the weather on 25 March was clear and sunny and looked to be set that way for the whole day. Hatton North was the obvious place for a shot and a group of 8 photographers were either on the bridge or, as was I, in the field. The train, 6M40, ran close to right time and left its booked stop in Hatton DGL just as scheduled and soon came around the curve from Hatton station in perfect light.
The third HST set to travel for storage to Long Marston under its own power ran on Sunday 24 March 2019. The day was clear and sunny and offered me the chance to take a picture of the train from the platform end at Honeybourne as it joined the Long Marston branch. I'm not interested in taking a shot on the North Cotswold Line itself as HSTs have been running up and down there for years. Departure from Laira was about 30 minutes late and another 20 were lost when 5Z43 was routed in the loop at Tiverton even though nothing overtook it in the time it sat there. Some time was later saved by the reversal taking place at Norton Junction rather than Worcester TC but arrival at Honeybourne was still close to one hour late.
I just had the time to walk the full length of the up platform at Honeybourne to take this view of 43040 + 43087 as they pulled away from the staff hut after collecting the single line token for the Long Marston branch.
A large proportion of the track on the Long Marston branch has recently been renewed making a chase from Honeybourne to the road bridge across the end of the branch a bit more tricky. At this time of day it doean't matter as the sun is completely wrong but it may be a nuisance on a dull day. There was a return working to Long Marston in the system for 24 March 2019 and I did read something saying that 2 of the power cars from a previous train were to go to Laira. This was incorrect and 43050 was detached from the coaches while 43087 took the stock around the loop and stabled them next to the other sets already there.
The stock stabling took quite a while but 43087 eventually returned to the exchange sidings at Long Marston on 24 March 2019 and the two power cars were coupled together. This was my cue to return Honeybourne for a shot of the diminutive train as it was about to leave the branch and rejoin the NCL.
The run down to Honeybourne didn't take long whether by road or rail and 0Z43 soon appeared on the curve in the background at stopped at the staff hut. It was unfortunate that its departure from the hut coincided with a 9 coach class 800 pulling out of Honeybourne station but on this sort of occasion you just have to make the best of it!
The regular train carrying new rails from (usually) Scunthorpe to Eastleigh is generally hauled by a DBS 66 with very occasional incursions from a class 60. On Friday 22 March 2019 the usual 66 was accompanied by 67013 which gave the prospect for an unusual picture. The dayglo pair, 66114 with the 67 DIT, along with a decent length train are shown here about to pass Hatton station spot on time and unusually with the headcode 6G01 rather than 6X01. Class 67s were a very common sight along this line when they were operated by WSMR and Chiltern but one of 67013's more notable workings was when it powered the last up WSMR train in daylight hours. It was, admittedly, only just daylight when it went though Hatton on 28 January 2011 with 1P23 which had a couple of extra coaches in the consist to cater for the enthusiast demand.
I had just photographed 6G01 at Hatton when 2D37, the 15.32 Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon pulled into the branch platform. It is usually a class 165 turn but on this occasion 172101 had been allocated so I paused for a few seconds to take a shot as it pulled away.
The former Colas class 47, 47749 is now owned and operated by GBRf. On Tuesday 19 March 2019 it made its first main line run from Eastleigh to Leicester L.I.P. in a new colour scheme and although i don't always bother with light engine moves this one fitted in nicely with a walk around Hatton Locks and Budbrooke village. The locomotive left Eastleigh about 2 hours late but the deficit fell quite dramatically one it had left the GWML at Didcot and was only about 40 minutes down by the time it left Banbury. This made me speed up a bit on the muddy footpaths and I arrived on the footbridge near where the Hatton DGL starts just as 0Z47 was passing Warwick. I was slightly disappointed that 47749 wasn't in full GBRf colours but the BR blue, once despised by virtually everyone when there was nothing else on the network, does look smart. The owner's name is picked out in simple white letters on the bodysides. Here is a view of the other end and a reminder of it looked on 19 April 2018.
Another set of class 172/0 test runs between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon took place on 14 March 2019. After some heavy showers the sky at Stratford began to clear so I walked to the station in the hope of getting a sunny shot. When I arrived 165018 was in platform 2 waiting to for the 10.37 to Leamington Spa, 2L33. I can rarely resist a good cloudscape on a sunny day so took this view framed in the footbridge as the unit left the station.
The next movement at Stratford-upon-Avon on Thursday 14 March 2019 was the arrival of 172341 from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction. There isn't much of a photograph for a platform 1 arrival on a sunny morning but a head-on shot makes the best of a bad job. These trains via Hatton North have a layover of nearly 20 minutes here so there was nothing to delay the class 172/0's arrival into the station.
Just after 172341 as shown above had arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon on 14 March 2019 the sun went behind a large black cloud. My mapping app showed that 5T72 was somewhere between Wilmcote and Stratford Parkway stations and as a large clear patch of sky was getting close I was hopeful that I would have a sunny shot. Just for once everything went right and 172002 arrived into platform 2 in good light and with a dark sky. The sky was so good that I took another view as 172002 left, now running as 5T73. The second return run was cancelled so that the end of things for the day.
The GWR station at Stratford-upon-Avon is in the early stages of a complete refurbishment. Contractors have erected some temporary buildings between the station building and the road bridge, some of which can be seen in this view. The chaotic mess on the foreground and right of the image is where the builders of the horrifically designed and executed new high-density housing scheme looming gloomily over the whole area have taken over most of the foot and cycle access to the station, covering the whole concourse with mud and debris. I hate to think in what state the new paving will be be left bearing in mind the standard of building work on the new estate.
Class 172/0 172006 was again out for crew training runs on 12/13 March 2019. The weather on the earlier day was foul but by Wednesday 13th was much better with sunny spells. I wanted a shot of the former GOBLIN unit passing Wilmcote station with its GWR bridge albeit in poor condition and with the dreadful muddy pink colour scheme inflicted on much of the Midlands' infrastructure. Stations across the West Midlands Railway area are gradually being refurbished to some extent and the platform signs at Wilmcote have been replaced. Back to 172006, here it is running as 5T74, the 11.45 from Tyseley LMD, passing under the bridge running 4 minutes late having been delayed by the preceding Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon service.
The second HST to traverse the Long Marston branch under its own power ran on Monday 11 March 2019 when off-lease 43197, 8 coaches and 43193 formed 5Z43 from Laira. The train arrived at Worcester Shrub Hill for reversal a few minutes late at which point I left home for what is usually a quick journey to Honeybourne where I intended to take a shot from the end of the up platform as it joined the branch. Because of heavy and slow traffic and 2 sets of temporary traffic lights on what are usually fast roads my arrival in the car park was timed just as 5Z43 could be heard climbing away from the main line. An undignified sprint followed which ended on the appropriate spot on the over-sized footbridge with 3 seconds to spare as the de-branded stock approached.
The only daylight movement other than OTP to the latest engineering work on the Long Marston branch ran on Wednesday 6 March 2019. Freightliner's 66587 topping and tailing 66509 operated 6Y43, the 15.41 from Hinksey Yard to Honeybourne and I was quite impressed to see from a mapping app that the train was given the green light from the yard spot on time. I wasn't quite as impressed with the weather which deteriorated rapidly on the drive to Honeybourne culminating in pouring rain by the time the train appeared in the distance. To makes things worse there was bright sky to the South-East (out of camera to the left) which made for a difficult bit of exposure calculation (guessing) as 6Y43 slowed for Honeybourne North Junction where it would reverse and join the branch.
It took 25 minutes for the reversal to take place, the delay not being helped by the heavy load of autoballasters and wet rails on the short but steep climb from the main line to the branch. Now at the front of the formation, 66509 could be seen and heard to struggle its way up the incline for several minutes before the bulk of the load was onto more level track. At least by the time 6Y43 reached the road bridge at Honeybourne the rain had stopped and the light picked up enough to enable me to reduce my ISO setting from 1600 to 400.
A rare Sunday train into Long Marston ran on 3 March 2019 when Chiltern's 165037 was sent from Aylesbury for some sort of modification. The weather was very poor with heavy showers and a gusty wind but as this was the first time that a Chiltern unit had been along the branch I went across to take a record shot, leaving home as 5Z56 reached Evesham. This usually gives plenty of time for me to arrive for an arrival shot but on this occasion I was caught out by the apparent removal of the severe speed restriction following the laying of new track and sleepers over the past week. I would have been in time had I not turned my car around before getting out so that I wouldn't have to step out onto a wet and muddy roadside! Not all was lost and I did get this view as 165037 moved into the yard just after the gate had been opened.
Even though it was pouring with rain I stayed on for a few minutes while the crew of 5Z56 changed ends and prepared to take 165037 around the loop at Long Marston to the area where the work on it will take place.
After the warm and sunny weather of the previous few days Thursday 28 February was much cooler and wet. The class 172/0 training specials between Tyseley LMD and Stratford-upon-Avon were again running but in view of the conditions I made no more effort than a quick walk to Stratford station in the pouring rain just in time to witness 5T72 arrive into platform 2.
I scarcely had time to walk along the platform after 172006's arrival at Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 February 2019 before the crew had changed ends and responded to the green signal at the end of the platform. The other class 172, 172333, had arrived from Stourbridge Junction (via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction) a few minutes before 172006 but has a layover here of nearly 20 minutes before returning; this gives the crew a decent chance for a break.
Back to normality for me on 27 February 2019; possibly the last one in the current spell of atypically warm Winter weather. I went to Edstone Aqueduct near Bearley Junction for a couple of DMU shots and first to come along was 172334 with 2S30, the 1057 Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon. This is one of my favourite locations in the Stratford-upon-Avon area being quiet, peaceful and with a good and clear view of the railway but with that view being completely identifiable.
Although I am perfectly happy to take images of DMUs in day-to-regular traffic there was another reason for me to be on Edstone Aqueduct on Wednesday 27 February 2019. Tyseley LMD has recently taken delivery of their first class 172/0 units from London Overground and paths for crew familiarisation between there and Stratford-upon-Avon have been in the schedules for a couple of weeks. The first runs took place today and I missed the inaugural one as I was in my health club's swimming pool when it left Tyseley but was back home in time to get out for 5T74, the 11.45 train to Stratford. I didn't know if the unit involved, 172006, had been repainted but was pleased to see that it hadn't as it came towards the cast-iron aqueduct. This was the best location for the time of day; I should have liked a shot in Stratford station but it seemed a shame to compromise my picture with light in a much less favourable position as would have been the case there.
I'm not sure what's going on but this is my third outing for steam so far in 2019. The locomotive was again Clun Castle and I do like this class having some admittedly fairly distant and hazy memories of them at Stratford-upon-Avon in the days when steam was real. On 26 February 7029 with 6 or 7 coaches was scheduled to make 2 runs to Stratford unusually operating as a class 1 train from Hall Green to Acocks Green; appropriate enough in view of Clun's impressive new coat of paint! I didn't bother with the tender-first inward trip but went to one of several foot crossings on the single line between Bearley Junction and Claverdon for 1Z72, the 12.53 from Stratford. The sight and sound was impressive, especially given the warm Springlike temperature of 17C, and I did enjoy the spectacle.
My second trip of 2019 to photograph a steam locomotive took place on Thursday 21st February. This time it was to see 7029 Clun Castle on the first day of its loaded main line test runs when it ran between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon. I waited until the later of the two runs and had it in mind to go to Hatton North Junction but couldn't be bothered when the time to leave home approached and also thought that if it ran at all late the shadows there might be a bit excessive. I therefore just walked to Stratford station and took a few stationary images as it prepared to leave watched by passengers waiting for the 16.26 departure to Stourbridge Junction. This view was taken as the crew out on the blower and began to build up the fire before the 1/75 run up Wilmcote bank. Talking of which, here is a picture of Clun Castle doing just that on 9 June 1985.
There weren't too many people around to block the view as 5Z78 left so I stayed on the platform to take a shot. The cylinder cocks had just been shut so the image wasn't compromised by clouds of condensing water vapour. It is, unfortunately, compromised by the dreadful and cramped-looking Orbit Housing sink estate of the future which now looms over the entire area. While going through my slides of 7029, not a quick task given the state of my storage system, I found one of the locomotive as it skirted the Severn Estuary at Purton on 10 September 1985. The quite numerous bunch of photographers were standing on top of a slightly ancient PWay hut the roof of which, I seem to recall, didn't seem to be happy with our combined weight!
Vivarail's 230005 made what should be its final test runs over the North Cotswold Line on 19 February 2019 and after a slightly late start rectified by missing out the first trip from Honeybourne to Moreton in Marsh regained the scheduled paths. As I didn't have a shot of the unit anywhere but Honeybourne I went to Briar Close at Evesham arriving just as FGW's 165113 turned up for the stop there with 1P27, the 10.59 Great Malvern to Paddington. The sun was just appearing from some cloud as the unit passed the signal box and I hoped that this would bode well for a shot of 230005.
As soon as 165113 had left Evesham station for London 230005 ran straight through and headed for its reversal at Evesham West Junction. Within 3 or 4 minutes it was on the way back with 5T05 to Moreton in Marsh running a few minutes early and luckily in the last minute of so of clear sky. There are a couple options for here where one can take an image with a short telephoto as the train passes the 'box or a tighter view as it approaches the bridge. I went for the former on this occasion so as to have a wider view of the unit but taken with somne care to ensure that the radio mast on top of the box, hideous though it looks, is shown in full. I have a bit of a thing about cutting off part of any infrastructure if it's possible to avoid doing it (although have straightaway broken my rule by chopping signal E2457 in half!) so have cropped the image slightly to achieve some balance. I could easily have removed the mast altogether but... no. It might be of interest to some to see this picture from the excellent Warwickshire Railways site showing the same scene in the late 1950s just after construction of the signal box.
Going home from Evesham to Stratford-upon-Avon via Honeybourne isn't exactly the most direct route but I decided to call in there for a final shot of 230005 as it left the North Cotswold Line and joined the Long Marston branch. It was unfortunate that the sun went behind some thick cloud just before 5T06 ran through the platforms for its reversal but as I was there...
A complete HST set including power cars was sent for storage from Laira to Long Marston on Friday 15 February 2019. It has been a long time since such a train has worked over the Long Marston branch under its own power although a couple have recently been along there with locomotive haulage. Given the weather and the cult status afforded to HSTs at the moment I was really surprised to have been alone at Honeybourne for my photographs. I went there because 5Z43 was off the main line which made it far more interesting because HSTs have been up and down there for years. Compare the scene today with the view from the road bridge in 2006 when Cotswold Rail's power cars took some Virgin Trains' stock for storage. The view looking towards Long Marston from the road bridge has also changed in the intervening years.
There is currently a 5 mph speed restriction over parts of the Long Marston branch because of the poor state of the track. This gives the photographer plenty of time to get to the other end of the line from Honeybourne and I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. The light at this time of day, just before 14.00, is challenging to say the least but does give, to my eyes at least, a pleasingly impressionistic quality to the image.
As 43069 + 43052 arrived at Long Marston on 15 February 2019 the gates were opened and 5Z43 ran into number 1 road of the exchange sidings. It seems an absolute travesty that such high quality and above all comfortable stock is being set aside when its replacement, the 800s, are apparently so uncomfortable and the equuivalent trains on the Cross County routes are too short and almost universally unpopular.
My final shot of 5Z32 at Long Marston on 15 February 2019 was as it stood in the yard just before it was taken around the inner loop to the storage sidings. The other FGW stock stored here can just be made out in the background. Just for comparison here is the equuivalent view from 17 March 2005 as CR's Hornby liveried power car was about to couple up with its sister car after delivering some Virgin Trains' stock.
Following test runs on 13 February 2019 Vivarail's 230005 was due to travel to Bletchley over the North Cotswold Line via Moreton-in-Marsh during the following afternoon. The obvious location for me was Moreton largely because the sun was just about guaranteed and the lower-quadrant semaphore signals are still extant around the station. After parking I walked to the bridge and checked my 'phone for the train's location only to find a message from a friend saying that 5Q13 was cancelled because of a problem with the train. The only consolation was that 43097 + 43122 were heading this way with 1W25, the 12.09 from Hereford to London Paddington and as I have been a bit remiss about photographing HSTs during their final months I was more than happy to score a shot of the fully blue set as it pulled away.
After photographing the HST shown above as it left Moreton-in-Marsh I stayed on the bridge as a down train was approaching the station. This was 800310 with the 12.21 London Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill whioh I shot as it came to a halt in platform 1. In decent light I find these reasonably photogenic and will happily take images of them, unlike some who seemingly refuse to take anything that is either new or not a locomotive. I rarely travel by train but do understand that the 800s are not good because of their uncomfortably hard seats. For trains intended largely for long distance traffic this is inexcusable and shows the contempt in which the operating company, First Great Western, hold their customers.
The third and final Vivarail class 230 DMU destined for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line made its first test runs on the North Cotswold Line on Wednesday 13 February 2019. Having been caught out by non-running of tests in the past I waited until RTT showed some movement before leaving home and eventually saw that 230005 had left Long Marston for Moreton in Marsh some 37 minutes late. This gave me plenty of time to go to a road bridge near Aldington to the south of Evesham where I arrived just in time to photograph 800004 with 1W19, the 09.21 London Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street. There was no sign of 230005 having reached Moreton and after a short while the next couple of its runs were cancelled. This being the case I left for home but stopped in a lay-by near Bidford on Avon to check for any updates. I saw straightaway that the unit had reached and left Moreton and was close to Evesham so headed straight for the nearest spot on the NCL.
I had no intention of going anywhere near Honeybourne on 13 February 2019 as I already have enough images of class 230s in and around the station there. As outlined above I had little choice on this occasion and after dumping my car in the car park took my camera from the boot just as I heard the distinctive whine of the unit's traction motors. I reached the platform as 230005 appeared on the curve in the background and peeled off a quickfire round of shots; this time, at least, in the sun.
It doesn't usually take long for a train to reach Moreton in Marsh, turn around and return to Honeybourne. This was the case on 13 Fenruary 2019 and 230005 was soon seen approaching the bridge at reduced speed, a sign that it was following the schedule and would cross over at Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch.
One of the good things about Honeybourne is that there is no need to return to the station after taking an image of a down train for a second shot as it heads along the Long Marston. This was my choice on 13 February 2019 after 230005 had reversed at Honeybourne on the way back to the Vivarail facility after a couple of return test runs. On this occasion I used some differential focusing to try and make the subject stand out by deliberately make the background slightly blurred. There would have plenty of time to drive to Long Marston for an arrival shot but with largely clear skies this would have been a waste of time as the sun would be shining straight into lens so I made do with this shot as the unit receded from the camera towards the hut in which the single line staff is kept.
On Tuesday 12 February 2019 there was a light engine move from Tyseley Steam Trust to Stratford-upon-Avon and back showing as a runner after which the locomotive was to pick up some stock and make a return trip to Worcester Shrub Hill. I should like to have had a shot of the loaded train at Birmingham Snow Hill but a couple of regular commitments got in the way so I had to make do with the less interesting option of a static view at Stratford. Here is 47773 shortly after arival in platform 3 and again just before departure.
The second class 230 DMU ordered by WMT for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line should have made some test runs over the North Cotswold Line on Friday 1 February 2019. These were cancelled but were due to be repeated on the following Monday so I went over after swimming to hopefully get a well-lit shot of 230004. The first movement was of 166216 leaving the site for St Phillips Marsh after modifications to allow them to work in the Bristol area. I took a few shots as the unit prepared to leave Long Marston but preferred this one, showing the moment that the single line staff was handed to the driver, to the others. The Vivarail unit was due to leave shortly after this and I saw it in the distance as it left the shed. That was where it stayed with a lot of activity going on around on around it which I later learned was the changing of some electrical equipment.
As I mentioned above 230004 was standing outside the shed at Long Marston on 4 February 2019 and it is just about visible in this general view of the yard I took showing some of the stock stored there.
Further or indeed first test runs for 230004 were showing in RTT for Tuesday 5 February 2019. I was busy with a gym class until 10.30 but checked to see if they were running as soon as I was able. There had been no movement so I went home and didn't have another look at my 'phone for about another 40 minutes or so. It was then clear that 5T01 from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh had run so I legged it as fast as I could to Honeybourne; the best spot when one doesn't know if all the runs will happen because it is the location for the Long Marston branch. It wasn't long before 230004 now running as 5T03 came up from Evesham West Junction and ran through Honeybourne station on the way to Moreton. The light was dreadful but it's always good to get an early move of a "new" train early in its life.
It isn't far from Honeybourne to Moreton-in-Marsh so a return journey doesn't take long but as a cold wind was blowing I sat in the basic waiting shelter on the up platform wating for 5T04 to arrive. It was interesting to find a couple of small plastic bags on the ground with a distinctive logo visible and with some coarse brown contents. I wonder if the owners were disturbed and had to leave in a hurry?! I resisted the temptation to sample the contents of the bags and soon had another shot of 230004 in the bag as it passed a couple of workmen making some modifications to the newly extended down platform.
The light was getting worse at Honeybourne on 5 February 2019 and this was my final image of 230004 as it ran south to Moreton in Marsh before returning to base at Long Marston. It is, at the time of writing scheduled to run to Beltchley on 7 February and should go via Moreton and Oxford.
I photograph a steam locomotive about once each year and took my 2019 images on 31 January when 45596 Bahamas visted Stratford-upon-Avon with a single coach while undertaking a lightly loaded test run from Tyseley. I don't recall having seen Bahamas on a previous occasion so made the short walk from my home to the station a few minutes before it was due to leave on 5Z63, the 12.52 return to Birmingham. I waited until the blower had been operated which livened up the fire and produced a small amount of black smoke to enhance the scene. The day was cold and dull which possibly explained the almost complete lack of enthusiasts on the station so getting a shot clear of bystanders was not too difficult. My stock of Jubilee photographs is limited to say the least but here is a picture of 5593 Kholapur approaching Danzey station at speed on 8 June 1983 while on the way to Stratford. The Jubilee should have worked turn and turn about over the whole day with 7029 Clun Castle but the former failed and 7029 had to work the northbound trains tender first which was, I was told at the time, the first time that a main line run with passengers had operated in this way.
My intention was to take another image of Bahamas as it left Stratford so as to get a shot with some steam condensing in the cold air. In the event the cylinder cocks were open and by the time the locomotive had appeared through the clouds of water vapour it was too late! Here then is a closer-up view just before a class 172 from Stourbridge Junction pulled into platform 2 and obscured everything. Another of my small collection of Jubilee shots is this one of Leander as it climbed Wilmcote Bank on 3 July 2005. I had just bought a new telephoto lens and wanted to try it out on something that I wasn't too bothered about if it went wrong. I put the shot on this site and was roundly told off by a gentleman who took umbrage at my opinion that anything to do with steam didn't matter!
One of the infrequent MOD trains from Kineton to Hexthorpe ran on Tuesday 29 January 2019. These quite often have a colourful consist so despite the overwhelmingly gloomy weather I went to the bridge towards the summit of Hatton Bank where the road passes over the 3 track section. The train, 6E33, was routed via the Down Goods Loop and as it ran close to right time there seemed little chance that it would be sent main line especially as the following passenger services were also running to schedule. The motive power was 66709 so the wider angle available at this locatiion was welcome this being the first time that I seen it in its current colour scheme. I have plenty of shots in the former Ledite livery including this one a bit further north when it was taking the last class 508 unit from Donnington to Eastleigh on 23 November 2011. The MOD working was mostly comprised of flats but there was a single ferrywagon at the back, just out of sight in this view.
After photographing 66709 in the DGL on Hatton Bank on 29 January 2019 I drove round to the tall bridge at Shrewley for a second image. First along was 66420 with 4M55, the 09.02 Southampton to Lawley Street Freightliner. It's a bit dark in the deep cutting on such a dull day but this isn't a location that is the slightest use for a down train on a sunny day because of the undergrowth and the fact that the sun is unlikely to penetrate the cutting except late on a sunny evening. The same locomotive was on the same train on 16 January 2015 when I saw it a few miles further south at Budbrook when in a different colour scheme and before the embankment became too overgrown for photography.
As soon as 4M55 had passed Hatton station 6E33 was released from the DGL and appeared a few minutes later at Hatton North Junction. This image just about shows the solitary ferrywagon at the back of the train and the 2 different types of flats forming most of the train.
While 66709 with 6E33 from Kineton MOD to Hexthorpe was being released from Hatton Loop 66761 was climbing the bank against adverse signals with 6M26, the 08.50 Eastleigh to Stud Farm empty ballast train. It had been stopped at the signals just south of the station and was allowed to proceed when 66709 had passed Hatton North Junction. I was minded not to bother with a shot of this service but given that it was only moments away I hung on. To make a slightly different view I took this slightly unbalanced-looking image as my eye had been caught by the lichen growing on the trunk of the tree in the right foreground.
What a difference a day makes... The second run from Bristol SPM to Long Marston of 50007 with redundant HST stock was on 24 January 2019 and took place in very poor lighting conditions incomplete contrast to those prevailing on the previous day. The weather was cold, damp and gloomy, so much so that the only shot with which I could be bothered was one as 5Z50 arrived at its destination. Ironically, there was a touch of brightness to illuminate 50007's roof as 5Z50 was drawing to a halt prior to entering the site where the stock is to be stored but this wasn't enough to dispel the mist and murk doing its best to obscure everything else. Still, 50s and FGW HST coaches have never been commonplace here so it was a worthwhile if brief outing for me.
It was only a matter of time until some FGW HST stock was sent for storage at Long Marston. The first move took place on Wednesday 23 January 2019 when 5Z50, moving OC44, was sent from St Phillips Marsh, Bristol to the Warwickshire site. During the previous day there should have been an ROG locomotive with a couple of barrier coaches to Bristol from Leicester but this was cancelled and rumours were circulating that 50007 was to run from Eastleigh, where it was present for painting into GBRf colours, to SPM to drag the HST set. It all worked out well and the sunny morning saw 50007 run close to time to Worcester where it was scheduled to run round and reverse towards Evesham. I left my health club after a swim with the intention of going to Briar Close at Evesham but part-way through the drive saw that a lot of cloud was building up to the West so diverted to Honeybourne. The timings slipped a little and it about 10 minutes down on the booked time when I heard 50007 pull away from Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch. A medium telephoto lens was required because of the shadows cast by the footbridge but this does have the advantage of foreshortening the perspective and thus increasing the impact of the shot.
There were 2 trains from St Phillips Marsh to Long Marston on 23 January 2019 and it was generally assumed that the second path wouldn't be used. This assumption was wrong and 166216 followed 5Z50 along the Long Marston branch about an hour later. The unit ran to the staff hut where the single line token is kept but the cupboard was bare through the token being with the crew of 50007 a few miles along the branch. There are 2 options when this happens. 1) the token is brought to Honeybourne by road and then a man walking along the branch from Honeybourne or 2) the more pragmatic approach where the unit reverses into the CCE sidings where ii waits for the train to come along the branch from Long Marston. Surprisingly enough the second was chosen and here is 166216 returning from the staff hut prior to heading into the sidings.
The only trains to use Honeybourne Sidings are, in general, OTP machines in various guises. Occasional locomotives have been in but until 23 January 2019 I hadn't seen a passenger train, albeit running as ECS, there. Here is 166216 standing at the entrance to the sidings while it waits for 50007 with 5Z51 from Long Marston to Bristol to clear the single line and return the single line token to the staff hut.
The train returning the 2 barrier coaches from Long Marston to Bristol, 5Z51, took quite a while to arrive at Honeybourne becasue it clearly took a long time to sort out and shunt the 2 coaches from the incoming train and marshall them behind 50007. I wanted to take a different shot from my usual one from the road bridge at Honeybourne so stayed on the station to take an image framed by the rusty ironwork of the bridge. The sun had dipped while 5Z50 was at the staff hut but luckily picked up nicely as it moved away towards the station and the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction.
There were two DMU moves at Long Marston on Monday 14 January 2019 with class 166s coming from and back to St Phillip's Marsh HSTD. I left home when I judged that the incoming train, 5Q94, was passing Evesham and arrived at Long Marston to find the on-site crane just about to move to wherever it was required to work. The driver was just climbing back on-board after changing the points just in front of the vehicle
It wasn't more than two or three minutes before 166213 came around the curve on the branch from Honeybourne on 14 January 2019 and moved slowly towards the bridge. This wasn't the unit's first visit here; indeed it was first of its type to work along the line when on 27 April 2015 and in much better weather it was sent here for work on the air conditioning system and before it was put into the slightly more bland GWR colour scheme. Once the gates had been opened 166213 reversed prior to its short journey around the circuit and is seen here just as it began to move.
The unit returning to Bristol from Long Marston on 14 January 2019 was ready and waiting in the workshop area and soon came around the loop at the required 5mph. This time it was 166215 which is still in the earlier and more colourful livery of its operator and it left about 15 early on the booked time, 11.15, and went straight off towards Honeybourne.
The second train of 2019 to Long Marston ran on Wednesday 9th January when 66769 took a pair of bogie oil tanks from Cardiff Greenery to the site for, at a guess, deep cleaning. The first train of the year had run the previous day but I wasn't able to photograph it as I needed it to have been at least 20 minutes late leaving Worcester when it was actually about 40 early. The GBRf train left Worcester 25 early but bearing in mind the single track from Norton Junction to Evesham West Junction and an on-time down FGW service there was no way it was going to be more than a few minutes early leaving Norton. This was fortunate for me as I encountered 3 sets of temporary traffic lights and 2 diversions between Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne! I wanted to try a shot from the far end of the newly extended up platform where I thought that there would be a clear patch in the undergrowth; just right for a short train such as 6Z31. The space was just right with a slightly wide-angle lens but once the vegetation has grown up in the Spring I doubt anything will be possible there. There was a return train, 4Z32 to Hams Hall, but I didn't feel like hanging about in the cold wind for what was likely to be no more than a few container flats.
My first photographic outing of 2019 was a quick trip to Hatton for an image of 66504 taking 23 coal hoppers from Southampton to York. Coal trains were a very frequent sight on this line some years ago when Didcot Power Station burned that commodity but have become a rare sight; so much so that to see that one is running in 2019 means a shot is worthwhile even in horribly dull conditions. I needed ISO 1000 for this view of 66504 passing the platforms at Hatton station which I chose 1) because it's a recognisable spot and 2) I couldn't be bothered to walk up to Hatton North Junction in such poor light. The last time I saw coal wagons around here was on 17 May 2018 when 66524 worked 6V40 Barrow Hill to East Usk Yard which, in much better light, I photographed from the bridge at Shrewley, a mile or so north from Hatton.
It has been known for some time that the trackwork on the Long Marston branch has been a bit ropey, to say the least, and I've been keeping an eye open for any engineering trains scheduled to visit there. On Tuesday 11 December 2018 a Hinksey to Honeybourne was booked with a very user-friendly arrival time of 11.50. I had a gym class earlier in the morning (during which I saw two low-loaders taking class 319 trailers away from Long Marston) but had time to go home and collect my longest lens. This was needed because of the unforecast appearance of bright sunshine as I planned to go to Honeybourne station but knew that there would be a lot of shadow around at this time of year. I stopped briefly in Long Marston village to check on 6Y40's progress and saw that it had missed a lengthy stop at Charlbury (good old GWR timekeeping...) and was now 30 minutes early. There was still loads of time and I arrived well before 66585 + 66592 topping and tailing a very decent load came down from Moreton in Marsh. Before it could reverse, cross over and join the branch it had to wait while the the non-stop 1P27 from Great Malvern passed by. There is a short but steep gradient onto the branch and the sound of 66592 slipping a little as it lifted the heavy train up the bank was clear to the 3 of us taking photographs. The OTP also ready for use during the work is visible in Honeybourne sidings just above the autoballasters.
Once 6Y40 had partly passed by it was stopped for the train crew to be given instructions by the ground crew waiting alongside the staff hut. This gave me time for a walk to the road bridge to take a more panoramic view of it moving away along the branch and have a close-up of one of the more unusual vehicles in the consist. This wasn't 66585's first visit to the branch as it took some box wagons for storage at Long Marston in January 2017 and it is clear to see that the rusty patch under the cab window hasn't seen any attention in the intervening period.
I took advantage of a Black Friday offer to buy an additional Nikon camera body and used it for the first time on Tuesday 4 December 2018. The target was 1Q18, the Derby to Tyseley test train with 37219 and 37116 topping and tailing 4 coaches and the acid test of the new hardware was to take a shot of the train as it accelerated away from Stratford-upon-Avon through the town's parkway station. It was clearly pitch black outside the station and there was mist and quite heavy rain to make the scene look extra murky. The train was running early at this point, about 19.45, and the driver seemed keen to have a good run at the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank but a shutter speed of 1/500 in conjunction with f2 and ISO set at 6400 seemed to do the business. I had considered going to Stratford's GWR station and 10.40ish for a static shot but the locomotives were far from clean and there seemed little point in repeating a previous effort.
I saw over the weekend of 24/25 November 2018 that a DMU of some description was going from Etches Park at Derby to Long Marston on the following Monday and had it in the back of my mind to go over if it was convenient on the day. The arrival was showing as 12.37 but when I arrived home at 12.00 after a swim I saw that it was running 15 minutes early at Evesham so decided it would be a bit tight. I then saw a a solitary email about 5V94 from someone at Northfield saying that the unit was 156497 and as I wasn't aware that another of its class had been along the branch grabbed my camera and had a "sports mode" drive over. My arrival at 12.18 was just in time to see the unit on the long straight section of track alongside the Pebworth Road and it was only a few moments before the East Midlands liveried train slowly approached the gates into Long Marston.
The weather at Long Marston on 26 November 2018 was largely overcast but there was a bried glimmer of light as 156469 stood at the gates while the ground crew unlocked them. I understand that Chrysalis Rail are doing some work on 156s here so there will probably be more moves of this nature to come. Within a few minutes the gates were closed, the driver had switched ends and 156497 was ready for its trip around the loop to the workshop area.
Some out of the ordinary trains between Tyseley and Birmingham Moor Street are planned for shoppers over the Christmas period of 2018. These will apparently run with a steam locomotive topped and tailed with a diesel, probably 47773, with 50007 acting as a back-up in case of any problems. The class 50 made a crew familiarisation run from Kidderminster SVR to Tyseley on Friday 16 November 2018 running via the North Warwickshire Line and Stratford-upon-Avon. I had previously photographed just 4 class members in the station environs so had a walk down for a shot of a different example. The arrival time was 15.29 and although one wouldn't want the sun out for a platform 3 arrival at that time of day some light would be have welcome as 0Z65 ran slowly along the platform line.
After having a chat with the driver about another class 50 move with which he was involved in 1986 there was time on 16 November 2018 for a couple more images as 50007 stood under the bright station lights.
I do like to include people in photographs on stations as long as their presence is appropriate! Here is a view of the crew alongside 50007 on 16 November 2018 just before departure time. The starting signal was already on green and it wasn't long before everyone was on board and 0Z65 was on its way to Tyseley.
One of the MkV TransPennine Express stock moves was due to take place on Thursday 15 November 2018 with the train running via Oxford, Leamington Spa and Hatton. I arrived at Hatton North Junction a minutes before 47773 was due to come off the Stratford-upon-Avon branch with a crew training run, 0Z66, from Tyseley to Stratford and return. This run had escaped my attention but was worth a shot in the Autumnal sunshine especially as its passing coincided with 68013 heading south with 1H45, the 12.55 from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone. Here is an alternative view of the class 47 as it starts away from a brief signal check at the colour light protecting Hatton North Junction.
Trains of MkV stock for the new TransPennine Express trains have been running on an occasional basis for a while but because of engineering work around Filton on 15 November 2018 5Q32 ran via Didcot, Oxford, Leamington Spa and Hatton. Previous sets of stock have suffered damage because of Network Rail's failure to keep vegetation clear of the line on the Portbury branch so this set looked as if it had been shrink-wrapped to protect the paintwork. ROG used a de-branded 57305 to provide the power and this image shows the colourful ensemble passing Hatton North Junction with some very decent Autumnal colours in the background. I was tempted into taking another shot as the DVT passed by, showing the plastic wrapping to some advantage. Class 57 was common enough here on Freightliner services but somewhat rarer on other trains. Here is 57301 in October 2006 on a Virgin rescue mission.
One of the few classes of locomotive not to have visited the terminus station of Stratford-upon-Avon was, until 4 November 2018, a 68. Some extensive engineering work resulting in single line working between Hatton and Tyseley made many timetable changes necessary and Chiltern Railways, with some admirably lateral thinking, took the opportunity to run one of their locomotive-hauled sets to Stratford. The ground breaking locomotive was 68010 which arrived with 1D27, the 11.40 from Marylebone, and this image shows the train ariving spot on time and as booked into platform 2. The weather was dull and slightly damp but the first, and probably last class 68 here unless a railtour comes this way, wasn't something I wanted to miss. The scene is lifted by the intense Autumnal colours around the station. I took a series of images on maximum speed "motorwind" in the hope that at least one would show all 3 lights illuminated; I was lucky on this occasion...
The first class 68 to visit Stratford-upon-Avon didn't tempt out many photographers, only 3 of us being present at the station but there were reportedly over 60 cranks haulage enthusiasts on board and many of them wanted, naturally enough, to have a picture of the locomotive as it stood on the back of what was now 1H37, the 13.50 to Marylebone. That being so I waited until they were back on board before taking my record shot in rapidly failing light and in the shade of the canopy of platform 1.
I don't usually go for the photo-journalism approach to railway photography as too many images of one train or location can be tedious but on this occasion I took several different views because this is quite possibly the only chance there will to record a class 68 at Stratford-upon-Avon. This one shows 68010 propelling 1H37 out of platform 2 and making quite a racket in the process; certainly enough to make the footbridge vibrate to some degree. The departure was 4 minutes late because there seemed to be some confusion about whether this train, or the late-running West Midlands class 172 in platform 1 should go first. Pragmatism won the day and 1H37 was sent off first probably on the basis that it would clear the section more quickly than the unit!
There was a late addition to the timetable on Saturday 3 November 2018 when 5V84, the 12.30 from Doncaster Wabtec to Laira, appeared along with the information that it comprised 47812 with a short form GWR HST set; 43040, GW02(48131, 49112) and 43153. This was unusual enough to tempt me to drive to Hatton for a shot and I left home with the train running 5 minutes late at Water Orton, thus giving me time for passing horses, cyclists or whatever on the country roads. I arrived with about 15 minutes to spare but as there was a fellow photographer on the bridge I started to walk up for a chat rather than watch 5V84's progress on a mapping app. I glanced at RTT as I walked away from my car and saw that the train was now 10 minutes early. A quick run to the bridge left me with about 15 seconds to get ready and with virtual darkness being the order of the day I just had time to crank up the ISO setting to 800 before firing off 3 shots. The RAW image needed a bit(!) of fiddling but overall the result was better than I had expected after first seeing the unadjusted version.
A train of wagons to be operated by GBRf was shown as running from Eastleigh to Hexthorpe Yard on Thursday 25 October 2018 with the headcode 6Z59. It didn't take a lot of imagination to work out that 59003 would provide the power but what was slighly less clear was whether or not it would run because it used the same path as 6M40, the Westbury to Stud Farm empty ballast hoppers. The latter was soon cancelled but in view of the very dull and cloudy afternoon I had decided not to bother. A text from a friend further south chnaged my mind when it became clear that 16 ex-Fastline coal hoppers was the load; something quite unusual along the GWR line from Leamington Spa to Birmingham. I left it very late to make the drive from Hatton to the Dark Lane overbridge and arrived just as a mapping app showed 6Z59 about to enter Hatton DGL. Despite the train travelling at walking pace while climbing through the loop an ISO setting of 800 was needed such was the light but no-one would want to take this shot on a sunny day with the sun being all wrong.
After taking the shot shown above there was plenty of time to drive to Hatton station for another image as 59003 with 6Z99 passed the station. As this train was in the same path as 6M40 the reason for it being looped was the same; to allow Chiltern Railways' 1R37, the 14.10 from London Marylebone, to pass. As soon as 168218 had passed the points allowing egress from the loop were switched and 59003 soon appeared with the vandalised hoppers. A similar set of wagons was taken from Chaddesden to Long Marston which I photographed at Blackminster in April 2010, one of several such moves at that time.
The Indian Summer of 2018 continued on 10 October 2018 so when a light engine move from Doncaster to Long Marston showed up on RTT a quick trip during the afternoon seemed to be in order. I arrived at the latter a few moments before 66717 and watched it run into the exchange and couple up to the 6 large box wagons in road 2 ready for the run to Hexthorpe Yard. This view was taken as the crew prepare to leave with 6E31, and with some varied stock visible in the yard, including some D Stock hopefully awaiting conversion to class 230 in one of its guises.
It takes quite a while for anything to traverse the length of the Long Marston branch at the moment so it was necessary to wait at Honeybourne while 6E31 picked its way over the rotting trackwork on the parts of the line. There was no prospect of the sun going anywhere as there wasn't a cloud to be seen ion the sky over Honeybourne station as 66717 moved towards a green signal giving it the road onto the down main line. The GBRf man in the background had come by road to operate the ground frame equipment and walked back to his vehicle. What a ridiculously disjointed railway we have at the moment. Someone has to drive from heaven knows where for a simple operation like this on a branch line backwater. The worst I have seen here was when a man had to drive from Woking to operate the equipment for both inward and outward moves and then drive home. It could have been worse; it might have been a taxi as is the case all too often.
Tuesday 9 September 2018 was a clear and sunny day in the Autumn, or Indian Summer as it seems to be at the time of writing. There was the prospect of an unusual train over the North Warwickshire Line so after a gym class I went over to Edstone between Wootton Wawen and Bearley Junction where the cast iron aqueduct (the longest in England) tales the Stratford-upon-Avon canal across the flood plain of the diminutive Rive Alne. First along was newly painted, or vinyled, 172338 running as 2D22 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon, its colour scheme matching the changing colours on the surrounding trees.
Vintage Trains of Tyseley has, in October 2018, just been been granted a Train Operating Company (TOC) licence. The first train run under the licence was a 5Z65 Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon ECS and early morning chat suggested that 47773 would in charge. By the time I reached Edstone Aqueduct this allocation had changed to 4965, Rood Ashton Hall, which was quite a disappointment especially considering that it would be running tender first in this direction. Still, I suppose that the train is notable if only because of its tiny place in the history of the privatised railway.
A trip to Hatton North Junction was in the offing for the sunny afternoon of 9 October 2018 with a few decent bits and pieces at which to aim the camera. Just a few minutes after my arrival on the footbridge along came DR98908 with the daily RHTT from KIngs Norton to Kings Norton via large chunks of the West Midlands. I never mind taking the occasional image of a MPV and used to cover their workings along the North Warwickshire Line in some detail before the advent of the West Midlands new signalling system when the signal boxes and their associated limited opening hours pushed the trains' operation into the nighttime hours. The odd substition was welcome though; albeit not actually on the NWL.
There were several freight movements at Hatton North on 9 October 2018 and although I did photograph all of them the images from a single location can look a bit repetitive so edited highlights only... This shot of 66127 with 4M71, the 0947 Southampton Western Docks to Birch Coppice, is included because of the exhaust from the locomotive as it climbes the final few yards of Hatton Bank after leaving the Down Goods Loop to allow a couple of passenger trains to pass. The class 172 waiting at the signal is the 14.03 Stratford-upon-Avon to Stourbridge Junction, 2W80,formed of 172345.
The train due to pass Hatton North on 9 October 2018 which interested me the most was a 5L46 from Bristol Temple Meads to Ely Papworth MLF Sidings. This was a FGW HST with just 2 coaches led by 43175 and destined for storage; not so much HST GTi but HST M-Sport! There was some early running in the Thames Valley but this was knocked out by a fester in Hatton DGL where its booked path was regained. This wasn't the first FGW HST to pass here nor was it the first 2+2 formation I have photographed but very much worth going out for.
By the early part of October the shadows for a southbound shot at Hatton North Junction ared becoming a bit intrusive but it is just about possible to take a half-decent shot of 6O30, the Castle Bromwich to Southampton train of JLR vehicles. Here is 66087 with the usual impressively long train of open wagons and vans. I imagine that the higher value vehicles are in the better protected environment towards the back of the train.
A pair of GBRF container trains has recently started to operate between Southampton and Hams Hall. The afternoon working is 4O69 and on Tuesday 9 October 2018 it ran, some 75 minutes late, with 66713 on the front. As I mentioned above the shot from the footbridge at Hatton North is becoming shadowed but a broadside view is available at a few points along the footpath away from the line. It was unfortunate that there were no containers on the front wagons as an extra splash of colour would have been welcome. The stock feeder in the left foreground is unlikely ever to be used; this has been a turf producing farm for many years. Just a few sections behond 66717 was palindromically numbered 66066 with 6X01, the Scunthorpe to Eastleigh train of long welded rail sections.
One of the attractions of a sunny Autumn day is the deep shadows that are cast by the sun as becomes lower in the sky. This is demonstrated in this view of 59003 with 6M40, the Westbury to Cliffe Hill empty ballast wagon train as it passes Hatton North Junction on 9 October 2018. It seems to the fashion in some quarters to use the Shadows and Highlight Tool in Photoshop to such an extent that no truly deep black is visible. I was always taught that a full range of from 0 to 255 should be the aim to show fully in every digital image and not to bleach out blacks in shadowed areas. GWR Hall 4936 was coming this way but I didn't feel like hanging around for the thick end of an hour so left although I did see the kettle from my car shortly after the train had left Stratford.
The continuing saga of WCRC's 57313 at Stratford-upon-Avon finished on Saturday 6 October 2018 when 33207 was sent from Southall to collect and take it to Carnforth. The schedule for 0Z51 appeared during the previous evening and whilst I sort of hoped that a 33 would be diagrammed for the novelty value of a class 33 at Stratford it didn't seem all that likely. An early morning posting confirmed the allocation and despite the pouring rain and cold wind I walked to the station for a shot or two. There was early running between Oxford and Hatton and I thought that with some smart working it could arrive before the 09.03 Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge service needed the single track between Bearley and Hatton West junctions. It wasn't to be so I had a chilly wait in the basic shelter on platform 2 until a horn announced 33207's presence just around the corner. The light was dire but considering the minimal effort needed to be here it was worth the walk.
The failed 57313 was stabled just beyond the end of platform 1 and had necessitated the closure of the platform to all traffic. It wasn't long before 33207 had coupled up to the class 57 but there were 2 local trains to arrive and depart before it was due to leave. Once the 10.03 to Stourbridge Junction had gone 0Z51 was moved along platform 1 under a yellow signal where the driver kindly paused for a few seconds to allow me to take some shots with bracketed exposures before pulling away. This final image shows the pair of locomotives heading for the crossover onto the up main line.
Another of the WCRC charters to Stratford-upon-Avon ran on 4 October 2018, this time originating as 1Z50 from Scarborough. The arrival time at Stratford was 13.51 and as the day which had started with cloudy skies had become clear and sunny I walked down to the station for an image or two. Running a few minutes in front of the charter was 172334 with 2D44 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction and diverted into platform 2 to allow 1Z50 to use P1. The sun was still a bit straight at this time but as virtually all recent charters here have run in cloud it was good to see 57313 (on at least its 5th visit here) and the uniform stock in strong sunlight. Out of sight at the back of the formation was 47746. The booked dparture time for the return, 1Z51, was 16.40 but as I type this at 16.55 it was still in the platform, albeit under a green signal...
After returning home from photographing 57313 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 October 2018 I looked out for 1Z51's departure on a mapping system. The booked time, 16.40, came and went with no sign of movement until the green signal for platform 1 eventually was returned to red because of the imminent arrival of a class 172 from Stourbridge Junction. It was some 80 minutes later when the train finally left for Scarborough no doubt to the huge amusement of the passengers. On my way to my health club the following morning I happened to glance over the road bridge by the station and could see some WCRC maroon through the bushes and assumed, wrongly, that it was 47746 dumped there following some failure or other. I went for a walk to the station in the early afternoon and found that it was 57313 that had failed and been shunted a little way to the south of the platforms. This meant that platform had had to be closed to all traffic and all passengers for the busy Birmingham line trains had therefore to cross over to P2. At the time of writing I don't know what is wrong with 57313 but guess that a brake fault might have been found and that either a fitter will be sent by road or with a rescue locomotive in the near future.
The regular test train, 1Q18, from Burton Wetmore Sidings (or Derby RTC in the past) is generally formed of the NMT HST. On the sunny day of 25 September 2018 this was apparently under maintenance and 4 vehicles were topped and tailed with 37025 and 37099. I had so far failed to take a properly sunny image of 37025 although I do have an after-dark picture taken on a similar working at Stratford-upon-Avon which is, in some ways, more satisfying. Anyway there seemed little chance of the sun disappearing and with the train being on time from Hereford a drive over to Croome Perry seemed like a good idea given that this is one of the more attractive locations which is not too far from home. All went well and 1Q18 came south from Norton and Abbotswood Junctions passing the wood the trees of which are in the early stages of gaining their Autumnal colours.
Whilst waiting for 1Q18 with 37025 + 37099 in charge at Croome Perry on 25 September 2018 I saw from an online mapping app that the Corby to Margam empty steel coil carriers was behind a red signal on the main line Abbotswood Junction. As soon as the test train had cleared the section 6V92 was released and soon appeared under the farm occupation bridge. Just a few minutes later the Berkeley to Crewe nuclear flask working, 6M56, came north and with a lineside tree in just the wrong place I simply stayed where I was and took this view as it went away towards Abbotswood Junction.
Several years ago it would have been possible to take around a dozen shots of freight workings on the Birmingham to Gloucester line but in 2018 there are far fewer and sheer boredom makes it moe likely than photographs of passenger units will be taken. Here is 170109 working 1V10, the 13.04 Nottingham to Cardiff Central service on 25 September 2018 passing Croome Perry near Pershore.
A train I hadn't photographed before 25 September 2018 was 6V50, the 13.04 Burton-on-Trent to Cardiff Tidal. This is of interest largely because it utilises ex-MOD ferrywagons thus making for a relatively rare sight on the line through Croome Perry. It ran about 60 minutes early from Cofton Junction which was handy because there was no way that I would have waited for an on-time arrival! It was held for a few minutes in Stoke Works loop to allow a couple of passenger trains to pass but after that had a clear run. Here is 66024 with its vans in an interesting colour scheme no doubt applied by brain-dead vandals in a yard somewhere or other.
There were a few trains of interest to me on Tuesday 18 September 2018 including 50008 taking a few flats from Long Marston to Wembley and Vivarail's 230003 going to its new home at Bletchley. As planned there would have been an inconveniently long gap between the two but 50008 was delayed for ages at Landor Street resulting in a very late arrival at Long Marston. This made things a bit easier so I went for the 50 which I probably wouldn't have if everything was on time and decided to go straight to Honeybourne for a shot as 4Z68 approached the station running about 90 minutes late. The light was pretty awful but a 50 on even a not very inspiring freight is worth a frame or two especially against a backdrop of foliage beginning to gain its Autumnal tints. I later saw that the lost time was made by the sensible expedient of running 4Z68 from Landor Street to Rugby and the WCML via Nuneaton rather than by the convoluted booked route through Sutton Park, Walsall, Bescot and some twiddly bits around Birmingham.
Following 50008's late departure from Long Marston there was a knock-on effect with a delay caused to 230003 running as 5Q13 to Bletchley. The Long Marston branch is a One Train Only line and after the token had been dropped at the Staff Hut it was necessary for it to be collected and driven back to Long Marston. A West Coast man was ready and waiting to do this to minimise any further delay. As the unit appeared in the distance a 5 car IET moved away from the Honeybourne stop giving the chance for a shot of the two very different trains; a shot that will be difficult to repeat!
There is currently a severe speed restriction over most of the branch but it wasn't long before 230003 appeared in the distance, dropped off the token and made its way into the station area ready for a reversal at Honeybourne North Junction. The light had picked up a little but wasn't strong enough to cast anything but the lightest shadow. Still, there is only once chance for these moves and one has to take what's available on the day.
I was keen to take my final shot of 230003 in a recognisable location and in any event there wouldn't have been enough time to drive to another decent location especially as I had gone over in my Morris Minor; not built for belting around country roads! I was happy enough to get a record shot as 5Q13 passed through Honeybourne station even though the light had collapsed altogether by that time.
Vivarail's first production unit, 230003, made its debut on the main line on Monday 17 September 2018. It should have run the previous week but there was apparently a small problem with the fuel system found while on test within Long Marston. To avoid the possibility of a fruitless wait as happened when the run was aborted before, I waited at home until I saw from RTT that 5Z01 had actually moved. The original plan was for a run from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh, thence to Evesham before returning to Long Marston so I arrived at Honeybourne in good time for 5Z03 from Evesham and planned to take a shot as the train ran along the branch line but it struck me that it seemed to be taking an awfully long time to come the short distance from Evesham and wondered if it had stopped to arrange an alternative path back to Moreton. With this in mind I stood on the footbridge over the up main line just in case. This proved to be a good choice as 230003 came from Honeybourne North Junction on the main rather than the branch line. I waited on the platform for the return to Evesham, now 5Z04, but the sun came out at just the wrong time making for a poor result.
The next stage in 230003's test programme on 17 September 2018 was shown to be another trip from Evesham to Moreton in Marsh. As there wasn't time to move to another location I stayed at Honeybourne to take an image from the down platform as 5Z05 headed south. Once again though things went differently from the plan and the first thing I saw was 230003 moving slowly along the Long Marston branch rather than on the up main line. A quick sprint was needed to get up and over the enormous footbridge and I made it with no time at all to spare so this is very much a grab shot as it ran slowly towards its current home base. The unit is in its final livery ready for a new life on the Bedford to Bletchley line and here is some bodyside detail clearly showing this.
At the time of writing there is a severe speed restriction due to poor track condition over the whole of the Long Marston branch so there was no need for a high speed dash from Honeybourne to record 230003's arrival. The light stayed poor but I was more than content to have scored some reasonable shots on the train's first outing. I took another view as it entered the yard mostly to show 230003 with an unrestored example of the same original class in a siding.
A casualty of the hot and dry weather of the 2018 summer was a steam special from Preston to Stratford-upon-Avon which had to be postponed until the threat of the countryside being set alight had passed. By 8 September everywhere was nice and damp so 46100 Royal Scot was allocated from Crewe. The train met about an hour's delay around Wigan because of a problem with the diesel locomotive used from Preston and this delay stuck for the rest of the journey. I don't have much of an interest in steam photography although I quite enjoy seeing and hearing the locomotives in action; what does put me off is the crowds that tend to gather in every single location. There is a spot near the station which I have meaning to check out for a while and I thought that 1Z48, the return to Preston, would be the ideal chance. It turned out to be not too great but I did bang off a few as 46100 prepared to leave. The smoke was a bit of a nuisance and the sun came out at the wrong moment but it gave me an idea of what might be possible if we ever get a decent train first thing on a summer morning.
The exit from Stratford-upon-Avon is awkward for the crews of steam locomotives because it is on a adverse gradient, has some quite severe curvature and worst of all if the train is in platform 1 it has to negotiate a crossover to the up main a short distance from the station. It is quite usual for a diesel to give the train a shove and on 8 September 2018 D1935 was used as was working quite hard as I took this shot. The picture of Royal Scot leaving wasn't a success because of steam and smoke obscuring the front of the locomotive. The white tanker in view just in front of D1935 was the one used to water the steam engine; good to know that the tender tank and boiler won't be clogged up with weeds!
One of the occasional Longtown MOD to Fenny Compton MOD trains ran on Wednesday 5 September 2019. I had been meaning to to go for a shot of one so with the times of 3F04 being convenient went to Hatton road bridge. I had seen from a mapping app that the train headed by 66131 was likely to escape from the Birmingham area early and even though there was a chance that it might be held to time in Dorridge loop I went in plenty of time. This was a good job as the app showed it passing Lapworth, about 3 minutes north of Hatton, as I arrived on location. MOD traffic can carry a huge range of different wagons and although today's wasn't the most inspiring I have seen the combination of 4 wheel open trucks and containers made for an interesting contrast.
My interest in all railway related matters has been waning recently, so much so that I couldn't be bothered to go out for topped-and-tailed class 47s with some ECS at Hatton on Saturday 1 September 2018. The most I could be bothered to do was to walk to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a single shot of 172335 as it arrived with 2D40 from Stourbridge Junction. The novelty of the new colour scheme will wear off quite soon as more units are repainted from the current green colour scheme...
I was walking along the towpath of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal on the morning of 18 August 2018 when I saw a reliveried class 172 about to enter Stratford station. I assumed that it was the 08.21 arrival from Stourbridge Junction and after returning home worked out that the same unit should return on the 14.21 arrival. Luckily, a friend texted me to say that it was actually on 2D40, the next service which ran via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction which meant that the train I had seen earlier was 5D70 from Tyseley depot running early. I had a walk to the station in the afternoon taking my Canon G10 and arrived a few minutes before 172335 in its new colour scheme arrived with 2D40.
To my eyes the colours applied to 172335 by West Midlands Trains really suit the lines of the class, more so than the original green as seen here at Bentley Heath on the same unit in 2012. I don't know if this will become the standard livery for the class but intend to kep an eye on this example in the hope of getting a sunny shot next time. There were no Chiltern Railways services on 18 August 2018 as engineering work caused their replacement by a fleet of buses such this being loaded with passengers and their luggage against the new backdrop of Stratford-upon-Avon's hideous new high-density housing scheme. Thanks to Chris Morrison for letting me know the correct train that 172335 was working.
D'oh, a deer; but not a female deer. A roe deer buck crosses the exchange sidings at Long Marston on Monday 13 August 2018 as 230001 approaches with 5Z01 to Moreton-in-Marsh. I saw from RTT that something was making some test runs between Moreton and Evesham and wondered if it might be one of the class 230s earmarked for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line. With that in mind I thought a shot or two would be in order so went across to Long Marston to see what was running. There was nothing in view until a few moments before the booked departure time, 09.40, when I saw some movement in the background.
It didn't take many seconds for the gates to be opened and for 230001 to exit the Long Marston site and head for Honeybourne. I have many images of the this unit in good light and with little prospect of much sun in the short term I left and headed to my health club for a swim. Had one of the later units been in use I should have had a good chase around to get a few pictures in the bag but on this occasion... I later saw from RTT that 230001 ran to Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham West Junction but then returned to Long Marston with further runs for the day cancelled.
The monthly 1Q48 test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon and the North Warwickshire Line was retimed quite significantly on Tuesday 7 August 2018 and made its first of two trips to the terminus at lunchtime with an arrival time of 12.47. The sun's angle was most favourable around the Stratford Parkway area and I had a short but very hot 15 minute walk there from home. The train was running a bit early and passed the station 8 minutes ahead of schedule with 67023 leading 4 coaches and 67027. There is a bit too much ironmongery poking above the locomotive's roof but that is typical of both modern and recently refurbished stations.
After visiting Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time on 7 August 2018 1Q48 ran to Fenny Compton before returning to Stratford via Hatton, Claverdon and Wilmcote. The station at the last of these retains some GWR artefacts and with a passing time of just after 15.00 this was just the spot to take advantage of the light and to give a good interesting background. A passenger train was due a few minutes after 1Q48 and I took this image at an appropriate spot to show those waiting to join their class 172 DMU for the short journey to Stratford and no, I wasn't tempted to bleach out the shadows as seems to be the fashion at the moment. A shot of the northbound train isn't worth the effort in this past of the world so I left after 67023 + 67027 had passed. I must admit to not being too disappointed when 67s are diagrammed for the this working; on a sunny day with 37s in charge there would have been far too many bodies around in the best locations!
I don't often photograph charters but there are one or two that make me think, "I suppose that I really should go out...". Such was the case on Sunday 5 August when 50049 + 50007 worked a train on a circular route from Birmingham International via Worcester, Ledbury, Hereford and Bristol. It was due at Defford at around 16.30 and with the weather decent enough I went there for a shot, with Bredon Hill in the background, from the road bridge. There was quite a lot of cloud around the sun and when the gathered throng heard 1Z50 approaching from Eckington the line was in shadow but it cleared at the last moment with no more than 3 seconds to spare. The sun was just round enough to please everyone so no fiddling about with the Magnetic Lassoo tool on Photoshop should be needed. For some unfathomable reason the locomotives are numbered 50011 and 50006 respectively on the side visible here but have the correct numbers on the other side - ridiculous! Seeing 50007 paired with another of the class reminded me of my shot from November 1986 when it was leading the Saturday morning Cardiff to Glasgow service through Longbridge before the BL factory disappeared. No-one who saw the Boston steel also on a Saturday morning but in 2014 would forget that sight in a hurry...
A set of JSA steel hoods has been due to leave Long Marston for Eastleigh for a couple of weeks and the second attempt to shift them took place on 24 July 2018. The locomotive was 47813 which arrived a bit late and had to wait a long while inside the site while the stock was shunted out of a storage siding after more delay casued, I think, by brake problems. Even when coupled to 47813 the stock seemed to be causing problems and much examination of the wheel areas took place. Another light engine move, this time from Bescot, was due and RTT showed it having passed Evesham and I made the entirely wrong assumption that it had reached Honeybourne and had been put into the tamper sidings there. A drive down there showed that nothing was there so I turned around and went back towards Long Marston but saw 47813 with 6O86 some 90 minutes late heading along the branch where it runs parallel with the Broad Marston road. Not having taken a long lens with me on this occasion this picture giving a panoramic view of Long Marston yard was all I managed. Oh well, it gave my Morris Minor a good run around the lanes... I later discovered that a wagon had been shunted out of the rake and that whatever had come from Bescot had been turned round at Evesham.
Another brief outing for my Canon G10 on Monday 16 July 2018 when LSL's D1935 (47805) ran as 0Z48 from Crewe HS to Stratford-upon-Avon. I'm not all that bothered about light engine shots but the chance of a two-tone green class 47 at Stratford without making any effort was worthwhile. The timings were such that a 2 minute diversion while on my way home from the gym and swimming pool, with my lightweight camera in my bag, would find me at the station at just the right time. The road-learning move, in preparation for steam specials later in the year (if it rains before then!) was booked into platform 3 and arrived exactly on time. The sun, had it cooperated would have been in just the right place as D1935 ran into the station against the backdrop of Morrisons supermarket. This wasn't 47805's first visit to the terminus as it was here on 29 November 2006 in the company of 47815 when they operated a Compass Tours charter from Liverpool South Parkway. It was here again in 1991 when in Intercity colours and when there were still semaphore signals on the platform ends.
As soon as 47805 had stopped in platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 July 2018 the diesel engine was stopped and the four man crew alighted and took a few photographs of their locomotive before walking under the nearby road bridge to inspect the headshunt and locomotive release points. The locomotive has also carried Virgin and DRS colour schemes and has been to Long Marston on several occasions.
My enthusiasm for going out for photographs is inversely proportional to the outside temperature so I haven't bothered during the heatwave during June and July 2018. Although the evening of 10 July was quite warm it wasn't too bad so I had a walk to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a shot or two of 67023 + 67027 with 1Q48, the Derby to Tyseley test train. I took only my lightweight Canon G10 compact camera secure in the knowledge that with its RAW image capability it is more than capable of taking a decent picture without the weight of a DSLR and heavy lens. The train was about 15 early joining the North Warwickshire Line which put it in front of 2S64, the local passenger service from Stourbridge. There was therefore a possibility that it would be routed into either platform 2 or 3 the latter of which had just been vacated by a Chiltern service to Leamington Spa but I was hopeful that it would run as booked into P1. It did and made for an attractive scene as it drew to a halt alongside the beautiful floral display sponsored by FOSS, the Friends of Stratford Station.
The test train operated by 67027 + 67023 was followed into Stratford station by 172344 which had to terminate in platform 2 rather than its booked platform 1. The latter is just visible in the this view as the incoming and outgoing passengers swap over. I thought that 1Q48 might be allowed to leave before the passenger train but the signal for platform 2 flicked to green as I took this telephoto view from the extreme end of platform 2 so it was time to leave but with a short pause to take this wide-angle view of 67027 as it stood awaiting departure time. The picture also shows a tiny part of the hideous and gloomy high-density housing scheme under construction on the site of Stratford's cattle market.
It's Saturday therefore it must be 37601 on 5Q94. So it was on 30 June 2018 and after playing the organ at a nearby village I thought that there might just be time to reach Honeybourne to grab a shot as the train joined the Long Marston branch on its way to the site where corrosiion repairs to 350264 will take place. The sun at just after midday is much too high for decent photography but that can be mitigated to some extent by using a long lens and having a head-on shot as shown here. Not one for those who stick to some dogma or other about using only a "standard" lens but at least a change in perspective now and again alters the effect for the viewer and makes a for a less consistently similar appearance of images than is sometimes seen. A FGW HST (43154 OC52 43010) was in the platform as 5Q94 stopped at the staff hut to collect the single line token and the heat haze from 1W02 slightly blurs this view of 350264.
The annual Rail Live event is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday 20th and 21st June 2018. As usual there were stock moves planned to bring in various items for exhibition and the first of these took place on Monday 18 June when a 5Q94 from Derby Litchurch Lane ran early in the morning. I had no idea what was going in but it turned out to be a class 345 unit from the new Crossrail stock build hauled by ROG's 37800. It was due to arrive just before 07.00 and although it reached Worcester 11 minutes early it was held there, presumably because of a late-running passenger train, and reached Long Marston 21 minutes late. I don't keep up-to-date with some of the new stock being built and didn't know what the train was until I saw the number on the side of the front coach.
There was the usual short wait while the single line staff was put into the ground frame to allow 37800 with 5Q94 to enter the exchange sidings at Long Marston. As soon as this had been done the train moved forward allowing this shot of the rear cab to be taken amidst the unchecked vegetation threatening to obscure this view altogether. The sun had just began to come out and there is a faint glimmer of light on the roof. One of the older fixtures at Long Marston, Pandora has moved and replaced with an elderly-looking diesel crane.
On 19 June 2018 Network Rail sent a short-formation test train for display at Long Marston topped and tailed by 67027 + 67023. As far as as I know this was only the second time the class has been on the line and the first since 67016 hauled the first revenue earning train along the new formation at Honeybourne following the North Cotswold Line partial re-doubling. Here is 1Z05 arriving at Long Marston and again a few moments later as it entered the site.
It soon became clear that the 67s were not to be part of the exhibition as they were uncoupled from the stock and stabled at either end of road 3 where a variety of withdrawn or stored stock is kept.
The second arrival at Long Marston on 19 June 2018 was a first (and probably a last!) for the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch. DRS sent a class 88 to Rail Live for display and this ran as 0Z76 from Crewe with an arrival time at Honeybourne of 13.42. This gave me more than enough for a drive there from Long Marston as 0Z76 had got caught up with the usual GWR late running arounf Worcester. I don't always bother with light engine moves but this one was just about unusual enough fot a shot or two.
I thought that a quick belt down to Long Marston would be required to take a second shot of 88004 on 19 June 2018 but in the event it took the locomotive much longer than expected to make the short journey, possibly the single line staff hadn't been taken back after 1Z01's arrival. Anyway, it did arrive and made a unusual sight as it approached the road bridge and soon went into number 2 road, making an interesting front-end contrast with the other stock, before going round the circuit into the exhibition.
The rail-mounted crane at Long Marston which has recently been stabled close to the road bridge was fired up on 20 June 2018. After some checks that was working properly it moved towards the main complex and began doing whatever it had to do.
On both days of the Rail Live event at Long Marston a special train was organised running from London Paddington directly to the platform within the site. The stock involved on 20 June 2018 was a 4TC set topped and tailed by 73963 + 73962 and this was a first for the Long Marston branch, if not the North Cotswold Line itself. Three of the class, 73006, 73138 and 73201 , have been dragged to and from Long Marston but there have been no examples of them visiting under their own power. I wanted a shot as the train, 1Z73 surprisingly enough, arrived so went no further than the road bridge at the site entrance. The sun was in and out but wasn't too bad as it approached.
The ground crew were keeping a careful eye on the points as 1Z73 moved along No. 1 road on its way to the small platform which is out of sight around to the right at the end of the exchange sidings. The train is passing 5 oil tanks which were due to be taken to Lindsey Oil Refinery by 70811 later in the day.
The return of 73962 + 73963 from Long Marston to Paddington was due to leave the latter at 14.54 and I arrived at Honeybourne with about 15 minutes to spare. There was some speculation that there was a problem with the brakes on 1Z74 and this was borne out when the arrival time came and went. Another train was due to run into Long Marston as 70811 was on its way with a single tank from Lindsey Oil Refinery but with the single line occupied there was a bit of confusion about what was going on as RTT showed that 6Z25 was in the Evesham area with nowhere for it to be looped. In the event 1Z74 came first and made for a decent enough image as it ran from the staff hut to the road around the back of the station. It ran ran straight through and was supposedly heading for the crossover just around the corner for a reversal and return via the up main line. It later transpired that the train ran straight to Evesham where the passengers were turfed off to use a scheduled service to Paddington while the 73s and stock went to Worcester Yard to see what could be done. There was nothing possible there and 5Z74 went to Eastleigh via Cheltenham and Bristol the locomotives by then double-heading the stock.
The class 73s and 4TC set shown above had only just gone around the corner to Honeybourne North Junction when 70811 appeared with its modest load heading for Long Marston. I'm not a fan of very short formations but this isn't too bad as the locomotive and tank fits quite nicely into the space between the bridge and signal. There was a return load for 70811 but I had had enough of hanging around by then and headed for home.
Following the problems with 4TC stock on 20 June 2018 I wasn't sure if the train would run as booked on the following morning. However, a quick check saw that at 5Z73 had run to Paddington P12 from Eastleigh, the stock being 4 carmine & cream Mk1s. I wanted to have a drive in my Morris Minor and somehow found myself at Honeybourne just in time to witness 1Z73 arriving at the station on the up main line in somewhat challenging lighting conditions. Reversal at Honeybourne North Junction didn't take many minutes and the train soon ran onto the Long Marston branch for its trip to the Rail Live exhibition.
For the final run of the class 73s from Long Marston to Paddington I went to a bridge between Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh. This shot needs a relatively wide angle lens so that as much of the train as possible is clear of the shadows from lineside trees. This stretch of line sees few locomotive-hauled workings so it's always having a shot somewhere along here when the opportunity arises.
On Thursday 15 June 2018 ROG's 47813 + 47812 took 6 barrier coaches from Leicester LIP to Portbury in readiness for another stock movement of TPE Mk5 coaches to Manchester. This train, 5Q32, ran the follolwing day and was due to pass Stoke Works Junction, the nearest location for me, at about 11.50. This gave me time to have my morning swim before driving over from Stratford-upon-Avon to the road bridge beyond the junction. The journey took longr than usual because of grass verge cutting, 2 tractors, 3 horses and a slow-moving B & Q lorry but I arrived with about 15 minutes in hand before the slightly late train was due. There was a Cross Country train immediately behind 47813 + 47812 with the new stock and barriers providing brake force so it seemed likely that it would be crawling along prior to being turned into Bromsgrove loop but two huge plumes of exhaust smoke as the train came into sight put paid to that idea. The smoke eased back a bit before 5Q32 passed the bridge but there was still enough to mask the stock to some extent as power was kept on ready for the climb up the Lickey Incline.
I had a message during the morning of Monday 11 June saying that 59003 was working 6M40, the Westbury to Stud Farm empty stone hoppers. This was well worth a shot so I went to one of the very few remaining northbound locations on the Leamington Spa to Birmingham line, Hatton North. The first freight to pass was 4E18, the 09.47 Fairwater Yard to Doncaster Wood Yard train conveying new concrete sleepers. This train is often used to move spare Freightliner locomotives around the system but on this occasion just one, 66531, was in use. It's notable that this was the engine used for the first train to Long Marston after the branch from Honeybourne had seen no traffic for several years. This ran on 16 September 2005 when some Virgin coaches and DVTs were taken for storage.
One of the regular runners on the line through Hatton North Junction is the 11.56 Westbury to Stud Farm stone empties, 6M40. This is invariably a GBRf class 66 job but this habit was changed on 11 June 2018 when 59003 was allocated. The light was good during the afternoon and the sun had just about dropped enough for a decent shot; it being much too high and harsh between about 11am and 3pm at this time for a good result even if it is on the front... The empty stone hoppers are booked into Hatton DGL for about 10 minutes but because of a Chiltern service running 2 minutes late it was 3 minutes leaving. I could hear 59003 working hard after leaving the loop mand passing through Hatton station but it was accelerating well as it came towards North Junction.
Bank Holiday Mondays usually throw up one or two diversions and 28 May 2018 was no exception with 6M50, the 07.55 Westbury to Bescot departmental train, being sent to Birmingham via Hatton instead of the longer route through Coventry and Nuneaton. The timings were convenient for me so I had a run over to Hatton to take an image in a location which showed that 6M50 was off its normal route. There was no load between Westbury and Hinksey Yard but the headcode was changed from 0M50 at Oxford so there was going to be at least something behind 70817 and DIT 66849. This service wasn't booked to run into Hatton DGL but as it was a few minutes early it had to be looped to allow a Chiltern class 168 to pass and this picture shows the last of the autoballasters crossing to the down main line.
Five new imporetd Mk5 coaches for use on the new Trans-Pennine locomotive-hauled services were due to be taken from Portbury Automotive Terminal, Bristol, to Manchester on 25 May 2018. The locomotives and barrier stock were taken from Leicester to Portbury on the previous day ready for 5Q43 which had a departure time of 09.00 and a route via Gloucester and Cheltenham. There was unfortunately considerable disruption around Bedminster on Friday morning with trespassers apparently being chased up and down the lines by BTP. {Cue Benny Hill music...}. I originally planned to drive to Stoke Prior immediately after my morning swim but when I checked RTT in the gym car park saw that the train was still at Pill. I went home and kept an eye on 5Q43 and saw that it eventually left over 2 hours late which was marginally better for me as the torrential rain had almost stopped by then. I had a quick drive to Defford and soon saw 37611 + 37884 leading the 5 coaches (including what I call a DVT), 4 barriers and 47812. The heavy load behind the new stock made me wonder if they were included for brake force as maybe the Mk5s were without operational brakes and therefore through-piped. The weather, although without the heavy rain, was still filthy with almost no light and heavy mist everywhere. I wouldn't have bothered but know full well that I shall never be inspired to travel and photograph the stock in action on the Trans-Pennine route.
After photographing the first Mk5 stock move on Friday 25 May 2018 I stayed at Defford for a few minutes as the NMT HST was heading from Reading Triangle Sidings to Derby via Paddington and South Wales. I hadn't seen this train for ages so waited, despite the dire conditions, for 1Z20 to come along led by 43013 and tailed by 43062.
I have been waiting for a chance to take a sunny image of 1Q48, the monthly Derby to Tyseley test train, at Stratford-upon-Avon station for a while so when 22 May 2018 had mostly clear skies I walked down for a shot or two. The sun was in the middle of a blue patch of sky as 67027 led its train and 67023 into platform 1 a few minutes late following a unit failure somewhere or other beyond Snow Hill. Platform 1 was free for about 10 minutes which allowed the shot I wanted to be taken as the train approached the footbridge.
The sun stayed out just long enough Tuesday 22 May 2018 to take a photograph of 67023 with 1Q48 standing in platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon station. The distracting background of scaffolding shows a tiny part of a huge sink estate of the future undergoing construction on the site of the cattle market. The consensus of local opinion of which I am aware suggests that within a few years this part of the town will be very much a no-go area after dark. Well done, Stratford DC...
The prototype class 230, 230001 made some more runs from Long Marston on Thursday 17 May 2018. I had intended to take some pictures of all the trips but had a message before leaving home saying that something even more unusual was running on the line through Hatton a bit later on. I still went to Long Marston for the first part of 5Z01 and arrived a few minutes before 230001 came into sight as it ran along the exchange sidings. Within a vey short time the gates were opened and it started on the short journey to Honeybourne. Over to the right and out of shot the diesel shunter was on the loop moving a class 319 EMU around towards the exchange sidings in preparation for its journey to Wolverton during the afternoon.
Vivarail's 230001 paused on the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne for a few moments until the signal was cleared to allow it to go to Honeybourne North Junction and to reverse on the main line and head off to Moreton-in-Marsh, Honeybourne isn't the most attractive station in the area but it does at least have a GWR-Style piece of ironwork on some of the platform's benches. The sun was at full strength but still a little straight at this time of the morning, just on 10.00. There were some more moves during the rest of the day along with another Long Marston to Wolverton class 319 drag but I went home for some coffee before going to Hatton.
Coal trains have been a very rare commodity of the GWR line from Tyseley to Leamington Spa in recent years. On the morning of 17 May 2018 I had a message from a friend saying that a Freightliner locomotive was in charge of a 6V40 Barrow Hill to East Usk Yard and was due at Hatton at 11.50. I changed my plans so as to be able to take a photograph of this unusual working and decided to go to the high bridge at Shrewley, just to the north of Hatton North Junction. The train, which had originated at York on the previous day and had been recessed overnight at Barrow Hill, was running about 20 minutes late but this wasn't a bad thing because 4M55 hauled by 66516 was in Hatton DGL and was a candidate for blocking out the view of an up train. All was well however and 6V40 came around the bend surrounded by Spring greenery and a healthy sprinkling of hawthorn blossom. Talking of flowers, this iris was growing on the narrow grass verge alongside the bridge.
Vivarail's 230001 made some more runs between Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh on Tuesday 16 May 2018 and as I had limited time went to Thistley Hill near Mickleton for the second up run although knowing that the sun would be too straight for most people's taste. First along was am IET forming 1P25, the 0954 Great Malvern to London Paddington which was running about 10 minutes late and certainly not being pushed to make up considering how slowly it passed me. I don't know which unit it was; I don't bother much with numbers and don't separately record them. Recent vegetation clearance has really opened the view along this stretch of line; this shot would have been impossible until the clearance works. It won't last...
This was the train I went out to photograph near Mickleton on 16 May 2018. Vivarail's 230001 was making some more testing and mileage accumulation runs and had already gone from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh and then down to Evesham and I was here for 5Z03 from Evesham West Junction back to Moreton. RTT showed that it had arrived at Evesham but whichever system activates the train on the railway computer systems hadn't done so and until I saw it coming up Campden Bank wasn't sure that it was on its way. The next run due in about an hour would have been better for the light but I couldn't wait so was sort of relieved to see later that it had been cancelled with 230001 returning to Long Marston from Evesham.
During the late morning of 15 May 2018 a schedule appeared suggesting that a class 143 pacer, running as 5Z43, was on its way from Cardiff Canton to Long Marston. As the afternoon was clear and sunny and as my previous shots of 143s here had been in poor light I went across to Long Marston for a shot or two. This one taken as 143601 ran the final few yards along the branch from Honeybourne from the top of a pile of earth left in the field during works to update Pebworth's sewage facilities by taking the village's waste to the nearby Milcote sewage works.
The usual procedure for moving a class 143 at Long Marston ws followed on 15 May 2018 when 143601 entered the exchange sidings and immediately reversed to reach the workshop area by running anti-clockwise around the circuit. This shot was taken just as it began to move and against a backdrop of a variety of stored stock.
The first run of a 9 car IET over the length of the North Cotswold Line was on Monday 15 May 2018 when 800302 worked 5X23 between Stoke Gifford and Oxford and back again. The afternoon leg of the test was better for me and I went to Lower Moor between Evesham and Pershore, a spot where the full length of the train could be seen to advantage. The bland overall green blends all too well with the background as the train passes the hydroponic glasshouses growing various salad crops.
Defford, on the main line from Birmingham to Gloucester, is only a few minutes drive from Lower Moor and with another shot of the IET to be had along with one or two bits and pieces that is where I went next on 15 May 2018. First along and running the thick end of 2 hours early was 37099 propelling 3Z62, the 12.32 Derby R.T.C.(Network Rail) to Exeter Old Yd Waggonersway. Much of the earliness was the result of missing out a lengthy layover in Abbotswood Loop and as my mobile data provider sent a new SIM card at the weekend but without telling anyone that the APN settings for data had to be set from scratch I had no access to anything so didn't know where trains were.
The roadbridge at Defford is one of the few in the area where a decent two-way shot can be had. I like the northbound view because of the attractive vista of the valley of the River Avon and the mass of Bredon Hill in the background. If standing on the bridge ready for a southbound shot it is easy to keep an eye for anything coming the other way on the long straight through Eckington and when a headlight is seen there is time to cross the road. On this occasion, 15 May 2018, the light was on the front of 43301 leading 1S61, the 12.25 Plymouth to Glasgow Central, the HST being in what I think is by far the best of the current crop of colour schemes on that class of train.
My second shot of 800302 on 15 May 2018 was as it returned to Stoke Gifford from Oxford via a reversal at Worcester. It is shown here passing the site of Defford station still running at 5X23 once again matching the green background. I think the colour could have been a shade or two lighter and much more like the Middle Chrome (Brunswick) Green with a contrasting lining-out used by the GWR on its express passenger locomotives.
There were at least 2 movements of old locomotives on the main line on Monday 15 May 2018 but this one took my fancy more than a pair of class 50s running light engine. The train pictured here at Defford is a 5Z20 11.15 Ferme Park to Kidderminster SVR presumably to take locomotives and stock there for some gala or other. I nearly went to Dog Bridge at Norton Barracks but decided on an image from here to take advantage of the wider angle to better show 20205, 20189 and 73136 leading a 4 TC set with 20142 and 20007 bringing up the rear.
Worcester has been a popular destination for rail charters during early May with the VSOE on Wednesday 9th and a slightly less luxurious train in Saturday 12th. I couldn't get out for the VSOE but did go for the latter working on Saturday from Letchworth. This had the unattractively liveried 67018 providing the power but despite this I went to Honeybourne as it was my first chance for a shot of a locomotive-hauled passenger train at this recently cleared location. The light wasn't particularly good but the mass of hawthorn blossom all around made up for this to some extent.
Vivarail's 230001 was shown as running between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham on Tuesday 8 May 2018 and with what appeared to be guaranteed sunshine I went over to Evesham for the second of the day's runs. I arrived at Briar Close just in time to see 165113 forming the 10.39 Great Malvern to Paddington, 1P27, approach the signal box for a stop in the station where a class 800 was waiting to head north. The new GWR colour looks smart but it's not easy to achieve a good photographic result of it even in strong sunlight.
I'm always keen to take a photograph of Vivarail's 230001 on its various test runs and must admit that I find it a more interesting prospect than yet another 37 hauled stock drag. On Tuesday 8 May 2018 230001 made some runs on the North Cotswold Line and unusually it started from Honeybourne sidings where it had been stabled, for reasons of which I am not aware, since the previous weekend. I wasn't able to get out for the first run between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham but did make it to Evesham in plenty of time for the second. Here it is arriving at Evesham station as 5Z04 and after a short wait at the signal just on the other side of the bridge until a preceding class 800 had reached Norton Junction went down towards Evesham West Junction before crossing over to the up main line.
Now running as 5Z05 after its reversal at Evesham West Junction 230001 is about to pass non-stop through Evesham on the way back to Moreton-in-Marsh. It would reverse again there before the final journey of the day and its return to Honeybourne Sidings.
A sunny morning on 5 May 2018 and the prospect of an unusual triple-headed freight on the Solihull line saw me head to Hatton for a few minutes. Running in front of the freight was 165011 forming 2L27, the 11.34 Birmingham Moor Street to Leamington stopping train. When I left home the sky was cloudless but during the drive over a lot of cloud bubbled up; inevitable on a warm morning after some wet weather earlier in the week. There was still more blue sky around than cloud so I wasn't going to turn this image of a 2 car unit.
An early morning message said that the 08.55 Freightliner from Crewe Basford Hall to Southampton was to be headed by 70015, 70004 and 70003, clearly a way to take 2 locomotives from unbalanced diagrams for work next week. This to me was a much better option than yet another shot of 37601 with a class 350/2 EMU going to Long Marston. It was a pity that 57301 wasn't still around following its trip to Warwickshire on the previous day - the choice of train would then have been more difficult. Anyway the novelty aspect of a triple-header appealed and here is 4O29 passing Hatton's banner repeater signal running 4 minutes late. This slight lateness was fortunate as a northbound Chiltern service is due here at exactly the same time and also because the sun managed to be in the middle of a large clear patch of sky.
Track relaying work on the Long Marston branch finished sometime during the night of 3/4 May 2018 and the first revenue-earning train ran on the morning of 4 May. A light engine was shown to be running from Crewe Gresty Bridge and after a bit of digging, not helped by the fact that the reporting number was changed from 0V70 to 0V94 near Wolverhampton, found that 57301 was the locomotive involved. This was the first DRS liveried, as opposed to the Pullman coloured, class 57 to go along here so I went over for a shot. There was no return train schedule showing at the time but the headcode suggested that a stock move, probably a class 319, was going to leave the site. Some delay was encountered along the Stourbridge Junction line but a little time was picked up and arrival was at 10.24 some 20 minutes late. As this was the first non-infrastructure move over the new track I took this image of it a few yards from the end of the branch. While 57301 stood in the sun with 319008 waiting to be collected another unit was being propelled to join the other but I wanted to get to my health club for a swim and I have previously witnessed how long it can take for 319s to be coupled and for the door locking mechanism to be made operational I stayed no longer. I later saw that 5Q70 left for Wolverton 70 minutes late at 12.22...
The engineering work on the Long Marston branch continued over 2 and 3 May 2018 with another 6X04 from Fairwater Yard on the Tuesday afternoon. Knowing that a lot of vegetation had been removed from the North Cotswold Line I went, in hope, to a spot near Mickleton where a clear shot would be available. The location had seen significant clearance work and I was hopeful of a decent outcome at shortly before 20.00. Running in front of 6X04 was 1W36, the 17.52 Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill which was 2 or 3 minutes late when it passed me formed of 165109.
The shadows at Mickleton were becoming a bit intrusive on 2 May 2018 as I was waiting for 6X04, the 13.45 from Fairwater Yard to Honeybourne North Junction. The preceding passenger service didn't help matters by being 2 or 3 minutes late as the sun was sinking rapidly and the remaining lineside bushes' shadows were encroaching on the line. Nonetheless, freight of any description is as "rare as the stars upon a clouded night" (Louise Morgan Sill) along the North Cotswold Line south of Honeybourne so to take an image in mostly decent light was more than welcome. The locomotives were 66543 and 66526, the same as Monday's run and the train's consist looks to be much the same. The location has seen a lot of lineside work work since my previous visit in September 2016 but there was still a huge smouldering pile of manure casting smelly smoke around. Fortunately the slight breeze drifted it away from the line.