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's 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.

196104 at Stratford upon Avon Parkway Paths betweenTyseley 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.
This, by popular demand (from my wife who wanted me out from under her feet at a time when are having to stay in the house for far too long and so sending up to my study to do some scanning) is another set of photographs from a single location. I spent some hours on a convenient road bridge just to the west of Woking station on 23 February 1990 and, with it being a beautifully sunny day, resulted in a vast number of colour transparancies being taken. The first shows 56061 with the regular stone train from Whately Quarry standing while the large box wagons were unloaded. This part of the yard is quite a way from the bridge and this view was taken with a 200mm lens on my Olympus OM1n. The compressed perspective helps to allow a look at a lot of wagons including 2 ancient-looking vans, probably long abandoned, along with some 4 Vep EMUs on the stabling lines. I had photographed 56061 at Aylesbury only 6 days earlier; they got around a lot in those days...
Another freight was at Woking when arrived on 23 February 1990, this being the Fawley to Holybourne Carless empty oil tanks hauled by 47326. If I remember correctly this train ran to Woking for a locomotive run-round and reversal before going to Holybourne for loading with crude oil before heading off to the refinery at Fawley for processing. All rail bourne oil traffic to Fawley has now ceased and the images shown here are most of my collection of this working apart from a few taken in the Basingstoke area.
Such was the frequency of traffic at Woking on 23 February 1990 that it was quite while before a path was available for 47326 to cross over the 4 track main line with the empty tanks and head west towards Holybourne for either loading or more likely to slip work and exchange them for a full set before returning for another run-round. There are a lot of vertical structures in the view looking east at Woking and one or two of my pictures have to be slightly cropped to straighten the images as few things irritate me more than pictures leaning to one side or the other especally when it is just a few seconds work to identify and correct the issue.
Some 2 hours later on 23 February 1990 47326 returned to Woking with a full set of oil tanks from Holybourne for another run-round before finally going to Fawley refinery. This is a dreadful shot of the train entering Woking Yard with the unforgiveable sin of the back of the train being chopped off.
My final slide of 47326 at Woking on 23 February 1990 was taken as the loaded tanks left the yard on its way to the refinery at Fawley with crude oil from the Holybourne loading terminal. There must have been a reasonable gap in traffic as this slide was taken exactly 30 minutes after the one shown above as the train arrived in the yard; the earlier departure from Woking having taken a lot longer before it was allowed to cross the main lines.
The mainstay of express traffic in the 1990s on the line to and from Waterloo was the class 442 EMU. These were relatively new at the time and were by far the fastest and most comfortable trains in the area and vied with HSTs for the best passenger experience. I've never been interested in rail travel or haulage for its own sake and always tried to catch a 442 on my frequent trips between Basingstoke and Waterloo in preference to one of the locomotive-hauled services so as to benefit from the pleasant, quiet and air conditioned comfort. Here are units 2420 + 2417 approaching the stop at Woking on 23 February 1990 with a 4-VEP in the background on an all stations stopping service.
In an area dominated by EMUs the hourly locomotive-hauled trains between Waterloo, Salisbury and Exeter were a bonus for the photographer. Here is 50003 leaving Woking with the 11.15 from Waterloo to Salisbury. My own preference was really class 33 but by the date of this picture, 23 February 1990, 33s were a rarity used only in emergency when a 50 failed. This changed a bit in December 1990 when a serious shortage of class 50s necessitated the widespread use of 33s on Waterloo services as witnessed here with a shot of 33114 leaving Woking on 27 December on the 12.15 Waterloo to Salisbury with at least one happy enthusiast enjoying the sound effects. On 31 December 1990 the colourful combination of 33118 with a NSE 4TC set was on the 12.15 to Salisbury which I pictured at Battledown, just to the west of Basingstoke.
Woking yard was an important hub for civil engineering traffic with trains being despatched to many destinations on the the South-West Division. The motive power was invariably members of classes 33 and 73 and it is a pair of the latter, 73119 + 73108, shown here as their journey to Three Bridges commenced. The driver is watching his load of ballast as it negotiates the crossover onto the down Guildford line and I was unlucky not to have pressed the shutter release a split second earlier and caught the spark the only evidence of which is the resulting smoke from the rear pick-up shoe of 73108.
There was always a class 09 shunter on duty in the yard at Woking and on 23 February 1990 09003 was busy forming up various civil engineering trains ready for departure. This shot shows it on the up side of the main lines with a set of low sided ballast wagons. I have very few pictures of class 09 shunters but in 1993 09104 was in use at Bardon Hill quarry on the Coalville line and here it is on 11 March of that year using one of the level crossings near the site.
Later in the day on 23 February 1990 09003 had crossed the main lines at Woking with the same set of ballast wagons as shown above. This time it was running across to the up Guildford line before reversing and going into the yard on the down. One of other few shots of an 09 is this one of 09104 at Bardon Hill which is seen on a level crossing with the driver giving me a cheerful thumbs-up as he draws the heavy train of loaded ballast wagons forward across the road. Later the same day 37003 took the same set of wagons away from Bardon Hill and here it is passing the disused station at Moira.
For me no visit to Woking in 1990 would have been complete without at least one shot of a class 33. On 23 February 1990 only one class member was around and here is 33113 doing a spot of light shunting in the down yard. It was unfortunate from a photographic point of view that by 14.30 the sun was a bit too straight for a shot on this piece of track alongside the Guildford line but this was all that available on the day. On 17 June 1989 the same locomotive was on more unfamiliar territory when it worked 2 4TC set as a troop train from Wool to Birmingham New Street. This is the return trip with the train climbing up to Harbury Tunnel between Leamington Spa and Banbury.
The hourly class 50 hauled trains were duly photographed at Woking on 23 February 1990 and this shot taken with A 200MM lens is of 50049 leaving the station with the 13.15 departure from Waterloo. The exit from the station is on dead straight track with no crossovers so the locomotive is on full power very rapidly and the exhaust haze shows up well in this image. A couple of 4VEP EMUs are visible in the background along with 47326 on the Holybourne tanks which is covered further earlier in this section.
I didn't take many shots looking west from the bridge at Woking on 23 February 1990 but I did quite like this view of 50007 rounding the curve as it approached the station. The backlighting emphasised the slightly misty background in the heavily wooded area surrounding the line.
A lot of suburban trains in the South-West Division were formed of class 455 EMUs. This unit, 5856, was pictured leaving Woking on 23 February 1990 with a Hounslow to Guildford service and has just left the main LSWR line. Compared to more modern units these weren't built with aerodynamics in mind but there again rapid acceleration and high speeds were never intended to be of paramount importance.
The working of interest from Long Marston on 23 March 2020 involved GBRf's 50007 + 500049 sandwiching a green GWR coach which was to used s a barrier for the transport of HST power car 43091 to Laira. This must be quite an expensive move as the 50s had run light engine from Kidderminster SVR to Reading on the previous day returning late in the evening with the coach shown before coming along here first thing in the morning. It was really too early for decent images especially as arrival at the gates was 23 minutes early when everything was in shadow. This was the first image with any light and shows 50049 drawing 43092 forward before propelling it onto 50007 and the barrier coach.
It wasn't too long a wait at Honeybourne before I heard 5Z44 coming along the line from Long Marston on 23 March 2020. The sound could best be compared to a combine harvester going at full belt a few feet away and came mostly from 50049 which was in full vacuum cleaner mode. One of the crew went into the cab and switched something off when it arrived at Honeybourne and reduced the noise level to something approaching normality. Extreme backlighting when the sun is quite low can be quite effective and the bright reflections from the metalwork help lift the scene a bit. I took another view as the train drew to a halt at the signal as this gives a better view of 43091 not to mention Kevin Payne lining up his shot on the station bridge!
This was my final shot of 5Z44 on 23 March 2020 as I have a daily commitment for the next couple of weeks which cannot be missed. A shame, as I should have liked to have moved onto the Birmingham to Gloucester main line for another shot, especially as the train reversed at Norton Junction rather than Worcester TC. At least the light was good although some cloud was beginning to build up but I imagone that this soon evaporated leaving clear skies.
I had been aware for a few days that another set of HST coaches was due to leave Long Marston for scrapping at Sims of Newport on Tuesday 17 March 2020 but my railway interest doesn't extend to keeping tabs on every move made by various locomotives between operators. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to learn early in the morning that 20311 + 20314 along with 37800 were taking 2 barrier coaches from Leicester for this trip. I gather that 4 HNRC class 20s are currently on hire to ROG and this was their first job under the contract; clearly ROG were keen to play with their new toys! I had time to reach Honeybournefor 5D94 and arrived just as the train reported at Norton Junction, Worcester. Not long to wait then and it was fortunate that 1) the 20s were leading and 2) the sun although not quite fully out came along the branch a few seconds ahead of the colourful formation.
A quicker than usual drive to Long Marston followed on 17 March 2020 and my arrival was just in time to hear whistling about half way along the straight piece of track leading to the road bridge. The sun was partly clear of heavy cloud and plenty strong enough to lift the scene a bit and even cast some shadow.
The original plan on 17 March 2020 was for 37800 to help with shunting the barrier coaches for the HST stock's trip to Newport and to then take a class 319 to Bletchley. In the meantime it stood on the back of 5D94 for a few minutes which gave the clouds a chance to blow around a bit and eventually uncover the sun for a short while to allow this shot to be taken.
When 37800 arrived at Long Marston on 17 March 2020 it was dead at the back of the train but was soon required to do a spot of shunting. It's always good to get a show of smoke when a locomotive starts up and after several seconds of grinding and whirring the engine caught and produced some smoke before settling down. It then propelled the barrier coach onto the front of HST stock while 20311 and 20314 prepared to do the same procedure at the other end.
While waiting for the shunting to be completed at Long Marston on 17 March 2020 I noticed that at least 2 examples of Vivrail class 484 units were in various stages of being painted into TfW colours. There wasn't anything approaching a clear shot thanks to a large ex-Freightliner hopper being parked in the way but I was still keen to take a record shot as I understand that the completed units will not be tested on the North Cotswold Line but transported to South Wales and put through their paces there. I'm not that keen...
Once the shunting and coupling of locomotives and barriers had been completed at Long Marston on 17 March 2020 I headed off for another shot, this time not at Honeybourne! Just before leaving I took this image of 20314 + 20311 in road no.2 as the final brake test was carried out. As I drove back over the bridge after turning my car around I just caught a glimpse of 37800 in road no.1 and later found out that the move of a class 319 to Bletchley was again cancelled and that the locomotive would return light diesel to Leicester.
I chose to go to Lower Moor between Evesham and Pershore for my shot on the North Cotswold Line and joined the other photographers already there taking advantage of the wide angle available so as to have a decent view of the stock and not just the locomotives. The train, 5Q76, was soon on its way from Evesham West Junction and here it is passing the many glasshouses growing vegetables using a hydroponic system. I last saw this particular pair of class 20s on 3 December 2013 when they worked a very late running set of tube stock through Hatton North Junction. Although further shots of 5Q76 were easily available there seemed to be little prospect of better light so it was off to my health club for my daily dip in the swimming pool.
A Locomotive Services Ltd train from Crewe to Long Marston made a late appearance in the schedules for 12 March 2020. The locomotives used were 47805 + 47810 which were sent topping and tailing a pair of carmine and cream barrier coaches and the colour schemes made going for a shot or two an attractive proposition. I went to this location, the same to which I had intended to go earlier in the week but was foiled by Cheltenham Festival traffic, by a different route and arrived just as 5Z46 left Norton Junction Worcester. It doesn't take long for a train to reach this spot which is ideal for a short formation and the sun stayed in a big clear patch despite the strong wind.
I had no real idea what would be taken out of Long Marston on 12 March 2020 except that it would, with a headcode of 5Z47, be coaching stock and probably HST coaches because of the use of barriers. It takes quite a while to reach Long Marston via the country roads and I didn't rush as I assumed that the train would reach it long before I. It hadn't and was just in sight on the branch as I walked to the bridge. The sun was in and out as 47805 + 47810 approached and it was between the two when it reached me.
The ground crew at Long Marston were ready and waiting on 12 March 2020 when 5Z46 ran up to the gate and the sun came out fully out as it crawled into the exchange sidings where the train was split and the locomotives with their respective barriers moved onto the 6 GWR green Mk3s. It turned out that they were being taken for scrapping at Eastleigh; another set of perfectly good stock being destroyed with indecent haste. It's almost as GWR want to get rid of them before anyone else is able to express an interest in re-using them.
Having taken the picture above I didn't bother to wait for something similar as 5Z47 left with 47805 + 47810 topping and tailing the Mk3 stock so went straight to Honeybourne where a better view of the whole train can be achieved. It was slightly unfortunate that it ran away from the Staff Hut where the single line token was deposited about 15 seconds too early as the sun was just beginning to emerge from some light cloud. As it waited for the road around the back of Honeybourne station the cloud blew away so I took this image of the multi-coloured ensemble.
A Colas operated 6Z49 from Carlisle New Yard to Long Marston ran on Wednesday 11 March 2020. The weather was reasonable so after swimming I went to a road crossing between Evesham and Honeybourne arriving about 30 minutes before the freight's due time. Before many minutes had passed the barriers were lowered and 800035 appeared while working 1P26, the 11.35 Great Malvern to London Paddington. Although these units don't have much of a following they can make a reasonable picture in decent light when the sun isn't too high in the sky.
Vivarail's battery/diesel hybrid unit 230002 has really been putting in the miles between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham West Junction over the past few weeks. It was out again on 11 March 2020 and I had 2 shots of it, the first being this as it worked 5T04 towards Evesham. This isn't the greatest angle and the tree apparently being carried on the roof doesn't help but it does show the flat landscape of the Vale of Evesham to advantage with the escarpment of the Cotswold Hills visible in the background.
It doesn't usually take long for 230002 to reverse at Evesham West Junction and head back along the up line towards Honeybourne. On 11 March 2020 this appeared to be the final run of the day as the distant signal visible at caution in the picture above stayed on yellow which usually indicates that the train is to take the Long Marston line at Honeybourne North Junction. As there were at least 2 other trains using the branch on this occasion this was probably the pragmatic solution to avoiding congestion and delays to and from Long Marston.
This is the train I was mostly interested in photographing near Bretforton on Wednesday 11 March 2020. It is a 6Z40 04.52 Carlisle New Yard to Long Marston hauled by 70814. There have been several trains with Colas 70s in charge along the North Cotswold Line and Long Marston branch such as 70809 with a better load than today's train but it was still unusual enough for a trip out. As is ususally the case I saw no postings about the train on the email groups to which I subscribe so it was a bit of a disappointment when it turned up about 10 minutes early with just a single tank wagon in tow. It hardly seems a viable financial proposition to send such a small load so far when the cost of setting up paths, access and crew costs along with the fuel used in the 8 hour journey from Carlisle. A lot of cloud was building up around the sun but the bits of shadow across the former crossing keepers house cleared just as the barriers protecting the road were lowered.
Another 6 HST coaches were due to be taken for scrap at Sims of Newport from Long Marston on Tuesday 10 March 2020. The power was provided by ROG's 47813 which took the requisiste pair of Barrier coaches from Leicester and my plan was to photograph this short train, 5D94, just to the south of Evesham. The A46 Evesham Bypass was absolutely clogged with traffic which I realised too late was in connection with the Cheltenham horse racing festival. I diverted to Evesham station and positioned myself on the road bridge at Evesham arriving just after the train had left Norton Junction a few minutes early. Alongside the up platform is a very well maintained and wildlife friendly garden complete with wooden planter in the shape on an 0-6-0 steam locomotive and tender.
After leaving Evesham on 10 March 2020 I headed, via a very long diversion to avoid the traffic, towards Long Marston. There had no expectation of getting there before 5D94 but there was no sign of it either on the branch or in the yard. It was another 10 minutes or so beforem it appeared and this image was taken as it slowed to a halt just beyond the road bridge. This locomotive has been here on several previous occasions and here it is on 11 June 2006 with 87026 in tow.
The usual procedure to separate the barrier wagons was followed on 10 March 2020 and here the resident shunter is taking its half of the train into the headshunt while 47813 goes in the opposite direction. The small splash of red visible in the top right of the picture is my first albeit indistinct view of a TfW class 230. I hope for better at some point! Looking in the other direction some stored stock including a Virgin Trains DVT and a Caledonian sleeper coach.
It's far from rare for the coupling and achieving a satisfactory brake to take quite a while and it was no different on 20 March 2020. The schedule allowed for this and the assembled train was still early when it pulled out of Long Marston yard onto the branch to Honeybourne.
Ever since most of the Long Marston was relaid there is no guarantee that a chase to Honeybourne will be successful but on 20 March 2020 there was time and my arrival on the road bridge coincided with Vivarail's 230002 on another test run, 5T05, from Moreton in March. It was a piece of luck that 47813 was poking its nose around the corner in the background. while some strimming of the lineside takes place. Maintenance of the rapidly growing vegetation? Surely not...
The 6 blue GWR coaches, one without the wavy bits, headed by 47813 soon left the staff hut at Honeybourne at 10 March 2020 and ran most of the way towards the station in clear sunshine. This unfortunately died away just in time as the train came into the correct spot for an image.
There was a ROG light engine showed as running from Leicester LIP to Long Marston on the morning of 3 March 2020 but given that the weather was dark and bit drizzly I had just about decided not to bother with it. At almost the last moment I changed my mind and went over, arriving just as 57301, on hire from DRS to ROG, arrived at the gates. It was only a couple of minutes until the shunter brought 319337 around the circuit and parked it in road number 1 of the exchange sidings. I had been expecting a class 350 but assume that the 319 was to stage at Northampton before going on to Wolverton for conversion into a bi-mode vehicle.
The mechanical coupling of 57301 was soon accomplished but there was a lot of huffing and puffing from both the locomotive and the stock at Long Marston on 3 March 2020 as attempts were made to connect the brakes and the electrical supply. This went on for a while and with 230002 making several journeys between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham I made my way to Honeybourne hopefully for a shot or two of that along with 57301 with 319337 appraoching the station.
Just before leaving Long Marston for Honeybourne on 3 March 2020 there was time for a quick shot of some ex-D Stock which appeared to just have received a coat of grey primer and with the masking materials still in place. This is presumably one of the vehicles destined for use by TfW in due course. I understand that these coaches may be the first of the class 484 vehicles destined for the Isle of Wight and are presumably on their way to the main shed for finishing.
While waiting for 57301 + 319337 to appear at Honeybourne on 3 March 2020 I had 2 shots of 230002 on its return journeys between Moreton-in-March and Evesham This view shows the battery/diesel hybrid running solely on electrical power on the approach to Honeybourne station on the final part of the diagram for the day. There was a slight problem in that 57301 hadn't made an appearance meaning that 230002 wouldn't be able to join the Long Marston branch and it was becoming clear that the 319 would not be taken to Northampton today.
It seemed to me that the only option for 230002 would be for it to be shunted into Honeybourne Sidings so that 57301 would be able to leave the branch light engine or wait for another day when whatever had happened at Long Marston could be rectified. The unit ran forward beyond the branch signal in the only bit of sunshine I saw all day and then reversed and headed into the sidings - a very rare event for passenger stock which I have seen on only one previous occasion.
To move from the road bridge to the up platform at Honeybourne takes several minutes mostly because of the enormous size of the station footbridge. By the time I had made the walk on 3 March 2020 230002 was just about as far away in the sidings as it was possible for it to be. I didn't have an especially long lens with me so had to make do with this, achieved with quite a lot cropping in Photoshop CS2. The rarity of the visitation by the Vivarail unit made it worth a go... On the way home I stopped off at Long Marston where there was no sign of 57301, which had left light engine, and 319337 was where it had been left earlier. I don't know what happened to 230002 as my lunch was well overdue.
After not achieving the shot I wanted of 37403 with an inspection saloon on 25 February 2020 it was a surprise to find on the following morning that there would be another chance. There was initially some doubt about whether or not the train, 2Z02, would run but a change of route was made to avoid Shrewsbury which was suffering from high water levels at the Severn Bridge and so it was on. It was shown as using platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon which was the best bet for photography but I had my doubts as the unit running just in front was shown to be going there too. In the end I went for the safe option on a largely sunny day and ended up at Wilmcote for an image including the attractive footbridge. There was no doubting when 37403 had left Bearley Junction as the wind coming from that direction carried the sound very nicely. This isn't a shot to get approval from the light police because of the shadows around the train but it's good enough for me.
An inspection saloon should have visited Stratford-upon-Avon in the week commencing 17 February 2020 but was cancelled. On the morning of 25 February I was checking to see if the monthly test train, 1Q48, was running and noticed that a 2Z01 was scheduled to come to the terminus at lunchtime. The locomotive providing the saloon named Caroline was 37403 so I walked down to the station for a shot. Just in front of 2Z01 was 172333 from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge and Hatton North and West Junctions and the only reason for this view of 2D34 is to show that new posts have been erected by the new footbridge and that they just about ruin the shot from the bridge of anything coming into platform 1.
I had walked to the station at Stratford on Avon on 25 February 2020 in heavy rain but by the time 37403 with Caroline approached the sky was clearing. A passenger train was in platform 1 and I hoped that 2Z01 would be routed in P2 as at least the sunwould be on the correct side. Unfortunately it went into P3 which is useless for photography and as this happens all too frequently it does seem that someone somewhere doesn't like railway photographers. Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that someone ISN'T out to get you!! Still, this working was rare enough to have a go even though there are few worse things than a shot against the light like this. I don't often take detail shots of locomotives but here are the nameplate, number and Scottie dog on 37403's bodyside. This train reminded me of the visit of a similar one with 31405 in 1992.
The inspection saloon that visited Stratford on Avon on 25 February 2020 didn't hang for long before going back out but while the driver changed ends some of the crew posed for photographs alongside 37403. I had hoped for some exhaust smoke as 2Z01 pulled away so was pleased when a plume or two did appear. The booked route was for 2Z01 to go to Tamworth via Dorridge and then back to Shrewsbury but very high water at the Severn Bridge there caused a rerouting and it ran directly to Crewe.
Friday 21 February 2020 saw 57312 take 2 barrier coaches from Leicester to Long Marston prior to a set of former GWR being taken for scrap to Sims at Newport, South Wales. As expected the train running as 5V94 was a bit early arriving at the gates into the site where the ground crew were ready to open up having brought the coaches into the exchange sidings. Here is the short formation arriving in dull weather with a strong wind making things feel distinctly chilly.
As soon as 5V94 came to a stand on 21 February 2020 the resident shunter coupled onto the barrier coaches and without a tug-of-war with 57312 took one of them forward while the train engine took the other along the exchange sidings in order to couple it to the other end of the HST stock. It seems criminal that what many regard as some of the best stock ever to run in this country is being disposed of when there is clearly a stock shortage in areas of Britain in which it could be used.
Within a few minutes 57612 had finished at the far end of the 6 HST coaches and had run round and been coupled to the train, now with the headcode 5Q76. It seemed likely that an early departure from Long Marston was on the cards so I decided to go straight to Honeybourne to take a shot as it approached the station via the back side of the platforms.
I didn't have to wait too long in the increasingly cold wind at Honeybourne on 21 February 2020 before 57312 with 5Q76 appeared on its way to the staff hut where the single line token would be deposited. While waiting I had a very interesting conversation with a local gentleman whose father-in-law had been on the signalmen at Honeybourne and who worked all the boxes (5 at one time, later reduced in number to 4) prior to the extreme rationalisation that the junctions here suffered in the 1960s and 70s. The light was even worse than it had been at Long Marston and I had to bump up the ISO to 800 to ensure a high enough shutter speed to get a sharp image as the train went towards Honeybourne North Junction under a green signal on its way to Worcester for a run-round before going off to Newport.
I hadn't been out photographing for a few weeks largely because of poor weather and spending time working on a new section of this site dealing with operations around the Calvert landfill site (coming soon!). On 18 February 2020 a DCR 56, 56091, was due to take a long set of VGA aggregate wagons from Chaddesden Sidings, Derby to Long Marston presumably for storage. The timings were convenient for me so despite the dark skies and imminent rain I decided to go out for a shot but couldn't be bothered to go any further than the road bridge at Long Marston itself. The train, 6Z20, was showing as waiting at Honeybourne North Junction for 37 minutes but this seemed unlikely with no other trains having used the branch during the morning and so it was with it arriving at the gates into the site about 40 minutes early. There was a GBRf light engine, 66715, due later in the afternoon and due to leave for Gascoigne Wood with some passenger stock but inertia took over I returned home.
This is one of those images that makes you wonder, "Why did I bother?". GBRf's 50007 + 50049 took some sleeper stock, 3 in number, from Wembley to Laira on 22 January 2020 and then on the following day a single Caledonian sleeper coach from Laira to Long Marston. I really had no intention of going out given the dreadful weather of low cloud, mist and drizzle but about 45 minutes before 5Z50 was due at Evesham the weather at home brightened up a bit so I made up my mind to have a quick trip to Worcestershire. The weather hadn't improved at Evesham as can be seen by this view of the slightly silly little train passing the signal box on the appracohes to Evesham station some 12ish minutes early.
A long rake of JGA bogie aggregate wagons was taken from Hexthorpe Yard to Long Marston for, presumably, storage on Monday 20 January 2020. I initially discounted going for a shot of the train, 6V84, because the weather had been poor with mist and fog but by 09.00 in the morning the sun was out and reasonably strong. Honeybourne seemed to be the best bet for a photograph and as I knew that lineside shadows would be an issue on the line near the footbridge I took a long lens to take advantage of a clear patch furher down. The locomotive was GBRf's 66746 in Belmond Royal Scotsman livery which was an added attraction to the already eminently worthwhile train. Here is 6V84 just after leaving the North Cotswold Line and on its way to Long Marston.
Ever since the Long Marston branch had a lot of its track renewed in 2019 it's not always been possible to chase and beat a train from Honeybourne to the bridge near the gate into the site. On this occasion, 20 January 2020, I was going in that direction on my way to the gym and swimming pool so put my foot down a bit and arrived just as 66746 came into view on the branch. There was never going to be an especially good shot here but I was happy to get a record both of the locomotive and the JGA wagons. I don't have any real interest in wagons per se but am always happy to take an shot of a new type for this section of line.
I was at Hatton on 8 January 2020 to photograph an HST power car move running as 0O86 and took this shot of an unidentified CrossCountry Voyager with the headcode of 1O86 running a few minutes in front of the STP train. It seems odd that fast and comfortable trains with 7 or 8 coaches are being withdrawn and stored all over the place when long distance passengers are subjected to crowded, noisy and uncomfortable conditions such as offered by this Voyager which has about 3.5 coaches worth of seating. Either that or class 800s with seats about as comfortable as a cloth-covered wooden plank.
A pair of off-lease LNER HST power cars were sent for storage from Papworth's Sidings, Ely to Eastleigh on Wednesday 8 January 2020 and ran via Birmingham, Solihull and Leamington Spa. Any HST vehicles are unusual on the line through Hatton so I went across for a shot as 43239 + 43208 in their red and white colour scheme but with no LNER branding approached the station. The short formation ws running under the headcode 0O86 and coincidentally the preceding CrossCountry Voyager was running as 1O86 from Newcastle to Southampton.
This and the following few images are a record of one of the very few times I have visited a preserved line; not something in which I have any real interest. The occasion was the first Severn Valley Railway diesel gala which took place on 7 May 1988 and during which Foster Yeoman's 59001 made an appearance and hauled the class's first ever passenger trains. The locomotive was due to work its first train from Kidderminster on the Saturday morning and I was on the footbridge over the main lines waiting for it and took this shot of Tyseley's T325 class 116 DMMU as it worked from Worcester to Birmingham.
I can't remember when 59001 reached the SVR but assume that it must have been on the day before the gala otherwise I would have had a shot of it on the main line but this view shows it going away from Kidderminster station (SVR) on the way to collect a rake of coaches for its inaugural passenger working.
After seeing 59001 at Kidderminster some of us on the footbridge went, trackside permits in hand, to the cutting near the portal of Bewdley Tunnel which was the ideal spot for the first trains of the day, 7 May 1988. First along was 55015 working on both engines and laying an impressive if smelly smoke trail all along the track. It was clearly a completely windless morning as the exhaust is visible all around the curve from the direction of Bewdley station.
Once 55015 had run from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth as shown above on the SVR's diesel gala day, 7 May 1988, it ran round the stock and headed back towards its starting and is seen here leaving Bewdley tunnel. As I spent most of the morning near the exit from Bewdley Tunnel it is inevitable that a fair bit of repetition in my shots will be apparent but the variety of traction may make up for that.
Several main line locomotives worked on the SVR during the first diesel gala on 7 May 1988 and among them was 31413, named "Severn Valley Railway" carrying a bizarre if colourful livery. It was pictured approaching Bewdley Tunnel with the second train of the day and with a slightly cleaner exhaust than the first working of the day.
The next visitor to approach Bewdley Tunnel during the SVR's gala on 7 May 1988 was 20170 with a short set of 4 coaches. The price of an annual lineside photographic pass was £10.00 and even though I used it only twice it was good value for an occasion such as this. The location here was well-used as can be seen from the worn path down the bank towards the end of the cutting. I do recall that even with quite a few photographers being present consensus on where to stand to get a decent shot without any interloping bodies being in view was always reached in an amicable fashion; not always the case at other similar events or so I have been led to believe! The return of 20170 from Bridgnorth made for a more interesting picture as, of course, the locomotive was running bonnet first; always a more difficult formation to photograph as class 20s usually ran in pairs coupled so that the cabs were outermost.
There were 2 Western class locomotives at the SVR diesel gala on 7 May 1988 and first to operate was D1062 Western Courier. With a headcode nearly showing its number Courier is seen on the approach to Bewdley Tunnel making, I can still recall, a sound I hadn't heard for many years. My father took me on a few occasions to Hatton station to see and hear Westerns in action as they climbed Hatton Bank and in the days before the nearby M40 they could be heard from Warwick accompanied by the sound of semaphore signals being pulled off and clunking back once the train had passed.
The highlight for many haulage enthusiasts at the SVR gala on 7 May 1988 was the first ever chance to ride behind a class 59 owned and operated by Foster Yeoman. For some reason I decided to take my shot near Bewdley Tunnel in vertical format and to fit it comfortably on a web page had to make an enormous scan of the Kodachrome 64 slide and then crop it into landscape format. This explains to some extent at least the poor quality of the image. Prominent on the locomotive is the 4 tone USA air horn which was used liberally and made the typical American sound so familiar over the Atlantic. The array was switched between ends when run-rounds at either end of the line as this view shows a short while later.
Another main line locomotive visiting the SVR's diesel gala was 37427 which is seen here leaving Bewdley Tunnel on its return from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster.
Unusually for a gala day Regional Railways sent one of their units, 156404, to the Severn Valley Railway on 7 May 1988. Although probably not among the favourite for enthusiasts on the day it is the train that would have most accurately represented the sort of transport along here had the line not been closed and divorced from the national network.
The second Western class locomotive in action on 7 May 1988 was D1013 Western Ranger although the headcode suggests that it was masquerading as D1019 Western Buccaneer which was scrapped in 1974 after being withdrawn from service the previous year.
After spending the morning of 7 May 1988 near Bewdley Tunnel on the Severn Railway I had a break for lunch and then walked to the cutting just around the corner from Bewdley station. In the time it took to move the previously clear sky had clouded over and I took only a coujple of shots before calling it a day. Here is 55015 slowing for the station stop on a train from Bridgnorth.
There was, as always at diesel galas, a token steam presence for the usual punters who just turn up on the day and expect to see the usual fare in action. On 7 May 1988 2-8-0 2857 was the locomotive in steam and here it is accelerating away from Bewdley towards Bridgnorth.
Foster Yeoman's 59001 was in action throughout the day during the May 1988 SVR diesel gala and this view of it approaching Bewdley station from the Bridgnorth direction was my final shot of the day.
A Chaddesdon to Long Marston wagon move, 6Z22, was shown as a runner on Monday 23 December 2019, the locomotive running as 0Z60 from Toton. Things changed and it turned out that 60055 in the new colour scheme of DCR was already at Chaddesden and was therefore a contender for 6Z22. It left the thick end of an hour late and the lateness increased over the journey to Worcester where a layover of nearly one hour was planned. In the event it left Worcester TC 30 minutes late and managed to lose another 53 before it passed Norton Junction due to dragging brakes on, presumably, one or more of the box wagons. It eventually cleared the single track to Evesham some 104 minutes late after having been given permission to run at reduced speed even though it was to cause 25 minutes delay to 1W25 which had to wait in the station there. The class 60 could be heard working just around the corner from Honeybourne North Junction as it dragged its load up the incline and out of harm's way onto the Long Marston branch. There wasn't a lot of light by 15.15 when 6Z22 passed behind the platforms and the buddleia is quite intrusive but it was good to take a record shot while the locomotive is clean.
Mayflower, the preserved B1 steam locomotive, was down to work a Steam Dreams charter to Stratford-upon-Avon on Sunday 15 December 2019. Sadly, the dream soured when the B1 failed in the Clapham Junction area and 47804 substituted after some no doubt frantic 'phone calls to Network Rail in order to set up a new path which involved a completely different route to Reading and presumably leaving passengers joining on the Ascot line to make their own way to Reading on service trains. The 45 minute lateness was recovered en-route and here is 1Z82 arriving at Stratford close to right time. It's a shame that no-one thought to cancel Warwickshire Fire and Rescue who with their water tender were in the car park to fill up Mayflower's tender tank. WCRC's 47804 has been to the terminus on several occasions and here it is on 27 February 2010 approaching Wilmcote station; a shot which I took from a public footpath to show the Bearley Junction up distant signal shortly before its removal in the resignalling scheme which abolished all the mechanical signal boxes in the area.
Another trip out for old locomotives, another sunny day and another trip to Hatton. This time, Monday 9 December 2019, GBRf liveried 50007 (for some reason also carrying the number 50014) and 50049 were employed on a lightweight train of 2 barrier coaches from the SVR at Kidderminster to Reading Traincare Depot and as I hadn't before taken an image of the pair in this colour scheme made a mental note to go out if it ran. The NR and other data feeds to most timing and mapping sites were not functioning but a timely email mesage from Roger Cutts at Blakedown confirmed that 5Z50 was on its way and that the consist was just the 2 barriers. It's a shame more people don't post sightings especially when automated systems are OOS... I had originally planned to go to Leamington Spa station but thought that the shorter than expected train would fit better into the sunny spot just before Hatton station road bridge. The fly in the oitment was that 66720 on 6M26 to Mountsorrel was running about 30 minutes early and was a real candidate for being a nuisance for the southbound shot but it was fortuitously looped in hatton DGL thus clearing the line for this shot as the colourful pair passed the small group of photogaphers waiting in the cold wind.
An empty stock move from Burton-on-Trent to Eastleigh was showing to run on Tuesday 3 December 2019 and the headcode, 5Z31, appeared to offer a clue to the motive power likely to be allocated. After a session in the swimming pool at my gym I drive to Hatton which I knew would be one of the few spots reasonably clear of shadows at this time of the year where it was confirmed that 31128, the sole main line certified class 31, was in charge of the train. I wouldn't usually bother with a load of a single coach, in this instance a Mk1 generator vehicle, but the combination of the locomotive and clear sunshine made it worthwhile. Here is 5Z31 approaching Hatton station at spot on right time and a few seconds before a Stratford-upon-Avon bound unit went around the curve on the branch. Those few seconds made all the difference as the unit cast a heavy shadow from the low sun right across the up main line. I hadn't seen 31128 for a while but here it is at Long Marston on 27 February 2007 in its Fragonset colours and taking some barrier coaches into the site for another move later in the day.
I wasn't far from Honeybourne for reasons unconnected with railways on 20 November 2019 and after checking saw that Vivarail's 230002 had just passed Evesham with 5T03 to Moreton in Marsh. A quick diversion found me at the station where a small group of orange jackets was gathered around the waiting shelter so surmised that the test train would probably stop there. It did and this picture shows it drawing to a halt so that the passengers were able to get on board before the journey to Moreton was continued.
I had not bothered to look at any schedules or locomotive allocations on Monday 18 November 2019 so was a bit surprised when a friend messaged to say that 60092 was at Banbury with 6Z47, the Theale to Lindsey tanks. As I hadn't seen a 60 since since March 2018 it was probably about time for an update! There was time to make the journey to Hatton but not, unfortunately, to get to North Junction which would have been my first choice of location. The sun was behind cloud when I arrived but as a mapping app showed that the train was at Budbrook Junction the sky cleared; not the ideal situation at this time of year at Hatton station. There was a patch of sunlight on the platform so when 60092 approached I just set my camera running with high speed exposures in the hope that at least one frame would be reasonable. This was the best of a mediocre bunch and to me the image is to some extent rescued by the attractive Autumnal tints in the background trees. Today's train was reminiscent of 6E55 on the same route which ceased some years ago and here is 60092 in October 2007 at Hatton North Junction.
Colas Rail's 37099 was sent from Derby to Didcot on Saturday 16 November 2019 ready to collect a failed tamper from Swindon on the following day. This move, 6Z88, left Swindon about 25 minutes late because the crew requested a route via Kemble and Gloucester rather than that booked via Oxford and Hatton. The request was (thankfully!) refused and the train ran as scheduled and picked up all the lost time before Leamington Spa where a stop of around 30 minutes was showing. As expected 37099 and the short load ran straight through Leamington not far behind the daily RHTT but was then put into Hatton Loop despite there apparently being plenty of time for a run to Dorridge at least. It was eventually released and moved quite slowly through Hatton station but with a good deal of noise and exhaust smoke. The light was dreadful and a light drizzle was falling but ISO 2500 with a shutter speed of 1/800 and f4 aperture did the business.
On 11 April 1990 I spent a few hours on the footbridge near the Guinness brewery at Park Royal, West London where there was the likelihood of seeing freight services with a variety of locomotives. First along and in sun which disappeared shortly afterwards was 47144 with empty ferrywagons heading for the brewery to be loaded with stout for onward movement around the country.
The nearside lines at Park Royal are operated by London Underground and here is a pair of trains on a shuttle service to Loughton photographed near Park Royal on 11 April 1990. I don't don't much about LUL stock but did enjoy having the opportunity to photograph trains that don't appear nearer home, except over the last couple of years for D Stock converted for branch line passenger traffic. use by Vivarail at Long Marston.
Within a few minutes of my arrival at Park Royal on 11 April 1990 the sun had disappeared behind thick cloud so I abandoned colour photography and stuck to black & white in a Mamiya 645 loaded as usual with Kodak TRI-X film. Here is 59005 heading West towards Greenford with the Crawley to Acton empty stone train. The sidings in the background are the Park Royal aggregate terminal and the speedlink train with 47144 shown above had just completed a locomotive run-round there, come forward and reversed in the Guinness brewery for loading.
In 1990 there was little widely available information on train movements as there is some 30 years later so my visits to this part of the world were based on previous sightings and a large dose of hope and hopefully good luck! I had hoped to see this train, the morning Angerstein Wharf to Park Royal loaded stone hoppers, as it invariably had class 33 traction and I was trying to photograph as many of these movements as I could given the travelling I had to do to accomplish that aim. On 11 April 1990 33204 + 33056 were allocated to the train and they are seen here on the final part of their journey, having reversed direction the via the West Ealing to Greenford East junctions. I have very few pictures of 33204 but was lucky to have had a shot of it in the Down Goods Loop at Stratford-upon-Avon on 27 September 1984 when it brought the VSOE to the terminus.
One of the pictures I hoped to take at Park Royal on 11 April 1990 was a LUL train in the same frame as a main line freight service. Mission was accomplished when a train from Loughton was in just the right place as 33056 + 33204 came forward from the Park Royal Stone Terminal sidings with half its train which had had to be split to facilate unloading. The "half-train" was then propelled back to the terminal.
When I saw this pair of class 47s in the distance at Park Royal on 11 April 1990 I initially hoped that it was a diverted main line service or ECS working so was a bit disappointed when it turned out that 47555 + 47806 were running light engine, presumably from Old Oak Common and perhaps with the leading leading rescuing a failure.
The final part of the story involving class 33s 33056 + 33204 at Park Royal in 11 April 1990 was when the unloaded train was joined up from the 2 parts necessary for unloading and moved forward past the Guinness siding to the crossover onto the down main line. Now running as 7O78 the formation had just received clearance from ground signal behind me to make this manoeuvre and was about to accelerate gently over the crossover.
Park Royal wasn't the location of the only stone terminal in this part of London. Another was to be found at Paddington New Yard and this was the destination of 33026 on 11 April 1990 with another train of sea-dredged aggregates loaded at Angerstein Wharf. I hadn't seen a class 33 in the all-over grey livery carried by 33026 before this and couldn't pretend to be too impressed as it ran past the footbridge near the Guinness brewery. The large white building is Amoco House, the headquarters of an international oil company. The LUL train would have been more welcome had it run a few seconds earlier and been alongside the stone hoppers!
My final photograph at Park Royal on 11 April 1990 was of 47144 leaving the Guinness brewery with a full load of stout on its way to Willesden Yard for distribution. The footbridge carying the path from Park Royal LUL station shown here was hardly used while I was there and indeed just about the only signs of life I saw were pigeons and quite a lot of brown rats scuttling around! I should be interested to return and see if it the scene is as different today as I imagine especially as the brewery has gone.
This image is the result of a bit of an experiment and I can state quite confidently that it failed. The regular test train, 1Q48, from Derby RTC to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon ran on 5 November 2019 with 37610 tnt 37612 in place of the usual Colas 67s which were in turn deputising for the NMT HST currently under heavy maintenance. The location is Wilmcote station which although having some new LED lamps there are not quite enough to do the job I had hoped. The train was running about 20 minutes late and was consequently belting along at around 60mph. I used ISO 12,800 at 1/640 @ f2 but the light was simply insufficient to give an acceptable result. All knowledge is good and I shall now at least know not to bother here again in the dark!
This and some of the following few shots show some LUL traffic around Neasden Depot in London taken on 8 March 1991. My knowledge of this sort of stock is shamefully lacking so the captions will offer very little information! This one shows two 5 car units on the tight curve at the Eastern end of the depot leaving for their next turn of duty.
The day of my visit to the footbridge along the A406 North Circular Road, a spot which may no longer be available if the bridge has had a cage built over it as so many have in recent years, had typical March weather with sunny intervals and cloud. The latter was evident when 47709 came along towards Marylebone on 8 March 1991 with what I took to be a train from Banbury and crossing over the junction with the lines from Amersham. There was little advance gen available in 1991 and I had hoped to photograph a coal train from the nearby Neasden CCD but was disappointed on this occasion and never did score a picture of this working.
I at least know that the destination of this LUL train passing Neasden Depot on 8 March 1991 was Aldgate, this being clearly visible on the highj resolution scan of the original Fujichrome slide. I find the infrastructure and operation of the overground LUL traffic quite engaging and wish that I done more photography with it around this time when the older units were still extant.
This 4 coach NES DMMU is coming from Amersham to Marylebone and is approaching Neasden South Junction on 8 March 1991. The long lineside building to the left of the down line is the sidings then used by Christian Salvesen for various type of rail-borne food traffic. I don't think this was especially regular traffic at this time and the line entering the site had a good coating of rust to confirm this.
This picture from Neasden Depot on 8 March 1991 didn't work out quite as well as I might have hoped. I didn't really want the unit passing by on the main line in shot but in retrospect it adds a little interest to the view of a different class leaving the depot.
A slightly shadowy view of an LUL unit passing between Neasden Depot and the BR, as it was then, line between Amersham and Marylebone. I took a lot of pictures during the 4 or so hours I was on the bridge alongside the North Circular on 8 March 1991 and have tried to pick a variety for this section but as I mentioned above have no knowledge of what I was shooting.
I can state with some certainty that this NSE DMMU has run from Banbury and is going to Marylebone on 8 March 1991. Part of the reason for my visit here was to hopefully obtain a pictue of something on the rusty lines visible, these being used on occasion by freight traffic including coal, stone and foodstuffs. I wasn't lucky on this occasion and haven't been back since so the chances are now limited.
One freight did turn up for me at Neasden South Junction on 8 March 1991 in the form of 47364 with 3 loaded oil tanks from Old Oak Common to the DMU fuelling facility just outside Marylebone station. It was really tough luck that the sun went behind cloud just as 47364 passed under the roadbridge meaning that I had to quickly change from an Olympus OM1n with Fujichrome and grab my Mamiya 645 loaded with TRI-X. I took it far too early in my excitement(!) and had to make a huge scan of the negative so that it could be cropped in CS2 without losing too much quality, although a shot not needing so much work would obviously have been preferable.
Vivarail's class 230 test train was out on the main line on Thursday 31 October 2019. I took the opportunity to take another couple of shots as not many more of these will be running around Warwickshire and Worcestershire as Vivarail is to move its operational base to a site, not rail-connected, at Southam near Leamington Spa. It will be using test facilities at Barry in South Wales necessitating I imagine, much additional mileage by Allelys road haulage contractors. This first image shows 230002 passing Evesham station as 5T02 from Moreton-in-Marsh before going to Evesham West Junction to reverse and form 5T03 back to Moreton.
After reversing at Evesham West Junction on 31 October 2019, 230002, the battery/diesel test unit, went back through Evesham towards Moreton-in-Marsh. As this was a cold and windy day I didn't hang around for any more shots and went home.
The Gloucester to Birmingham line had a few interesting workings on the afternoon of 31 October 2019 and even though the weather was a bit on the dull side I drove to Defford for a short session. First along was 158798 forming 1V94, the 0948 Portsmouth Harbour to Great Malvern. These really aren't the conditions for photographing FGW's all-over green livery but it was the first of the class I have seen carrying it. In my opinion the previous colour scheme looked a lot more attractive as the unit approached Ashchurch in September 2014.
Until 31 October 2019 I hadn't bothered to go out for any of the shrink-wrapped class 397 EMU delivery moves from Portbury Docks to Crewe. On this occasion a pair of class class 20s, 20007 + 20205 had been sent to Bristol to be attached to the rear of the train to act as Lickey bankers to ensure the 57305, the train locomotive, didn't stall on the 1/37 climb towards Birmingham. The most interesting vehicles in the consist were arguably the former Gatwick Express GLVs 68501 and 68504 from Arlington Fleet Services acting as translator vehicles for the MkI barrier coaches. The train, 5Q32, is seen here over one hour late through the mist just after crossing the Warwickshire Avon at Eckington Bridge.
There were at least 2 diversions of freight trains on the line through Defford on 31 October 2019. First was 6M40, the 11.56 Westbury to Stud Farm empty boxes, powered on this occasion by 70813 which at least provided a bit of colour on the increasingly dull afternoon.
The second diverted freight I photographed at Defford on 31 October 2019 was the 1309 Llanwern Exchange Sdgs to Dee Marsh, 6M86. The light had deteriorated even in the few minutes since my previous shot so I tried to make the most of a bit of Autumnal colour in the roadside bushes as 66017 approached the bridge. I'm not a fan of the DBC day-glo orange colour scheme but it does stand out in such dull weather.
An ECS train should have run from Crewe to Eastleigh on 23 October 2019 but was cancelled due to a track fault at the originating point. As this was a foggy morning it didn't matter much in Warwickshire at least. The train, 5Z47, did run on 30 October and the weather was clear and sunny so with with the chance of a differently coloured pair of class 47s providing the power I had a drive to Hatton where the shadows wouldn't too intrusive. The locos were Locomotive Services' 47853 (carrying the number 47614) and 47805 (numbered D1935) with 10 coaches of the Statesman stock all of which looked good amidst the Autumnal colours as they rounded the curve from Hatton North Junction to Hatton station. This was my sort of session; arrive as the train was 3 signals away and leave straight away with the aim of being in my health club's pool by 10.00!
Oops... Not a great choice of location for 5M58 from Eastleigh to Central Rivers Depot on which 57305 took a CrossCounty Voyager for, presumably, repair following a failure. I had pulled a leg muscle earlier in the week and didn't fancy the walk to Hatton North Junction but had underestimated the potential for shadows at Hatton station. It's a shame the sun was in a clear patch of sky on this occaion, 19 October 2019.
This train appeared in the system on Monday 14 October 2019 and I made a mental note to go and have a shot of it if 1) it ran and 2) the weather was reasonable. Earlyish in the morning of 17th October I checked and saw that it hadn't left Bescot and assumed that it was cancelled. I looked again at about 08.00 and saw that it was on the way to Long Marston but something in the region of 60 minutes late. It was a clear and sunny morning so once I had seen that it had left Worcester went across to Long Marston and within a few minutes heard a locomotive horn somewhere on the branch from Honeybourne. There was no indication anywhere what the load was and I had assumed that it was perhaps one or two wagons going for store or maintenance so was pleased when 6Z23, a long set of brand new unbranded JNAs, appeared in the distance behind 66063 with the sun behind a single small cloud which materialised at just the wrong moment. A gentleman also on the bridge told me the new wagons had arrived at Wembley via the Channel Tunnel last week and had been tripped to Bescot a day or two later. They were not allocated to any freight company and were thought to have been bought speculatively for a traffic flow yet to materialise. For those interested here is a data panel from one of the boxes. There was no return load and I later saw that 66063 running as 0Z24 was on its way light engine to Didcot via Worcester, Birmingham, Hatton and Oxford.
I noticed from RTT that a train was to run to Long Marston from Bescot early on the morning of 30 September 2019 but until I had a message from a friend the previous evening I assumed that it would be the transfer of one or two wagons. It turned out that the load was to be a set of Caledonian sleeper coaches which ran from Polmadie during the night before a locomotive change at Bescot. The forecast for the morning was for some bright weather so I left home as the train, 5Z12, approached Evesham and arrived at Long Marston at 07.45. Within 5 minutes I heard the train moving down the branch and it arrived behind 66757 shortly afterwards about 25 minutes early as I had expected. I took just one more shot of the stock before leaving for home before the traffic through the nearby villages and into Stratford-upon-Avon built up into its usual chaotic state.
The following pictures show the results from 2 visits to the Charringtons Oil Terminal at Brownhills in Staffordshire, the only times I made the trips. The first visit was on a freezingly cold 18 January 1997 when 60005 was in the depot when I arrived. The train ran once, twice or three times per week, well, some weeks, mostly over the winter and the most reliable way to find out if a drive over was worthwhile was to 'phone the depot during the previous day and simply ask. The staff were friendly and said that as long I made myself myself known to someone on arrival I was welcome to go where I wished. Here is an image of 60005 and some of the 35 tanks taken from the nearby bank not long after first light.
I believe tht the oil supplied to Brownhills was a heavy variety used for power stations, industry, agriculture and domestic heating and which needed to be at a reasonable temperature to be pumped from the rail tanks. I was told by the site staff that two types of wagons were used, some being better insulated than others. The oil in the less insulated type needed to be heated by the use of steam in a jacket inside the outer skin of the tank and the more of these in the train's consist the longer unloading took to complete. I believe that something in the region of 1,000,000 litres of of oil were conveyed by the longest trains received here but all the outgoing deliveries were sent by road tanker some going as far as Norfolk to fuel the sugar beet operations sited there.
The longer the train took to unload the greater the chances of the sun rising high enough to reach it became. On 18 January 1997 the light did just about reach 60005 as it sttod waiting for the unloading to be completed. The rusty rails in the foreground form the remains of the South Staffordshire Line from Walsall to Wychnor Junction and there is a lot of material online readily available to anyone interested in the history of it.
My final view in this short sequence was taken as the driver of 60005 waited in the warm for his train to be unloaded before the consist could be made up again ready for departure on 18 January 1997. See also my Class 37 section for a few more images.
My second and final visit to the Brownhills Oil Terminal was on 13 November 1997. On this occasion 37220 + 37158 had brought in the train of oil tanks from Immingham on a day that was considerably warmer than I endured for my first visit, meaning that less steam was visible from the equipment that warmed the oil to allow it be pumped out of the tank wagons more easily. These pictures should be viewed in conjunction with some in my Class 60 section where more details of the depot can be found.
This is a general view of the terminal and storage tanks and 37220 + 37158 wait for unloading to be completed. I was not fortunate enough to have any really good light on 13 November 1997 but at least the sun did manage to shine a bit through some light cloud for a few minutes making the scene a little less dull.
This third image from 13 November 1997 shows 37220 + 37158 after the two sets of tanks had been made up into the complete train ready for departure. There was just the faintest glimmer of sunlight which was fading rapidly and although I went further along the line to take a shot of the train moving towards Lichfield my patience was exhausted over the following 90 minutes and I left without taking it.
Few charters grab my attention these days but on Sunday 22 September 2019 The Balti Bash organised by The Branch Line Society and Vintage Trains did just that. Topped and tailed class 20s running from Solihull to Warwick at a convenient time prompted me to drive to Hatton where the southbound train could be taken from the road bridge with another shot to be had at the Hatton pick-up following a crossover and reversal at Warwick. The weather was dull but at least heavy and thundery showers that had been forecast didn't materialise so a reasonable image of 20189 leading 1Z20 was taken as it approached the bridge. The appearance of the locomotive has changed since last I saw it at Defford on 25 February 2014 with a different version of LT livery having been applied.
The return of 20142 + 20189 from Warwick, running as 1Z21, was followed by a visit to the former MOD faclity at Donnington, near Wellington in Shropshire and was unusually scheduled to stop at Hatton to pick up passengers. The highlights in this area for the passengers already on the train were the crossover from up to down lines at Warwick and the Down Goods Loop at Hatton. The former isn't much used and the last charter to have used it, as far as I know, was when 40145 made the move on 1st October 2016. After 1Z21 with 20142 leading had left the loop it paused in platform 2 at Hatton for a few minutes before heading away towards Birmingham, Donnington and Shrewsbury. I wasn't going to bother uploading this view as the train receded from the camera but the twin plumes of exhaust from 20142 will be a reminder of the sound it made, followed shortly by equally noisy sound effects from 20189 as it was opened up and effectively became the banker.
First Great Western's 5 car 800015 is just about to pass over Clayfield Crossing between Evesham and Honeybourne on 20 September 2019 as it forms 1P27, the 11.00 Great Malvern to Paddington service. This is one of the better ground level shots in the area with the former crossing keeper's house prominent in the scene. Indeed, the countryside around here is typical of the Vale of Evesham; flat and open meaning that the house can be seen from quite a distance which is helpful for anyone not familar with the area wanting a shot here.
Vivarail's diesel/battery hybrid was on crew training duties both on Thursday 19 September and the following day. I wasn't able to get out on Thursday but was available on the Friday altough missing the first run because the unit ran from Long Marston to Evesham rather than to Moreton in Marsh. I had plenty of time for the next trip and decided on the level crossing at Clayfield Lane and arrived just as 800015 ran south. A few minutes later the barriers dropped again and 5T04 formed of 230002 appreared with about 30 seconds. This isn't a shot I would take as a first choice but is typical of the scenery around here; flat and with a view of the Cotswold escarpment in the background.
The crew training runs with Vivarail's 230002 go between Moreton in Marsh and Evesham West Junction where the double track ends meaning that a reversal is straightforward. On Friday 20 September 2019 the process didn't take long and 5T05 passed Clayfield Lane crossing at 12.01 some 6 or 7 minutes early. Honeybourne's distant signal was on caution which suggested to me that this train was last of the day's movements and that it would turn left at Honeybourne North Junction and return to Long Marston. The countryside hereabouts is flat and open and slightly reminiscent of East Anglia, especially on a bright and sunny day. It can't be said that the crossing keeper's house here is especially attractive these days. The pebble-dash, trailing wires and 3 generations of TV antennae spoil the look to some extent but the building does provide a recognisable backdrop which I find preferable to bland countryside.
A sunny morning with perfect light almost guaranteed on Friday 13 September 2019 so a drive over to Moreton in Marsh was on the cards. I had planned to arrive in time to photograph 2E20, a terminating service from Reading as it stood in platform 1 prior to reversal and departure as the 09.50 to London Paddington, 1P23. The attraction for this shot is the relatively new lower quadrant semaphore signal allowing the train to depart directly without a shunt to platform 2 being necessary as was previously the case. Here is 165112 just about to take the crossover to the up main line. This is just about the only lighting to make the drab First Group GWR livery even remotely attractive.
Just to complete the move of 165112 from the down platform at Moreton in Marsh to the up main line on 13 September 2019 here is the unit forming 1P23 actually on the crossover. This is one of the few remaining pockets of lower quadrant semaphore signalling in the Midlands and the other railway infrastructure makes for an attractive scene despite the skip and modern flats overlooking the mostly empty car park.
My real reason for being at Moreton in Marsh on Friday 13 September 2019 was to score a sunny shot, at the third attempt, of Vivarail's 230002 on another test run from Long Marston. I understood that the train was definitely running but one can never be quite sure that a slight delay hasn't caused the unit to miss out the first run to Moreton and head towards Evesham. All was well on this occasion and the signal at the end of platform 2 was pulled off just as 5T01 arrived in the station. A bit of judicious cropping has cut out some of less attractive distractions in the scene as 230002 is about to pass the platform starter signal.
Another view of 230002 forming the 09.23 from Long Marston on 13 September 2019 as it's about to pass under the road bridge before using the crossover to gain access to platform 1 so that it was ready to head off towards Evesham on the second part of its test run. The 3 car unit is formed of the 2 car battery train together with another vehicle with 4 diesel gensets providing power to charge the batteries which in turn provide the means to operate the traction equipment. It also has regenerative braking to charge the batteries under braking which reduces fuel consumption by around 25%. The production units will be going to Transport for Wales and I look forward to seeing those, in their distinctive red and white colour scheme, when they are on test.
If I had been told even 5 years ago that a London Underground train would be running under GWR style sempahores in 2019 it would have seemed like a flight of fancy. It is happening though and here is 230002, now running as 5T02, using the crossover at Moreton in Marsh on 13 September after arriving from Long Marston and preparing to travel to Evesham for another reversal. This shot reminded me slightly of one that I took on the Isle of Wight on 11 August 1989 as 486031 crossed over just outside Ryde Esplanade station on 2 August 1990. My final image of 230002 was this one as it entered platform 1 for a 20 minute wait before heading north. I had hoped to take some other shots of the next up run, 5T03, further down the line but I had a delivery scheduled at home so had to leave.
Vivarail's innovative diesel/battery hybrid 230002 was out again on Tuesday 10 September carrying out more test runs in preparation for the production models to be made ready for Transport for Wales' use. I again had limited time available but went to Evesham to take a pair of images as the train arrived at the station and then, after reversal, going back towards Moreton in Marsh. The first photograph shows 5T02 slowly passing the recently extended platforms complete with extraordinarily ugly and utilitarian light standards. Why something more pleasing to the eye could not have been used such as those at Stratford upon Avon is a mystery. The extra cost, in the scheme of things, would have been a drop in the ocean.
After passing through Evesham station on 10 September 2019 with the 5T02 test run from Long Marston and Moreton in Marsh 230002 ran to Evesham West Junction where it reversed and began its return journey, now running as 5T03. I had originally intended to go to a bridge further south where a shot from the north side of the line on a cloudy day is possible but there was quite a lot of blue sky around as I neared the bypass junction where a choice had to be made. When 230002 appeared after reversal the sky was brightening but the cloud was a bit stubborn until it was too late.
Several paths for test runs for Vivarail's new battery train have been in the system for a while and the first run actually took place on Monday 9 September 2019. The train, the original 2 car with a third car inserted containing a diesel powered generator set, was given the headcode 5T01 and made its main line debut by running from Long Marston to Honeybourne and thence, through slight lateness, going to Evesham rather than Moreton in Marsh as planned, before taking up the diagram as scheduled. This picture, possibly the first of it on Network Rail metals, shows the 3 car 230002 approaching Honeybourne station. The weather was filthy with low cloud, drizzly rain and very low light levels but there's only one first run...
Because of the late start on 9 September 2019 230002 had to sit at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction for some time to allow both down and up GWR services to go by. This gave time for a walk down to the station from the road bridge and take a few more images including this one as 5T01 stood among the ever-burgeoning undergrowth. I don't generally like the photo-journalism approach (multiple largely irrelevant images!) to railway photography but this view of part of the front car took my eye.
While waiting for 230002's path from Honeybourne to become available I had a 'phone call making my early return home necessary. After some under-the-breath mutterings I worked out that I would just have time to photograph the train leaving the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne and just as I was thinking that the points switched and 5T01 was released a few moments after an up express, partly visible, had arrived into the station. It's not a great view over the fence but at least the rain had stopped and light levels had improved from a "go home" state to something a little brighter.
I have been meaning for a while to go for a shot of 6V84, the Clitheroe Castle Cement to Avonmouth empty cement tanks but on the few occasions when the weather was decent enougf for a day-today working it has run very early and caught me out. On Saturday 24 August 2019 there was something else on the same line to go for and it was sunny so made sure that I was at Stoke Works Junction in time. As usual on a Saturday 6V84 this time with 66756 on the front was early away from the Birmingham area and I took this image some 40 minutes ahead of schedule. A class 170 running as 1M61 from Hereford to Birmingham new Street was approaching from the other direction having just joined the main line from the single track to Droitwich. As the final tank behind 66756 wsas under the road bridge 170652 in its new colour scheme was heading towards Bromsgrove and the climb up the Lickey Incline.
There are couple of CrossCountry HSTs to be found each day on the Birmingham to Gloucester line but on Saturday 24 August 2019 there were two hired-in LNER sets in use. The first, 1V46, clashed with something else I had to do but 1V50 to Plymouth from Edinburgh some 2 hours later was more convenient. I didn't want to go south of Worcester because there were 2 steam workings with the associated crowds in the area so instead went to Stoke Works Junction. The train formed of 43290 + EC64 + 43367 lost time for most of the run from Edinburgh and was 34 minutes late leaving Birmingham New Street. Still, it was pleasant in the warm sun chatting to another couple of photographers and the time soon passed. Here is the colourful ensemble going by with much horn blowing and a friendly wave from the driver. Why on earth could FGW not have done something half as good with the livery for their high speed units instead of the dull overall green they settled upon? I hope that the uncle of the gentleman to whom I was talking here earlier likes the picture!
A light engine move from Didcot to Long Marston via Oxford, Leamington Spa and Birmingham, 0Z55, appeared in RTT to run on Monday 19 August 2019. It was cancelled long before departure but reappeared later with the route having been changed to the Golden Valley line via Kemble. A return to Didcot also appeared and although I had no idea what the return load might be went across to Long Marston for a look. A set of JSA steel hoods was in the exchange sidings and 66139 arrived within a few minutes and was coupled onto the wagons. After waiting for a few moments for the sun to come out I took this image and then went straight to Honeybourne, suspecting at an early departure from the yard would be a strong possibility.
I had been on the road bridge at Honeybourne for only about 5 minutes, in bright sunshine, on the afternoon of 19 August 2019 when 6Z55 approached the staff hut to drop off the branch token. As soon as it moved the sun went in and 66139 brought its rake of JSAs towards the red signal protecting Honeybourne West Junction, there being a down passenger service signalled on the main line. It made a bit of a change to see anything but an old locomotive here, most recent trains having been in the hands of 1950s and 1960s motive power.
Another trip to Hatton on Saturday 17 August 2019. This time there was a train of 4 barrier wagons going from Leicester to Eastleigh but running a few minutes in front of this 4O29, the 05.44 Garston to Southampton freightliner hauled by 70010 and as I hadn't seen a FL class 70 for ages it was worth a shot. As I drove around the lanes to Hatton station there was a torrential downpour which fortunately had eased a little when 70010 became audible near Hatton North Junction just before it came into sight. I took this image slightly early to show the state of the 4 foot on the up line; a mass of weeds which extends all the way around the curve.
The rain which had ben falling when 70010 passed Hatton Station Junction stopped and sun began to come out of the clouds. A Chiltern Railways class 168 went by and then 57305 with 4 barrier coaches, running as 5O86 from Leicester to Eastleigh, came along a few minutes late. I had changed from a 50mm lens to an 85mm in order to give the short train a bit more impact. The sun was a bit too straight to light the barriers' bogies properly but there are few alternative locations on this line which are worth considering given the unchecked vegetation which, disgracefully, Network Rail has allowed to flourish all along this route.
MOD trains run from time to time on the GWR line through Hatton usually to or from Kineton, a few miles to the south. On Thursday 15 August 2019 a different destination was Warminster in Wiltshire to where a long rake of flats conveying mostly Foxhound vehicles was sent from Carlisle. Allocated the headcode 6V64 it was booked to pass Hatton at around 09.45 after a short layover in Dorridge loop which with the train being on time there was no chance of it avoiding. I timed leaving home to coincide with its arrival into the loop and arrived at Hatton a few moments before it left. This gave me 10 minutes to park, walk to the bridge and set up my camera. I soon heard 6V64 double-headed by 66722 + 66725 coming towards Hatton North Junction which coincided with the sun mostly coming out of some heavy cloud. The foxhounds were at the front of the consist with a few different examples at the back. I have been photographing here since it was possible to see boats on the Grand Union canal in the right background but have never seen the vegetation on and around the track left to grow so rampantly as it has been this year. Network Rail needs to get its backside into gear and get some work done. The leading locomotive used to be in GBRf's Metronet livery and here it is at Honeybourne in 2008 with a varied load heading for Crewe.
On Thursday 8 August 2019 50008 was sent light engine from Leicester LIP to Whitemoor Yard to collect a couple of HOBC wagons and haul them to Long Marston. On arrival it was discovered that the wagons were actually at Doncaster so the locomotive was sent straight there. Yes, honestly! The story was that the train would go to Long Marston over the next few days. It was in fact the next day, Friday 9th, and 6Z25 was due at Evesham at around 17.00 so I decided to go over for a shot as long as the forecast heavy and thundery showers didn't become too unpleasant. They didn't and on arrival at Briar Close some 20 minutes before the train was due the sun was in and out of some thin cloud. I saw that 6Z25 had left Norton Junction ahead of schedule and the early running continued and indeed had increased to 12 minutes before right time. The sun came out just as 50008 appeared behind the signal box and this is therefore definitely not an image for the light police given that the scene here is backlit at this time of day.
A schedule for a Hexthorpe Yard to Long Marston train running on Wednesday 31 July 2019 appeared on the preceding Monday. The weather on the Wednesday morning was dull and cloudy and given that the train, 6V84, wasn't all that unusual for the branch had decided not to go for a photograph. My mind was changed when a posting, in itself an increasingly rare event these days given that most enthusiasts don't bother to pass on information, saying that green 66779 Evening Star was hauling the pair of tanks going either for storage or cleaning. I reckoned that I just about had time to reach Long Marston road bridge and arrived just as the short train appeared in the distance. This is only the second time that I have seen this locomotive and fortunate that the ECS it was hauling through Hatton North Junction on 12 September 2016 was in much better light than was the case today.
I was out for a walk on the morning on Sunday 28 July 2019 and was crossing the road bridge at Stratford-upon-Avon station about 10 minutes before 8F 48151 was due to arrive with 1Z50 from Burton-on-Trent, a train operated by WCRC (probably much to the annoyance of Vintage Trains based at Tyseley!). I checked RTT and saw that 1Z50 was 9 minutes early passing Wilmcote and as I usually carry my Canon G10 when out and about stayed put. Within about 15 seconds I heard the train arriving but had to switch to the other side of the bridge as it was running on platform 2 rather than P1, as booked. This might give it an easier exit on the return to Burton in the expected wet weather given that it won't have to use the crossover from P1 to the up main line. I vaguely recall seeing the occasional 8F here in my spotting days when steam was real; I think they turned up now and again on a Washwood Heath to Honeybourne coal train although by that time 9Fs were more commonplace and on one memorable occasion gave me my one and only footplate ride; to Honeybourne with a tender-first light engine return. My mother's reaction when a very grubby and smut-covered 9 year old went home is best forgotten!
Another trip to the road bridge at Dark Lane, Hatton on 17 July 2019. This time there was an ECS working from Eastleigh to Tyseley with double-headed class 67s along with a couple of other trains within a few minutes. First to appear was a Freightliner 66 with 4E18 from Fairwood Yard but as this was under the bridge as I parked nearby... Within a few moments the distinctive sound of a class 68 announced the arrival of 1R33, the 13.10 from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street with 68014 providing the power, the train running about 20 minutes late following some signalling problems at Banbury.
Empty stock trains between Eastleigh and Tyseley are relatively common at the moment but the use of a pair of class 67s, particularly those of a royal persuasion, less so. The train running on 17 July 2019, 5Z62, in the hands of royal pair 67006 + 67026, was a bit early from Oxford but signalling issues at Banbury caused dealys to all traffic. I looked at a mapping app and saw about 7 trains standing at red signals in the area so waited until 5Z62 was given the road before leaving home. A booked stop at Fenny Compton was missed out which put it close to right time when it came around the curve from Budbrook Junction. Although 67s were a regular sight on the Marylebone to Wrexham and later on the Birmingham trains the claret liveried pair were not widely used on these services. Here is a picture of 67006 at Hatton in days before DVTs were used necessitating the use of topped and tailed locomotives with a couple of bashers enjoying the sound effects. The other locomotive on 5Z62, 67026, has seen quite frequent use on this line especially on test trains but a more unusual duty befell it on 11 July 2012 when HM The Queen visited Birmingham, the Royal Train being sent via Stratford-upon-Avon for reversal so that the Queen's saloon was in the correct position for her to alight at Snow Hill. Here is the rare sight passing Wilmcote in some bright early morning sun with 67006 out of sight on the back.
The regular train of empty ballast boxes from Westbury to Stud Farm, 6M40, was once a fairly runner but has been more sporadic in recent months. I haven't photographed it since Colas took over the job from GBRf so today was a first for me. The usual motive power when it does run is a class 70 but 66847 was allocated on 17 July 2019. I was already on the 3 arch bridge near Hatton so hung on for a few minutes so as to take an image as it ran along the Down Goods Loop. The sun was in and out but luckily it was behind cloud at just the right momnent as a shot of a train in this loop on a sunny afternoon is not worth the effort.
For some time I have kept my original 2004 DSLR, a Nikon D70, in the boot of my car should anything worthy of a photograph come along. On Monday 15 July I was bypassing the perennial traffic queues in the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon and saw this HGV with a Virgin liveried coach at the side of a road. There is a convenient grass verge in the right place on which I was able to park and took this view of Mk3 SO 12095 which had just been taken from Long Marston, where it is been resident for some years, for either scrap or maybe for re-use somewhere or other.
The British Pullman with VSOE stock ran from London Victoria to Warwick Parkway on Wednesday 10 July 2019 with 35028 Clan Line providing the motive power. The only part of the itinerary that was of interest to me was when 5Z82 used Hatton Down Goods Loop during its ECS movement to Tyseley LMD for servicing. Any passenger stock is relatively unusual along the loop and I couldn't recall photographing such a train before today. The train was a few minutes late leaving Warwick Parkway and there was a Newcastle-bound CrossCountry service only a few minutes behind but this didn't get in the way of the shot as Clan Line chiffed its way up the bank towards Hatton station in some fortunately quite thick cloud; sun here at lunchtime would be useless for a shot of anything in the loop. The empty stock was later due to pick the passengers at Stratford-upon-Avon with 35028 running tender first taking the stock there via the North Warwickshire Line. It left Tyseley nearly 20 minutes late, arriving at Stratford 15 late leading in turn to a 35 minute late departure and because it needed both platforms 1 & 2 (P3 being occupied by a Chiltern unit) so that the locomotive was able to run-round the stock, causing significant delay to a London Midland service from Stourbridge Junction and its return to the West Midlands. The same locomotive was a regular visitor to Stratford in the 1980s and here is a picture of it standing just south of the station and again a few minutes after departure with driver Gordon White keeping an eye on things.
On Friday and Saturday 5 and 6 July 2019 the Northern Belle train made separate visits to Stratford-upon-Avon from Carnforth and Wakefield respectively. Both runs went via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction and Friday's was under cloudless skies and with none of the local photo-stops being of any use at all just after noon I stayed at home; it's a shame it didn't use the North Warwickshire Line where at least a couple of locations would have been usuable. On Saturday 6th the skies were cloudy and just to have a record shot I made the short walk to the GWR station, taking my Canon G10 which although small and light shoots in RAW format and has a proper zooming optical viewfinder. Just before 1Z63, topped and tailed by 57316 + 37314, arrived some drizzle started to fall and I think that a raindrop on the lens caused the slight fuzziness evident towards the back of the train.
The weather forecast for Saturday 29 June 2019 was for unbroken sunshine throughout the day. This tempted out for one of my rare outings for a charter train, a 1Z80 05.39 Tame Bridge to Penzance run to mark Mazey Day in Cornwall. I thought that the sun would be high enough at Croome Perry for a shot from the less well-known north side of the line so went there arriving with about 20 minutes to spare. The locomotives used were DRS's 37218 + 37059 and one of the advantages of old stuff is that it is easier to hear them coming than some more modern traction and the pair became audible soon after crossing from the Worcester line at Abbotswood Junction. The train is pictured just after leaving the gloom of Croome Perry wood and although there was a little light and hazy cloud around which took the edge off the shadows I was happy enough with the image along with this one of 68004 bringing up the rear.
I wasn't expecting to see this train, the 06.26 from Awre to Bescot empty ballast hoppers as it left its originating point 98 minutes early. Control had other ideas and it festered at Gloucester for ages before being released 14 minutes late and then losing an extra 10 minutes in Eckington loop to allow some passenger trains to pass. The sun was just coming out of some unexpectedly thick cloud as 66015 with 6W02 approached the bridge at Croome Perry. I used the out-of-focus foliage on the left of the frame to provide a bit of a framing effect but in retrospect should perhaps have gone a bit to my left and avoided it.
The bits of early morning cloud soon burned away on Saturday 29 June 2019 and temperatures soared. The prospect of an unusual train running north through Hatton made me go out in temperatures just exceeding 30° Celsius, far too warm for my liking. The location I chose was the 3 arch bridge on Dark Lane, Hatton because 1) it's the nearest spot on the line to my home, 2) it's possible to stand under the shade of some trees and 3) most importantly there was no way that I wanted a 15 minute each way walk to Hatton North Junction. The first train along was 168218 running as 1R29, the 12.10 from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street which was followed within a few minutes by 165021 with 2D29 from Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Class 56s are not, in 2019, a common sight on the GWR Leamington Spa to Hatton line so when a pair of the old locomotives was scheduled to operate a train along there on Saturday 29 June 2019 I felt, despite the uncomfortably hot weather, that a shot would be in order. To quote from another of my captions, the location I chose was the 3 arch bridge on Dark Lane, Hatton because 1) it's the nearest spot on the line to my home, 2) it's possible to stand under the shade of some trees and 3) most importantly there was no way that I wanted a 15 minute each way walk to Hatton North Junction. This isn't my favourite location on the line because it is a bit too anonymous but it does, for those who like the sun on the front of the locomotive, have the advantage that their preferred illunination is available here, unlike most other spots on the line. Despite this there were just two of us there to photograph the working. The train, 0954 Southampton Up Yard to Chaddesden, running as 6Z19 was running to time which meant that there was a 99% chance that it wouldn't be routed along the DGL which would have been useless as far a photo on a sunny day is concerned. The fear of the 1% chance was allayed when the throbbing exhaust of the locomotives was heard beyond Budbrook Junction as they climbed the 1/100 of Hatton Bank. I understand that the train was sent south to work a very short term flow removing recycled ballast from Westbury Yard for use on the Isle of Wight at some future point. The sight of this double-headed train reminded of a couple of others from some years ago. The first is this one of 58020 + 58012 operating the old self-discharge train from Banbury to Mountsorrelm on 9 July 1997 and second 47286 + 47241 with a Swindon to Longbridge train of car parts a bit later on the same day.
Saturday 22 June was a warm and sunny day and as I had been to a farm shop in a remote part of Worcestershire it seemed sensible to retunr via Evesham to take a picture of the Northampton EMD to Long Marston class 350/1 movement. Just a few seconds after I arrived at Briar Close 800318 was approaching the signal box with 1P47, the 12.04 from Worcester Foregate Street to Paddington. There was already another train in the station waiting for the road and this was another class 800 forming the 10.54 Reading to Hereford, 1W02, which hadn't started as booked from Paddington because of "an issue with the crew". The newly extended up platform still isn't long enough to accomodate a full-length train which didn't help the composition of this image.
According to RTT, 5Q94 formed of 37601 + 350104 was waiting at Norton Junction for 1W02 to clear the single track from Evesham West Junction. It made up a few minutes on the run to Evesham and is seen here slowly approaching the statiion where I think it stopped briefly, possibly to pick up a crew member to operate the equipment at Honeybourne Staff Hut. I can't pretend to get too excited about yet another shot of of an ROG class 37 on a stock move but it's nice to get a sunny shot in the bag albeit with the sun a bit too high for my liking. I wasn't watching the sky before the train arrived but as 5Q94 was behind me in the station the sun went in for a minute or so as the only piece of cloud in the sky passed over. I was the only photographer on the bridge and I hadn't seen a single posting about the train, not that that this is at all unusal these days, so perhaps the allure of these workings has faded.
The excitement at Long Marston is never ending! [End sarcasm tag] The Rail Live event commenced on Wednesday 19 June 2019 and now that much of the branch from Honeybourne has been relaid FGW consider it safe enough to allow one of their trains along it. The working is question was 1Z19, the 07.05 direct service from Paddington, operated by 5 coach class 802 unit, 802008. As I don't live far away, it was another first for the branch and it wasn't raining I went across for a record shot arriving some 30 minutes before the booked time because I thought that there was no way it would take as long as booked to cross over Honeybourne North Junction (the first service so to do) and traverse the branch. This proved to be correct and it arrived some 25 early making for a picture of almost overwhelming greenness. I was alone on the road bridge unlike last year when 73962 + 73963 topped and tailed 4 coaches on a similar move and even better, in 2017, Vivarail's 230001 ran a shuttle service between Long Marston and Honeybourne.
The gates into the site at Long Marston were already open on 19 June 2019 and various members of the ground crew had stationed themselves along the exchange sidings to keep an eye on 802008 as it moved around the circuit towards the small platform used on these occasions. From the road bridge it was possible to see part of the display area in the background. In a piece of spectacularly bad timing given that the Rail Live has been in the calendar for about 12 months Warwickshire County Council had given permission for 3 sets of temporary traffic lights to cover roadworks in Station Road, Long Marston, where the road entrance to the event was situated, and these caused huge backlogs of traffic, not only on Station Road but on the main road to Chipping Campden too. I was sat with my engine switched off for several minutes and just behind this vehicle waiting to gain entrance to the Quinton Rail Technology Centre a few yards further on.
Tuesday 18 June 2019 saw another couple of stock moves to Long Marston for the Rail Live event. The first was 2Z08 from Derby RTC which, as the headcode suggested, was the former class 150 unit now numbered 950001 which looked as if it had cleaned for the occasion. I went to Honeybourne so as to take a picture of the unit as it joined the Long Marston and for this one went to the "landing" on the enourmously over-engineered footbridge. The light was as good as it ever became and a few wild roses and some elderlowers lift the greenness of the scene.
The next train to visit the Long Marston branch on 18 June 2019 was a first; a LNER Azuma class 800/1 IET, 800113 running as 5Q80 from Doncaster Carr IET Depot. The light had deteriorated a lot since the previous movement and some heavy drizzle had begun to fall. A similar train from the GWR stable would have virtually disappeared into the gloom but the LNER version has a much better colour scheme and does manage to stand out reasonably well from the background. I had moved onto the adjacent road bridge for this shot for a bit of variety and to be able to take another image as it waited at the Staff Hut for the single line token to be driven from Long Marston. The van arrived as I walked back to my car so on this occasion there would be no problem with getting to the bridge at Long Marston for yet another picture.
I didn't need to burn any rubber to reach Long Marston from Honeybourne for another picture of LNER Azuma 800113 on Tuesday 18 June 2019. The man with the token would had to walked from Honeybourne station to the Staff Hut and then 5Q80 would have to travel the length of the branch. I had a good 6 or 7 minutes in hand before the train appeared in the distance and made its way through the increasingly heavy rain to the end of the branch. The gates were already opened and I took the almost obligatory image as 800113 entered the exchange sidings. It makes for an interesting contrast with the FGW HSTs just visible in the background through the murk.
I've been on holiday so had an extended gym and swimming pool session on Monday 17 June 2019. On arrival home at 11.45 I found a message from a friend on my 'phone saying that 66423 + 88007 were double-heading some point carriers and a crane from Toton to Long Marston for display at the 2019 Rail Live event; a quick check on RTT telling me that it had passed Norton Junction and was on time approaching Evesham. I had seen that a train was running but had assumed that it was some OTP which, had it been sunny, I should have made an effort to photograph at Evesham but as it was dull and overcast... The only location which could be reached in time was the road bridge at the entrance to the site at Long Marston where I arrived at about 12.05. It wasn't many minutes before 6X97 appeared in the distance and the unusual formation was shot as it drew to a halt ready to allowed into the exchange sidings.
Long Marston must have seen more strange combinations of traction and stock than most places and the sight of 66423 + 88007 certainly fits into that category. The train, 6X97 from Toton, is shown just just after arrival on 17 June 2019 awaiting the gates' opening and being sent into road no. 2 of the exchange sidings alongside another similar set of stock which had arrived the previous week.
I do know the indentity of this train being hauled through Sutton Park by 56105 on 13 July 1990; the morning Witton to Whitwell quarry empty stone wagons. As can be seen, the former GPO depot was being used to stable OTP one of which was just about to be fired up and moved to another site. I haven't been back here in the intervening years and I very much doubt that the old platforms are as easily accessible in 2019 and I expect that fencing is in place along with a lot more tree growth shading the scene.
Class 37 movements did not create quite the same reaction from enthusiasts in 1990 as is sometimes the case today; they were simply part of the scene. In this picture from 13 July 1990 37220 + 37215 were taking a decent set of oil tanks in an easterly direction through Sutton Park, the main freight route from the Bescot direction to either the East Midlands via Water Orton or through the Washwood Heath area to the Gloucester line or to Oxford via Leamington Spa.
Class 58s on MGR traffic were so commonplace in July 1990 that by and large they went unnoticed but I always quite liked them and have dozens of pictures of them all over the Midlands. I don't know to where 58003 was heading as it passed Sutton Park on 13 July 1990 but it wasn't far as it came back with a couple of oil tanks, probably going to Bescot, within 90 minutes.
It was usual for trains such as this short departmental workings to have a possible variety of destinations depending on day-to-day requirements. This is probably a Bescot to Toton service conveying some ballast hoppers and rail carrying flats and was hauled through Sutton Park station by 31402 on 13 July 1990.
A relatively unusual sight in 1990 on the freight-only line through Sutton Park was a Liverpool to Reading locomotive-hauled ECS. On this occasion, 13 July 1990, 47508 was doing the honours and I do recall that the routing of this train was one of the reasons I had a trip over there.
After waiting for some time for a suitable gap in the traffic on 13 July 1990 there was finally a path found for DX73245 to leave the stabling point adjacent to Sutton Park station and to go off in an easterly direction.
The westbound shot through the closed station at Sutton Park wasn't great but I do remember that the sound of 37098 climbing the bank with its short steel train on 13 July 2019 being quite impressive. The locomotive was one of those having recently been repainted into a plain grey colour scheme ostensibly for use on departmental traffic but often appearing on other duties.
Yet another set of off-lease HST went for storage from Laira to Long Marston on Monday 3 June 2019. On this occasion the power was provided by 47727 + 47749 in their new colour schemes, radically different from the, in my opinion, much more attractive Colas livery which they were carrying when I photographed them in charge of the 6Z48, the 13.05 Burton-upon-Trent to Dollands Moor empty steel train seen here at Hatton North Junction on 24 June 2009. Here's another view of 47727 running solo after another visit to Long Marston with the green FGW car carrying wagons. The early sun had gone by the time 5Z43 reached Worcester for the second time, having run via Bescot and Birmingham to avoind a run-round, although a 92 minute late start had been made up by then. In view of the weather I went just to the road bridge at Long Marston where I noticed that an old MOD building has just been modified by the addition of some exhaust or air filter equipment.
Unlike previous HST stock trains to Long Marston when there were either no power cars or two operating the train as normal the run on 3 June 2019 had a single PC, 43056, at the rear which had been idling for the entire journey presumably to provide a bit of extra braking power. At least 6 other HSTs can be seen in the storage sidings awaiting an uncertain future which, rather optimistically, may include some further use on some parts of our network. Roe deer are frequently seen in the fields around here but this one was taking its chance on the road; fortunately it soon found its way back into safer territory.
I'll be the first to admit that I haven't photographed many FGW HSTs in their final months of service so had resolved to make the effort for the farewell railtour, The Flying Banana, when it ran on 1 June 2019. The only convenient part of the tour for me was 1Z23 from Paddington to Carmarthen which ran via the North Cotswold Line and with a sunny forecast there was no point in going much further north than Moreton in Marsh especially as I was interested only in a shot with some identity to it rather than open countryside which could be anywhere. The London Road bridge just to the south of Moreton in Marsh station has some lower-quadrant semaphore signals in view so was a good choice as far as I was concerned. Here is the train approaching its booked pathing stop with the oldest extant power car, 43002, leading with the newest by some 7 years still available, 43198, bringing up the rear.
With the sunny being fully out it would have been rude not to have taken a further shot as 1Z23 entered Moreton-in-Marsh on 1 June 2019. Power car car 43198 brings up the rear as the train passes the signal box and associated semaphores including a recent additiion on the down side which allows for terminating arrivals from the south to return without a shunt being necessary. A few seconds before departure I took a final panoramic view of the station. The next section of the tour, to Worcester, was delayed for around 20 minutes by a points failure at Norton Junction but most of the lost time was picked up quite quickly.
The test train which I photographed at Henley-in Arden on 21 May 2019 ran on the following day from Tyseley to Bristol and on Thursday 23rd returned to the West Midlands via Oxford and Evesham. There seemed to be about a 50% chance of sun judging by the clouds over Stratford-upon-Avon so I thought it worthwhile to go somewhere on the North Cotswold Line for a shot, this time with 37610 leading assuming that the usual practice had been followed. Just as I arrived on the road bridge near Evesham I saw a double headlight approaching from the West and just had time to grab this image of a class 800 DMU forming 1W23, the 11.20 Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street.
A few minutes after taking the photograph shown above on Thursday 23 May 2019 a southbound class 802 came along which is seen here passing underneath the A46 Evesham Bypass and the higher bridge carrying a much quieter road to some private houses and a hotel. A recent addition to the lineside here is a solar farm which although a bit unsightly has to be better for the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels to generate electrical power. Much of the earlier cloud had cleared so a fair wattage was being fed into the grid today.
Although I have no objection to photographing DMUs I doubt that I would go to the North Cotswold Line just to take pictures of IETs. This was the case on 23 May 2019 when I was near Evesham and had just taken a couple of shots of the units while waiting for 1Z23, the regular test train from Bristol to Tyseley. The NCL was running to time and it was just as scheduled when 37610 leading the test coaches and 37521 came into view going under Mutton Bridge at Blackminster. The sun was in a clear patch of blue sky so there was no angst about losing the light, not that there was anyone else here gazing around to spot stray clouds. When in DRS colours 37610 was commonplace on test trains and here are another two shots on this line from 27 November 2006 when 1Z14 was captured passing Evesham signal box and a few seconds later as it went by the now-gone semaphore signals.
The third of this year's "Stratford Flyer" trains run by the WCRC reached the terminus on 22 May 2019. This time it was 1Z61, the 08.00 from Scarborough, with 57314 with 57316 providing the power which was sceduled to arrive into Stratford's platform 1 at 13.49. As expected it was a couple of minutes early having a good run along the North Warwickshire Line from Whitlocks End to Bearley despite having to pause for few minutes at both locations to allow local traffic to precede it. The weather was warm and bright and as the arrival time was a bit early for optimum lighting conditions had the sun been fully out some light cloud was welcome. The station is in the throes of some quite major improvement works which along with the dreadful and overbearing sight of the new high-density housing scheme on the former cattle market site dominating the scene, the visitors' first impressions of their destination were not favourable. At least the station improvements are positive and will greatly benefit passengers when complete. The other development is likely in time to make the area a no-go area after dark...
The regular test train from Derby to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon ran on nTuesday 22 May 2019. This was the first time since the previous Autumn that 1Q48 would be photographable on the North Warwickshire in daylight; its passing time for Henley-in-Arden being 18.39. It seemed likely that that the sun would be shining after a partly cloudy afternoon so I drove to Henley station where the only stretch of line largely clear of shadows was off the northern end of the platforms. The train was running a few minutes late because the preceding passenger working was late due to a passenger having been taken ill earlier in the day. This set up the very real possibility that another unit from Stratford upon Avon to Worcester might be in just the wrong place but it came and went with a good 30 seconds to spare. Here is 37521 topping and tailing the stock with 37610, substituting for the usual 67023 + 67027, approaching the station at low speed under a signal that had just been cleared from red to green. This accounts for the exhaust haze from the locomotives as the driver opened up.
A sunny afternoon and a class 67 hauled ECS was enough to tempt me out to Hatton North Junction on Wednesday 15 May 2019. On arrival at the access to the footpath in Shrewley village I was met with a sign indicating that the 47 acre site between the M40 and Grand Union canal, currently in use as a turf farm, is for sale by auction in June. This area is inside the Green Belt so hopefully, subject to no corruption on the part of the local council or a Government Inspector (ha!), it will not be available for development. The area around the footbridge habitually used by photographers has been cleared by the present owners and now offers the chance to take images without having to resort to steps or plastic crates in order to clear vegetation. A few seconds after I arrived the sound of 68012 climbing Hatton Bank with 1R33, the 13.10 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street, was clearly audible and it wasn't long before the train appeared coming aroundhe curve from Hatton station.
The ECS train for which I was waiting was 5Z52 from Eastleigh to Tyseley and was formed of 67002 with 7 or 8 coaches and 66002 dead on the rear. I was watching 5Z52 on a mapping app and it stopped outside Leamington Spa with 6M48 from Southampton to Halewood in the station's centre road and, being a long train, fouling the junction for the platform line through which the ECS would otherwise have been able to run to get around the blockage. I have no idea what the problem was but it delayed the 67's train by some 25 minutes. There was no prospect of losing the light and the colourful ensemble passed me at 15.12. Here is a view of 66002 bringing up the rear; dead in train and not acting as a banker as may have been the case many years ago when either or double-heading of heavy trains from Leamington Spa or Warwick was the norm.
One of the regular freights along here is 6M40, the Colas operated Westbury to Stud Farm ballast empties, was unfortunately cancelled on 15 May 2019 so the only other freight I was expecting to see was 6O30, the 14.27 Washwood Heath Jaguar to Southampton car carriers. On this occasion 66105 was hauling a 2 sets of enclosed wagons to protect the JLR products; on other occasions some of the cars have been on open flats.
Just before 6O30 came south at Hatton North Junction on 16 May 2019 172335 had arrived at the signal on the branch from Stratford-upon-Avon. Two northbound passenger trains on the main line were allowed to pass before 2W82, the 15.03 to Stourbridge Junction, was given the road and came around the sharp curve between Hatton West and North Junctions.
There has been a 6Z31 from Cardiff to Long Marston planned for a few weeks but on previous occasions it was cancelled. On Thursday 9 May 2019 it actually ran and with 66718 in charge. I hadn't seen this locomotive in its current colour scheme so was a bit disappointed when I realised that for various reasons I wouldn't be able to go out for a picture. Luckily, things changed slightly and I just had time to drive to Long Marston for its arrival and decided on a shot from the roadside rather than from the usual road bridge. Things nearly went wrong because 1) the new continuously welded track on the branch doesn't allow one to hear a train coming and 2) the driver didn't sound his locomotive's horn on the way here. Because of this I was on the wrong side of the road when 6Z31 appeared and with a car coming wasn't able to get across so this view isn't exactly as planned with a bit too much undergrowth visible. This locomotive has been here on several previous occasions including a visit on 23 July 2008 when it was sent to collect a brand-new set of JPA cement tanks and take them to Earles Sidings.
A schedule appeared on RTT showing that a Leicester to Long Marston light engine move followed by a class 5 train to Eastleigh would run on Wednesday 8 May 2019. I had mostly decided not to bother because I thought that it would just be an ROG class 37 with a single coach or two but after returning home from town I saw from a friend's message that it was to 57305 topping ans tailing a class 117 DMU. That's more like it, I thought and even though I was cutting it fine to say the least grabbed a camera bag and headed out. As the departure time from Long Marston was 12.15 and it was already 11.55 I went straight to Honeybourne via 3 sets of temporary traffic lights (all on red) and a clurch of slow moving vehicles. I was convinced that I would have missed it but after arriving on the road bridge saw that 5Q86 was sitting at the staff hut rather than at the signal in the station as is more usual. This was lucky for me as a half-decent shot, despite the foul weather, would be on the cards. It wasn't long before the branch signal was cleared and 57303 led the train towards the main line and off to Worcester for a reversal. As far as I can recall there were 2 class 117 sets in Long Marston; the first having been used at an open day in 2007 and the other, the former RHTT set which arrived in 2015. I am told by, and thanks to, John Beale that the unit pictured here is probably on its way to the Wareham Railway and has been in Long Marston for work including locking doors prior to being used on that line. That would explain the signs of work on the bodysides. The unit's brakes were not operational and a through pipe between the locomotives was in use; on the side not visible here. Here is another view as 48713 tails the train towards Honeybourne North Junction.
I have been following the transfer of class 172/0 DMUs from Ilford to Tyseley with some interest so when the first of the transferees to work a passenger train was confirmed for Tuesday 7 May 2019 I was keen to have a shot of it. I decided on this working rather one with several old locomotives and stock going to a diesel gala as, as I expect someone has said, "There's only one first run"; so the DMU won. I went to Stoke Prior for 1V25, the 10.50 Birmingham New Street to Hereford because 1) it's not far to go and 2) if the early sunshine happened to linger the train would be well lit. It very nearly worked out with just a trace of high cloud in the sky but hey-ho, who cares?!
On the same day as shot shown above, Tuesday 7 May 2019, some more class 172/0s were scheduled to leave Ilford for Tyseley running via the WCML, Coventry and Leamington Spa. There was some doubt over whether 5M66 would happen as 172001 had apparently derailed in Ilford Yard during the previous day but after returning home from Stoke Prior I saw that it was running, and close to right time. This gave me time for a slow coffee and trip over to Hatton station. It wasn't many minutes before 172004 appeared on the final few yards of Hatton, luckily just before the sun came out fully.
The first drag of a class 350/1 EMU from Northampton to Long Marston took place on Sarurday 27 March 2019. This will no doubt be the first of many similar moves taking EMUs for corrosion rectification work at the Warwickshire site. I originally hadn't planned to photograph this train because the weather forecast for for heavy rain and strong winds but the former didn't materialise and there was some brightness in the sky. The wind at Honeybourne was very strong and made it slightly difficult to hold my camera steady as 5Q94, 37601 + 350106, left the North Cotswold Line and joined the branch. I drove home via Long Marston and the train was just arriving as I approached the bridge; it had made the short journey much more quickly than had been the case and is the result of much of the branch's track having been relaid on concrete sleepers. That well-known chase practised by many between Honeybourne and LOng Marston may now be a thing of the past...
I returned home from the gym on Wednesday 24 April 2019 and eventually had a look at my 'phone only to see that the crew training runs involving a class 172/0 between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon were again running. I had plenty of time to drive the few miles to Wilmcote station where I arrived in time to see from a mapping app that the 12.40 Stratford to Leamington train, 2L45, had just departed the terminus. Here is 165006 arriving at Wilmcote where a solitary passenger was waiting to board. Wilmcote is a classic example of a GWR wayside station with substantial and currently well-preserved station infrastructure along with the large stationmaster's house which is just visible behind the station building's chimney.
As soon at 165006, shown above, had cleared the between Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway and Wilmcote on 24 April 2019 the signal for platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon itself was set to green and 5T75 left for its final run of the day to Tyseley. I didn't know which unit was involved and hoped that it might be 172003 which is now in the orange and purple livery of West Midlands Trains. In the event it was 172006 and here it is passing under the well-kown but distinctly tatty GWR footbridge in its dreadful non-authentic "mucky pink" paint scheme with liberal helpings of rust only too evident. On the plus side, not many stations have a modern bicycle shelter built in the style, in not the colours, of a GWR building.
While waiting for 172006 at Wilmcote on 24 Spril 2019 the 11.28 Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon via Dorridge, 2D28, went south formed of 2 class 172/2s in the new colour scheme of West Midlands Trains. As these were the first of the 2 coach units I had seen in this livery I waited a few minutes after 172006 had gone to have a record shot as they returned non-stop through Wilmcote station. The light had really caved in by the time 172212 + 172221 passed me but I took the shot anyway just as heavy rain began to fall. Here's a reminder of the train's former colour scheme as it arrives at Stratford-upon-Avon in July 2016.
There were 3 train movements at Long Marston during the morning of 16 April 2019. The first of these was a class 165 DMU from Reading Traincare Depot which was scheduled to arrive at around 10.30 with the second, a EMT class 156 due to leave the site a few minutes later. While waiting for 165136 to arrive from Honeybourne I saw 156498 move slowly around the loop and despite the misty and murky weather took the opportunity for a broadside view. A few minutes later 3 roe deer wandered into view and it was only then that I noticed that 165204 was also making its way around the circuit towards the exchange sidings prior to departure later in the morning. In the meantime 165136 was about to arrive through the misty background.
As soon as 165136 had arrived at Long Marston it joined 156498 in the exchange sidings where its lights were switched from red to white and offered an unusual chance for a shot of the 2 very different classes of DMU standing side-by-side.
As is clear from the image shown above EMT 156498, running as 5Q67 to Derby Etches Park , was ready to leave Long Marston on 16 April 2019 and soon began the run along the branch to Honeybourne. This train should have run on the previous Saturday but was cancelled an hour or so after the booked departure time.
On your marks, get set... As soon as 156498 had left Long Marston for Derby 165204, which had been waiting behind the bushes just beyond the road bridge, moved into the sidings ready for its own departure some time later offering the chance for an unusal image of 2 class 165s standing together here. The booked time for 165204 was 13.39 but I later saw that it actually went at 11.53 although it had to sit at Honeybourne until close to the booked time. Because the branch operates under a One Train Only rule with a single line staff which by now was in the Staff Hut at Honeybourne having been left there by the crew of 5Q67, someone would had to have driven there to collect it before the unit could leave on its journey to Reading via Moreton in Marsh.
After a short break the 5T7X training runs using a class 172/0 recommenced on Monday 8 April 2019. I wasn't able to photograph the first run and the second was curtailed at Whitlocks End following 172006 suffering a coolant leak which ran onto a hot exhaust initially causing fears that an engine was on fire. On Tuesday 9 April I was out walking and timed things so that I arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon station just before 5T72 was due. I lined up a shot for a platform 2 arrival but 172002 was instead sent into P3 which isn't the best for photography. I waited until the headlights had been turned on before taking a single image just before departure. Another of these units, 172003, has received the vinyls of its new operator and I had hoped that it might had appeared today, but no... One of the benefits of the station's ongoing refurbishment is the presence of a new café in the car park serving some of the best coffee that money buy, roasted just outside Stratford by Monsoon Estates the owners of which, Anne and Chris, are pictured extreme left and right in my picture of the café. Thanks to Steve Widdowson for the information on 172003/006.
Back to my normal daylight hours on Thursday 28 March 2019. There was a light engine move, showing as Colas operated, from Bescot to Long Marston during the morning with the return being with a load of presumably oil tanks to Lindsey Refinery. As it was a warm and sunny morning I took my Morris Minor out for a drive around the lanes ending up with an arrival at Long Marston road bridge a few minutes before the locomotive was due to arrive. It had passed Evesham some 13 minutes early but clearly met with some delay after leaving the main line at Honeybourne, perhaps having to await a shunter's arrival before taking the single token from the cupboard. Anyway, 70817 turned up and was soon coupled to the 6 bogie tanks which have just been cleaned and refurbished before carrying out a brake test and pulling onto the branch. Some work is being carried on other tanks as can just be made out on the extreme right midground of this image. The sun was a bit patchy but found a clear bit of sky at the right time and lifted the scene nicely, including some early blackthorn blossom. I thought about going to Honeybourne for another shot but already had an image of 70809 on a similar train there and didn't think that I take anything as good on this occasion.
I had an almost unprecedentedly early start on Tuesday 26 March 2019 with the aim of photographing the first train for several years to Ashchurch MOD. The train was scheduled to sit in Worcester TC overnight but on looking at a mapping app at 04.45 I saw that 6X34 from Marchwood MOD was actually in Ashchurch loop where it had spent the night. As I was awake I drove over and met the very friendly and helpful shunter waiting for his colleague near the track leading to the exchange sidings/yard alongside the main line. While chatting to him the train went past and reversed from the main line into the yard - his colleague had used another entrance! I walked up to the road bridge and in the distance saw a headlight which turned out to be 66772 with 6M90, the 0511 Avonmouth Hanson Sdg to Clitheroe Castle Cement. The time was 06.05 and the sun had risen into some light cloud a few minutes earlier. For anyone interested the settings on my Nikon D800 were 1/320 at f3.5 on a Nikon 50mm 1.8G lens with ISO 1600.
I was waiting for around 30 minutes on the cold and slightly frosty morning of 26 March 2019 before there was any movement from the locomotive and ground crews which I took to mean that they had to wait until the MOD were ready to receive the train of armoured vehicles. The move here involves a man walking down the track in front of the train to protect the 2 unguarded foot crossings on the branch. There are no run-round facilities so the train has to be propelled under radio control along the tightly curved track. This was never going to be a easy shot but it was worse than I had anticipated because the sun cleared its bank of cloud. Luckily, it was still too low to illuminate the train or track and the image is a just about acceptable record of the event. It was interesting to watch some commuters on Ashchurch station pointing their 'phones at 6X34 as it went along the branch; I can imagine some bemused colleagues when the footage is shown...
Monday 25 March 2019 was a largely clear and sunny day and with the prospect of a well-lit shot of large logo liveried 66789 I went to Hatton North Junction for a short session. First along was Chiltern Railways 168219 with 1R37, the 1410 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street and as it was running just a few minutes in front of 66789 it was an obvious candidate for an exposure and histogram check.
The regular empty ballast wagons from Westbury to Stud Farm is operated by GBRf, although at the time of writing not for much longer as Colas are shortly to take over this train. On Monday 25 March 2019 the sole large logo liveried 66789 was diagrammed for the train, apparently as a way to work in northwards after railtour duties in the West of England on the previous Saturday. I had a dull shot of the locomotive but the weather on 25 March was clear and sunny and looked to be set that way for the whole day. Hatton North was the obvious place for a shot and a group of 8 photographers were either on the bridge or, as was I, in the field. The train, 6M40, ran close to right time and left its booked stop in Hatton DGL just as scheduled and soon came around the curve from Hatton station in perfect light.
The third HST set to travel for storage to Long Marston under its own power ran on Sunday 24 March 2019. The day was clear and sunny and offered me the chance to take a picture of the train from the platform end at Honeybourne as it joined the Long Marston branch. I'm not interested in taking a shot on the North Cotswold Line itself as HSTs have been running up and down there for years. Departure from Laira was about 30 minutes late and another 20 were lost when 5Z43 was routed in the loop at Tiverton even though nothing overtook it in the time it sat there. Some time was later saved by the reversal taking place at Norton Junction rather than Worcester TC but arrival at Honeybourne was still close to one hour late.
I just had the time to walk the full length of the up platform at Honeybourne to take this view of 43040 + 43087 as they pulled away from the staff hut after collecting the single line token for the Long Marston branch.
A large proportion of the track on the Long Marston branch has recently been renewed making a chase from Honeybourne to the road bridge across the end of the branch a bit more tricky. At this time of day it doean't matter as the sun is completely wrong but it may be a nuisance on a dull day. There was a return working to Long Marston in the system for 24 March 2019 and I did read something saying that 2 of the power cars from a previous train were to go to Laira. This was incorrect and 43050 was detached from the coaches while 43087 took the stock around the loop and stabled them next to the other sets already there.
The stock stabling took quite a while but 43087 eventually returned to the exchange sidings at Long Marston on 24 March 2019 and the two power cars were coupled together. This was my cue to return Honeybourne for a shot of the diminutive train as it was about to leave the branch and rejoin the NCL.
The run down to Honeybourne didn't take long whether by road or rail and 0Z43 soon appeared on the curve in the background at stopped at the staff hut. It was unfortunate that its departure from the hut coincided with a 9 coach class 800 pulling out of Honeybourne station but on this sort of occasion you just have to make the best of it!
The regular train carrying new rails from (usually) Scunthorpe to Eastleigh is generally hauled by a DBS 66 with very occasional incursions from a class 60. On Friday 22 March 2019 the usual 66 was accompanied by 67013 which gave the prospect for an unusual picture. The dayglo pair, 66114 with the 67 DIT, along with a decent length train are shown here about to pass Hatton station spot on time and unusually with the headcode 6G01 rather than 6X01. Class 67s were a very common sight along this line when they were operated by WSMR and Chiltern but one of 67013's more notable workings was when it powered the last up WSMR train in daylight hours. It was, admittedly, only just daylight when it went though Hatton on 28 January 2011 with 1P23 which had a couple of extra coaches in the consist to cater for the enthusiast demand.
I had just photographed 6G01 at Hatton when 2D37, the 15.32 Leamington Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon pulled into the branch platform. It is usually a class 165 turn but on this occasion 172101 had been allocated so I paused for a few seconds to take a shot as it pulled away.
The former Colas class 47, 47749 is now owned and operated by GBRf. On Tuesday 19 March 2019 it made its first main line run from Eastleigh to Leicester L.I.P. in a new colour scheme and although i don't always bother with light engine moves this one fitted in nicely with a walk around Hatton Locks and Budbrooke village. The locomotive left Eastleigh about 2 hours late but the deficit fell quite dramatically one it had left the GWML at Didcot and was only about 40 minutes down by the time it left Banbury. This made me speed up a bit on the muddy footpaths and I arrived on the footbridge near where the Hatton DGL starts just as 0Z47 was passing Warwick. I was slightly disappointed that 47749 wasn't in full GBRf colours but the BR blue, once despised by virtually everyone when there was nothing else on the network, does look smart. The owner's name is picked out in simple white letters on the bodysides. Here is a view of the other end and a reminder of it looked on 19 April 2018.
Another set of class 172/0 test runs between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon took place on 14 March 2019. After some heavy showers the sky at Stratford began to clear so I walked to the station in the hope of getting a sunny shot. When I arrived 165018 was in platform 2 waiting to for the 10.37 to Leamington Spa, 2L33. I can rarely resist a good cloudscape on a sunny day so took this view framed in the footbridge as the unit left the station.
The next movement at Stratford-upon-Avon on Thursday 14 March 2019 was the arrival of 172341 from Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction. There isn't much of a photograph for a platform 1 arrival on a sunny morning but a head-on shot makes the best of a bad job. These trains via Hatton North have a layover of nearly 20 minutes here so there was nothing to delay the class 172/0's arrival into the station.
Just after 172341 as shown above had arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon on 14 March 2019 the sun went behind a large black cloud. My mapping app showed that 5T72 was somewhere between Wilmcote and Stratford Parkway stations and as a large clear patch of sky was getting close I was hopeful that I would have a sunny shot. Just for once everything went right and 172002 arrived into platform 2 in good light and with a dark sky. The sky was so good that I took another view as 172002 left, now running as 5T73. The second return run was cancelled so that the end of things for the day.
The GWR station at Stratford-upon-Avon is in the early stages of a complete refurbishment. Contractors have erected some temporary buildings between the station building and the road bridge, some of which can be seen in this view. The chaotic mess on the foreground and right of the image is where the builders of the horrifically designed and executed new high-density housing scheme looming gloomily over the whole area have taken over most of the foot and cycle access to the station, covering the whole concourse with mud and debris. I hate to think in what state the new paving will be be left bearing in mind the standard of building work on the new estate.
Class 172/0 172006 was again out for crew training runs on 12/13 March 2019. The weather on the earlier day was foul but by Wednesday 13th was much better with sunny spells. I wanted a shot of the former GOBLIN unit passing Wilmcote station with its GWR bridge albeit in poor condition and with the dreadful muddy pink colour scheme inflicted on much of the Midlands' infrastructure. Stations across the West Midlands Railway area are gradually being refurbished to some extent and the platform signs at Wilmcote have been replaced. Back to 172006, here it is running as 5T74, the 11.45 from Tyseley LMD, passing under the bridge running 4 minutes late having been delayed by the preceding Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon service.
The second HST to traverse the Long Marston branch under its own power ran on Monday 11 March 2019 when off-lease 43197, 8 coaches and 43193 formed 5Z43 from Laira. The train arrived at Worcester Shrub Hill for reversal a few minutes late at which point I left home for what is usually a quick journey to Honeybourne where I intended to take a shot from the end of the up platform as it joined the branch. Because of heavy and slow traffic and 2 sets of temporary traffic lights on what are usually fast roads my arrival in the car park was timed just as 5Z43 could be heard climbing away from the main line. An undignified sprint followed which ended on the appropriate spot on the over-sized footbridge with 3 seconds to spare as the de-branded stock approached.
The only daylight movement other than OTP to the latest engineering work on the Long Marston branch ran on Wednesday 6 March 2019. Freightliner's 66587 topping and tailing 66509 operated 6Y43, the 15.41 from Hinksey Yard to Honeybourne and I was quite impressed to see from a mapping app that the train was given the green light from the yard spot on time. I wasn't quite as impressed with the weather which deteriorated rapidly on the drive to Honeybourne culminating in pouring rain by the time the train appeared in the distance. To makes things worse there was bright sky to the South-East (out of camera to the left) which made for a difficult bit of exposure calculation (guessing) as 6Y43 slowed for Honeybourne North Junction where it would reverse and join the branch.
It took 25 minutes for the reversal to take place, the delay not being helped by the heavy load of autoballasters and wet rails on the short but steep climb from the main line to the branch. Now at the front of the formation, 66509 could be seen and heard to struggle its way up the incline for several minutes before the bulk of the load was onto more level track. At least by the time 6Y43 reached the road bridge at Honeybourne the rain had stopped and the light picked up enough to enable me to reduce my ISO setting from 1600 to 400.
A rare Sunday train into Long Marston ran on 3 March 2019 when Chiltern's 165037 was sent from Aylesbury for some sort of modification. The weather was very poor with heavy showers and a gusty wind but as this was the first time that a Chiltern unit had been along the branch I went across to take a record shot, leaving home as 5Z56 reached Evesham. This usually gives plenty of time for me to arrive for an arrival shot but on this occasion I was caught out by the apparent removal of the severe speed restriction following the laying of new track and sleepers over the past week. I would have been in time had I not turned my car around before getting out so that I wouldn't have to step out onto a wet and muddy roadside! Not all was lost and I did get this view as 165037 moved into the yard just after the gate had been opened.
Even though it was pouring with rain I stayed on for a few minutes while the crew of 5Z56 changed ends and prepared to take 165037 around the loop at Long Marston to the area where the work on it will take place.
After the warm and sunny weather of the previous few days Thursday 28 February was much cooler and wet. The class 172/0 training specials between Tyseley LMD and Stratford-upon-Avon were again running but in view of the conditions I made no more effort than a quick walk to Stratford station in the pouring rain just in time to witness 5T72 arrive into platform 2.
I scarcely had time to walk along the platform after 172006's arrival at Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 February 2019 before the crew had changed ends and responded to the green signal at the end of the platform. The other class 172, 172333, had arrived from Stourbridge Junction (via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction) a few minutes before 172006 but has a layover here of nearly 20 minutes before returning; this gives the crew a decent chance for a break.
Back to normality for me on 27 February 2019; possibly the last one in the current spell of atypically warm Winter weather. I went to Edstone Aqueduct near Bearley Junction for a couple of DMU shots and first to come along was 172334 with 2S30, the 1057 Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon. This is one of my favourite locations in the Stratford-upon-Avon area being quiet, peaceful and with a good and clear view of the railway but with that view being completely identifiable.
Although I am perfectly happy to take images of DMUs in day-to-regular traffic there was another reason for me to be on Edstone Aqueduct on Wednesday 27 February 2019. Tyseley LMD has recently taken delivery of their first class 172/0 units from London Overground and paths for crew familiarisation between there and Stratford-upon-Avon have been in the schedules for a couple of weeks. The first runs took place today and I missed the inaugural one as I was in my health club's swimming pool when it left Tyseley but was back home in time to get out for 5T74, the 11.45 train to Stratford. I didn't know if the unit involved, 172006, had been repainted but was pleased to see that it hadn't as it came towards the cast-iron aqueduct. This was the best location for the time of day; I should have liked a shot in Stratford station but it seemed a shame to compromise my picture with light in a much less favourable position as would have been the case there.
I'm not sure what's going on but this is my third outing for steam so far in 2019. The locomotive was again Clun Castle and I do like this class having some admittedly fairly distant and hazy memories of them at Stratford-upon-Avon in the days when steam was real. On 26 February 7029 with 6 or 7 coaches was scheduled to make 2 runs to Stratford unusually operating as a class 1 train from Hall Green to Acocks Green; appropriate enough in view of Clun's impressive new coat of paint! I didn't bother with the tender-first inward trip but went to one of several foot crossings on the single line between Bearley Junction and Claverdon for 1Z72, the 12.53 from Stratford. The sight and sound was impressive, especially given the warm Springlike temperature of 17C, and I did enjoy the spectacle.