This section of my website is mostly used for recently taken digital images although occasional single location scans involving different classes of locomotives and trains may appear from time to time. I do not not subscribe to the magazine-led dogma that says that photographers must take pictures only in full sun with the light on the front of the locomotive and using only a standard lens (whatever that means bearing in the mind the differences between full-frame and crop-frame digital cameras). This approach was understandable for colour photography when using transparency film but a very decent image can be obtained with digital cameras in virtually all lighting conditions with careful exposure of the RAW image and correct use of whatever software package the photographer chooses. My approach is that is a train is unusual enough to warrant a trip out then it is worth a shot in any light. Admittedly, it is not always a quick and easy process to obtain a good and above all natural looking image, without bleached out shadows and overdone highlights, saturation and excessive sharpening, for the web in poor light as it is with a correctly exposed sunny shot but to me that is part of the enjoyment. I would rather have a record in dull light of something possibly unrepeatable than nothing at all. Each to his own but I do find sites full of nothing other than full sun on the front shots with the same lens persepctive less than riveting.

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I do not supply images for publication in the railway press.

67027 + 67023 RHTT at Evesham. The 2021 RHTT season was coming to an end by 4 December and being aware that I hadn't taken any photographs of the North Cotswold Line train thought that I should have at least one go at it. There are plenty of sunny daylight shots around of 3S32, the 22.01 Swindon Transfer to Cheltenham Lansdown Loop, but I like after-dark photography so knowing the the train has to stop at Evesham for a crew change and with it having to wait for an up passenger everything is likely to run close to right time went there. Here is the train on 3 December 2021 with the usual and exceptionally reliable pair of 67027 + 67023 just after arrival into the down platform with the crews preparing for the changeover.
67027 + 67023 RHTT at Evesham. Having had to leave home at around 05.30 for the drive to Evesham on 3 December 2021 I had already set up my camera with the settings I use at Stratford-upon-Avon for similar shots; these being ISO 4000, 1/125 second at around f3.5 on a Nikon D800 with 50mm or 85mm prime lens. Network Rail LED lamps clearly produce a similar number of lumens wherever they are installed and in whatever style of light as the settings were spot-on. Driver Clive Smart had just switched on the cab lights enhancing the picture nicely as he waits for 1P02, the 05.23 Hereford to London Paddington for which a a solitary passenger is waiting to clear the single line from Norton Junction. Unlike many, I don't mind seeing the filthy state of locomotives used on RHTTs and think that it gives a sense of the purpose behind the trains. This train is due to finish after 7 December 2021 and it may be the last chance for a shot of class 67s on either RHTTs or test trains as the Colas examples have been acquired by GBRf.
37116 tnt 37254 at Lower Moor. The usual diagram for the monthly test train visiting Stratford-upon-Avon on a Tuesday is for the same formation to run to Bristol on the Wednesday and back to either Tyseley or Derby RTC on Thursday. On 30 November 2021 the Stratford train was in the hands of HST power cars but these were swapped for 37116 + 37254 for the Bristol runs. I didn't pick up on the Wednesday run until too late but was prepared for the return to Derby. There was nearly another working with a 37 from Bicester COD via Hatton with 37800 dragging some class 365s to Crewe but this changed to no more than a light engine run so the way was clear for a shot of 1Z23. At this time of year locations on the northern end of the Cotswold Line are limited and by far the best is the roadbridge at Lower Moor on the single line from Evesham West Junction to Norton Junction. The train was about 10 minutes late which nearly caused panic amongst the small gathering of photographers but the sun stayed out long enough, by about 40 seconds, for a sunny shot. There are rumours circulating that this may have been one of the final runs of class 37s on the PLPR, in this area at least, with HST power cars poised to take over. Just for the record here is a close-up view of the train.
66519 RHTT at Stratford-upon-Avon. I noticed from a mapping app that a different locomotive in the form of 66507 to accompany 66519 was operating on 3J04, the Chiltern Line RHTT, on Tuesday 23 November 2021. I assumed that this one might be a bit cleaner than 66522 which had been working for about 3 weeks so walked to Stratford station for a couple of shots. Photographic opportunities at Stratford's platform 3 are limited to say the least and this view of a filthy 66519 arriving with the water jets still operating is the best available.
66507 RHTT at Stratford-upon-Avon. It takes a few minutes for the train crew to change ends and prepare the train for reversal so there was plenty of time for some trial exposures before it left. On this occasion the rear locomotive coming to Stratford had been left running so there wasn't the chance for a shot similar to that I took of 66522 on 4 November but at least 66507's Freightliner green paint was still recognisable. The difference in colour between the two shots is noticeable and is the result of the later shot being taken on a cloudy evening with more ambient light diffusing from orange lamps in the area.
66507 RHTT at Stratford-upon-Avon. When 3J04 started running in October I took this shot of it standing at Stratford-upon-Avon on a sunny evening. Comparison of the 2 pictures taken from the footbridge is striking...
6233 Duchess of Sutherland at Hatton. The steam locomotive 6233 Duchess of Sutherland and its support coach ran from Tyseley to Southall on MOnday 22 November 2021. I wouldn't usually have bothered with this but there was another working due to pass Hatton which I did wish to photograph so went a bit earlier to take advantage of the sun and Autumnal colours. The train running as 5Z34 left Tyseley late but was slightly early at Hatton through not running via a reversal at Small Heath South Junction as it left Tyseley pointing in the right direction. One of the usual hazards of taking pictures of steam arose as the exhaust did clear the locomotive body as it didn't need to do much work running downhill with a light load.
70008 at Hatton. As I was photographing Duchess of Sutherland at Hatton on 22 November 2021 it was clear from a mapping app that Freightliner 4M55, the 08.44 Southampton to Lawley Street service, wasn't far away behind the camera and approaching quite rapidly. It passed Hatton station less than a minute after 6233 had gone south. It's a poor shot from the roadbridge lookign onto the station at Hatton especially when the sun is low in the sky but I took this one of 70008 because I hadn't seen a class 70 for quite a while.
153385 at Hatton. My real reason for being at Hatton on 22 November 2021 was to take an image of Network Rail's 153385, their most recent Video Inspection Unit. Part of the attraction is that the EM colour scheme has been retained for the time being although I imagine that the overall yellow livery will be applied at some future date. The unit running as 2Q11 should have passed this location at 09.56 but it was 163 minutes later when it finally appeared after leaving Eastleigh 130 minutes late. There are very few locations for anything coming north in the middle of the day and a going-away shot here was just about the only option although it would have better about 40 minutes earlier to have shown a clearer view of the video cameras.
196002 at Stratford-upon-Avon. I've had it in mind to go to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a picture or two of 3J04, the Freightliner operated RHTT, now that it is dark by the time it arrives. On Thursday 4 November 2021 I noticed that in addition to 3J04 one of the class 196 test runs, 5Q27, was running about 70 early because most of the WMR passenger services were cancelled. This meant that it would be in the station at around the same time as the RHTT. I miscalculated how quickly it would run down from Bearley Junction and get ready to reverse, so much so that it was pulling out of platform 2 as I arrived. My camera was already set up for after-dark photography so a grab shot was taken as 196002 receded from the lens.
66519 with RHTT 3J04 at Stratford-upon-Avon. As soon as 196002 running as 5Q27 to Tyseley LMD had cleared the section out of Stratford-upon-Avon station on 4 November 2021, 66519 leading 3J04, the RHTT from Aylesbury, was allowed to cross over from the down main line and run into platform 3. This isn't the most photogenic platform at the station but it does have the best lighting which helped to show off the dirty state of the locomotive. I like the way that the light in Morrisons' car park illuminates the autumnal colours of the tree alongside the lineside fence, one of the bonuses of taking pictures in the darker evenings. Here is another vew of 66519 taken as I walked to the other end of the train.
66522 with RHTT 3J04 at Stratford-upon-Avon. I wasn't sure if the RHTT at Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 November 2021 was far enough along the platform to allow a shot of 66522, a recent replacement for 66510, but it was positioned perfectly. The engine was shut down so I waited for the driver to turn the V12 over before taking a shot in the hope of getting a plume of smoke as it started. It worked well and the remaining touch of light in the western sky adds a lot to the scene. A view of the other end of of 66522 is here to show the flower containers plated by FOSS and which add greatly to the attractiveness of the station. This locomotive once carried a slightly different colour scheme as can be seen here while it was working a 6Z22 Eastleigh to Stud Farm on 7 July 2011. The repainted bodyside patch can just be made out in this image taken from the car park.
165003 with 1U71 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Even the most mundane scene is transformed into something more interesting by after-dark photography. This picture shows 165003 just about to leave Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 November 2021 working 1U71, the 17.38 to Banbury. There were some very frustrated customers on the station waiting for trains running to Birmingham Snow Hill and beyond. All the peak hours West Midlands Railway services between 16.23 and 18.58 were cancelled.
Colas/LNER HST test train at Stratford-upon-Avon. The regular test train, 1Q48, ran to Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 2 November 2021. The previous month's run had been cancelled because the stock was under maintainance and for the November train the usual locomotives, 67023 + 67027, were unavailable through being on RHTT duties and were substituted by Colas HST power cars still in LNER livery 43251 + 43272. This was the first visit of HST PCs in this colour scheme to the terminus so I went to the station for a shot or two. Here is 1Q48 arriving in platform 1 with 43251 leading in a pool of light from the station's LED lamps. For anyone interested the techincal details for the picture are Nikon D800, ISO 6400, 1/200 sec @ f2.8 on a Nikon 50mm prime lens.
Colas/LNER HST power cars at Stratford-upon-Avon. On 2 November 2021 test train 1Q48 from Tyseley LMD was about 8 minutes late arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon with Colas/LNER power cars 43251 + 43272. The latter was to lead from Stratford and here it is after the crew had swapped ends ready for reversal. They were keen to get going after the late arrival but were kind enough to give me the chance for a set of bracketed exposures and can be seen watching for my thumbs-up before they moved. In reality, this took only about 20 seconds and this image was taken on ISO 4000, 1/125 @ f2.8.
66102 at Hatton. A "Z" working on the line through Hatton showed up for Thursday 28 October 2021 I went for a look without really knowing what was being moved. It originated at Milford Sidings and was heading for Didcot TC under thge headcode 6Z36. It was about 15 minutes early leaving the Birmingham area and with just a Chiltern local behind it was given a clear run without being looped at Dorridge. The light was very poor when 66102 with a huge train of JRA box wagons came around the curve from Hatton North Junction but this type of wagon is unusual on the line so the short drives were worth the effort.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Long Marston. Two of the former EMR power cars, 43061 + 43075, were taken for scrapping at Newport from storage at Long Marston on Wednesday 27 October 2021. The light locomotive which ran from Derby was 57312 which, as it was able to couple directly to the power cars, did not need any barrier vehicles. The arrival of the 57 was at about 8.30 but the departure of 5Q76 wasn't due until around 11.30. There was a lot of activity around the rear wheelsets of the second PC and it soon became clear that there was a problem and that it would be late leaving. Here is the train just after things appeared to have sorted out and 57312 was about to be coupled onto its load.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs leaving Long Marston. Even after 57312 had been coupled to 43061 + 43075 there was more attention given to the rear power car and when 5Q76 eventually moved onto the branch towards Honeybourne it was 46 minutes late.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Honeybourne. A clear shot at Honeybourne of the Long Marston branch is disappearing quite rapidly while unchecked growth of lineside bushes continues. This is apparent in this image taken on 27 October 2021 of 57312 with 5Q76 to Newport Sims approaching the back of the station. The train was still about 45 minutes late and it would have to wait a few more minutes for both up and down GWR to clear their respective sections. The nose of the down train can just about be made out in the right background. It was clear from a quick look at the power cars cabs that much of the equipment in them had been stripped out, presumably for re-use at some point in the past, so there was no chance of them being put back into service.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Honeybourne station. A small gathering of photographers was ready on the bridge at Honeybourne station as 58612 with two ex-EMR power cars drew to a halt at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction. It would be able to proceed once a down train, just about to enter the station, had arrived at Evesham and an up train, about 10 minutes away, was in the station here. These are, I think, the first HST power cars to be scrapped other than those severely damaged in collisions.
NR 950001 at Evesham. Network Rail's class 150 test train 950001 ran from Derby RTC to Bristol Temple Meads Motorail Platform on Wednesday 20 October 2021. The itinerary included a run along the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch and given the time of day and the chance of a sunny shot I chose Evesham station as the best location. The train, 2Q08, was running a few minutes late but this was a good thing as a large patch of cloud cleared away just as 950001 passed under the road bridge at the other end of the station. The garden alongside the up platform is a real treat and a tribute to the volunteers who have worked hard to make it a valuable habitiat for many insect species.
BEMU prototype 230001 at Long Marston. Vivarail is taking a Battery Electric Multiple Unit (BEMU) to Glasgow to demonstrate the technology at the COP 26 climate summit in November 2021 and testing of the unit commenced on the North Cotswold Line on 12 October. I was annoyed with myself that after a non-show in the morning the afternoon run went unnoticed until it was too late. The following day I was hopeful of the scheduled run starting at 09.29 taking place so went to Long Marston in time for this first departure. Despite a lot of orange suits both in and around the repurposed original ex-D Stock prototype 230001, nothing happened until 10.17 when the light on the top of the front end came on. By then it was raining and misty with poor visibilty but I still took this shot as it ran into road 1 before the gates were opened to allow it out onto the branch to Honeybourne. I had been across to Long Marston during the previous morning but 5Q01 was cancelled and all that moved was D Stock car 7601. It looks as if it were under battery power but there was a fork-lift truck alongside out of view providing the power.
BEMU prototype 230001 leaving Long Marston. Within a few moments on 13 October 2021 230001, running as 5Q01 despite being shown as cancelled, was on the branch and thus being the first BEMU on the national network for quite some time, possibly since the unit used on the Aberdeen to Ballater branch from 1957 to 1965. The final livery will understandably not be unveiled until the train is demonstrated at the COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow in 2021 but I guess that the colour green may make an apprearance!
BEMU prototype 230001 at Honeybourne. There was plenty of time for a drive to Honeybourne for another shot once the crew of 230001 had deposited the single line token in the hut. The signal to join the North Cotswold Line was given straight away and 5Q01 passed non-stop around the back of the station before going across Honeybourne North Junction and onto the down main line.
BEMU prototype 230001 at Evesham. Several runs between Honeybourne and Evesham West Junction were planned for 13 October 2021 so I went to Evesham for the next movement, due about 40 minutes later. The sky had cleared considerably by the time that 230001 returned, so much so that this picture was taken against the light as it passed through the station on the way to Evesham West for reversal.
BEMU prototype 230001 at Evesham after reversal. While 230001, now running as 5Q06, was reversing at Evesham West Junction on 13 October 2021 before returning to Honeybourne Sidings the sun very nearly managed to come out. It wasn't fully out as the train accelerated towards the station but it was enough to cast a shadow and show off the changing colours in the lineside vegetation.
RHTT with MPV DR98925 3J04 at Edstone. A different sort of RHTT on Saturday 9 October 2021. I think this was the first run this year of the North Warwickshire Line's daylight rail spraying train 3S53 and as with the locomotive-hauled version on the Hatton line to Stratford-upon-Avon it seems a bit premature as the leaf-fall season hasn't started around here at least. I did think that some Autumnal colours might be in the background at Edstone Aqueduct near Bearley hence a trip out for a picture but with the exception of some hawthorn berries everything was still green. The train was running about 15 minutes early because of the cancellation of a Kidderminster to Stratford passenger service. It is usual for at least one diagram not to run each day at the moment through a shortage of train crews.
66510 passing Wilmcote. Another day and another crack at the RHTT from Aylesbury to Banbury via Stratford-upon-Avon. There aren't many worthwhile locations between Hatton and Stratford; the only bit I'm really interested in taking pictures of this because of the general lack of locomotive-hauled workings on the line. On Wednesday 6 October 2021 I chose Wilmcote station where a new older style running-in board has been installed and a lot of lineside trees have been removed. The latter wasn't of much significance for this shot because the sun, had it been out, would have been too low in the sky to reach the tracks but there was a bit more ambient light on the scene. The train was again using 66510 tnt 66519 and with the spray heads adjacent to 66510 it is already getting a little grubby.
66519 at Wilmcote. This view of 3J04 about to go down Wilmcote Bank towards Stratford-upon-Avon on 7 October 2021 is to show the difference in cleanliness between 66519 and the leading locomotive, 66510, as they work the Aylesbury to Banbury RHTT.
66510 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon. The second run of 3J04, the Aylesbury to Banbury RHTT took place on Monday 4 October 2021. Ar just after 5pm the sky was cloudy but reasonably bright so I walked down to the station to take a shot mof 66510 arriving into platform 3. On arrival onto platform 1 the sun came out into a clear sky just as my mapping app showed that the train was clearing Bearley Junction and out it stayed. The shot wasn't quite as bad as I had feared and at least some of the RHTT tanks are visible as 3J04 slowed down for its stop and reversal. The gull on the lamp post didn't seem at all bothered by the train and didn't fly off for several minutes.
66519 at Stratford-upon-Avon. The RHTT with 66510 + 66519 sits at Stratford-upon-Avon for around 20 minutes to allow a couple of passenger trains to come and go. This is the view of 66519 as the driver walks along the platform to prepare for departure on 4 October 2021. I wasn't going to bother with a shot from the bridge but quite like the way the sun lit up the background with the autumnal colours coming to the fore even the train itself was in shadow.
66519 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Unless something dramatic happens such as complete disruption to passenger trains meaning that the RHTT is put into either platform 1 or 2 at Stratford-upon-Avon I probably won't take any more pictures of it before the nights are fully dark and images under the bright station lights are possible. With that in mind a shot or two of both ends of the train seemed in order and here is 66519 with the crew waiting for departure time on 4 October 2021. Before this year no locomotive-hauled RHTTs had been to the terminus so I took a final shot of 66510 with the sunlight filtering through the silver birch trees.
D Stock car 7601 at Long Marston. I was driving past Long Marston on Monday 4 October 2021 and stopped off to see if anything was happening. A D Stock car, 7601, was outside one of the sheds and was just about photographable through the ever-increasing vegetation.
165018 at Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway. Stratford-upon-Avon's service from Chiltern Railways is patchy to say the least. Although there are direct trains to London Marylebone no-one in their right mind would use them for the entire journey as it is much quicker to change at Leamington Spa or Banbury and thus avoid the all-stations stopping programme suffered by the former. A waste of time - more frequent trains connecting at Leamington Spa would be better but some dogma seems to suggest that a direct train is more prestigious for the town. What nonsense. Anyway, it gets worse; this is 2D16, the 16.48 from Hatton to Stratford, at Stratford Parkway meaning that any through passengers from beyond Leamington, not many it must be said, would have to change both at Leamington and Hatton, the latter being about the least hospitable on the line.
66510 at Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway. After several road-learning runs for Freightliner crews the first locomotive-hauled RHTT train to visit Stratford-upon-Avon ran on Friday 1 October 2021. We used to see locomotives on the annual weedkillers but as far as I know only MPVs have done RHTT duties down here. The inaugural run was topped and tailed by 66510 + 66519 and I had been hoping for a cloudy but bright evening as 3J04, the 09.17 from Aylesbury Sidings 1-7, would use platform 3 at the terminus, completely useless at 17.30 on a sunny evening. Sod's Law intervened and the afternoon was clear and sunny and the least worst option for a shot was Stratford Parkway. The shadows were quite intrusive but not bad enough to wreck the shot completely.
66507 at Stratford-upon-Avon. The first locomotive-hauled RHTTs to visit Stratford-upon are due to start in September 2021 and in connection with these another few road-learning runs began on Tuesday 28 September following on from those which ran in July. The working, which ran as 0B40 from the Reservoir Neck Sidings at Banbury, involved 66507 which arrived spot on time and as booked into platform 3. I had lined up a shot using the lineside equipment as props so needing a wide-angle lens to fit everything into the frame. The sky in the background was clear but I was very fortunate that the sun was in a small gap in the clouds behind the camera at just the right time.
66507 at Stratford-upon-Avon's platform 3. Platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon isn't the best for photography but freight locomotives here are rare enough to warrant reeling off a few shots when they do appear. On 28 September 2021 66507 was booked to stand here for around 20 minutes, giving the 2 man crew time to visit the café just by the station entrance and buy refreshments. This wasn't the first visit here for 66507; it was one of the pair that were notable in being the first Freightliner locomotives to arrive at the terminus at 04.00 on 13 April 2021. It had been cleaned since then as it was so dirty on the first visit that it made the whole picture look slightly unsharp.
172006 at Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway. Wednesday 22 September was a largely sunny day and after noticing that the class 196 test runs from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon were working went for a walk including Stratford Parkway station with a view to taking a shot of whatever was on 5Q24 heading to the terminus station. Running in front of the class 196 was 2S42, the 12.45 from Kidderminster formed of a single 2 coach class 172, 172006. Although looking quite smart in its current colour scheme I much preferred how it looked just after arrival at Tyseley when still in London Overground colours as seen near Bearley Junction on 27 February 2019.
196012 at Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway. As soon as 2S42 shown above had cleared the section into Stratford-upon-Avon station on 22 September 2021, 196012 running as 5Q24 from Tyseley LMD was released and passed Stratford Parkway a few minutes later. I picked this location only because the sun's angle was good and not for any aesthetic considerations. The number of lighting and other poles isn't pretty and finding a true vertical isn't easy as the lamp posts have largely been planted in the sloping part of the platform meaning that they lean to some extent. I took the abutments of the road bridge as a guide as they should, in theory at least, be vertical.
68010 at Hatton North Junction. I understand that Chiltern Railways' class 68 locomotives are losing their few remaining diagrams in December 2021 which is the only reason that I took this shot of 68010 propelling 1H48, the 13.55 Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone service of Monday 2 September 2021. I much prefer my shots to show trains coming towards me but as there so few opportunites for images of locomotive-hauled trains on this line I include this rather dull one of 68010 at Hatton North Junction.
172221 + 172333 at Hatton North Junction. The Stratford-upon-Avon to Birmingham Snow Hill and beyond services have, after a spell of bus replacements, reverted to trains. It seems hardly worth the effort outside peak hours giving the very poor loadings especially when 5 coaches are rostered, each passenger quite possibly having a coach to his or herself at least as far as Dorridge! This is the 14.03 from Stratford to Kidderminster, 2W80, about to join the Birmingham main line at Hatton North Junction formed of 172221 + 172333 on Monday 20 September 2021.
70812 with 7M50 at Hatton North Junction. The daily Westbury to Bescot departmental train ran under an STP variation on Monday 20 September 2021 by starting at Hinksey yard, Oxford, running as 7M50 not 6M50 and being diverted from the usual route via Coventry and Nuneaton to the line through Hatton and Dorridge. This meant a relatively rare chance of a shot of it at Hatton North Junction and I was pleased to have made the effort as 70812 with 3 cranes and a load of ballast accelerated slowly away from Hatton DGL and away towards Dorridge. I imagine that the 45mph class 7 running was because of the cranes and that the routing was to keep the train away from much faster CrossCountry traffic and onto a line with pleanty of loops, all of which it used. The sunshine wasn't as lucky as it might seem from this picture because the sky to the south-west was completely clear of cloud.
158956 at Gossington. There was a most unusual working on Friday 17 September 2021 in the form of Western diesel D1015 piloting a GBRf 66 on a freight train between Avonmouth and Gloucester so even with a dull morning forecast a trip to somewhere south of Gloucester was called for. I joined the already large group of photographers on the bridge at Gossington some 90 minutes before the freight was likely to appear and took a few shots of the regular passenger traffic. This image of GWR 158956 on 2E56, the 08.41 Westbury to Gloucester was the best of the bunch. It was running a few minutes ahead of the Western which had been recessed in Charfield Loop and was probably the most photographed unit on the line all day!
D1015 Western Champion at Gossington. The DTG's D1015 Western Chamption has been undergoing major engine works including a power unit replacement sourced in Germany and needed a loaded test run before working a Pathfinder charter from Gloucester to Devon on 25 September 2021. The test run was, very unusually, for the locomotive to pilot GBRf 66719 on 6M42, the 09.20 Avonmouth to Penyyffordd empty cement tanks. This just had to be photographed and I went to Gossington, not far from Slimbridge, arriving about 90 minutes before the due time to allow for early running. The Western had run early most of the way from Kidderminster SVR to Avonmouth and was a few minutes early leaving. It was soon over 40 minutes early but was put into Charfield Loop to allow 2 passenger train to pass and was still about 17 early when it passed the 20 or so photographers on the road bridge. It was good to see it in BR blue and to hear Maybachs again - not quite so loud as my video from 17 December 2002 filmed at Hatton but still very welcome. The sun hadn't been forecast but was a huge bonus...
800107 at Moreton in Marsh. GBRf's regular charter train in support of a nominated charity ran for four days, ending on Sunday 5 September 2021 with the first passenger working for their class 69 locomotives newly converted from class 56s. The real bonus was that the train was routed from Bescot to London via the North Cotswold Line and I fancied a shot around Moreton in Marsh where lower quadrant semaphore signals are in use. I went initially to the road bridge adjacent to the station and took this image of 800107 leaving with the 15.31 from Hereford which has the headcode, sort of appropriately for the day, 1P69. The charter was running late and it soon became apparent that shadows from nearby properties would be quite an issue by the time that the charter arrived so it was time to move.
802010 near Moreton in Marsh. The trackside near Dunstall Bridge, a short distance to the south of Moreton-in-Marsh station is clear of vegetation with the light, if the sun stayed out, being usuable for at least another hour or so and well before the GBRf charter would arrive on Sunday 5 September 2021. Various bits of information came through suggesting that 69002, the pilot engine, had failed with fuel supply issues in the Honeybourne area but the train was able to continue with 69001, the train engine providing all the power. When the time for it to arrive came the signals both for the up and down lines were lowered leading to a certain amount of angst for the 3 of us there about the scheduled train from Paddington, 1W51, getting in the way of 1Z35 especially as it had a lost a few minutes since leaving Oxford. All was was well and here if 802010 pasing Dunstall Bridge on the approach to Moreton in Marsh.
69002 + 69001 near Moreton in Marsh. The final leg of GBRf's charter in aid of a prostate cancer charity was on Sunday 5 September 2021 was from Bescot to London Paddington and formed the first passenger train hauled by 69002 + 69001, recently converted from class 56s. It was routed along the North Cotswold Line and after looking at the BBC and Met Office weather apps it seemed that the best chance of some decent light after 5pm would be in the Moreton in Marsh area. I initially decided on the bridge by the station but the train left Bescot late and it became obvious that the shadows there would be too intrusive so a move further up the line was needed. The lateness increased a lot in the Honeybourne area when 69002 suffered fuel supply problems and it was fortunate that 69001 was able to take 1Z35 forward. A third locomotive, GBRf 66765 was on the back of the formation and the whole ensemble is shpwn here going away towards Oxford with an annoyingly out of focus bit of vegetation not noticed at the time nearly getting in the way!
Electrification Train approaching Honeybourne. A train from Kings Norton OTP Depot to Long Marston ran on Tuesday 31 August 2021. I assumed that it would be a tamper and that given the poor weather that it wouldn't be worth a trip out but on looking at Railcams I saw that someone had kindly noted that 6X81 was an electrification train formed of DR 76922 (99 70 9131 022-4) and DR76901 "Brunel" (99 70 9131 001-8) and therefore a bit more interesting. The train ran the long way round via Gloucester, Swindon, Didcot and Oxford and after a start around an hour late it was soon back on time after missing out a long stay in Abbotswood Loop. A few minutes were lost along the North Cotswold Line but it soon came into view as it approached Honeybourne for its reversal.
Newly painted 01544 at Long Marston. There was no rush to get to Long Marston for 6X81's arrival at Honeybourne on 31 August 2021 as it would take at least 25 minutes for the train to reverse and make its way along the branch. Within a few minutes of my arrival the Porterbrook class 01 01544 came from the left-hand side of the site and the crew were very good and parked it in the only gap in the vegetation after exchanging waves with me. The locomotive was built by Thomas Hill in 1977 and was at the Wensleydale Railway before coming to Long Marston carrying the Defence Logistics Organisation Purple and White colour scheme.
6X81 nearing Long Marston. There is a 5mph speed limit over parts of the Long Marston branch despite much of the track having been renewed in recent years and seemed to take an age for 6X81 to get to the road bridge. Signs of Autumn are clearly apparent in the hedgerows with hawthorn berries giving a touch of colour amongst the green vegetation.
6X81 entering Long Marston. The gates were already open at Long Marston on 31 August 2021 as the men visible on the pile of aggregate on the left of the picture were involved in replacing the pallisade fence removed when the trackbed of the GWR main line to Stratford upon Avon was cleared and flattened. Nothing seems to have happened with the land and I wonder if was just a speculative move by the current owner to tempt Porterbrook into buying or leasing the land for extra sidings or a runnng loop. The electrification train is due to be here for 3 days and I guess that it may be involved in some work either on the existing 25kv OHLE track on the site or installing a new section.
20189 + 20227 near Stratford on Avon Parkway. The situation regarding Clun Castle seems to have changed during the past week and it has now been said that Sunday 22 August 2021 may be the last run on The Shakespeare Express for 20189 + 20227. My options were a bit limited as it's my wife's birthday but I did walk to Stratford Parkway for the first train of the day, 1T50, and took this view as it approached Stratford's down distant signal at quite a speed and running 7 minutes early after the pick-up/set down stop at Henley in Arden. The bypass bridge isn't the most attractive structure on the line but I do prefer some identity to these record shots rather than some anonymous countryside.
20189 + 20227 at Stratford on Avon. During the early afternoon of 22 August 2022 the sun came out and there was just time for a quick trip to Stratford station for a shot of 20189 + 20227 in platform 1. The light wasn't great for the conventional shot and with a lot of people being around because of a Steam Dreams charter with the B1 Mayflower I didn't make too much effort. I'm not a huge fan of 20227's colour scheme much preferring the proper BR blue of 20189.
20189 + 20227 just south of Wilmcote. It appears that Vintage Trains' 7029 Clun Castle isn't going to be fit to work any Shakespeare Expresses between Birmingham Snow Hill and Stratford-upon-Avon in 2021 and on Sunday 15 August the usual pair of class 20s, 20189 + 20227 were rostered. I went to an occupation bridge just south of Wilmcote station for the first train of the day, 1T50, in the hope that the sun wouldn't appear as this would have wrecked the shot altogether. All was well and the colourful pair came past me running about 5 minutes early. The undergrowth has closed in a lot in recent years as can be seen from this image of 45103 in the same spot in June 1986.
20227 + 20189 passing Wilmcote. I didn't bother with 1T51 and 1T52 but went to Wilmcote, this time to the station, for the final train of 15 August 2021, 1T53. After reversal at Stratford-upon-Avon 20227 was leading 20189 and here they are passing under the GWR footbridge after making a noisy ascent of the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank. The mist of exhaust smoke can be seen against the trees in the right background and shows the amount of power that had ben applied during the climb.
9 coach GWR 800 at Aldington. Vivarail/TfW 230010 was scheduled to leave Long Marston for the last time on 12 August 2021 on its journey to Wrexham for crew training and further testing. As always with these moves there was an element of doubt as to whether it would go but it was worth a drive over to Aldington just in case. While waiting for something to happen a GWR passenger service went in each direction and here is an unidentified 9 coach class 800 passing under under the Evesham bypass with 1P34, the 15.18 Worcester Foregate Street to London Paddington. In the event 230010 didn't run.
20189 + 20227 at Stratford GWR station. Vintage Trains' Clun Castle was unavailable for the Shakespeare Expresses for the second week of the season on 8 August 2021 with class 20s 20142 + 20227 deputising once more. The weather was dull and drizzly so I went to Stratford-upon-Avon GWR for a record shot as 1T50 arrived and the locomotives performed their run-round. Here is the train of many colours arriving in platform 2 with a decent load of punters aboard; not as many as if a steam locomotive were on the front but still a worthwhile loading. The woodpigeon on the lamp standard doesn't seem bothered by the whistling pair a few yards away. Here is a view from a similar spot in May 1991 with 20903 + 20902 heading a weedkilling train.
20189 + 20227 at Stratford GWR station. It took only a few minutes to detach 20227 + 20189 from the stock at Stratford on 8 August 2021 before running them through platform 2 ready to couple on to the train for the return to Birmingham Snow Hill, 1T51. Until this year it's been quite a while since class 20s have been here. This image was taken in the early morning of 7 July 2012 when 20309 + 20308 brought in the ECS for a railtour to Carlisle. That trip didn't end well for the class 20s as one of them failed and the return to Stratford was in the hands of 57002, pictured here on the following morning.
168324 arriving at Stratford upon Avon. I shouldn't think that a class 168 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon has previously been the subject of so much attention as it was on 8 August 2021. This 2 coach unit was forming 2D20, the 10.40 from Leamington Spa and fitted nicely enough between 2 of the photographers who were, of course, there for the class 20s working the Shakespeare Express.
20227 + 20189 standing at Stratford upon Avon. As soon as 168324 was in platform 3 at Stratford upon Avon on 8 August 2021 the class 20s working the Shakespeare Express, 20227 + 20289, returned to platform 1 where they were coupled to stock form 1T51 to Birmingham Snow Hill. Once the group of photographers has thinned out a bit there was room for a relatively uncluttered image to be taken once the headlight had been switched on. In April 2013 both 20227 and 20193 carried different styles of colour scheme with a London Underground theme which I photographed at Bentley Heath near Dorridge.
37611 at Honeybourne. There were two class 37 workings to Long Marston on Monday 3 August 2021 the first of which was one of the regular trasnfers of a class 350 EMU from Northampton. Here is 37611 with 350127, the final member of its class to carry the green colour scheme, in tow passing around the back of Honeybourne station in horrible light: a dark foreground with a bright sky and background.
37611 at Honeybourne. While 37611 was taking 350127 slong the Long Marston at Honeybourne on 2 August 2021 a down express from Paddington to Hereford came towards the station. I took this shot only because of the unusual opportunity to photography the 2 classes of unit passing each other. The second train to Long Marston was an HOBC set hauled by 37425 which ran ridiculously late for littlke good reason and I had to leave for an appointment before it was allowed to leave Worcester.
20189 + 20227 at Stratford Parkway. Following the private charter with 20189 running solo from Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-upon-Avon on 29 July 2021 Vintage Trains added 20227 for the Shakespeare Express on the following Sunday, 1st August. The first train ran as 1T50 and with the weather being dull with no immediate chance of sunshine I took the short walk to Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway Station. Here are the pair with 8 chocolate and cream coaches coasting through the station on the way to the Stratford's GWR terminus.
20189 + 20227 at Henley-in Arden. I wanted a completely recognisable location for the afternoon Shakespeare Express, 1T53, so went to Henley in Arden station where a lucky patch of sunshine arrived just at the right time although not shining on the full set of coaches. It was running 3 minutes early here and had a 2 minute pause scheduled so it was quite a while before it moved away towards Bearley Junction and Stratford making some excellent sound effects.
196007 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Having failed to take a fully sunny shot of 66415 at Stratford-upon-Avon earlier in the week I went down again on Thursday 29 July 2021 for another go. First along was 196007 on what I take to be one if its first runs from Tyseley and the only view available on platform 1 on a sunny morning is this as it leaves the station running as 5Q21.
66415 at Stratford-upon-Avon. The road learning runs for Freightliner crews are due to end this week and with 66415 being rostered once more on 29 July 2021, a mostly sunny morning, I thought a final shot would be worth the walk. The locomotive, running as 0B44 from Lawley Street, is booked to wait at Bearley to allow a WMR service from Birmingham via Dorridge and Hatton to go first and it is pot luck as to whether this actually happens or whomever is on the Snow Hill panel at Saltley lets the special to have a run if it's a few minutes early. It had to wait today and arrived just as the sun had dipped into cloud so I waited as the crew changed ends and was lucky that the sky cleared before it moved away.
20189 at Edstone Aqueduct. The excitement on the Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon line is never-ending! There should have a private charter for the supporters of the North Warwickshire Line with 7029 Clun Castle on 29 July 2021 but the locomotive had problems with its superheater and was not fit to run. Vintage Trains therefore provided extremely acceptable substitutes in the form of 20189 and 47773 which topped and tailed 1Z33 from Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford. It was mostly cloudy and I was tempted to visit Wilmcote station but thought that if the sun were to come out it would be a bit straight down the line. Edstone Aqueduct was therefore my choice of location and the 4 photographers, 2 of whom were expecting steam, stood chatting in full cloud cover. Just as 20189 came around the curve the sun popped out of the edge of a big bank of cloud which gave the scene a huge boost. Tailing the train was 47773 but the going-away shot isn't great so I didn't bother. I imagine that the the class 47 is required to lead out of Stratford because of the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank which might make a single class 20 have a coughing fit!
37884 with 769928 at Hatton. One of the class 769 unit moves took place on 28 July 2021 when 37884 took 769928 from Burton-on-Trent to Reading Traincare depot. I hadn't photographed one of these before and as sky had cleared a bit in Stratford-upon-Avon after some heavy rain had a quick drive over to Hatton. The sun didn't cooperate but there was at least a bit of brightness as 5Q74 came round from Hatton North Junction after quite a fester in the down loop at Dorridge. As I hadn't previously seen a class 769 (although they still look very like a painted 319 from the outside!) I took this not very inspiring view as it went away through the station.
47773 with 5Z31 at Stratford-upon-Avon. There was an unexpected trip for me to Stratford-upon-Avon station on 27 July 2021. A friend messaged me to say that 47773 was on its way from Tyseley Steam Trust with a route refreshing train for crew prior to the start of the Shakespeare Express season. One of these was down to run during the morning, presumably planned for steam traction running tender first as it had 35mph timings, but it didn't materialise so I was surprised when the afternnon train, 5Z31, did run. This isn't quite the shot I had in mind but there was a 5 coach class 172 DMU in platform 2 so this slightly truncated view was all that was possible. As some compensation the sun did just about get out of the thick cloud enough to lift the scene a bit.
Four coach 196002 at Stratford-upon-Avon. I was crossing the road bridge at the south end of Stratford-upon-Avon station on 27 July 2021 and noticed that the usual 5Q21 proving run from Tyseley for a class 196 DMU was for the first time in weeks a 4 coach set. The signal for it to leave was green but there was just time to grab a shot of 196102 befoe it moved away making a change from 2 coach 196002 which has been on these runs for a few weeks.
66415 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Although having made up my mind not to take any more photographs of Freightliners 66s on road learning duties at Stratford-upon-Avon I saw that on Tuesday 27 July 2021 there was a 33.333% chance of Genesee & Wyoming liveried 66415 being rostered for 0B44 at Lawley Street. It was worth taking my Canon G10 for a walk and just for once my hunch paid off when the locomotive came into platform 2 a couple of minutes late having followed a WMR passenger train from Bearley Junction. This colour scheme really stands out even on occasions when the sun was only halfway out some cloud.
66415 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Running as 0B44, 66415 from Tyseley LMD to Stratford-upon-Avon ran part way along platform 2 giving me the chance of a second record shot of the first visit of a locomotive in this colour scheme to the terminus. No more shots of this now (unless a class 70 happens to be sitting spare on Lawley Street!)
66596 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Another sunny day on 21 July 2021 and another Freightliner class 66 on road-learning trips to Stratford-upon-Avon. This time it was the second run of the morning for me as I had been out walking along the local canal earlier on and had been fortunate enough to film the first otter I had seen in the area. The locomotive for today's 0B44 was 66596 and here it is arriving into platform 2. I think I now may have enough images of class 66s running light here; I'll now wait for the RHTTs during the Autumn leaf-fall season.
66596 at Stratford-upon-Avon seen from the Alcester Road bridge. It made a change for 0B44 to enter the station rather than wait close to the signal at the end of the platform. As I walked home I took this view from the Alcester Road bridge with a 50mm lens on my Nikon D800 and then cropped it in the raw convertor to zoom in a bit. There were some disgruntled passengers on the station waiting for the 12.03 to Birmingham via Dorridge which was cancelled due to train crew shortages, They would have had to wait for the 12.26 via Henley-in-Arden but at least there is a vey decent café just outside the station so were able to obtain some refreshments in the meantime.
66587 at Stratford-upon-Avon. After an early morning walk on the hot morning of 20 July 2021 I returned home to see that the Lawley Street to Stratford-upon-Avon road learning trips for Freightliner drivers were running so went out again and walked to Stratford-upon-Avon station. Unusually 0B44 was running ahead of 5Q21, the Tyseley-based class 196 test run, and was waiting just around the corner for 172002 with the 09.27 Stratford to Stourbridge Junction to leave platform 1. This unit looks very different compared to the first time it came here still in London Overground colours. I was pleasantly surprised to the see pink 66587 appear but less so that it had been routed into Platform 3. A quick adjustment to the zoom setting on my Canon G10 compact camera had to be made which enabled this image to be shot albeit including the messy pile of trackside junk that has been left here.
66587 in platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon. There was no point in crossing over the bridge for another picture of 66587 on Tuesday 20 July 2021 so I took this image as it stood with Morrisons supermarket looming in the background. One of the crew paused to take a picture of the locomotive behind the platform sign; maybe proof of presence on some required track!
196006 with 66587 in platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon. I saw from a mapping app that 5Q21 from Tyseley LMD to Stratford upon Avon was approaching the station on 20 July 2021 and took this image as 196006 ran into platform 2 with 66587 alongside in P3. This unit has now made many trips to Stratford and appears to have run reliably unlike the 4 coach versions which have been down here on previous occasions.
196006 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Wednesday 14 June 2021 started off bright and sunny so I had another walk to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a well-lit shot of the Freightliner road learning trip from Lawley Street. First to arrive though was 196006 with 5Q21 from Tyseley LMD and even though it ran into platform 1 I thought it worth a shot. The 2 coach variants of the class seem a lot better than the 4 coach sets and seem to be running reliably whereas the longer trains are, I believe, grounded and one has been towed from Tyseley to Donnington for storage.
172003 at Stratford-upon-Avon. I had hoped that 66501 would be allowed to run into Stratford-upon-Avon before the passenger train 2D11, the 08.27 running from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction. Despite this being being no closer than Lapworth on the Leamington line and 66501 being at Bearley Junction the passenger train was given precedence. I was expecting the usual class 172/3 to appear but was slightly surprised when 2 coach 172003 ran into the station, especially given that sister unit 172006 running as 2K25 to Stourbridge Junction had left only some 20 minutes earlier. These units aren't a daily sight at Stratford at the moment. Incidentally, 172003 was first of the class to see revenue-earning work in the West Midlands when it ran to Hereford on 7 May 2019.
66501 at Stratford-upon-Avon. I have been waiting for a sunny morning to get a decently lit image at Stratford-upon-Avon of the Freigthliner roadmlearning trip, 0B44, from Lawley Street. Tuesday 14 July 2021 was such a day and here is 66501 slowing to a stop in platform 2. It was slightly irritating that the driver had changed the lights from white to red before the locomotive stopped...
196006 alongside 66501 at Stratford-upon-Avon. It's not often that the chance come along to photograph a class 196/0 2 coach DMU alongside a class 66/5 at Stratford-upon-Avon but that is exactly what happened on 13 July 2021. On my way into town I dropped into the station with my Canon G10 in my pocket for a record shot of 66501 working 0B44 road learning special from Lawley Street. The new 196006 on a mileage accumulation trip arrived first and while it was standing in platform 1 66501 was allowed into the station and came into P2. Within a few moments the signal giving 196006 the road was cleared and the opportunity for this shot presented itself.
37608 approaching Long Marston. Just when you want a nice cloudy and bright sky along comes the sun! Another 3 HST power cars were moved back to Long Marston from Burton on Trent on Tuesday 13 July 2021 and with a dark sky threatening train in Stratford-upon-Avon I thought that a simple record shot with 37608 with 43071, 43061, 43079 entering the site would be worth the few minutes drive. The train took an inordinately long time to travel from Honeybourne and this delay gave the sun a chance to find a big clear patch of sky. To make things worse there was a barrier coach on the back of 5Q94 which wrecked the chance of the shot which I had originally planned. I assume that the barrier was to provide an extra bit of brake force for the train and wondered if the brakes on 1 or 2 of the PCs weren't operational.
37611 with HST stock at Evesham. Since taking over the lease at Long Marston Porterbrook has moved a lot of stock there from Burton-on-Trent Wetmore Sidings, including quite a few HST power cars that were originally taken to the Watwickshire site after withdrawal from service but moved after a few weeks. On Tuesday 6 July 2021 another 5Q94 ran this time hauled by 37611 and comprising PCs 43064, 43082, 43043 + 43081 with no coaching stock. There was little chance of decent light but I felt that a record shot would be worth having and went to Evesham. The train ran close to right time and is seen here about to pass through the station. The locomotive later returned light to Derby RTC.
57312 with HST stock at Honeybourne. The third train of the week taking stock for storage from Burton-on-Trent to Long Marston ran on Friday 2 July 2021. This time it was a 5Q94 with ROG's 57312 and power cars 43075, 43073, 43045, Mk3 coaches 42109 and 41165 with power car 43060 bringing up the rear. I go to Honeybourne far too often but there is nowhere better to take views of both ends of a train and with the EMR/Colas 43060 power car on the back this is exactly what I wanted. The power cars used on test trains such as this at Stratford-upon-Avon from 3 November 2020 when 43060 was leading with 43050 on the back. Today's train ran on time and is seen here about to pass under the Buckle Street road bridge.
57312 with HST stock at Honeybourne. For me the most interesting vehicle in 5Q94 was the ex-EMR 43060 with Colas branding which was used for a short while on Network Rail test trains but is now clearly redundant. At this time of the day, around 13.45, the sun is reasonably favourable for both ends of a train although it is clearly a bit too high in the sky for decent photography. Still, such a colourful combination was not to be missed especially when the sun was in a big cloudless patch at the time. I couldn't resist a final wider angle shot of the colourful train as it stood at the staff hut while the driver collected the single line token for the Long Marston branch.
40013 at Stoke Prior. Locomotive Services Limited ran another train involving 40013 on 1 July 2021 when it worked as 1Z40 from Bangor to Bristol via Birmingham and Gloucester. The earlier forecast of clear skies had changed since the weekend but even with a lot of cloud around it was well worth a trip to Stoke Prior for a shot. There was a long diversion due to road resurfacing on the way across and the lane on which the bridge is situated closed to all traffic but there wasn't far to walk after parking nearby. The train was running just about on time from the Birmingham area and it soon appeared after having descended the Lickey Incline and wasn't, as I thought it might be, coasting but seemed to be on full power and going like the clappers. It brought back a memory of D200 going absolutely flat out in August 1987 The return trip was apparently diagrammed for steam power.
66529 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Road learning runs between Lawley Street, Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon continued on 30 June 2021. Platform 1 at Stratford was finally reopened on Thursday 24th so there was a reasonable chance that a shot of 0B44 arriving into platform 2 was on the cards. I saw from RailCams that it was running early and was allowed to leave Bearley Junction before the WMR unit from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge was anywhere near so walked down and arrived just as the 09.26 to Birmingham via Henley-in-Arden was leaving. A minute or two later 66529 came into the platform with a cab full of drivers learning the road prior to the Chiltern Line RHTT season commencing in the Autumn when a daily working will visit here.
153375, 153381, 153371 + 153383 at Honeybourne. Four more class 153 DMUs were taken from Burton on Trent for storage at Lo0ng Marston on 29 June 2021. The headcode again was 5Q94 and the timings much the same as the previous day but the weather was slightly better so I changed my mind and did decide to go for a shot. Here are 153375, 153381, 153371 + 153383 passing Honeybourne station on the Long Marston branch; possibly one of the last to be on for a while before the buddleia takes over completely once the flowers have come out.
153356, 153365, 153354 + 153334 at Evesham. A 5Q94 from Burton-on-Trent to Long Marston was down to run on Monday 28 June 2021 which unusually was timed for 50mph operation. There was no clue to the train's composition until someone kindly added the appropriate data to the RailCams mapping app. It showed that 4 class 153 DMUs were on their way and as these have never been especially commonplace on the North Cotswold Line I went over to Evesham for a shot. I had previously taken a few images of solo 153s on the Long Marston branch including this one of 153305 but a set of 4 units needed a bit of a wider angle. Here are 153356, 153365, 153354 and 153334 in the old London Midland colours passing the signal box at Evesham running about 4 minutes early in very dull conditions with a light drizzle falling.
66565 at Edstone Aqueduct. Another few local shots on Wednesday 23 June 2021. Freightliners's 66565 was again being used for road-learning trips between Lawley Street, Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon and I wanted a shot of it somewhere on the Birmingham side of Bearley Junction. The second trip offered the best chance of a well-lit shot and Edstone Aqueduct is just about the only possible location at around 11.30 so, even with the sun being much too high for a decent image, I had a drive over. The working again was 0B44 and here it is running about 10 minutes early about to pass under the Stratford-upon-Avon narrowly avoiding one of the many patches of fine weather cloud floating around.
WMR's new 196011 passing Wilmcote station. West Midlands Railway 196011 was again doing mileage accumulation and test runs on 23 June 2021 and having missed a shot of it in platform 2 at Stratford-upon-Avon on its first run of the day through not keeping an eye on things I went to Wilmcote station for 5Q24 from Tyseley LMD in the early afternoon. Everything was running well and 196011 passed under the GWR footbridge, albeit painted in an unpleasant of dirty pink, some 5 or 6 minutes early.
66565 passing Wilmcote station. The road learning runs with 66565 contimued in the afternoon of Wednesday 23 June 2021 and with the sky being completely clear a shot at one of the most identifiable locations in the area seemed like a good idea. Even though it was only a light engine run and therefore mostly ignored by photographers I felt that a shot of any Freightliner locomotive on this line was unusual enough to warrant another trip out. Now running as 0Z46 under a VST plan 66565 had had to wait at Bearley Junction for about 10 minutes to allow a local train from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford via Dorridge to clear the section. There was a slight danger that a Chiltern service from Stratford to Leamington Spa might get in the way but it didn't and here is 0Z46 passing the well-known footbridge and lineside elder bushes.
196011 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon. There was a rare locomotive movement from Lawley Street to Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 22 Jun 2021 involving only the 3rd Freightliner to visit the terminus. Running in front of it was WMR's new 196011 on 5Q21 from Tyseley LMD and as usual this arrived into platform 3. This isn't the best angle for photography but it is what it is so I took one as it slowed for the stop before the crew changed ends and went back to Birmingham.
172343 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon. Next to arrive at Stratford-upon-Avon station on 22 June 2021 was 172343 working 2D11, the 08.27 from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction. Platform 1 here is still out-of-use after several months until some part or other for the pointwork has been manufactured and delivered so most Birmingham services use P2 as is this one.
66565 entering platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Light engine moves don't hold a lot of interest for me but when something unusual comes to my local station I do make an effort for a record shot. Freightliner's 66565 running as 0B44 from Lawley Street, just the third of its class to reach here, was down for several visits on 22 June 2021. As the timings were a lot more convenient than the first time that 66/5s came here when 66508 tnt 66507 arrived at 03.50 on 13 April 2021 I had a walk down. It was really lucky that the sun came out of a largely cloudy sky as 0B44 came across from the down main line into platform 3.
66565 standing in platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon. There was no need for 66565 running as 0B44 to go far along the platform at Stratford-upon-Avon on 21 June 2021 with what I take to be a road learning special for future engineering work on the line. This meant that a quick shot from the footbridge as the crew changed ends was about all that was possible but once again I was lucky that the sun stayed out. There was just time to walk along the island platform for another view as 0B44 moved away after a stop of no more than 2 minutes. Thanks to Neil Higson for the headcode information.
172104 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon. West Midlands Railways has recently acquired some of Chiltern's class 172/1 units to bolster their services. On Saturday 19 June 2021 I had a message saying that 172104 was working the 08.57 from Birmingham Snow Hill to Stratford-upon-Avon, 2D11, and as this was the first time I had seen a 172/1 on a WMR service had a walk to the station for a shot or two. Here is the train arriving into platform 2 instead of the booked P1 as the pointwork allowing access to it has still, after several months, not yet been replaced. This unit was the first that Chiltern used and here is my picture of it at Hatton running as ECS under the headcode 5Z74 which worked from Derby to Marylebone (via St Albans) and back on Monday 16 May 2010.
172104 alongside 168325 at Stratford-upon-Avon. Class 172/1 172104 working with WMR arrived at Stratford's platform 2 on 19 June 2021 while Chiltern Ralways' own 168325 was waiting in platform 3 to form the 10.39 to Hatton which a bit oddly runs ECS to Leamington Spa to return to Stratford later. The chance for a picture of two Chiltern liveried units side-by-side here was unusual to say the least but their positions relative to each other needed a wider angle lens than the 50mm on my Nikon D800. This picture was therefore taken on my 'phone with the inevitable distortion caused by the very short focal length. To show the current operator of 172105 to passengers decals have been placed on the bodysides.
172104 again alongside 168325  at Stratford-upon-Avon. Just as I was about to leave Stratford station the sun appeared and offered the chance of another shot of the 2 units but from the other end of the platform. The Train Manager is about to desptach 2W72 to Kidderminster with 168325 framed between the trees masking Morrisons supermarket from view. Thanks to Steve Widdowson for news of this working.
230010 arriving at Long Marston carrying the first ever passengers for the type. Vivarail/Transport for Wales' 230010 was used in a first for its type to carry passengers on 16 June 2021. The unit worked on battery power between a temporary platform at Honeybourne and Long Marston to convey attendees at the Rail Live event at Long Marston who had arrived by train at Honeybourne. This picture shows the first train of the day with a good load of punters on board as it approached the end of the branch and before it made a trip along road 2 of the exchange sidings to the on-site platform constructed some years for one of the open days held here.
230010 leaving Long Marston. The Long Marston to Honeybourne shuttles were in a broadly hourly pattern and here is the 10.20ish train leaving the site on 16 June 2021 to collect another batch of passengers. The unit is carrying a headboard, SLC Operations, the name of the group responsible for the design and construction of the trains.
230010 at Honeybourne. After taking the picture shown above I had a drive down to Honeybourne to see if there were any worthwhile photographic opportunites. There weren't other than this record shot from the main lines up platform showing 230010 and some of the crew and stewards preparing to leave. The passenger information sign has probably never before shown a departure for Long Marston. Not a vey clear shot but these matrix screens tend not to photograph too well...
The New Measurement Train Honeybourne Another exhibit for the 2021 Rail Live event at Long Marston arrived on 15 June in the form of the New Measurement Train with power cars 43012 + 43290. The former LNER power was on the back of the formation and as I hadn't yet taken a picture of it wanted a good clear two-way view. The nearest to my home is Honeybourne so at the risk of being repetitive went there once again. As on the previous day the warm weather, not to the mention the single track between Evesham and Norton Junction, was causing speed restrictions and delays and 1Q74 was some 30 minutes late arriving. There was no danger of the sun going behind cloud on this occasion and here is the train passing the temporary platform at Honeybourne which had just been completed ready for the following day's shuttle service. Power car 43013 has bean a regular visitor to the North Cotswold Line over the years and here is a shot from Evesham taken on 4 October 2007 when even more of the line was still single track.
LNER HST PC 43290 at Honeybourne The road bridge at Honeybourne is the ideal spot for a two-way shot at around 14.30 at this time of the year especially for HSTs as the sun's angle is OK whichever way the train is heading. Here is 1Q74 with 43013 leading 43290 and the New Measurement Train towards the staff hut and Long Marston on Tuesday 15 June 2021. The NMT is to be one of the exhibits at Rail Live where visitors will have the opportunity to have a look inside the coaches and see the range of measuring equipment used by the engineers.
66723 + 777002 at Honeybourne The 2021 Rail Live event at Long Marston is due to commence on 16 June and some the exhibits began to arrive 2 days earlier with the dragging of new Merseyrail unit 777002 from Kirkdale Carriage Sidings. Because of numerous reversals at the start of 6X90's journey top and tail locomotives were required and here is 66723 passing through Honeybourne some 30 minutes late due to delays on the North Cotswold Line through track temperature related issues presumably at the site of the new bridge over the River Avon at Fladbury where the track has yet to be fully stabilised. Note the temporary platform under contruction on the Long Marston branch in preparation for shuttles between here and the Rail Live site. The large number of orange-clad workmen were having their lunch break at just the right time for this picture.
777002 at Honeybourne I chose Honeybourne for these images as I wanted a reasonable view of 777002 even though it was surrounded by barriers so here it is passing under the road bridge on the way to the hut where the crew will collect the single line staff for the branch. The class 777 unit wasn't the only exhibit being moved and some wagons for display were also conveyed. A bit later in the afternoon 66715 took some oil tanks from Long Marston to Parkeston Quay but I didn't hang around to see this train to leave the storage site.
The Blue Pullman HST at Defford Following a charter between Bristol and Carlisle on Saturday 12 June 2021 the Locomotive Services Limited's Blue Pullman HST returned to Crewe during the following afternoon. The sun looked to remain out and with the timings being being convenient I had a run out to Defford. I wanted a two-way shot that wasn't Croome Perry and this location fits the bill nicely. The ECS, running as 5Z17, was a few minutes early crossing the River Avon at Eckington and made a decent sight as it contrasted with the largely green background.
GWR Castle HSDT GW09 at Defford Not contrasting nearly enough with the largely green background at Defford on 13 June 2021 was GWR's 2E42 Bristol Temple Meads to Worcester Foregate 2E42. Formed of Castle set 42097 + GW09 + 43160 the train does its best to disappear into the undergrowth.
56094 at Defford The reason for wanting a two-way shot on the Birmingham to Gloucester line on Sunday 13 June 2021 was to make sure of a shot of 56094 with 6Z50 from Doncaster Robert Rds Shed to Pengam Sidings. The 5 Colas Rail vans have been to Doncaster for maintenance and a sunny Sunday with very quiet roads offered the ideal opportunity for a picture as the train headed south. This is the site of Defford station and the yard to the left has for years been used to store various road vehicles for permanent way work. Just out of sight in front of 56094 are rubber pads to allow for road-rail plant to access both lines without damaging anything.
230010 leaving Long Marston For some reason I have never taken a shot of a TfW class 230 leaving Long Marston on one of the test and mileage accumulation runs. On Saturday 5 June 2021 there was one of these scheduled for 230010 to make a trip to Moreton-in-Marsh and then Stourbridge Junction and return to Long Marston. On arrival some 15 before the departure time the unit was visible outside the shed so things were looking good. About an hour later as just as I was preparing to leave it began to move and slowly made its way around to the exchange sidings ready to move onto the Honeybourne branch. The trackbed of the former line to Stratford-upon-Avon has now had several lorryloads of aggregate dumped on it but there is still no news about the purpose to which it may be put. There is room for 3 tracks as was once the case when an up loop was in place alongside the main lines. Here is 230010 as it recedes from the camera on the way to Evesham and Stourbridge, the leg of the journey to Moreton having been cancelled.
Bristol to Edinburgh HST at Defford One of the few passenger trains worth photographing on the Gloucester to Birmingham line is the 15.35 Bristiol Temple Meads to Edinburgh formed on a CrossCounty HST set. On 3 June 2021 the train had power cars 43207 + 43378 and is seen here having just crossed over the Warwickshire Avon between Ecckington and Defford.
40013 at Defford Privately owned 40013 has been leased to Locomotive Services Limited for 3 years and is to be used for mainline charter work. One of the first ran on 3 June 2021 was the return leg of a Carnforth to Bristol charter operated via Hereford with steam locomotives from Crewe and which 40013 hauled for the rest of the journey returning via Cheltenham and Birmingham. The weather was dull but improving and I wanted an open shot that would be good if the sun happened to appear so went to Defford, a good standby location in the afternoon. The train, 1Z72, ran very close to right time and made an impressive sight with the its matching rake of Mk2 coaches. My personal preference would be to see it in BR blue as seen here in Manchester Exchange station on 6 December 1984 but it is still good to have a shot in an earlier colour scheme.
220003 at Hatton North The late Spring bank holiday for 2021 fell on 31 May, the last day of meteorological Spring and after a murky start the skies cleared nicely. The Theale to Humber empty oil tanks, 6E45, was running via Hatton and with a sunny shot just about guaranteed I went over to Hatton North Junction for a shot. First along was 220003 with 1E48, the 1431 Banbury to Birmingham New Street, running as a variation, and although these units are one of the least photogenic on the network I took this image as a test shot before the freight arrived.
60015 with 6E45 at Hatton North There isn't much in the way of freight traffic on the GWR line between Leamington Spa at the moment so a train of empty oil tanks is a welcome addition to the timetable. On Monday 31 May 2021 the Theale to Humber service ran with 60015 providing the power and as I expected it began to run early not long after leaving Theale. It missed out a stop at Oxford North and with the early running being in excess of 40 minutes it seemed unlikely that it would be turned into Hatton Down Goods Loop. With this in mind I arrived at Hatton North just before 3pm with a mapping app showing it to be at Warwick with green lights all the way up Hatton bank. It passed the junction 64 minutes early although later lost some time around Bimingham. The red colour scheme of the locomotive has faded to a grubby pink shade and it doesn't look anything like as good as it did on 22 April 2011 while working 6E55 and also one week earlier on the same service.
196010 at Edstone The testing and mileage accumulation runs of 2 coach class 196 DMUs over the North Warwickshire Line have continued in recent days. Thursday 27 June 2021 was warm and sunny and in the hope that the first train from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon, 5Q21, would use platform 3 at the terminus I walked down to the station. A staff member was on hand to tell prospective passengers that trains were currently cancelled due to a signalling fault and this of course included 5Q21. I kept an eye on a mapping app and saw that 5Q22 a couple of hours later was running so went to Edstone Aqueduct near Bearley Junction arriving just in time to photograph 196010 running some 10 minutes early. Some of the undergrowth between the tracks has been cleared since my last visit here to photograph 196104 on 16 September 2020 and this has opened up the view nicely.
67023 with 2 NR DVTs at Honeybourne Two redundant Network Rail DVTs, 82124 + 82129, were taken for storage as 3Z93 from Derby RTC to Long Marston on Tuesday 11 May 2021 and was the second such move this year, the first having taken place with 37240 providing the power on 26 March. Colas Rail's 67023 was the locomotive for today's train and was, as far as I know, only the third visit of its type to the Long Marston branch. The first of these was by 67016 with a long train from Didcot on 2 September 2011 and was also the first working to use the new alignment accessing the branch after this part of the North Cotswold Line had its track redoubled after many years of being a single line. I thought that it would be interesting to compare the views some 10 years apart so went to the footbridge at Honeybourne station and took an roughly equivalent shot. It was fortunate that the sun appeared as there was a lot of cloud in the sky following a very heavy shower just before I left home. If the rampant growth of the buddleia isn't controlled there will be no shot possible from here before long. It'll be good for the local butterfly population though!
67023 with 2 NR DVTs at Long Marston I decided to return home from Honeybourne via Long Marston and hadn't expected to beat 3Z93 with 67023 but it was still around the corner on the branch as I parked. The shot of it arriving wasn't worth the effort but I did take this view with the corridor connection of the second DVT exposed. The ground on the left recently cleared is the trackbed of the former GWR main line from Wolverhampton to South Wales and the West Country but I still have no idea why the work was done or if some new track is to be laid for Porterbrook who is about to take over the leasehold of the site.
66792 with barrier coaches at Hatton On Monday 10 May 2021 there should have been 2 locomotive hauled trains going south through Hatton within a few minutes of each. Both these trains were late leaving their originating points but the one shown here, 5O07 from Doncaster West Yard to Eastleigh picked up all its lost time and gained some more so came before the other. It was a short train of 2 barrier vehicles hauled by GBRf 66792 and on a day of sunshine and downpours managed to come in an especially vile example of the latter as can be seen from the rain coming off the roofs of the barriers. Within 2 or 3 minutes of the train passing the sun was shining and clouds of water vapour were rising from the road and car park at Hatton station.
37611 with 5 Mk3 coaches at Hatton The second train I photographed at Hatton on 10 May 2021 was a 5H74 from Castle Donnington to Bicester COD which comprised a slightly faded and grubby 37611 with 5 ATW Mk3 coaches. There was some supposition that the coaches were to be coupled to some more at Bicester and taken onwards for use on behalf of GWR to help alleviate the severe shortage of stock caused by the temporary withdrawal of class 800s which have to be inspected for cracks in the bogies. The sun was in a rapidly shrinking patch of clear blue sky but for once the light held on for just long enough. A friend filming 5H74 on the station a few yards behind the road bridge wasn't so fortunate and was completely stuffed by cloud. Before entering service with ROG 37611 was in DRS's fleet as seen here at Honeybourne with another stock move on 22 September 2008.
196005 at Stratford upon Avon Testing runs between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon continued on 7 May 2021 with 2 coach 196005. The morning started clear and sunny so I had a walk to Stratford station for 5Q21, the first train of the day. I suspected that it would go into platform 3, the worst for photography, so went to the end of platform 1 where a shot of some sort is just about possible. My caution was justified and here is 195005 about to enter the station spot on time.
196005 at Stratford upon Avon The train forming 5Q21 to and from Tyseley sits in the platform at Stratford for several minutes so there was time for a shot or two in the warm sun as it was there. A crew member is about to get into the rear cab a few moments after the signal at the end of platform was set to green and 196005 started its journey back to Tyseley LMD.
New platform signage at Stratford upon Avon New platform signs have recently been installed at some stations in the West Midlands Railway area marking them as "Heritage", whatever that is meant to mean. It's just about as meaningless as labelling old locomotives with the same epithet. Nice enough sign though...
196005 at Stratford upon Avon My final shot from Friday 7 May 2021 was taken as 196005 left platform 3 at Stratford for Tyseley LMD with the second leg of 5Q21. Those who like the sun to be on the front of their subjects will find this tricky with these units in some circumastances because of the size of the corridor connection.
69002 at Hatton The first class 69 to be converted from a class 56 and painted into its final (for now at least!) colour scheme was taken from Eastleigh to Longport on Wednesday 5 May 2021. The former 56311 looks very different from when I saw it on 15 March having received a BR-style large logo colour scheme. It was a bit unfortunate that operational requirements meant that it had to be sandwiched between 66704 and 66798 and with this in mind I thought that a going-away shot from the road bridge at Hatton would offer the best angle for a decent view of the filling in the sandwich.
69002 at Hatton The weather forecast for 0M69 Eastleigh to Longport conveying 69002 was for sunny periods and I hoped that one of these would coincide with the train passing Hatton. It was a vain hope and the weather was dreadful with dark skies, heavy rain and even a clap of thunder. A first shot is still a first shot though and I banged off several images as the 3 locomotives went away from me in order to get a reasonably close-up view of the former 56311.
2 coach 196005 at Stratford-upon-Avon Sunshine appeared during the early afternoon of 5 May 2021 after a dark and wet morning. I noticed from an online mapping app that one of the testing run paths from Tyseley to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon was a goer and wondered if it might be a 2 coach class 196/0. In the past these had been 4 coach 196/1s but the quality of these is abysmal and and far as I know they are currently not allowed to run. One run had been made on the previous day under a VST path but I didn't see this on RTT until too late so I looked a bit earlier today and after returning from Hatton had a walk to Stratford station to see 5Q24 with 196005 arrive into platform 2. Platform 1 would have made a better picture but this has been closed for weeks because of a dropped point blade on the switch allowing access to the up main line. This image was taken using my Canon G10 which was already in my coat pocket rather than a Nikon DSLR, my usual choice of hardware.
Road_Rail vehicles at Moreton in Marsh Thursday 22 April 2021 was another clear and sunny day and with Vivarail/TfW's 230010 running between Long Marston and Stourbridge Junction via Moreton in Marsh I went to the latter for an image with the lower quadrant semaphores in the picture. There is clearly some overnight engineering work planned for the near future as these Road-Rail vehicles parked just outside the station show.
GWR 802010 at Moreton in Marsh My arrival at Moreton in Marsh on 22 April 2021 coincided with that of 802010 working 1P22, the 08.56 from Great Malvern to London Paddington. Although my interest in these units is limited it seemed worthwhile to take a shot with the semaphore signals, signalbox and station in view.
Vivarail 230010 at Moreton in Marsh I didn't know for sure that 230010 was oeprating its test and mileage accumulation journey on 22 April 2021 but 5Q23's schedule was manually activated which is usually a good indication. I wanted a shot of the diesel/battery hybrid at Moreton in Marsh which still has lower quadrant semaphore signals and the road bridge at the south end of the station is the perfect spot at around 10.30 at this time of the year. A GWR IET working the 08.50 from London Paddington to Great Malvern had just arrived with 230010 getting to the station spot on time a few moments later at 10.20 ready for its reversal. Once the IET had left 230010 was able to cross over to the down main line for the journey to Stourbridge Junction via Worcester.
Vivarail 230010 at Moreton in Marsh There were about 10 minutes before 230010 left Moreton in Marsh on 22 April 2021 which gave plenty of time for a walk through the adjacent park to the station for another shot of it standing, or to be more accurate, just pulling out of the platform under a clear lower quadrant semaphore signal on the way to Stourbridge Junction. It's hard to believe that every shot I have taken of this unit has been in perfect light. Time to stop while the going's good!
66705 with cleared ground at Long Marston On Monday 20 April 2021 66705 was sent from Bescot to Long Marston in order to collect 12 Chilten and Greater Anglian Mk3 coaches and taken them to Mossend. The locomotive's arrrival was at around 09.45 with the departure being at 11.44 and I arrived just as 66705 appeared coming along the branch from Honeybourne. Of more interest is the extensive ground clearance that has taken place to the left of the fence marking the boundary of the railway's land: this is owned along with much of the land and property around around here by Tony Bird, a wealthy local property developer. I have no idea what is going on and suggestions that Porterbrook may lease or buy the land to lay more sidings are no more than rumour. Mr Bird was there today and watched as a couple of workers spread what appeared to be grass seed on the ramp of earth to the left of the picture.
66705 at Long Marston Coupling 66705 to the stock and brake testing took only only about 20 minutes at Long Marston on 20 April 2021 and I though that an early departure was going to happen. Wrong! The ground crew closed and locked the gates before driving off across the site leaving the GBRf crew standing in the warm sun kicking their heels. I had no intention of waiting there potentially for 90 minutes and with the sun being in the wrong place for any further local moves went home. I later saw from RTT that the departure of 5S59 from Long Marston was on time, 11.44.
Vivarail/TFW 230010 near Evesham There were more local runs for 230010 on Monday 19 April 2021 and with a sunny day just about guaranteed I took my Morris Minor out for a run and found myself near Evesham just before the first run was due. I had no idea if 5Q01 would actually turn up so was pleased when it appeared just about on time and put myself in a decent location for 5Q02, the return to Honeybourne. Here it is about to pass under the Evesham to Offenham road with the busy Evesham bypass bridge in the background.
A FGW IET leaving Evesham The next shot of 230010 I had planned to take on 19 April 2021 was from the tall occupation bridge just to the Evesham side of the bypass shown above. On arrival there it was clear that the sun wouldn't be quite high enough as the track was still in shadow from the lineside trees so I walked the short distance to a footbridge on the Evesham side. First along was an unidentified IET working 1P24, the 09.54 from Great Malvern to Paddington. In the background are the tower of Evesham Abbey and the spires of All Saints' and St Lawrence churches along with a less attractive building site.
Vivarail/TFW 230010 near Evesham The final run of 230010 I photographed on 19 April 2021 was as it left Evesham going towards Honeybourne now under the headcode 5Q04. The footbridge on which I was standing is about 105 miles from London Paddington as shown by the milepost adjacent to the stonework reinforcing the cutting sides. Since the lineside vegetation was cleared in about 2010 prior to the line being redoubled there has been the usual unchecked growth. Here is a shot from 2010 with 66724 and another of 230010 from the same spot on 19 April 2021 taken just to show how things have changed in 11 years.
Vivarail/TFW 230010 at Honeybourne Paths have been showing all of the week commencing 12 April 2021 for Vivarail's final train for TfW, 230010, to operate mileage accumulation and test runs between Honeybourne and Evesham. The first time it moved was on Thursday 15 April when 5Q01 actually ran and it was only by good fortune that I checked my 'phone while working in the garden and saw that it was at Evesham West Junction. I reckoned that there was just time to get to Honeybourne, the nearest location for me, for the return and so it was, 230010 arriving on the Long Marston branch as I walked down the ramp. The sun was in a good clear patch so I reeled off a few shots including this close up view of the cab.
Vivarail/TFW 230010 at Honeybourne Two GWR passenger trains had to pass Honeybourne on 15 April 2021 before 230010 now running as 5Q05 was able to return to Evesham on its second run of the day. The only option on the up platform is for a going-away shot and it looks as if even this will disappear or much higher steps will be needed when the buddleia and other vegetation grows up over the coming summer.
Vivarail/TFW 230010 at Honeybourne There was only a little over 30 minutes to wait before 230010 returned from Evesham to Honeybourne on 15 April 2021 and as the sun appeared likely to stay out I hung on for the train to reappear now with the headcode 5Q06. It's difficult to vary the views here but as the unit had run close to the footbridge ramp's landing I went for a wider angle close up. The train crew have a lunch break before the next outing to Evesham so after a chat with them in the car park I headed off to return home.
Vivarail/TFW 230010 at Honeybourne As I drove over the road bridge at Honeybourne I saw that 230010 was in an eminently photographable position for another shot. I don't much go for endless repetitive shots of a single subject but on this occasion did park just around the corner and walk back to the bridge with the thought that it might not be sunny for future runs. This is possibly the best location here on the occasions that a large gathering of other photographers isn't present on the landing. No-one was there today: probably a reflection on the limited appeal of something that isn't a locomotive! The full program of scheduled runs wasn't completed: this has often been the case in the past and isn't an indication that any issues had been found with 230010.
66508 at Stratford-upon-Avon Some engineering work took place in the Wootton Wawen area on the North Warwickshire Line during the night of 12th and 13th April 2021. The train was showing as coming down to Stratford-upon-Avon to reverse before returning to Bescot and the service code indicated that Feightliner was operating it. I don't think that any Freightliner locomotive had previously been to the terminus and this was a bit of an incentive for me to go down for a shot or two during the arrival and reversal process which was scheduled to take place at around 05.00. I woke up at about 03.30 and checked the online maps and saw that the train was standing at Wootton Wawen under a green signal so got up and waited for it move over Bearley Junction before making the short drive to the station. As soon as I set foot on platform 1 at about 03.50 some headlights appeared with 66508 running as 6Y66 leading 5 autoballasters and 66507 into platform 2.
66507 at Stratford-upon-Avon I never thought that I would be standing at the end of Stratford-upon-Avon's platform 1 at 04.00 in the morning but the first visit of a Freightliner locomotive to the town saw me doing just that on 13 April 2021. The train was a set of 5 autoballasters sandwiched between 66508 and 66507 the latter of which is seen here as the driver prepared to return to Bescot with 6Y66 some 54 minutes early. The locomotive was a bit grubby which hasn't helped the overall look of the image but there was nothing to be done about it. Platform 1 has been closed for some weeks because one of the points blades has dropped creating the risk of a derailment and a coating of rust can be clearly seen on the nearmost tracks. The closure doesn't affect day-to-day operations at the terminus and Network Rail has obviously put the repairs to the pointwork on their "whenever" jobs list. Thanks to Adrian Kenny for the headcode information.
66748 at Evesham Later in the day on 13 April 2021 2 GWR power cars, 43086 + 43196, were taken from Burton on Trent to Long Marston where 2 more were to be addedand taken to Laira depot. The stored power cars have lower engine hours and are to be used in the company's Castle Class HST sets. The inward move move led by GBRf 66748 ran close to time and I chose to go to Evesham where 0V20 is seen about to pass through the station. The locomotive was one of those at one time painted in overall grey livery which I photographed at Hatton North Junction on 28 September 2015 while working 6M40 from Westbury to Stud Farm.
66748 at Honeybourne There shouldn't have been too long to wait for 66748 and its train to be sorted out at Long Marston on 13 April 2021: ostensibly just add on a coach and a couple of power cars and then get going. It transpired that 1) the schedule had been entered for multiple unit operation and could not be properly consisted and 2) once the locomotive had run-round the stock at Worcester the coach would have been behind 66748 leaving 3 locomotives at the rear of the consist, something that is not permitted presumably because of the weight on the coach's coupling. A lot of consultation was held including a request to route the train via ledbury and Hereford which was declined because of a lack of passing places. In the event the train was re-consisted without the coach and allowed to leave some 50 minutes late. Here is 0C20 with 43056, 43087, 43193 and 43197 about to enter Honeybourne to await a path to Evesham and Worcester.
66556 at Honeybourne A second set of Freightliner coal hoppers, HAAs, were taken for storage from York to Long Marston on Tuesday 6 April 2021. This time there were just 10 wagons hauled as 4V66 by 66556, on at least its second trip along this line, and which had been running around an hour early until Stoke Works loop where they were sidelined until right time despite there being nothing in the way for much of that time to stop the early running continuing. The weather forecast was for bright sunshine but in the event the sky was mostly cloudy so I changed my ideas on a location and just went to Honeybourne for a shot as the train left the North Cotswold Line and started along the Long Marston branch. In common with the previous train on 11 March 2021 those being moved had been heavily vandalised while temporarily stored at York.
37510 at Long Marston The North Cotswold Line and Long Marston branch saw 2 movements involving old locomotives on 29 March 2021. The first was 37521 transferring a pair of ATW DVTs to Bicester MOD for further storage and it seems as if a lot of stock is leaving Long Marston at the moment which may be linked to the imminent takeover of the site by Porterbrook. The locomotive was sent from Derby RTC from where it arrived over 30 minutes early and by the time I arrived it was coupled onto the DVTs and looked ready to leave. As it happened there was quite a delay during which I took I took this image of some land clearance going of the trackbed of the former main line to Stratford-upon-Avon presumably because Porterbrook is planning to lay some additional tracks. It was soon time for 37510 to leave albeit over an hour early and it moved onto the Honeybourne branch where it sat for several minutes. With some good fortune a gap appeared in the dense cloud and I reeled off a few shots before it left for Worcester Shrub Hill where it was to be stabled overnight. A clue to the second Long Marston working of the day can be seen in road No1 of the exchange sidings.
20118 + 20132 at Lower Moor The second train to leave Long Marston on 29 March 2021 was a 6Z21 to Chaddesden Sidings at Derby. This was operated by DCR and I expected it to be operated with one of their class 60 locomotives but this type is currently not allowed to visit here despite there having been at least 6 workings with the class on previous occasions.. This must be a recent change as I have pictures of the class coming in and out of the site. In this instance 20118 + 20132 were hired by DCR as their class 56s were out-of-service and with a long rake of new blue JNAs with 3 dirty boxes at the back of the consist they were set to make an unusual and attractive picture somewhere on the Noth Cotswold Line. Over two hours had been scheduled at Long Marston and I thought (and hoped) that an earlier path would be used. This didn't happen and it was a long wait in almost unbroken sun at Lower Moor until some movement of 6Z21 happened. When the train appeared in the distance passing Fladbury cloud covered the sun although a few small gaps were evident. My solution was to let the camera bang off as many shots as possible in the hope that at least one might catch a small piece of light and I was lucky enough to get a pair of frames with better light than all the others in the sequence. Here is another view of the locomotives from Saturday 3 May 2014 when they were hauling some tube stock north through Dorridge.
37510 at Honeybourne As was mentioned above 37510 and the two ATW DVTs were stabled overnight in the centre road at Worcester Shrub Hill after their arrival from Long Marston on 29 March 2021. On the following morning they continued their journey to Bicester MOD with the train, 5Q74, taking the more unusual route via Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh rather than running up through Birmingham. I wanted a location suitable for a short train but south of Honeybourne North Junction where the Long Marston branch diverges and therefore most locomotive-hauled trains travel. I had thought about Moreton-in-Marsh but the sun would have been straight down the line at 11.30 and not wishing to travel far the platform end at Honeybourne seemed the best bet. The train left Worcester a minute or two early and travelling at speed passed me some 4 minutes ahead of schedule.
800025 Sir Tom Moore at Honeybourne When at Honeybourne on 30 May 2021 waiting for 37510 with ATW DVTs GWR's 800025 working 1P24, the 09.24 Great Malvern to Paddington stopped in the station. I didn't photograph the whole train but noticed that it was the set named for Sir Tom Moore. No further comment is needed but another view of the vinyls is shown here.
37240 at Honeybourne Colas Rail has recently outshopped 37240 in a grey colour scheme with cast plates and Transrail logos. It made a few trips on test trains and on Friday 26 March 2021 was allocated to move 4 Network Rail DVTs for storage from Derby to Long Marston. In the event just 2 vehicles, 82111 + 82145, were moved and with it being an almost spotless locomotive with DVTs of a type which I don't recall having photographed previously went to Honeybourne. My usual route was closed according to a mass or yellow road signs so a diversion of 6 or 7 miles had to be made which meant that time was getting tight. At the end of the diverison it was clear that the road wasn't closed until Honeybourne village and was open to that point! I went onto the road bridge where a very nasty shower of ice pellets (not hail - wrong meteorological conditions for that!) passed a few seconds before 3Z93 reached Honeybourne North Junction. As the train went by there was a nicely dark sky to the west and a spotlight of sun highlighted the DVTs as they ran towards the hut in which the single line staff is kept.
66780+66786 at Hatton There were 2 trains worth a photograph through Hatton on Monday 15 March 2021. The first was the regular movement of new steel rails on its way to Eastleigh with the added attraction of having double-headed GBRf class 66s with Cemex liveried 66780 leading. It ran several minutes early but was held to time time in Dorridge loop and is shown here about to pass Hatton station in a patch of sunlight just large enough to light the whole of the train.
66706+69002 at Hatton GBRF has started a project to convert class 56s to a new class, 69, for use on some of their stock movements. The second to released from Longport is 69002 which unlike the first of the class painted in grey undercoat came out in a grubby sort of green. The main external differences apparent from this shot at Hatton on 15 March 2021 seem to be on the noses where the horn grille have been plated over, a new multiple-working coupler fitted and extra cooling grids in the bodysides. It is hard to comment on the appearance until the GBRf colour scheme has been applied and it shouldn't be too long to wait as it was on its way to Eastleigh as 0O69 behind 66706 for this to be done. The conversion to 69002 is from 56311 which is on the still single track of the North Cotswold Line on April 2010.
66502 at Honeybourne A long set of Freightliner HAA coal hoppers was taken for storage from Leeds Hunslet to Long Marston on 11 March 2020. Of all the freight operators Freightliner is the least frequent to visit the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch so I timed our weekly farm shops visit to be at Honeybourne between two such establishments at the appropriate time. I had been on the footbridge for 2 or 3 minutes when 66502 came around the curve from Evesham and onto the branch. The sun was just edging into some cloud as it approached. The HAAs in today's train had seen the unwelcome attention of vandals while stored at Leeds as shown here as the train passed the footbridge. It is interesting to compare the front end of the locomotive in 2021 with how it looked in 2007 when working a diverted a diverted 4O11 through Hatton.
37219 at  Stratford-upon-Avon Topped and tailed Colas class 37s were used on 1Q48, the monthly test train from Tyseley to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon 23 February 2021. The stock ran as a VST from Derby RTC leaving there nearly 90 mminutes late but with some smart running was almost back on time by the time it went to Birmingham Snow Hill for reversal. Arrival at Stratford was only a few minutes late and although the shot of an arrival here in the dark isn't great I toook this as 37219 led its train into platform 1. This locomotive was one of the earlier examples of its class to receive Colas colours; Here it is on similar working at Hatton in July 2015.
37116 at Stratford-upon-Avon The better shot at Stratford-upon-Avon is after the driver has changed ends on 1Q48 and is preparing to leave. The platforms lights are very bright with a colour temperature close to that of daylight and allow for a hand-held shot which saves lugging a heavy tripod around. The blue colouration on the nose of 37116 is from a different sort of light in the waiting shelter. On this occasion the next passenger train for Leamington Spa was in platform 3 unlike another recent occasion when it had been routed into platform 2 alongside 1Q48. Back in 1987 37116 was one of the class in a non-standard colour scheme as shown here at Worting Junction when hauling a railtour in connectiion with the Basingstoke Open Day.
230009 at Long Marston Vivarail 230009 was sent from Birkenhead North to Long Marston for some rectification work on Friday 19 February 2021. I had only a single shot of this unit and as the road bridge at Long Marston is only a few hundred years from the foot and cycle path, formerly the GWR line to Cheltenham from Stratford-upon-Avon, I used my wife's electrically assisted bike for a spot of exercise with an ulterior motive. The train, 5Q23, lost a lot of time around Hereford because of signalling problems but this was picked up by the time it had reached Worcester Shrub Hill. It was about 5 minutes early at Evesham and appeared through the rain at Long Marston a few minutes after I had. The yard along the exchange sidings has recently seen a lot of clearing out with the departure of a lot of stock for scrapping as this view shows as 230009 entered the site.
OTP 77403 at Stratford-upon-Avon There was a heavy snowfall during the night of 1 March 1990 so I had a trip out to take a few pictures. Two pieces of OTP, 77403 and 53264, were stabled in the Cold Store siding at Stratford-upon-Avon station, their overnight work having being been postponed because of the conditions. The backdrop to this scene has changed dramatically since 1990; the WW2 cold store having been demolished and replaced with a supermarket, the siding lifted, the gas holders have been removed and the semaphore signals replaced with colour lights.
47827 at Hatton After taking the picture of the OTP at Stratford-upon-Avon on 2 March 1990 I caught the train to Hatton the following week as the showy conditions had persisted. A special timetable was in operation with InterCity trains being diverted onto the GWR line rather than going via Coventry. Here is 47827 heading an unknown up service past a bleak looking Station Junction. The Grand Union canal was still visible from the road bridge at this time but the trees have grown a bit over the years as this 2020 image shows.
A snowy scene at Hatton Station Junction The sun tried to make an appearance at Hatton on 10 March 1990 just after 47827 had passed and lifted this shot of of a hybrid class 116/101 2 coach train from Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa. The footprints on the track shows that some snow had had to cleared from a set of points on the Stratford branch.
A snowy scene at Hatton Looking the other way from the road bridge at Hatton on 10 March 1990 there was a brief busy spell with all 3 platforms being occupied with local trains. Leaving the station is 150135 with an all stations service from Leamington Spa to Birmingham Moor Street, a 3 coach class 116 DMMU on a train from Moor Street and a 2 coach class 101/116 hybrid unit in platform 3 on a Stratford to Leamington working. The lack of many footprints in the snow indicate that Hatton station wasn't doing a lot of business...
A down HST at Hatton After taking the shots at Hatton station on 10 March 1991 shown above I had a slightly perilous walk along the canal towpath to the 3 arch bridge at Dark Lane. I didn't hang about long and just took this view of a down HST, quite a rare sight here at the time, as climbed through Hatton cutting.
Blue Pullman at Leamington Spa The newly refurbished HST set operated by Locomotive Services Ltd and known as the Midland Pullman went from Crewe to Eastleigh on Friday 18 December 2020. I hadn't seen the train on its other runs in my area so thought that a image was well overdue. Running as 5Z36 and using power cars 43046 + 43055 it left Crewe nearly 90 minutes late and although some time was made up en-route it increased before it reached Coventry. I had decided on Leamington Spa station on such a dull day so as to have some tangible background to the shot and after moving from the down to up platforms as couple of times because of potential conflicting moves from other trains my original choice of the end of platform 2 proved to be fine. Running under double yellows 5Z36 is seen here passing the station on the up main line in exceptionally dull and drizzly conditions.
50007 at Long Marston Four more HST power cars, 43196, 43071, 43086 & 43075, were taken out of Long Marston on Thursday 17 December 2020 and went for warm storage at Wetmore Sidings at Burton-on-Trent. The motive power was 50007 unusually working without its usual partner 50049. After arrival at Long Marston and being coupled to the power cars the usual checks took quite a while and with only the nose of the locomotive being in the bright sun I thought that something different in the way of a picture might be worth a few minutes work.
50007 at Honeybourne I knew that 5Z92 led by 50007, for some reason carrying the number of 50014 on this side only, would still be be slightly backlit at Honeybourne on 17 December 2020 but was mostly interested in making sure that the power cars, including an East Midlands Train example, would be visible hence coming here yet again. Given that it was nearly the shortest day of the year the shadows weren't as bad as some places and the branch line was clear.
43075 at Honeybourne For me the most photogenic part of 5Z92 from Long Marston to Burton-on-Trent was the East Midlands Trains power car. The best place for a picture of it Honeybourne was the end of the up platform as the train moved away towards the North Cotswold Line via Honeybourne North Junction. The sky was beginning to cloud up by this time but it was still bright enough for a reasonable image.
37612 at Stratford The Tyseley to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon test train, 1Q48, ran again on Tuesday 1 December 2020. In contrast to the previous month class 37s 37610 and 37612 allocated to top and tail the 4 vehicles and although their colour schemes are about the worst possible for night photography I went to the well-lit station to have a go. This image shows 37612 pulling into platform 1 a few minutes late after a delayed start from Tyseley LMD. It's not a great location arrival shot but these things are always worth a try.
37610 at Stratford One of the problems often encountered at Stratford-upon-Avon station is that trains are not put into the booked platform. On this occasion, 1 December 2020, Chiltern's 172102 should have been in P3 and well out the way for the shot of 1Q48 in P1 although once the headlight had been switched on the extra illumination on the side of 37610 was welcome. I wasn't sure about having the lamp post alongside the locomotive cab and took an alternative as the train pulled past it but the lighting was much better on this version as the lamps on P2 were in just the right spot. Despite the in-vogue motive power tonight I much preferred last month's train...
37510 in Long Marston A train of coaching stock operated by ROG was due to run on Tuesday 17 November 2020. There was no clue about what sort of coaches or unit were to be taken to Cardiff Canton from Long Marston so I had a drive across to have a look. The locomotive, which ran light engine from Leicester, was 37510 and it arrived a few minutes after I did and ran into road 2 of the exchange sidings where 5 Anglian liveried Mk 3s were waiting. I took this view only because it shows some of the variety of stock nicely lined up in the yard, including 2 of the oil tanks from the train that caught fire on the South Wales main line.
37510 about to leave Long Marston There was quite a delay between 37510 being coupled to its coaches and 5V78 getting on the move at Long Marston on 176 November 2020. It appeared that some of the doors in the back coach were causing problems as the crew were in and out of it for the thick end of 45 minutes. They were then apparently satisfied that the train was fit to travel although it seemed that they were keeping a close eye on things as the driver eased it over the points leading to the branch to Honeybourne.
37510 leaving Long Marston I like to take a shot as trains leave the yard at Long Marston even though the undergrowth is becoming so intrusive as to limit the angle available. Here, 37510 takes 5V78 onto the branch and clears the pointwork so that the switches can be unclipped, reversed and the single line staff taken from the ground frsme. This gives a few minutes to start the road journey to Honeybourne for another shot which on this occasion I had decided to make as the sky looked a lot clearer in that direction.
37510 approaching Honeybourne station Just after I had parked and walked to the road bridge at Honeybourne station 37510 with its 5 coaches came around the bend in the distance. The staff was replaced in the cupboard and within a minute or two the train began to move towards the bridge which coincided with the sun just appearing through a much thinner patch of cloud. As 37510 stopped under the bridge the engine appeared to stall and had to be restarted, twice in fact, but it then settled down to a steady tickover and I later saw from RTT that it carried on with the rest of its trip. I understand that a Mk3 buffet car is to added to the rake at Canton before all 6 coaches are moved to Castle Donnington.
Vivarail 230009 at Honeybourne My wife and I were doing our weekly round of farm shops, in order to avoid supermarkets, on Thursday 12 November 2020 and on driving over the road bridge at Honeybourne station caught a glimpse of the latest class 230, 230009, pulling away from the staff hut and running towards the station. I keep my original DSLR, a Nikon D70, in the car just in case so diverted to the station car park as the unit pulled up to the signal and stood waiting for the road towards Evesham. It was fortunate that a down GWR service was due so there was time to walk to the appropriate spot on the bridge and take this image of 230009 as it stood in the sun. I later saw from RTT that it was 31 minutes late. Lucky that! After leaving the first farm shop on our journey I saw a D Stock car from Long Marston on a low-loader just joining the main road from the access road and assume that it was on its way to Southam for conversion work to part of a class 484 set. It went in the opposite direction to us otherwise I should have had a shot of it further down the road.
172340 at Stratford-upon-Avon The monthly test train from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon was due to run on Tuesday 3 November 2020 and with it using some previously unseen traction for the line I went to the station for a few shots. I arrived just in time to try out some varying exposures on 172340 as it prepared to leave the station with 2K77, the 20.27 to Kidderminster.
Colas Rail 43050 at Stratford-upon-Avon Colas Rail has recently acquired 2 of the former EMR power cars for use on trains with, I believe, more to follow with a view to dispensing with most locomotive haulage from the Network Rail test trains which they operate. On Tuesday 3 November 2020 the monthly test train from Tyseley, 1Q48, utilised 43050 + 43060 still in the EMR livery but with vinyls showing their new operator until they can be repainted. As this was the first time that HST PCs have been to Stratford-upon-Avon on such a working I went to the station for some shots and was surprised to be the only photographer there. The new station lighting here very effective and I used my Nikon D800 hand held with settings of ISO 4000, 1/125 second with a 50mm lens set at f2.8 to achieve what I think is an acceptable result.
Colas Rail 43050 at Stratford-upon-Avon The test train 1Q48 had arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon some 15 minutes early on the evening of 3 November 2020 and not long after the driver had walked from 43060 to 43060 and changed the lights to white the starter signal for platform 1 was cleared. I thought that on departure there might be a bit of smoke so took another shot as the train began to move even though it was quite similar to the previous image.
50007 and 50049 at Wyre Piddle On Wednesday 4 November 2020 the usual Tyseley test diagram continued with a working from there to Bristol via Evesham and Oxford. Running about an hour before 1Z22 was due GBRf's 50007 + 50049 were booked to take 2 barrier coaches from Leicester to Long Marston before picking up some HST stock to be scrapped at Newport. It was a perfect morning and I fancied a picture from the road bridge at Wyre Piddle near Pershore. The train, 5Z50, was close to right time when I heard several hoots from 50007 as it approached the many foot and farm occupation crosings on the single track.
43060 + 43050 at Evesham After photographing 50007 + 50049 at Wyre Piddle on Wednesday 4 November 2020 there should have been about on hour to wait for 1Z22 from Tyseley to Bristol via Oxford. Even though it had left Tyseley about 60 minutes late I thought it would be close to right time on the North Cotswold Line by missing out the booked stop in Stoke Works loop. Wrong! It seemed that the crew's break had still to be taken and 1Z22 sat in the loop for the thick end of an hour. Even though I have taken too many shots from Briar Close in Evesham the clearly identifiable location seemed the right place for this shot of the former HST power car 43060 leading the formation. The return working of 50007 + 50049 from Long Marston had been retimed to leave an hour earlier and there was a real prospect that 5Z51 would be sitting at the down line signal as 1Z22 approached. With this in mind I had a long lens handy and was prepared to move a few yards to my left if this should happen. Luckily, all was well and the envisaged shot was fine.
50049 + 50007 at Evesham My plans for Wednesday 4 November didn't include a shot of 5Z21 from Long Marston and after photographing the test train with EMR power cars at Evesham I had packed my camera away. The sound of a class 50 being throttled up soon became audible and even though I don't really like going-away images took a grabbed shot as 5Z21 accelerated towards Evesham West Junction and the single line to Norton Junction. At least the sun was on the backside. :o)
66133 and 4M71 at Hatton I was at Hatton on Wednesday 28 October 2020 for the diverted 6X50 Westbury to Bescot train and arrived just in time to hear 66133 climbing Hatton Bank with 4M71, the 09.49 from Southampton to Birch Coppice. The light was poor but the Autumnal colours and the remaining flowers in the planter on the platform lift the scene a little as the train approached the summit of the 1/110 climb from Warwick.
DR98920 RHTT at Hatton The daily RHTTs in Warwickshire are formed of MPV stock unless, as happened once in 2014, a unit failure results in locomotive substitution. On Wednesday 28 October 2020 3S02 ws led led by MPV DR98920 as it passed through Hatton station after clearing any leaf-fall debris from Hatton Bank and as any photographer knows there are more than enough lineside trees all the way up the bank from Warwick. The names written in the muck on the front of the unit can be read on the original RAW image and resulting TIFF and are "Mo, Carl and Precious"... This train reverses in platform 4 at Leamington Spa and is booked to follow 4M71, the 09.49 intermodal from Southampton which on this occasion was hauled by 66133.
70802 at Hatton There is what used to be called a departmental train, 6M50, between Westbury and Bescot and calling at Hinksey Yard going north through Leamington Spa on most weekdays. It is scheduled to run via Coventry and Nuneaton but on occasions it is diverted to go through Hatton. This is often at very short notice and it's therefore too late to get out for a photograph but on 28 October 2020 it was known about well in advance and running as 6X50 probably because a heavy crane was in the consist. I like to get these odds and ends on my local line so drove to Hatton for a shot. The train left Leamington Spa a few minutes early and its arrival at Hatton unfortunately coincided with one of the infrequent Chiltern Railways stopping services to Leamington just pulling out of platform 2. A shot from the northern side of the footbridge is possible but the crane and accompanying vehicles are not seen to their best advantage. The Autumnal colours are showing well and it to be hoped that a sunny day will come along soon.
66754 at Hatton Tuesday 28 October 2020 was a largely dull day and not one on which I would usually go for a shot of a day-to-working but as I was already at Hatton for a diverted freight I waited a few minutes for this image of 66754 with the 13.27 Hams Hall to Southampton service, 4069, being hauled on this occasion by 66754. The saplings visible between the down main line and the Stratford-upon-Avon branch will be a nuisance within 12 months if Network Rail doesn't get its act together and do some long overdue vegetation control.
196104 at Stratford upon Avon Parkway Paths between Tyseley LMD and Stratford-upon-Avon for the testing and crew training of class 196/1 DMUs were increased in October 2020 to allow for the use of 2 different trains. On 20 October both sets of paths were used for the first time and I fitted in a diversion to Stratford Parkway station during a walk with a view to taking an image of 196104 running as 5Z03, the 14.40 to Stratford. An unexpected piece of clear sky appeared just as 194104 was due and although Parkway isn't the most photogenic spot on the line it at least was mostly clear from shadows and easily identifiable.
66148 at Long Marston There was a notable train on the Long Marston branch on Friday 9 October 2020 in the form of 40145 with a barrier coach going to collect an HST power car. First though there was another train with 66148 hauling 2 of the oil tanks involved in the fire on the line at Llangenneth in West Wales a few weeks earlier. It was also due to take a replacement rake of oil tanks to Margam via a layover at Bescot with a departure time of about 12.30. When I arrived at Long Marston 40145 was just passing Evesham but I heard a locomotive horn on the branch and then saw a train of tanks, apparently with no locomotive at the head, coming back towards me. As it came around the bend in the background it was clear that a man was walking in front of the train in accordance with the propelling rules and was in radio contact with the driver. Before it had gone much further it stopped and within a few moments went back towards Honeybourne. It seems likely that the brakes on one or more of the tanks were dragging and that some jiggling back and forth would be needed to release them. To those of us watching it was obvious that 40145 with 5Z40 would have had to recess in Honeybourne Sidings so a fast car to Honeybourne station was the order of the day.
40145 in Honeybourne Sidings As I approached Honeybourne of 9 October 2020 the sun began to appear and came out fully as the walk along the up platform towards the sidings was made. The bushes between the branch and sidings are a bit of an irritant but who cares when a picture of the first class 40 to visit here was available over the fence?! The train headed by 66148 was standing at the signal just behind the camera and it soon pulled away towards Worcester. I have always liked class 40 locomotives and was fortunate that I started "serious" photography in time to see some examples in service before their withdrawal from service. There are some of these pictures to be found here.
66148 at Honeybourne This isn't the greatest shot available at Honeybourne but 40145 was the main target for 9 October 2020 and if a Maritime liveried locomotive hadn't been on the front of the tanks I probably wouldn't have bothered. The arguably more interesting image is this one with the class 40 in shot as 6Z30 was about to join the North Cotswold Line.
40145 at Honeybourne As soon as 66148 had gained the North Cotswold Line from the Long Marston branch on 9 October 2020 the points were switched to allow 40145 with its barrier coach running as 5Z40 to move away giving another rare chance to picture a train leaving the sidings at Honeybourne. The sun just about hung on long enough for a reasonably well-lit shot: gratifying given that the morning had started out dull and cloudy.
40145 at Long Marston This was the shot of 40145 I wanted at Long Marston on 9 October 2020 and it needed a brisk walk along the platform at Honeybourne and another fast drive to try to ensure arriving on the road bridge in time. My arrival, along with several other photographers, left us with a minute or two to organise ourselves before 5Z40 appeared in the distance. It was pleasing that there was a touch of brightness to lift the scene a little and enhance the Autumnal colours in the lineside vegetation.
40145 at Long Marston The EMR power car 43058 was waiting in No2 road at Long Marston on 9 October 2020 and the resident shunter soon detached the barrier coach and propelled it into place ready to form 5Z42 to Crewe. The class 40's crew had already changed the headcode panel (how good to see an operational one in use...) and it wasn't long before the shunting and brake tests had been done ready for departure.
40145 leaving Long Marston Class 40 40145 was soon ready to leave Long Marston with 5Z42 on 9 October 2020 and is shown here as it joins the branch to Honeybourne with a small plume of exhaust smoke and a good reminder of the English Electric whistle from the turbochargers.
40145 and 43058 leaving Long Marston My last shot of 40145 at Long Marston on 9 October 2020 was this showing 5Z42 as it began its journey to Honeybourne, Worcester and Crewe with the former EMR power car 43038 going for a furtherm lease of life with LSL.
230008 at Honeybourne Yet another train of redundant coaching stock was scheduled to be taken from Long Marston on Tuesday 6 October 2020 with GBRf liveried 50049 + 50007 providing the power. They were timed to join the branch at Honeybourne a few minutes after Vivarail's 230008 had gone onto the main line, reversed and gone up to Moreton-in Marsh. Here is the diesel/battery hybrid unit after reversal and accelerating very rapidly on battery power alone through the up platform at Honeybourne station.
50049 + 50007 at Honeybourne The exodus of coaching stock for scrapping from Long Marston to Sims at Newport continued on Tuesday 6 October 2020. On this occasion GBRf operated the train and sent 50049 + 50007 light engine from Kidderminster to Leicester on 5th October to collect 2 barrier coaches all of which were due to arrive at Honeybourne just after 10am on the following morning and a few minutes after 230008 cleared the branch and headed up to Moreton in Marsh. The weather had been dreadful in Stratford-upon-Avon when I left home but there were a few clear patches in the sky over Honeybourne and one of these was just reaching the sun as 5Z98 climbed the incline from the North Cotswold main line. Over the past years I have taken far too many pictures from the footbridge a few yards behind the camera so chose to do this shot over the fence where there is just about enough room for the pair of 50s and 2 barrier coaches. With over 2 hours to wait for the return working I went home and in the event didn't go out again partly because the train was due to be operated in top-and-tail mode which is less favourable from a photographic point of view. Just out of interest here is a shot of 50049 + 50029 near Birmingham University station with a Plymouth to Glasgow train om 31 November 1987.
799001 at Blackminster The multi-mode 799001, formerly a class 319 dual-voltage unit which is now able to run on 3rd rail DC, 25kv overhead power or inboard hydrogen fuel cells, made its second main line trips between Long Marston and Evesham West Junction on Friday 25 September 2020. The weather forecast was excellent and the sky was clear of cloud when I left home but on the way to Blackminster, between Honeybourne and Evesham, banks of heavy cloud built up. I wasn't planning on taking a shot as 799001 approached Mutton Bridge in Station Road but as there was no sun when it approached it seemed worthwhile having one from the north side of the line. The signal for the up line was on green which indicated that an up GWR service had left Evesham for London Paddington.
799001 and  800xxx at Blackminster The up train mentioned above was 1P23, the 11.55 Great Malvern to Paddington seen here approaching Blackminster on 25 September 2020 with 799001 on its way to Evesham making for a strange bedfellow. I suspect that there aren't many images around with a class 800 alongside a class 319 or its derivative. It's a great shame that the sun failed to co-operate.
Porterbrook's 799001 was booked to stand in Evesham station for some time before it went to Evesham West Junction to reverse and return to Long Marston on 25 September 2020 but I thought that it might get away early. While it was at Evesham the sky cleared almost completely and I stood in some very pleasant sunshine hoping for a well-lit shot when it came back. It stuck exactly to schedule by which time the cloud had returned. I don't mind taking shots in poor light, especially for this sort of subject, but it was a bit galling to have sun in the background and which arrived at the bridge as I put my camera into the boot of my car...
The first daylight run for DRS's recently repainted 37425 took place on Monday 21 September 2020 with a light engine move to Long Marston. While checking the times for this on RTT I saw that there was another train out of Long Marston which appeared at first sight to be another trip for 230008. On looking at the details there was no mention of a class 230 as there is usually so after a bit of thought I surmised that the only other option was a first journey out for the hydrogen powered class 319 conversion 799001. A few minutes before the booked departure time what had clearly been a class 319 EMU could be seen moving around the circuit before entering the exchange sidings. As soon as the gates were opened it made its first ever movement on Network Rail tracks as a zero-emission hydrogen powered multi-mode unit. The pantograph has been retained and can be seen on the third vehicle.
DRS's 37425 had recently been repainted into Regional Railways colours and was therefore a prime target for photographers, especially given the perfect Autumnal light on Monday 21 September 2020. In between 799001 leaving Long Marston and 37425 arriving light engine a small gallery of photographers arrived for 0Z66's arrival. It was a few minutes late but with the sun in a clear blue sky no-one was remotely bothered and plenty of shots were taken as it stood for a few moments while a member of the ground crew opened the gates.
The load for 37425 to take from Long Marston to Daventry was a single twin-set freightliner flat. This would have been a completely uninspiring subject for photography had it not been for the clean and shiny locomotive in perfect sunshine with background foliage beginning to show some seasonal colour change.
Honeybourne station isn't the best location in the late morning for an image of a train leaving the Long Marston branch but 1) I've taken far too many from the road bridge and 2) I was equally interested in taking another shot of 799001 as it left Honeybourne Sidings. As soon as both up and down passenger trains had passed on the main line the points were switched and 37425 and its flat wagon, running as 4Z67, pulled away. I suppose that a short train which doesn't obscure the locomotive is useful on occasion as seen here as it passes the sidings where ROG's 37800 was standing on duty as a thunderbird in case 799001 disgraced itself on the single trip it made from Long Marston to Evesham and return. There's a bit too much vegetation around but the unusual nature of the view makes up a little for the shortcomings.
The Hydrogen Flex train powered by hydrogen fuel cells 799001 made its first main line journey on Monday 21 September 2020 with a return trip between Long Marston and Evesham West Junction. It had to recess in Honeybourne Sidings because of another train, headed by 37425, needing to use the single track branch. As soon as 4Z67 had cleared onto the main line 799001 was released for the run back to Long Marston and here it is dropping down the gradient from the sidings to the Long Marston branch. I took a broadside view of part of one of the coaches as it passed by.
ROG's 37800 travelled light engine from Leicester to Honeybourne Sidings during the afternoon of 17 September 2020 and the reason for this was, to me at least, a mystery until Monday 21st. It turned out that it was acting as a thunderbird locomotive in case 799001 had any problems during its first ever main line run. There were no problems apparent to me as it ran to Evesham and back as booked before standing time in the sidings to allow another train to clear the Long Marston branch. I don't always bother with shots of light engines but the rarity value of a locomotive of any description leaving the sidings won me over and despite a change in the schedules I hung around until it moved.
Vivarail's 230008, destined for use by TfW, was out for mileage accumulation runs between Honeybourne and Evesham on Friday 18 September 2020. This wasn't the unit's first set of runs but these are my first photographs of it as I have been waiting for a sunny day having had plenty of dull shots of the other trains in this series. Evesham was the obvious starting point even though it wasn't definite that it was running but with an early morning activation on the systems it seemed likely. In the event it appeared running through the station towards its reversal at Evesham West Junction a few minutes early and it wasn't long before it came back on the return journey to Honeybourne.
It doesn't take long to drive to Honeybourne from Evesham and on arrival 230008 was waiting for the road to Evesham on the Long Marston branch where both up and down GWR trains were approaching. Once these had cleared, the unit left for the 7 or 8 minute trip to Evesham before retracing its steps and coming to Honeybourne for the crew's lunch break. This image shows 230008 passing behind the up platform before stopping on the Long Marston branch prior to pulling forward into Honeybourne Sidings.
I waited for a few minutes at Honeybourne on 18 September 2020 to take a shot of 230008 going into the sidings and although the signaller at Evesham had switched the points the train didn't move. After walking along the platform I saw that one of the crew was standing at the open cab door so asked him if they were going forward for their break. He said that they weren't on this occasion as there was no other traffic using the branch so I just went back to the station bridge for this picture as it stood ready for the next journey. ROG's 37800 arrived here on the evening of 17 September 2020 for reasons unknown to me at the moment and it's just about visible in the far distance in the sidings. I didn't have a long lens with me and bushes obscured the locomotive from the end of the platform so I didn't take any closer views.
West Midlands Railways' brand new 196104 made its first test runs on Wednesday September 2020 with 3 journeys between Tyseley LMD and Stratford-upon-Avon. The second trip, 5Z22, was the only one that I was able to photograph and just about the only location on the North Warwickshire Line where the sun is useable is from the towpath of the Stratford canal at Edstone aqueduct so that's where I went hoping that no narrow boats would get in the way. Luckily, 5Z22 was running early and arrived nicely between 2 boats heading for the Wilmcote flight of locks on the way to Stratford.
A train from Tonbridge West Yard to Long Marston on Tuesday 15 September 2020 with GBRf's 66767 in charge and as the morning was bright in Stratford-upon-Avon I had a trip to Blackminster, specifically Mutton Bridge on the Offenham Road. As soon as I arrived some murky mist and cloud built up which began to clear very slightly as the barriers protecting the road behind the camera were dropped. The sun didn't come out properly but at least there was a touch of brightness as 6Z21 passed the greenhouses so typical of this part of the Vale of Evesham. The hoppers, presumably for storage, are ERG JGAs some of which are branded with GB Railfreight logos.
One of the more unusual-looking trains I have photographed ran on Tuesday 15 September 2020. It involved 2 HST power cars, 2 HST coaches, a barrier wagon and 47815. The latter two vehicles were tagged onto the back of 5Z23 to save a path following a previous stock move. Today's working originated at Laira and was on its way to Doncaster when I took this image at Defford, near Pershore. The power cars are 43029 (under power) with 43027 and 43022 dead in train. In happier times here is 43029 leaving the single track section of the North Cotswold Line at Norton Junction with a Paddington to Worcester train on 3 March 2008.
On Sunday 13 September 2020 there was an empty stock move from Southall to Crewe operated by LSL using their green class 47, 47805, and the timings were such that Hatton North Junction was a good bet for a decent photograph. A class 156 going to Eastleigh for refurbishment was also in the area at about the same time and this, running as 5Q86, came past on the up line a few minutes before the class 47 and its train was due in the other direction. The only possible shot of 156485 given my location in the field at Hatton North was as it went away and here it is on the way south for some new paintwork and interior fittings.
On Saturday 12 September 2020 LSL ran a tour from London Paddington to Worcester Shrub with steam power and on the following day the ECS was returned to Crewe from Southall. It was due at Hatton North Junction at around 16.00 and with guaranteed sunshine a shot of the green locomotive and Pullman stock was an attractive prospect. The company's 37688 was DIT on the rear of the formation and I, for one, was glad it was not leading or immediately behind the class 47 as its Railfreight colour scheme wouldn't have been as good a match with the stock as 47805's two-tone green.
Monday 14 September 2020 should have been a busy day on the North Cotswold Line and Long Marston branch with trains from Crewe and Worcester Shrub Hill (actually from Bescot but it changed ID at Worcester) along with Vivarail's 230008 out on mileage accumulation runs. It started to go wrong when the train from Crewe with 2 DRS class 37s including 37425 newly outshopped in Regional Railways colours was cancelled shortly after departure to due locomotive problems. The train from Worcester with 66713 and 2 barrier coaches went to Long Marston to collect more HST vehicles for scrapping at Newport and left there nearly 90 minutes early. In the meantime I had go Evesham for a sunny shot of 230008 but the early running of the ECS meant that the unit move from Honeybourne Sidings was cancelled and my only consolation prize was this shot of 800001 running as 1P26 from Great Malvern to London Paddington. These lighting conditions are, in my view, really the only time these trains in their uninspiring green livery are worth a shot.
During the early afternoon of 9 September 2020 the sky cleared and bright sun with a blue sky appeared. As 196101 had continued its booked diagram at least as far as 5Z25, the 15.40 departure from Tyseley TMD, I walked down to Stratford-upon-Avon station for another crack at the unit and to take the image I prefer of something arriving into platform 1 during the afternoon. As I crossed the Alcester Road bridge 172103 was just leaving the station with 2L64, the 16.18 shuttle to Hatton. There was just time to take a single shot as it began to move with a platform full of students from several nearby establishments waiting for the West Midlands Train 16.26 to Stourbridge Junction via Henley-in-Arden.
The 16.26 from Stratford-upon-Avon to Stourbridge Junction via Henley-in-Arden is popular with youngsters heading home from school now that the proper education has restarted after the COVID-19 lockdown forced their closure. Their train was formed of 172336 on 9 September 2020 and it is seen here entering platform 1 at Stratford under a perfectly clear blue sky.
My main reason for being at Stratford-upon-Avon on 9 September 2020 was to take an image of 196101 as it stopped it platform 1 with 5Z25 from Tyseley LMD. This is my favourite afternoon shot here as the GWR footbridge is prominent, albeit with the more modern foot and lift bridge appearing to be part of its structure, and because the planters sponsored by the Friends Of Stratford Station (FOSS) can be included in the picture. This was the first time that 196101 has come to Stratford on this part of the diagram when the sun was shining and I was keen to take this one.
The new West Midlands Trains CAF class 196101 did some more test/training runs to Stratford-upon-Avon on 9 September 2020. The first part of the diagram, 5Z21, left Tyseley LMD some 20 minutes late which meant that there was a strong possibility that the 08.59 from Birmingham Snow Hill via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction, 2D11, would arrive first and occupy platform 1 leaving 5Z21 to use the photographically favourable platform 2. This is exactly what happened and 196101 is shown here drawing to a halt just as the light began to pick up a bit after a patch of lighter cloud passed over the sun.
The earlier arrival at Stratford-upon-Avon, 2D11 from Snow Hill, was formed of 172004 + 172003 on a regular diagram for class 172/0 units. This gave the chance for a picture of contrasting front ends as 196101 prepared for its reversal and return to Tyseley TMD, standing alongside the 172s. The sun just managed to make an appearance at the right moment showing that late running and a consequent platform alteration can occasionally be a good thing.
After taking the shot shown above I wandered along the platform at Stratford on 9 September 2020 to line up a final shot as 196101 moved away. Before I had gone far it started off and so this is very much a grab shot and not quite what I had in mind.
A stock move from Long Marston to Crewe operated by Locomotive Services Limited took place on Monday 7 September 2020 which involved 37688 in Construction Sector livery, 2 Pullman barrier coaches and 3 HST vehicles. Following the COVID-19 lockdown having been eased my health club requires members to book a lane in the swimming pool well in advance and, with a start time of 10am, there was no chance to photograph the inward move of barrier coaches. Upon arrival at Long Marston I was surprised to find only one other photographer present given the decent motive power. We watched the shunting being carried out and as 37688 arrived at the end of the exchange sidings the sun, against all the odds, began to emerge from heavy cloud. In the background it is possible to make out 321448 which I think may be a candidate for conversion to a class 769 with a revolutionary fuel system.
As soon as the usual checks had been carried out on 4Z22 the single line staff was passed to the driver of 37688 and it moved onto the branch to Honeybourne with its 5 vehicles in tow. Although the sun didn't come out fully the light was about 5 stops brighter than it had been when I arrived at Long Marston on 7 September 2020. The hawthorn berries in the lineside bushes add some colour to the scene but in all honesty I wouldn't object too much if some vegetation control happened over the coming winter. I didn't intend going for another shot beyond Honeybourne as if the sun were out it would be straight into the lens and this turned out to be wise as it was nearly an hour before the train joined the North Cotswold Line. This wasn't 37688's first visit here; it worked a mixed freight of oil tanks and open wagons to Long Marston on 26 November 2009 in the company of 37229 which I photographed at Evesham.
Sunday 7 September saw the unusual sight of a locomotive-hauled train into Long Marston when 56103 took 20 brand new JNAs from Humberstone Road sidings in the site for storage. As I drove towards Evesham the sun was getting stronger and as the sun would be straight into the lens along most of the North Cotswold Line I made the decision to go to Briar Close near Evesham station as at least the light would be less unfavourable there than anywhere else in the area. As 4Z20 came into view the sun went into some cloud which did have the effect of softening the harshness a little. A similar train ran the following day when another 15 similar wagons were taken to Long Marston.
The new CAF DMU 196101 has been running between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon on a regular basis. On 2 September 2020 its diagram continued later than previously and 5Z25 operated, due to arrive at the terminus at around 16.30. It's a pity that it hadn't run on the previous afternoon as it was clear and sunny, as it had been for my previous outings but on the day after it was just the opposite. I still walked down to the station for a few images and this is the first taken as it slowed for the stop and reversal in platform 1. While it stood I took this view to show some detail of the front end. For some reason all the lamp posts on the station have recently been replaced with taller versions of those already there. I'm don't know why this was done but some governmental dogma has no doubt been enforced. At least the lamps are an attractive design unlike the utilitarian lights in some areas, notably stations on the North Cotswold Line.
The newish foot and lift bridge at Stratford isn't the station's most attractive feature but at least the design gives a nod to the GWR aspect by having nicely produced valances on the porches sheltering the lift doors. The original footbridge is still in use but I do wish that a decent colour scheme had been specified rather than the muddy pink currently in favour. Still running as 5Z25 196101 had just received a green light to leave Stratford on 2 September 2020.
There was just time for me to walk to far end of the platform on 2 September 2020 before 196101 pulled away on its journey to Tyseley. As it left the station I noticed the numbering system on one of the coaches. Quite a lot for those enthusiasts who collect numbers to record...
This and next few pictures all were taken near Alrewas on the Wychnor Junction to Lichfield freight line and show a small variety of the traffic seen there. A pair of Class 33s covered some rare track for the class on 28 January 1995 when 33025+33116 ran this way. It was not easy to get a shot at this location and in this direction as few trains used the up line, other than on occasions when Cross Country services were diverted due to engineering work between Wychnor and Birmingham. Loaded coal trains to Rugeley Power Station went along the down line but the returning empties almost always ran via Bloxwich and Walsall. This train was 1Z27 Swindon to Liverpool Lime Street organised by Pathfinder Tours and given the name "The Gladstone Bag". 47777 took the train from Swindon to Bristol Temple Meads from where this pair of locomotives took over.
The only regular traffic traffic on the Wychnor Junction to Lichfield line consisted of loaded MGRs from one of the East Midlands collieries to Rugeley Power Station. This image was taken on 29 August 1994 and shows 58025 jujst after after it had passed the signal box and road crossing the barriers protecting which can just be seen in extreme right background. Even with prior information about coal traffic it was never guaranteed that anything would turn up; on more than one occasion I spent a few hours somewhere on this line and saw none of the 2 or 3 MGRs that should have appeared. This loocmotive became famous for a day when it deputised for pair of 31s on a summer Saturday Manchester to Paignton Pullman which I saw at Longbridge.
My next visit to Alrewas was on Sunday 11 September 1994 when only 2 trains, both HSTs, were booked to come along the line during the morning. I didn't have any information about the services but was more concerned to get some pictures rather than identifying the working but it was easy enough to idetify the leading power car as it went north towards Wychnor Junction.. I was alone on the bridge on this occasion which probably reflects the lack of interest in HSTs at the time. How things change.
As soon as the northbound HST shown above had cleared the short length of single line beyond the level crossing the second train to join the feight line to Lichfield on 11 September 1994 came into view on the curve from Wychnor Junction. I don't keep records of locomotive or unit numbers for any reason other than to label a photograph but did note that 43122 + 43198 were the power cars on this occasion. It looks as if the sun was about to disappear judging by the bit of light shadow in the field to right of the train and it was good to have this shot with the train well-lit with an impressively black sky.
The best bet to secure photographs at Alrewas was when Cross Country passenger services were diverted this way because of weekend engineering work. This happened on 10 February 2002 and the first along was the 10.08 Derby to Poole hauled by 47839 with a nicely matched set of Virgin Trains stock. This locomotive was later repainted in all-over BR blue as seen here leaving Evesham on 8 October 2009 with 3 class 87s going to Long Marston.
About 20 minutes after 47839 had gone towards Birmingham through Alrewas on 10 February 2002 47814 came the other way with 1E24, a Birmingham to Leeds VT service. This train was checked at a signal situated close to the road bridge and this shot was taken as it began to move away towards the level crossing and Wychnor Junction.
Some more vehicles from Vivarail's class 484 were visible at Long Marston on 29 August 2020 and even with poor light a shot of the train's partially painted cars on accomodation bogies was worthwhile. Note the vast array of stored stock in the background.
Chiltern class 165/0 DMUs are still unusual enough over the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch to warrant a trip out for a photogrph although if many more are sent over this may change. On Saturday 29 August 2020 165032 ran from Aylesbury to Long Marston and as the weather had brightened up during the afternoon I started out for Honeybourne where 2 shots would have on the cards before a quick drive to Long Marston for a third. I stopped in Long Marston village to chech 5Q94's whereabouts and saw that it was 13 minutes early which, along with a road closure in the area, meant that only the arrival shot on the branch was on. As I waited on the road bridge the sky became very dark and some quite heavy rain began to fall, luckily enough blowing from behind the camera. The light was at its worst when 165032 arrived, now some 19 minutes early despite a 5mph speed restriction slowing it down on the final few hundred yards of track.
Two trains involving old locomotives were due to pass Hatton within a few minutes of each other on Wednesday 19 August 2020. The weather was quite unpleasant with dark skies and heavy rain but rainy scenes often record quite well so I made the short journey from home and arrived just in time to photograph 165001 working 2R25, the 12.32 Leamington Spa to Birmingham Moor Street as it arrived for the stop where 4 passengers were picked up.
The first of the specials due at Hatton on 19 August 2020 was a 5M21 from Bournemouth to Derby RTC with 47812 conveying 6 translator and barrier coaches. It spent the booked time in Hatton Goods Loop with 3 down passenger trains passing during which time the rain became torrential and being driven straight towards the camera by a strong wind. This is clearly evident in this picture, which very didn't happen at all, as 1H45 from Birmingham Moor Street to Marylebone was under the station road bridge, a few yards behind me, as I pressed the shutter release.
Once 47812 with 5M21 had passed Hatton on 19 August 2020 I had about 5 minutes to walk to the road bridge for the second train of this session. This one was the 11.37 from Rugby CS to Hinksey Yard, 6Z21, with Colas Rail's 56078 providing the power for some CE vehicles including a rail-borne crane. Just about one minute before this appeared another Colas loocmotive came north in the form of 70816 running as the diverted 0M50 from Westbury to Bescot which clearly had nothing to convey on this occasion. These pictures show the disgraceful state of the trackbed between the down main line and the Stratford-upon-Avon branch which has seen no attempt to clear vegetation throughout the whole of 2020.
Here's one that nearly sneaked under the radar on Friday 14 August 2020. Midland Mainline power cars 43043 + 43081 sandwiching buffet car 40728 ran from Neville Hill to Long Marston under a VSTP path as 5Z62. I noticed it only when idly checking to see if 230008 was out on afternoon test runs and then, within seconds of looking at RTT, when a friend messaged me with the news. There was plenty of time for a run over to Evesham and when I arrived on the bridge at Briar Close the train was just leaving Norton Junction, Worcester. It took just 7 minutes to appear and here it is in really horrible flat light with a misty background. I can't admit to a lot of enthusiasm for these HST moves but feel that some of them should be recorded.
Two of the paths for 196101's runs to Stratford-upon-Avon were used on Wednesday 12 August 2020. The first train, 5Z21, was the one in which I was interested so I walked down to Stratford station for the 09.30 arrival and before the weather became unpleasantly hot. The new unit arrived on time and just about the only spot where the sun is any good for an arrival into platform 1 at this time is by the fence at the end of the platform. It is very noticeable that the brakes produce a loud squealing noise when applied and it is to hoped that a solution will be found for this before the class enters day-to-service, especially for the sake of rail staff working as train despatchers.
There isn't much of a shot as a morning train leaves Stratford-upon-Avon from platform 1 but at least the sun at 09.40 is just about broadside on to the subject and high enough to stop most of the shadows being cast by the station and car park infrastructure being too intrusive.
Paths for test or crew training runs between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon featuring West Midlands Trains' 196101 have been showing up for about two months. There has been a single outing to Hereford, seen here at Droitwich and it went to Crewe during the night of 10 & 11 August 2020. The first working to Stratford on 11 August 2020 for the unit was cancelled so I assumed that the rest of the diagram wouldn't be used and when I checked for the second run at 10.40, a few minutes after the scheduled departure time from Tyseley LMD there was no sign. However at 11.15 I had another look at a mapping app saw that 5Z22 was at Earlswood some 8 minutes late and reckoned that with light traffic I was in with a shout of getting to Edstone Aqueduct, near Bearley Junction in time. Just as I set up on the canal towpath 2 boats were heading towards me and it was fortunate that the second of these cleared with a few seconds to spare before 196101 appeared. The undergrowth between the up and down lines has flourished this year but an 85mm f1.8 lens and a bit of cropping in the raw convertor tidied the scene.
There was a shorter return journey between Tyseley and Whitlocks End planned for 196101 on 11 August 2020 but this was cancelled. The next train to Stratford, 5Z24, did set out from Tyseley and given the 30ºC temperature I had no intention of standing in a sunny spot so went to Wilmcote to 1) take advantage of the shade from a tall hedge alongside the platform and 2) take my image with a recognisable and classic background. Here is 5Z24 drawing to halt in the station presumably to allow trainee drivers get a feel for the train's brakes and thus pull up in the correct spot. It was only at this point that I realised that the corridor connection was black whereas on the unit's first run it was yellow. I imagine that there must be some piece of yellow board available to insert in the front as required.The next run due to arrive at Stratford-upon-Avon at 16.30 was cancelled and I can't pretend to be too disappointed given that the temperature and humidity had kept on rising throughout the afternoon.
There was another and quite unexpected first for the Long Marston branch on Monday 3 August 2020 when DRS sent TPE liveried 68026 along with 66422 from Crewe Gresty Bridge to collect 20 JNA box wagons and deliver them to Stowmarket DGL. Although 2 even more unlikely visits have been made by class 88 these were no more than exhibits at Rail Live events and so didn't really tick my box for a "proper" working. When I arived at Honeybourne station, chosen because it marks the start of the branch, there was heavy cloud all around but just as 0Z68 appeared in the background a clear patch reached the sun so a sunny shot, albeit only of light engines, was taken. Note how the buddleia has flourished in the couple of years since the linked image of 88004 was taken.
There was no rush to get to Long Marston on 3 August 2020 because the sun would have been straight into the lens at this time of day. This was a good job as a set of temporary lights and then a large gully cleaning truck which could barely fit under the railway bridges made for a journey in a record slow time. On arrival some shuffling around of the locomotives was taking place with eventually culminated, after an apparent change of mind, in 68026 being coupled to the front of the JNAs with 66422 being sent along road no2 to be attached to the other end, presumably to make the entrance into Stowmarket loop easier.
The sun came out during the shuffling around on 3 August 2020 and so I took this view of 6Z68 standing with 68026 at the head of the JNAs just as 66422 was about to join the train at the far end of the exchange sidings. This shot really needs to be taken in the mid-afternoon when the sun is further round but I took this as I can't imagine a repeat any time soon.
While waiting for the train to be prepared for departure I put on a long lens for this image of two D Stock cars in the process of being converted into class 484 for the Isle of Wight. These cars are in addition to the pair I recently photographed on my 'phone and it's unfortunate that a clear shot isn't possible either because of vegetation or general railway yard clutter. I haven't been to the Isle of Wight since 1990 but may have a trip when the 484s are in use. There are some of my images from 1989 and 1990 here.
There seemed to be little chance of any light at Long Marston on 3 August 2020 so I went back to Honeybourne to await 6Z68's arrival. It was only a few minutes ahead of the booked time when it came towards the hut in which the single line token is kept and following a brief rain shower the light did brighten up a little as 68026 brought its uniform rake of JNAs towards the station. There was going to be some delay for any further movement as the signal for the down main line had just been been cleared for an arrival from Paddington at 13.41, some 25 minutes away. I considered going to the other side of Evesham but the sky didn't look great in that direction and my primary aim of getting a 68 on the Long Marston branch had been achieved so it was home for me.
I was in my Morris Minor driving along the road between Long Marston village and Pebworth on Tuesday 28 July 2020 and saw that what appeared to be 2 cars from some D stock were adjacent to the paint shop. On parking and walking to the bridge I could see that these two vehicles were in the throes of being prepared for the shop. I had only my smartphone with me but took this shot through the rampant vegetation. It needed some extensive cropping once downloaded which may help to account for the poor quality.
One of the new class of DMU, 196101, has been at Tyseley depot for a few months now and paths have been in place for it to make runs to Stratford-upon-Avon and back for weeks. Nothing happened with these but on 23 July 2020 a VSTP appeared showing a return trip from Tyseley to Hereford. I had decided that should it run I would have plenty of time to drive to Droitwich Spa for a shot under the lower quadrant semaphores. There was the dreaded auto-activation 2 hours before departure time but on this occasion 5Z37 did operate and left Tyseley a few minutes early so off I went. Once the preceding clas 170 to Hereford had cleared the station the outer home signal was lowered and 196101 appeared and moved slowly towards the station. There was time to cross the bridge and take a second image as it crawled towards the starter signal situated just beyond the road bridge in the background.
Running only a few minutes behind 196101 was Vivarail's diesel/battery hybrid 230007 on another mileage accumulation return run between Long Marston and Stourbridge Junction Goods Loop. Here it is taken through a long lens to emphasise the bracket signal and signal box and showing, on the right-hand side of the frame, part of the rail-connected coal yard which is part wilderness and part car park.
A rare working of a DBC stone train from Moreton-on-Lugg took place on 22 July 2020 with a 6Z41 to Small Heath, near Tyseley. There appeared to be issues with the locomotive, 66011, with a report of excessive exhaust smoke near Bristol and what seemed to be a very late arrival at Oxford. However, a kind soul told me that the train had been retimed to run significantly later and that some of the online systems didn't receive the revised feeds. One app did show the new timings and said that 6Z41 would enter Hatton DGL at 16.19 and stay there until 17.35. This meant that the best bet for a shot would from the road bridge in Dark Lane, Hatton but as the very heavy train approached Budbrook Junction the map showed that it was coming non-stop along the down main line. I was initially disappointed as this caused me to move other side of the bridge which makes for a less attractive shot but when I saw it rounding the curve the smoke noted earlier was still in evidence making the locomotive rival a kettle working hard in warm weather. I don't generally favour going-away shots but succumbed to temptation on this occasion. It is understood that this working will become a regular at some point with 2 or 3 running each week.
Vivarail's 230006 made what is probably its final journey in the Vale of Evesham on Monday 20 July 2020 when it was moved to a new home with TfW. If the sun had been guaranteed I would have gone a bit further afield perhaps to the Colwall or Ledbury area but with more cloud than clear sky stayed local and went to Wyre Piddle between Evesham and Pershore. It came into view on the single track some 9 minutes early and gave me my only image of the unit not in full sun my having been lucky on all the other outings for it.
Whilst at Hatton on 16 July 2020 I took this image of 172001 + 172007 as they left the Stratford-upon-Avon branch. On the following morning as I walked over the railway bridge at Stratford the pair were in the platform on the same diagram so decided to go for a shot later in the day. The sun was perfect and even though 2D46 is booked to use platform 2 a shot seemed worthwhile and, you never know, my apparent "platform 2 curse" might work in reverse for once. It didn't and here are the two 2 car units arriving into the photographically less favourable island platform.
A Chiltern Trains class 165 has been in Long Marston for some modification work after having been taken there by road. I saw from RTT that it was due to leave under its own power on Saturday 18 July 2020 and with it being a first for the branch and the North Cotswold Line went across to get a few shots. On arrival some 20 minutes before departure time the unit was at the open gates preparing to leave but there was time for a quick photograph of this driving car of a former D Train in the throes of being converted by Vivarail into a class 484 for the Isle of Wight. The paint shop is just out of shot to the right and this car is either waiting to go in there or has just come out. I wasn't able to get a completely clear shot without any hawthorn bush in the way because I hadn't taken anything with me to gain a bit more height on the bridge.
Chiltern's 165029 is seen here leaving Long Marston at about 11.30 on Saturday 18 July 2020 on the way to Honeybourne and then Aylesbury Depot via Moreton in Marsh, Oxford, Islip and Bicester. I was glad that I had decided to arrive early even without knowing if would actually run, the activation on the systems having been triggered automatically 2 hours before departure time; not always a good sign. As soon it passed it was into the car for me and off to Honeybourne for a shot in a recognisable North Cotswold Line location.
Once the single line staff had been returned to the cupboard on the other side of the road bridge at Honeybourne 165027 moved towards the station and unusually stopped under the bridge. The reason for this became apparent when a Chiltern Railways driver appeared and joined the ROG men in the first coach. The sun appeared briefly so enabling one reasonably lit shot. I thought that as it still well before the booked time a quick departure would be on the cards but the signal remained on danger and nothing happened. Eventually it was obvious that it wouldn't be able to leave before the next GWR passenger service, 1P23, had come and gone. The reason for the delay became obvious when a GWR driver arrived nearly 30 minutes late and went onto the up platform to wait on his own before 165029 was able to run forward and await the road to Honeybourne North Junction.
The signalling section on the up road is long; from Honeybourne North Junction to Moreton in Marsh so it was about another 10 minutes before the Chiltern Railways unit was able to enter Honeybourne station on Saturday 18 July 2020 now 46 minutes late to collect the GWR driver who would take it forward to Oxford before handing over to the Chiltern man also on board for the run to Aylesbury. He would later return with another unit going into Long Marston. I thought that a shot with both the station running-in board and a GWR-style seat would make nice additions to the first picture, as far as I'm aware, of a Chiltern unit on the North Cotswold Line. It was only when converting the RAW (NEF) image to TIFF ready for final work in CS2 to make a jpeg for the web that I noticed that the train was now numbered 165027. I assume that the work carried out at Long Marston was needed only on the powered vehicles hence the most unusual pairing of coaches from different sets.
A new addition to the freight working timetable meant that there was the chance to photograph 2 trains at Hatton North Junction within a short time on Thursday 16 July 2020. GBRf have commenced a 4M19 Southampton to East Midlands Gateway (the site of the erstwhile Castle Donnington Power Station and not having to have been called an electricity gateway!) which reaches reaches Hatton at 15.46 after a short stop in the DGL. I arrived to find from my mapping app that it had just entered the loop and should therefore pass on time. The locomotive was 66727 which had been especially cleaned for the first run on Tuesday 15 July so was still looking impressively smart and a bit different from the days when I took this image of it leaving Long Marston in September 2007 with a long rake of box wagons.
A few minutes after 4M19 had left Hatton DGL on 16 July 2020 the next freight was approaching Budbrook Junction for its turn to be put inside. This was 6E45 frm Theale to Humber Oil Refinery with 60024 in charge and which has become a fairly regular turn for a class 60 on this line in recent times. The train was held to right time and made a very cautious exit from the loop, taking several minutes to appear on the curve from Hatton station. Empty oil trains were a common sight along some years ago: here is 60042 with 6E55 in April 2007 and the same working with 60024 on the front further down Hatton Bank before the trees grew.
Just as 60024 with 6E45 approached Hatton North Junction on 15 July 2020 172007 + 172001 pulled up at the signal protecting the exit from the Stratford-upon-Avon branch. The units were working 2W84, the 16.03 from Stratford to Stourbridge Junction. This image was taken after they had been released and were on the curve to Hatton North Junction, just behind the camera beyond the footbridge.
One of the regular Nothampton to Long Marston trains with a class 360 EMU for repair ran on Saturday 11 July 2020. I had no plans to go out but became interested when 37601 failed near Norton Junction especially as Plan A was to borrow 2 EMR power cars, already at Worcester en-route to Long Marston, to run wrong road to Norton and then couple to the failed 37 and take the whole to its destination. "Shot of the decade" or what? Sadly, although still pretty good, Plan B involving 47815 running as 1Z99 from Derby won the day and by the time this was announced I was in the car park at Honeybourne station. Things eventually got moving and 5Q94 arrived onto the Long Marston branch in the worst conceivable lighting conditions with strong sun from an unfavourable angle on the background and deep shadow on the train. This was never going to be even a halfway decent image but it could have been worse - Plan A might have been used! It took a lot of fiddling with various layers in CS2 to get even this mediocre result but it is a record. Later in the day 47815 with 37601 and a class 350 should have gone to Northampton but the class 47 failed at Long Marston...
An STP train was on the schedules for Hatton on the afternoon of 27 June 2020. The detail said that is was a locomotive-hauled service but as it was running from Eastleigh to Heaton it seemed far more likely that it would be a DMU going to its home depot. It tunred out to be just that in the shape of 156496 in the new colour scheme of Northern Rail. This was enough to get me out of the house and I thought that hatton station would be the best bet as the sky was dark with another heavy shower imminent. A good choice as there was a downpour as 5Q12 passed Warwick although it cleared within a few momenst leaving a little brightness to lift the scene.
I can't raise much enthusiasm for GWR's IETs but will photograph one on occasions either reasonably early or late in the day when the sun is right. Here is 5 car unit 800015 accelerating away from Evesham on Tuesday 23 June 2020 working as 1P22 Great Malvern to London Paddington. Thanks to Steve Widdowson for the unit's id.
One of two reasons for my presence on the footbridge at The Park's (the apostrophe usage is correct!) footbridge just south of Evesham on Tuesday 23 June 2020 was to photograph 66735 on an unusual looking train of barrier coaches with a rake of box wagons going for storage or scrapping at Long Marston. This train should have originated at March but things must have changed overnight and it actually started from Peterborough but in the same path as was already in the system. The barrier coaches were included in the train as a 5Z85 from Long Marston to Doncaster needed them at either end of coaching stock being taken from storage. I didn't hang around for this because the sun would have been too high in the sky by the departure time and shining virtually into the camera lens along most of the North Cotswold Line.
Just before 66735 with its mixed train went towards Long Marston from Evesham on 23 June 2020 Vivarail's 230007 went in the opposite direction on the second day of its test runs between Honeybourne and Evesham West Junction. It wasn't long before it returned and here it is climbing the bank after stopping on the bend in the background to test the accleration capabilities on a hill start. The speed rose quickly showing the advantages of electric traction; these units being hybrids with diesel engines under the centre car charging batteries providing the power. The range on batteries is up to 60 miles allowing for emission-free travel over quite large proportions of the journeys these trains will make.
I decided to wait for the second run of 230007 on Wednesday 23 June 2020 and drove my 1969 Morris Minor a short distance to another bridge just to the west of my previous location. It doesn't take long for the runs to and from Honeybourne and the unit soon went towards Evesham for a reversal before coming back. A long lens makes for a shot with a bit more impact on occasions and a short train fits nicely into the space between the A46 and the bridge on which I was standing. The time was just after 11am and as the sun would very soon be too high I didn't bother with a shot of a Colas 37 on a test train on the main Gloucester line and so went home.
I had a message during the early afternoon of 21 June 2020 saying that a pair of Chiltern class 68s were running light engine from Wembley to Wembley via Stratford-upon-Avon, Hatton North Junction, Dorridge and Leamington Spa in order to turn the locomotives. Quite why they needed to be turned and why they had to visit Stratford when Hatton West Junction would have sufficed is unclear but as I have photographed only one class 68 here the short walk was well worthwhile. As I arrived at the station I saw this row of seats suitably labelled for personal distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stratford is well-kown for its brace of riverside parks and I did wonder why these people chose to have a picnic in the none-too-pretty surroundings of the station car park!
The pair of class 68s visiting Stratford was due into platform 1, ideal for a photograph at 17.20 on a sunny afternoon. The passenger train 2S16 formed of 172338 that had come in a few minutes earlier was booked into platform 2 and the electronic signs confirmed this. There were several passengers waiting on platform 2 and there was a lot of confusion and panic when the unit ran into P1. It seems to me that a signaller who doesn't like photographers was on duty and wanted to mess up any pictures of 0Z68; this sort of thing has happened several times in the recent past when a locomotive movement has come into Stratford. On this occasion it nearly resulted in some passengers missing their train. Anyway, 68015 + 68013 were routed into P2 and this is the mediocre result.
Chiltern's 68013 + 68015 sat at Stratford-upon-Avon for only a few minutes on 21 June 2020 before reversing and going off towards Hatton and Dorridge for another reversal. I took a lot of pictures as it stood in the platform in the hope of getting one with all 3 lights showing. The system used means that the lights flash very rapidly and it is a matter of luck to get one right. The station is overshadowed by a horribly designed and badly built development of retirement flats (all unnoccupied) which amusingly advertises them for for sale with this banner. Yeah right. On about 2 days each year if your vision is 20/20 and you balance on the roof!
Some more HST stock was moved to Long Marston for storage on Wednesday 3 June 2020. This time it was a pair of EMR power cars, 43083 + 43054 with a single coach sandwiched between them and after the long and sunny spell we have enjoyed it was a shame that 1) it was a cloudy day with light drizzle and 2) that the train was so short as to be almost inconsequential. Despite this and solely because it was a new colour scheme for me in the area having not bothered to go for the previous move of just 2 power cars which ran without stock I made up my mind to have a shot or two. Given the conditions there was no inclination on my part to travel any further than the bare minimum distance so I went just to the road bridge over the entrance to the Long Marston site. The train, 5Z56, was a few minutes early arriving and it gave a little colour to the predominantly green background unlike some of the GWR vehicles already in the site which would been rendered virtually invisible.
The Long Marston ground crew was already on hand to open the gates when 5Z56 turned up on 3 June 2020. This took only a few seconds and once the branch staff was in the ground frame 43083 led the short formation into road 2 to join the host of other HST stock already on site. Just beyond the bushes on right of the picture one of Vivarial's class 484 units destined for the Isle of Wight can just be glimpsed adorned with a lot of masking and boarding prior to going into the paint shop, a former rail-connected shed with new exhaust and filter equipment, which is now situated off-frame to the right of the image.
Another set of runs for 230006 was in the system for 29 May 2020 although the original routes between Moreton-in-Marsh and Stourbridge Junction Goods Loop were changed for 3 runs between Honeybourne and Evesham West Junction. I stayed at home until the first run was under way before going out and then headed for Park's Bridge between Evesham and Aldington. The footbridge in the background is the more usual destination for photographers but on this occasion I favoured the taller bridge which gives a better view of Evesham town and Bredon Hill. The Transport for Wales liveried unit was already ariving at Evesham when I parked nearby and it wasn't long before the distant signal behind the camera on the up road was cleared and the train, 5Q03, appeared as it accelerated up the bank.
The next shot of 230006 I had in mind on Friday 29 May 2020 was a short distance to the south and to be taken from Mutton Bridge on the outskirts of the village of Blackminster. This bridge is close to the site of the stangely named (but typical of the GWR) Littleton and Badsey station both of which villages are some miles away. The train had to reverse and cross over at Honeybourne after having to waiting for both up and down IETs to clear. It was a few minutes late and made me wonder if this run was actually going to happen but the barriers protecting the road in the village eventually dropped and 5Q04 went towards Evesham West Junction where it again reversed and came back past the greenhouses and other buildings of a nearby nursery. Another train of interest was due going up through Evesham about 90 minutes later and I was tempted to stay but on this hot day my water bottle was empty, I was hungry and had no money with me! This meant a trip home to refuel myself.
After a quick lunch and refilling my water bottle it was back to Worcestershire and specifically Briar Close in Evesham for a shot of 47813 with its load of 4 Arriva Mk3s on the way to Long Marston for storage. I wanted a shot of this locomotive carrying its "Thank You NHS" logo as a record of the times in which we are currently living and this was the ideal chance. It, with 5V94, was on time around Worcester and as is often the case had made up 5 or 6 minutes before running past the signal box on the way to Long Marston.
Vivarail's 230006 was out again on Thursday 21 May 2020 and as it was another sunny day I went to get a couple of images I had in mind to take. The first was at Evesham station as the diesel/hybrid unit started one of its many journeys of the day between there and Honeybourne. This first one gives a panoramic view of the scene as 230006 paused for a few seconds in the up platform with some moronic graffiti prominent on the road bridge in the background.
After its brief stop in Evesham's up platform on 21 May 2020 230006 set off towards Honeybourne. The very brisk acceleration was noticeable as it left the station passing the attractive garden complete with with bird feeders, ponds and insect refuges.
The other shot I wanted to obtain on 21 May 2020 was at Honeybourne and as I arrived 230006 was at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction waiting for the passage both of up and down GWR trains. It's hard to resist taking an image of something standing in the sun so I increased my already excessive collection of class 230 shots by one.
Locomotive Services Ltd's 47593 + 47805 were also the in the Long Marston and Honeybourne area on 21 May 2020 having been sent from Crewe to collect some more FGW HST stock. This train didn't really feature in my plan for the day but as soon as 230006 had left the Long Marston branch for Evesham the pair of locomotives with their barriers coaches and stock ran into Honeybourne and after a short pause at the signal set off towards Worcester. The scene was very heavily backlit and with the sun high in the sky making things look a bit grim I couldn't be bothered to walk to the road bridge. Perhaps fortunately some cloud went across the sun just as the train pulled away from the signal which softened the light a little. This isn't a shot I like as the stock can't be seen properly; after all, a train is more than just locomotives.
There was one particular shot of 230006 at Honeybourne I was keen to take on 21 May 2020. This was when the unit took a break at lunchtime and ran into the sidings and I thought that a picture here would be a little more unusual than the standard ones on the main running lines. First though there was this one as it came along the branch from Honeybourne North Junction prior to reversal (I hoped!) and going into the sidings.
Once 230006 had entered Honeybourne on the Long Marston branch as shown, it stopped behind the signal and within seconds I heard the points being switched which confirmed that it would be going into the sidings for a lunch break. It's strange how we railway enthusiasts like to get pictures of trains on odds and ends of track but I know that I'm far from alone in this! Here is 230006 climbing the gradient into Honeybourne Sidings which is usually used only by OTP between work on the North Cotswold Line.
The sunny and warm weather continued on Wednesday 20 May 2020 which suited the run of 1Z22, the monthly test train in the up direction over the North Cotswold Line. The locomotives were 37610 + 37612 instead of the usual Colas 67s but despite, or because of this, I had not bothered with the first leg of the diagram on the previous evening when it visited Stratford-upon-Avon. The prospect of plain dark blue liveries at a time of evening when it was part way between light and dark didn't appeal. On the Wednesday I set my sights on a bridge just south of Evesham and expected 1Z22 to be running a few minutes early after a good run up from Worcester. This was the case and the two of us there soon heard the topped and tailed 37s accelerating up the bank out of Evesham and had this shot with some of the town in the background.
Vivarail's 230006 was out again on Wednesday 20 May 2020 and with the weather set fair I went to Lower Moor for the afternoon run from Moreton-in-Marsh to Kidderminster. First along was 800106 with 1W27 from London Paddington to Worcester and with full sun making photography easier than cloudy weather I took one of my rare views of these uninspiringly coloured liveries.
Before this week starting 18 May 2020 Vivarail's class 230s had not been north of Evesham on their test runs, being confined to the lines between Long Marston, Honeybourne, Evesham and Moreton-on-Marsh. I understand that 2000 trouble-free miles are needed before delivery to TfW and in order to accumulate mileage on 230006, from Tuesday 19 May 2020 the journeys have been extended to go as far as Stourbridge Goods Loop. On the following day I fancied another shot of the afternoon train from Moreton and went to Lower Moor on the single track between Evesham West and Norton Junctions. Running under the headcode 5Q86 it left Evesham on time and was soon running past the vegetable fields and greenhouses. The leading cab has a toy dinosaur placed just behind the windscreen; slightly reminiscent of the liveries once carried by the units on the Isle of Wight which are soon to be replaced by class 484s from the Vivarail stable. The yellow ends of the unit are a new addition and I'm glad to have some shots in the original colour scheme.
A day of test runs for Vivarail's 230006 hybrid unit was sneaked out on Tuesday 19 May 2020. An early morning message alerted me to the timings and I was ready to go out during the morning as, unusually, it was running between Kidderminster, Moreton-in-Marsh and Stourbridge Junction loop. Something happened during one of the runs and 230006 went into Honeybourne Sidings where what I was later told was a minor brake issue was solved after a part was driven down from Long Marston and fitted on the spot. This left the afternoon runs and although Honeybourne wasn't where I would have really chosen I ended up there because a shot would still be on the cards even if further scheduled runs didn't happen. In the event everything went to plan and here is the unit pulling up in the station where a crew change took place.
Since 230006's last run yellow panels have been added and to show the one on the back of the train I took this as it receded from the camera under the road bridge and off to Moreton-in-Marsh.
The return journey between Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh takes around 30 minutes and I spent most of that time chatting to the driver who had been relieved on the up run. The train left Moreton about 10 minutes early and soon appeared in the distance rolling down Campden Bank towards Honeybourne station. This isn't the best location for a shot of a down train in the afternoon but the bright sunshine and the clear relatively unpolluted atmosphere made for a reasonable view with the northern end of the Cotswolds in the background.
Another set of redundant coaching stock went for storage at Long Marston on Friday 15 Mat 2020. This time it was some TfW Mk3s from Cardiff Canton hauled by DCR's 56103 which had run to South Wales from Leicester LIP the previous day. When I left home there was no prospect of any sun but just as arrived on the road bridge between Aldington and Offenham, just south of Evesham, the sky was clearing rapidly and it looked as if a sunny shot would be on the cards. It was unfortunate that clouds appeared just as the signal protecting Clayfield Lane crossing was cleared to green and stayed that way but it was still well a frame or two as 5Z60 passed beneath the Evesham bypass bridge.
What I assumed to be some barrier coaches were shown to be travelling from Leicester to Eastleigh on Thusday 14 May 2020 with ROG providing the power. Departure time, 10.40, came and went and and after an hour or so there no sign that 5O86 had moved and I took it that it had been cancelled. For some reason a checked RTT again some 3 hours later and saw that the train had left Leicester 143 minutes late. My hope was that one of ROG's class 47s was in charge but a look at a different app revealed that hired-in 20311 + 20314 were the locomotives. There was plenty of time to have lunch and then go to Hatton where the sun disappeared just at the wrong moment. The train looked very similar to one of the parcels workings that used to travel over this line although perhaps not with class 20 power!
A Locomotive Services Ltd stock move conveying FGW Mk3 coaches from Long Marston to Crewe was showing for Wednesday 6 May 2020. I had assumed that the inward train was to be a pair of class 47s topping and tailing 2 barriers as it had been on previous time so wasn't going to make the effort. Then a message appeared saying that 37521 + 47593 were doing the job although they had been diverted from Droitwich to help a Railgrinder climb the Lickey Incline after it had run out of puff! The schedule had loads of spare time at Worcester so there was just about enough time for yet another ride to Honeybourne even though I knew that the sun would be a bit straight onto the subject. The hawthorn blossom was in full bloom as 5Z46 came along the Long Marston branch a few minutes late. The leading locomotive is resplendent in its new green colour scheme and looks very different from just about 12 months ago when passing Henley in Arden with a test train on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Another ride to Honeybourne on 5 May 2020, the nearest location on the North Cotswold Line to my home, to photograph 37059 + 37402 with a 5Z50 Mid Norfolk Railway Sidings to Long Marston train of Greater Anglian Mk3 stock, until recently used with the GA class 90s, for storage and probably eventual scrapping. It was initially disappointing that 37402 was the second locomotive in the consist but in the event it was quite grubby so I wasn't bothered. The train was close to right time and its arrival on the Long Marston branch coincided with the sun being in a nice big patch of clear sky. I think I'm right to say that 37059 was the first DRS locomotive to arrive at Long Marston albeit in darkess when I pictured it on 7 November 2005.
Vivarail's first battery/diesel hybrid train built for Transport for Wales, 230006, has been out on the North Cotswold Line for mileage accumulation runs. I was very keen to take some pictures of it and the opportunity came on Friday 10 April 2020 when my wife's e-bike was pressed into service. I hadn't ridden it for more than a few minutes when I bought it for her but gritted my teeth, charged the battery and headed for Honeybourne. It's not as comfortable as the static bikes in the gym but my arrival was without incident and in time to see 230006 arrive at Honeybourne station on the first run as it headed towards Honeybourne North Junction to reverse and go to Moreton-in-Marsh. I thought that a close-up view of the leading coach might be of interest too.
It doesn't usually take long for a reversal at Honeybourne North Junction to be accomplished and I hoped that this would be the case on 10 Aptil 2020 because the signal for the down main line had been on green for a few minutes and a blocked view would have been irritating to say the least. Everything was fine and here is 230006 passing the station with its first trip of the day to Moreton-in-Marsh. One of the diesel engines kicked-in as the unit entered the platform and the small plume of smoke from the exhaust is visible; this very soon cleared to a normal intensity.
The usual time needed for one of these train's journeys up to Moreton-in-Marsh, down to Evesham and back to Honeybourne is about an hour. This gave me time for a walk around Honeybourne village and a visit to the nearby Co-op to buy something to eat while my wife's bike battery recovered a bit from the journey over here. I should have bought a solar charger to go with the bike! Anyway, 230006 reappeared a few minutes earlier than the schedule suggested and it's shown here from the end of the down platform with yet another clear signal for the down line. This time there was no chance of the shot being obscured as it had only just been cleared.