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.

Long Marston and the North Cotswold LIne have seen some unusual workings in recent years and one on Monday 23 March 2020 was no exception. First though, I took this shot of some ex-LUL D Stock in the siding adjacent to the new paint shop in the barrel-roofed buildding out of shot to the right. It shows units destined for TfW in various stages of preparation and what I think may be the original test train, 230001, poking its nose around the shed in the background.
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 ahot on the North Cotswold Line and the other photographers there taking advantage of the wide angle available 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.
My second trip of 2019 to photograph a steam locomotive took place on Thursday 21st February. This time it was to see 7029 Clun Castle on the first day of its loaded main line test runs when it ran between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon. I waited until the later of the two runs and had it in mind to go to Hatton North Junction but couldn't be bothered when the time to leave home approached and also thought that if it ran at all late the shadows there might be a bit excessive. I therefore just walked to Stratford station and took a few stationary images as it prepared to leave watched by passengers waiting for the 16.26 departure to Stourbridge Junction. This view was taken as the crew out on the blower and began to build up the fire before the 1/75 run up Wilmcote bank. Talking of which, here is a picture of Clun Castle doing just that on 9 June 1985.
There weren't too many people around to block the view as 5Z78 left so I stayed on the platform to take a shot. The cylinder cocks had just been shut so the image wasn't compromised by clouds of condensing water vapour. It is, unfortunately, compromised by the dreadful and cramped-looking Orbit Housing sink estate of the future which now looms over the entire area. While going through my slides of 7029, not a quick task given the state of my storage system, I found one of the locomotive as it skirted the Severn Estuary at Purton on 10 September 1985. The quite numerous bunch of photographers were standing on top of a slightly ancient PWay hut the roof of which, I seem to recall, didn't seem to be happy with our combined weight!
Vivarail's 230005 made what should be its final test runs over the North Cotswold Line on 19 February 2019 and after a slightly late start rectified by missing out the first trip from Honeybourne to Moreton in Marsh regained the scheduled paths. As I didn't have a shot of the unit anywhere but Honeybourne I went to Briar Close at Evesham arriving just as FGW's 165113 turned up for the stop there with 1P27, the 10.59 Great Malvern to Paddington. The sun was just appearing from some cloud as the unit passed the signal box and I hoped that this would bode well for a shot of 230005.
As soon as 165113 had left Evesham station for London 230005 ran straight through and headed for its reversal at Evesham West Junction. Within 3 or 4 minutes it was on the way back with 5T05 to Moreton in Marsh running a few minutes early and luckily in the last minute of so of clear sky. There are a couple options for here where one can take an image with a short telephoto as the train passes the 'box or a tighter view as it approaches the bridge. I went for the former on this occasion so as to have a wider view of the unit but taken with somne care to ensure that the radio mast on top of the box, hideous though it looks, is shown in full. I have a bit of a thing about cutting off part of any infrastructure if it's possible to avoid doing it (although have straightaway broken my rule by chopping signal E2457 in half!) so have cropped the image slightly to achieve some balance. I could easily have removed the mast altogether but... no. It might be of interest to some to see this picture from the excellent Warwickshire Railways site showing the same scene in the late 1950s just after construction of the signal box.
Going home from Evesham to Stratford-upon-Avon via Honeybourne isn't exactly the most direct route but I decided to call in there for a final shot of 230005 as it left the North Cotswold Line and joined the Long Marston branch. It was unfortunate that the sun went behind some thick cloud just before 5T06 ran through the platforms for its reversal but as I was there...
A complete HST set including power cars was sent for storage from Laira to Long Marston on Friday 15 February 2019. It has been a long time since such a train has worked over the Long Marston branch under its own power although a couple have recently been along there with locomotive haulage. Given the weather and the cult status afforded to HSTs at the moment I was really surprised to have been alone at Honeybourne for my photographs. I went there because 5Z43 was off the main line which made it far more interesting because HSTs have been up and down there for years. Compare the scene today with the view from the road bridge in 2006 when Cotswold Rail's power cars took some Virgin Trains' stock for storage. The view looking towards Long Marston from the road bridge has also changed in the intervening years.
There is currently a 5 mph speed restriction over parts of the Long Marston branch because of the poor state of the track. This gives the photographer plenty of time to get to the other end of the line from Honeybourne and I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. The light at this time of day, just before 14.00, is challenging to say the least but does give, to my eyes at least, a pleasingly impressionistic quality to the image.
As 43069 + 43052 arrived at Long Marston on 15 February 2019 the gates were opened and 5Z43 ran into number 1 road of the exchange sidings. It seems an absolute travesty that such high quality and above all comfortable stock is being set aside when its replacement, the 800s, are apparently so uncomfortable and the equuivalent trains on the Cross County routes are too short and almost universally unpopular.
My final shot of 5Z32 at Long Marston on 15 February 2019 was as it stood in the yard just before it was taken around the inner loop to the storage sidings. The other FGW stock stored here can just be made out in the background. Just for comparison here is the equuivalent view from 17 March 2005 as CR's Hornby liveried power car was about to couple up with its sister car after delivering some Virgin Trains' stock.
Following test runs on 13 February 2019 Vivarail's 230005 was due to travel to Bletchley over the North Cotswold Line via Moreton-in-Marsh during the following afternoon. The obvious location for me was Moreton largely because the sun was just about guaranteed and the lower-quadrant semaphore signals are still extant around the station. After parking I walked to the bridge and checked my 'phone for the train's location only to find a message from a friend saying that 5Q13 was cancelled because of a problem with the train. The only consolation was that 43097 + 43122 were heading this way with 1W25, the 12.09 from Hereford to London Paddington and as I have been a bit remiss about photographing HSTs during their final months I was more than happy to score a shot of the fully blue set as it pulled away.
After photographing the HST shown above as it left Moreton-in-Marsh I stayed on the bridge as a down train was approaching the station. This was 800310 with the 12.21 London Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill whioh I shot as it came to a halt in platform 1. In decent light I find these reasonably photogenic and will happily take images of them, unlike some who seemingly refuse to take anything that is either new or not a locomotive. I rarely travel by train but do understand that the 800s are not good because of their uncomfortably hard seats. For trains intended largely for long distance traffic this is inexcusable and shows the contempt in which the operating company, First Great Western, hold their customers.
The third and final Vivarail class 230 DMU destined for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line made its first test runs on the North Cotswold Line on Wednesday 13 February 2019. Having been caught out by non-running of tests in the past I waited until RTT showed some movement before leaving home and eventually saw that 230005 had left Long Marston for Moreton in Marsh some 37 minutes late. This gave me plenty of time to go to a road bridge near Aldington to the south of Evesham where I arrived just in time to photograph 800004 with 1W19, the 09.21 London Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street. There was no sign of 230005 having reached Moreton and after a short while the next couple of its runs were cancelled. This being the case I left for home but stopped in a lay-by near Bidford on Avon to check for any updates. I saw straightaway that the unit had reached and left Moreton and was close to Evesham so headed straight for the nearest spot on the NCL.
I had no intention of going anywhere near Honeybourne on 13 February 2019 as I already have enough images of class 230s in and around the station there. As outlined above I had little choice on this occasion and after dumping my car in the car park took my camera from the boot just as I heard the distinctive whine of the unit's traction motors. I reached the platform as 230005 appeared on the curve in the background and peeled off a quickfire round of shots; this time, at least, in the sun.
It doesn't usually take long for a train to reach Moreton in Marsh, turn around and return to Honeybourne. This was the case on 13 Fenruary 2019 and 230005 was soon seen approaching the bridge at reduced speed, a sign that it was following the schedule and would cross over at Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch.
One of the good things about Honeybourne is that there is no need to return to the station after taking an image of a down train for a second shot as it heads along the Long Marston. This was my choice on 13 February 2019 after 230005 had reversed at Honeybourne on the way back to the Vivarail facility after a couple of return test runs. On this occasion I used some differential focusing to try and make the subject stand out by deliberately make the background slightly blurred. There would have plenty of time to drive to Long Marston for an arrival shot but with largely clear skies this would have been a waste of time as the sun would be shining straight into lens so I made do with this shot as the unit receded from the camera towards the hut in which the single line staff is kept.
On Tuesday 12 February 2019 there was a light engine move from Tyseley Steam Trust to Stratford-upon-Avon and back showing as a runner after which the locomotive was to pick up some stock and make a return trip to Worcester Shrub Hill. I should like to have had a shot of the loaded train at Birmingham Snow Hill but a couple of regular commitments got in the way so I had to make do with the less interesting option of a static view at Stratford. Here is 47773 shortly after arival in platform 3 and again just before departure.
The second class 230 DMU ordered by WMT for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line should have made some test runs over the North Cotswold Line on Friday 1 February 2019. These were cancelled but were due to be repeated on the following Monday so I went over after swimming to hopefully get a well-lit shot of 230004. The first movement was of 166216 leaving the site for St Phillips Marsh after modifications to allow them to work in the Bristol area. I took a few shots as the unit prepared to leave Long Marston but preferred this one, showing the moment that the single line staff was handed to the driver, to the others. The Vivarail unit was due to leave shortly after this and I saw it in the distance as it left the shed. That was where it stayed with a lot of activity going on around on around it which I later learned was the changing of some electrical equipment.
As I mentioned above 230004 was standing outside the shed at Long Marston on 4 February 2019 and it is just about visible in this general view of the yard I took showing some of the stock stored there.
Further or indeed first test runs for 230004 were showing in RTT for Tuesday 5 February 2019. I was busy with a gym class until 10.30 but checked to see if they were running as soon as I was able. There had been no movement so I went home and didn't have another look at my 'phone for about another 40 minutes or so. It was then clear that 5T01 from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh had run so I legged it as fast as I could to Honeybourne; the best spot when one doesn't know if all the runs will happen because it is the location for the Long Marston branch. It wasn't long before 230004 now running as 5T03 came up from Evesham West Junction and ran through Honeybourne station on the way to Moreton. The light was dreadful but it's always good to get an early move of a "new" train early in its life.
It isn't far from Honeybourne to Moreton-in-Marsh so a return journey doesn't take long but as a cold wind was blowing I sat in the basic waiting shelter on the up platform wating for 5T04 to arrive. It was interesting to find a couple of small plastic bags on the ground with a distinctive logo visible and with some coarse brown contents. I wonder if the owners were disturbed and had to leave in a hurry?! I resisted the temptation to sample the contents of the bags and soon had another shot of 230004 in the bag as it passed a couple of workmen making some modifications to the newly extended down platform.
The light was getting worse at Honeybourne on 5 February 2019 and this was my final image of 230004 as it ran south to Moreton in Marsh before returning to base at Long Marston. It is, at the time of writing scheduled to run to Beltchley on 7 February and should go via Moreton and Oxford.
I photograph a steam locomotive about once each year and took my 2019 images on 31 January when 45596 Bahamas visted Stratford-upon-Avon with a single coach while undertaking a lightly loaded test run from Tyseley. I don't recall having seen Bahamas on a previous occasion so made the short walk from my home to the station a few minutes before it was due to leave on 5Z63, the 12.52 return to Birmingham. I waited until the blower had been operated which livened up the fire and produced a small amount of black smoke to enhance the scene. The day was cold and dull which possibly explained the almost complete lack of enthusiasts on the station so getting a shot clear of bystanders was not too difficult. My stock of Jubilee photographs is limited to say the least but here is a picture of 5593 Kholapur approaching Danzey station at speed on 8 June 1983 while on the way to Stratford. The Jubilee should have worked turn and turn about over the whole day with 7029 Clun Castle but the former failed and 7029 had to work the northbound trains tender first which was, I was told at the time, the first time that a main line run with passengers had operated in this way.
My intention was to take another image of Bahamas as it left Stratford so as to get a shot with some steam condensing in the cold air. In the event the cylinder cocks were open and by the time the locomotive had appeared through the clouds of water vapour it was too late! Here then is a closer-up view just before a class 172 from Stourbridge Junction pulled into platform 2 and obscured everything. Another of my small collection of Jubilee shots is this one of Leander as it climbed Wilmcote Bank on 3 July 2005. I had just bought a new telephoto lens and wanted to try it out on something that I wasn't too bothered about if it went wrong. I put the shot on this site and was roundly told off by a gentleman who took umbrage at my opinion that anything to do with steam didn't matter!
One of the infrequent MOD trains from Kineton to Hexthorpe ran on Tuesday 29 January 2019. These quite often have a colourful consist so despite the overwhelmingly gloomy weather I went to the bridge towards the summit of Hatton Bank where the road passes over the 3 track section. The train, 6E33, was routed via the Down Goods Loop and as it ran close to right time there seemed little chance that it would be sent main line especially as the following passenger services were also running to schedule. The motive power was 66709 so the wider angle available at this locatiion was welcome this being the first time that I seen it in its current colour scheme. I have plenty of shots in the former Ledite livery including this one a bit further north when it was taking the last class 508 unit from Donnington to Eastleigh on 23 November 2011. The MOD working was mostly comprised of flats but there was a single ferrywagon at the back, just out of sight in this view.
After photographing 66709 in the DGL on Hatton Bank on 29 January 2019 I drove round to the tall bridge at Shrewley for a second image. First along was 66420 with 4M55, the 09.02 Southampton to Lawley Street Freightliner. It's a bit dark in the deep cutting on such a dull day but this isn't a location that is the slightest use for a down train on a sunny day because of the undergrowth and the fact that the sun is unlikely to penetrate the cutting except late on a sunny evening. The same locomotive was on the same train on 16 January 2015 when I saw it a few miles further south at Budbrook when in a different colour scheme and before the embankment became too overgrown for photography.
As soon as 4M55 had passed Hatton station 6E33 was released from the DGL and appeared a few minutes later at Hatton North Junction. This image just about shows the solitary ferrywagon at the back of the train and the 2 different types of flats forming most of the train.
While 66709 with 6E33 from Kineton MOD to Hexthorpe was being released from Hatton Loop 66761 was climbing the bank against adverse signals with 6M26, the 08.50 Eastleigh to Stud Farm empty ballast train. It had been stopped at the signals just south of the station and was allowed to proceed when 66709 had passed Hatton North Junction. I was minded not to bother with a shot of this service but given that it was only moments away I hung on. To make a slightly different view I took this slightly unbalanced-looking image as my eye had been caught by the lichen growing on the trunk of the tree in the right foreground.
What a difference a day makes... The second run from Bristol SPM to Long Marston of 50007 with redundant HST stock was on 24 January 2019 and took place in very poor lighting conditions incomplete contrast to those prevailing on the previous day. The weather was cold, damp and gloomy, so much so that the only shot with which I could be bothered was one as 5Z50 arrived at its destination. Ironically, there was a touch of brightness to illuminate 50007's roof as 5Z50 was drawing to a halt prior to entering the site where the stock is to be stored but this wasn't enough to dispel the mist and murk doing its best to obscure everything else. Still, 50s and FGW HST coaches have never been commonplace here so it was a worthwhile if brief outing for me.
It was only a matter of time until some FGW HST stock was sent for storage at Long Marston. The first move took place on Wednesday 23 January 2019 when 5Z50, moving OC44, was sent from St Phillips Marsh, Bristol to the Warwickshire site. During the previous day there should have been an ROG locomotive with a couple of barrier coaches to Bristol from Leicester but this was cancelled and rumours were circulating that 50007 was to run from Eastleigh, where it was present for painting into GBRf colours, to SPM to drag the HST set. It all worked out well and the sunny morning saw 50007 run close to time to Worcester where it was scheduled to run round and reverse towards Evesham. I left my health club after a swim with the intention of going to Briar Close at Evesham but part-way through the drive saw that a lot of cloud was building up to the West so diverted to Honeybourne. The timings slipped a little and it about 10 minutes down on the booked time when I heard 50007 pull away from Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch. A medium telephoto lens was required because of the shadows cast by the footbridge but this does have the advantage of foreshortening the perspective and thus increasing the impact of the shot.
There were 2 trains from St Phillips Marsh to Long Marston on 23 January 2019 and it was generally assumed that the second path wouldn't be used. This assumption was wrong and 166216 followed 5Z50 along the Long Marston branch about an hour later. The unit ran to the staff hut where the single line token is kept but the cupboard was bare through the token being with the crew of 50007 a few miles along the branch. There are 2 options when this happens. 1) the token is brought to Honeybourne by road and then a man walking along the branch from Honeybourne or 2) the more pragmatic approach where the unit reverses into the CCE sidings where ii waits for the train to come along the branch from Long Marston. Surprisingly enough the second was chosen and here is 166216 returning from the staff hut prior to heading into the sidings.
The only trains to use Honeybourne Sidings are, in general, OTP machines in various guises. Occasional locomotives have been in but until 23 January 2019 I hadn't seen a passenger train, albeit running as ECS, there. Here is 166216 standing at the entrance to the sidings while it waits for 50007 with 5Z51 from Long Marston to Bristol to clear the single line and return the single line token to the staff hut.
The train returning the 2 barrier coaches from Long Marston to Bristol, 5Z51, took quite a while to arrive at Honeybourne becasue it clearly took a long time to sort out and shunt the 2 coaches from the incoming train and marshall them behind 50007. I wanted to take a different shot from my usual one from the road bridge at Honeybourne so stayed on the station to take an image framed by the rusty ironwork of the bridge. The sun had dipped while 5Z50 was at the staff hut but luckily picked up nicely as it moved away towards the station and the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction.
There were two DMU moves at Long Marston on Monday 14 January 2019 with class 166s coming from and back to St Phillip's Marsh HSTD. I left home when I judged that the incoming train, 5Q94, was passing Evesham and arrived at Long Marston to find the on-site crane just about to move to wherever it was required to work. The driver was just climbing back on-board after changing the points just in front of the vehicle
It wasn't more than two or three minutes before 166213 came around the curve on the branch from Honeybourne on 14 January 2019 and moved slowly towards the bridge. This wasn't the unit's first visit here; indeed it was first of its type to work along the line when on 27 April 2015 and in much better weather it was sent here for work on the air conditioning system and before it was put into the slightly more bland GWR colour scheme. Once the gates had been opened 166213 reversed prior to its short journey around the circuit and is seen here just as it began to move.
The unit returning to Bristol from Long Marston on 14 January 2019 was ready and waiting in the workshop area and soon came around the loop at the required 5mph. This time it was 166215 which is still in the earlier and more colourful livery of its operator and it left about 15 early on the booked time, 11.15, and went straight off towards Honeybourne.
The second train of 2019 to Long Marston ran on Wednesday 9th January when 66769 took a pair of bogie oil tanks from Cardiff Greenery to the site for, at a guess, deep cleaning. The first train of the year had run the previous day but I wasn't able to photograph it as I needed it to have been at least 20 minutes late leaving Worcester when it was actually about 40 early. The GBRf train left Worcester 25 early but bearing in mind the single track from Norton Junction to Evesham West Junction and an on-time down FGW service there was no way it was going to be more than a few minutes early leaving Norton. This was fortunate for me as I encountered 3 sets of temporary traffic lights and 2 diversions between Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne! I wanted to try a shot from the far end of the newly extended up platform where I thought that there would be a clear patch in the undergrowth; just right for a short train such as 6Z31. The space was just right with a slightly wide-angle lens but once the vegetation has grown up in the Spring I doubt anything will be possible there. There was a return train, 4Z32 to Hams Hall, but I didn't feel like hanging about in the cold wind for what was likely to be no more than a few container flats.
My first photographic outing of 2019 was a quick trip to Hatton for an image of 66504 taking 23 coal hoppers from Southampton to York. Coal trains were a very frequent sight on this line some years ago when Didcot Power Station burned that commodity but have become a rare sight; so much so that to see that one is running in 2019 means a shot is worthwhile even in horribly dull conditions. I needed ISO 1000 for this view of 66504 passing the platforms at Hatton station which I chose 1) because it's a recognisable spot and 2) I couldn't be bothered to walk up to Hatton North Junction in such poor light. The last time I saw coal wagons around here was on 17 May 2018 when 66524 worked 6V40 Barrow Hill to East Usk Yard which, in much better light, I photographed from the bridge at Shrewley, a mile or so north from Hatton.
It has been known for some time that the trackwork on the Long Marston branch has been a bit ropey, to say the least, and I've been keeping an eye open for any engineering trains scheduled to visit there. On Tuesday 11 December 2018 a Hinksey to Honeybourne was booked with a very user-friendly arrival time of 11.50. I had a gym class earlier in the morning (during which I saw two low-loaders taking class 319 trailers away from Long Marston) but had time to go home and collect my longest lens. This was needed because of the unforecast appearance of bright sunshine as I planned to go to Honeybourne station but knew that there would be a lot of shadow around at this time of year. I stopped briefly in Long Marston village to check on 6Y40's progress and saw that it had missed a lengthy stop at Charlbury (good old GWR timekeeping...) and was now 30 minutes early. There was still loads of time and I arrived well before 66585 + 66592 topping and tailing a very decent load came down from Moreton in Marsh. Before it could reverse, cross over and join the branch it had to wait while the the non-stop 1P27 from Great Malvern passed by. There is a short but steep gradient onto the branch and the sound of 66592 slipping a little as it lifted the heavy train up the bank was clear to the 3 of us taking photographs. The OTP also ready for use during the work is visible in Honeybourne sidings just above the autoballasters.
Once 6Y40 had partly passed by it was stopped for the train crew to be given instructions by the ground crew waiting alongside the staff hut. This gave me time for a walk to the road bridge to take a more panoramic view of it moving away along the branch and have a close-up of one of the more unusual vehicles in the consist. This wasn't 66585's first visit to the branch as it took some box wagons for storage at Long Marston in January 2017 and it is clear to see that the rusty patch under the cab window hasn't seen any attention in the intervening period.
I took advantage of a Black Friday offer to buy an additional Nikon camera body and used it for the first time on Tuesday 4 December 2018. The target was 1Q18, the Derby to Tyseley test train with 37219 and 37116 topping and tailing 4 coaches and the acid test of the new hardware was to take a shot of the train as it accelerated away from Stratford-upon-Avon through the town's parkway station. It was clearly pitch black outside the station and there was mist and quite heavy rain to make the scene look extra murky. The train was running early at this point, about 19.45, and the driver seemed keen to have a good run at the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank but a shutter speed of 1/500 in conjunction with f2 and ISO set at 6400 seemed to do the business. I had considered going to Stratford's GWR station and 10.40ish for a static shot but the locomotives were far from clean and there seemed little point in repeating a previous effort.
I saw over the weekend of 24/25 November 2018 that a DMU of some description was going from Etches Park at Derby to Long Marston on the following Monday and had it in the back of my mind to go over if it was convenient on the day. The arrival was showing as 12.37 but when I arrived home at 12.00 after a swim I saw that it was running 15 minutes early at Evesham so decided it would be a bit tight. I then saw a a solitary email about 5V94 from someone at Northfield saying that the unit was 156497 and as I wasn't aware that another of its class had been along the branch grabbed my camera and had a "sports mode" drive over. My arrival at 12.18 was just in time to see the unit on the long straight section of track alongside the Pebworth Road and it was only a few moments before the East Midlands liveried train slowly approached the gates into Long Marston.
The weather at Long Marston on 26 November 2018 was largely overcast but there was a bried glimmer of light as 156469 stood at the gates while the ground crew unlocked them. I understand that Chrysalis Rail are doing some work on 156s here so there will probably be more moves of this nature to come. Within a few minutes the gates were closed, the driver had switched ends and 156497 was ready for its trip around the loop to the workshop area.
Some out of the ordinary trains between Tyseley and Birmingham Moor Street are planned for shoppers over the Christmas period of 2018. These will apparently run with a steam locomotive topped and tailed with a diesel, probably 47773, with 50007 acting as a back-up in case of any problems. The class 50 made a crew familiarisation run from Kidderminster SVR to Tyseley on Friday 16 November 2018 running via the North Warwickshire Line and Stratford-upon-Avon. I had previously photographed just 4 class members in the station environs so had a walk down for a shot of a different example. The arrival time was 15.29 and although one wouldn't want the sun out for a platform 3 arrival at that time of day some light would be have welcome as 0Z65 ran slowly along the platform line.
After having a chat with the driver about another class 50 move with which he was involved in 1986 there was time on 16 November 2018 for a couple more images as 50007 stood under the bright station lights.
I do like to include people in photographs on stations as long as their presence is appropriate! Here is a view of the crew alongside 50007 on 16 November 2018 just before departure time. The starting signal was already on green and it wasn't long before everyone was on board and 0Z65 was on its way to Tyseley.
One of the MkV TransPennine Express stock moves was due to take place on Thursday 15 November 2018 with the train running via Oxford, Leamington Spa and Hatton. I arrived at Hatton North Junction a minutes before 47773 was due to come off the Stratford-upon-Avon branch with a crew training run, 0Z66, from Tyseley to Stratford and return. This run had escaped my attention but was worth a shot in the Autumnal sunshine especially as its passing coincided with 68013 heading south with 1H45, the 12.55 from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone. Here is an alternative view of the class 47 as it starts away from a brief signal check at the colour light protecting Hatton North Junction.
Trains of MkV stock for the new TransPennine Express trains have been running on an occasional basis for a while but because of engineering work around Filton on 15 November 2018 5Q32 ran via Didcot, Oxford, Leamington Spa and Hatton. Previous sets of stock have suffered damage because of Network Rail's failure to keep vegetation clear of the line on the Portbury branch so this set looked as if it had been shrink-wrapped to protect the paintwork. ROG used a de-branded 57305 to provide the power and this image shows the colourful ensemble passing Hatton North Junction with some very decent Autumnal colours in the background. I was tempted into taking another shot as the DVT passed by, showing the plastic wrapping to some advantage. Class 57 was common enough here on Freightliner services but somewhat rarer on other trains. Here is 57301 in October 2006 on a Virgin rescue mission.
One of the few classes of locomotive not to have visited the terminus station of Stratford-upon-Avon was, until 4 November 2018, a 68. Some extensive engineering work resulting in single line working between Hatton and Tyseley made many timetable changes necessary and Chiltern Railways, with some admirably lateral thinking, took the opportunity to run one of their locomotive-hauled sets to Stratford. The ground breaking locomotive was 68010 which arrived with 1D27, the 11.40 from Marylebone, and this image shows the train ariving spot on time and as booked into platform 2. The weather was dull and slightly damp but the first, and probably last class 68 here unless a railtour comes this way, wasn't something I wanted to miss. The scene is lifted by the intense Autumnal colours around the station. I took a series of images on maximum speed "motorwind" in the hope that at least one would show all 3 lights illuminated; I was lucky on this occasion...
The first class 68 to visit Stratford-upon-Avon didn't tempt out many photographers, only 3 of us being present at the station but there were reportedly over 60 cranks haulage enthusiasts on board and many of them wanted, naturally enough, to have a picture of the locomotive as it stood on the back of what was now 1H37, the 13.50 to Marylebone. That being so I waited until they were back on board before taking my record shot in rapidly failing light and in the shade of the canopy of platform 1.
I don't usually go for the photo-journalism approach to railway photography as too many images of one train or location can be tedious but on this occasion I took several different views because this is quite possibly the only chance there will to record a class 68 at Stratford-upon-Avon. This one shows 68010 propelling 1H37 out of platform 2 and making quite a racket in the process; certainly enough to make the footbridge vibrate to some degree. The departure was 4 minutes late because there seemed to be some confusion about whether this train, or the late-running West Midlands class 172 in platform 1 should go first. Pragmatism won the day and 1H37 was sent off first probably on the basis that it would clear the section more quickly than the unit!
There was a late addition to the timetable on Saturday 3 November 2018 when 5V84, the 12.30 from Doncaster Wabtec to Laira, appeared along with the information that it comprised 47812 with a short form GWR HST set; 43040, GW02(48131, 49112) and 43153. This was unusual enough to tempt me to drive to Hatton for a shot and I left home with the train running 5 minutes late at Water Orton, thus giving me time for passing horses, cyclists or whatever on the country roads. I arrived with about 15 minutes to spare but as there was a fellow photographer on the bridge I started to walk up for a chat rather than watch 5V84's progress on a mapping app. I glanced at RTT as I walked away from my car and saw that the train was now 10 minutes early. A quick run to the bridge left me with about 15 seconds to get ready and with virtual darkness being the order of the day I just had time to crank up the ISO setting to 800 before firing off 3 shots. The RAW image needed a bit(!) of fiddling but overall the result was better than I had expected after first seeing the unadjusted version.
A train of wagons to be operated by GBRf was shown as running from Eastleigh to Hexthorpe Yard on Thursday 25 October 2018 with the headcode 6Z59. It didn't take a lot of imagination to work out that 59003 would provide the power but what was slighly less clear was whether or not it would run because it used the same path as 6M40, the Westbury to Stud Farm empty ballast hoppers. The latter was soon cancelled but in view of the very dull and cloudy afternoon I had decided not to bother. A text from a friend further south chnaged my mind when it became clear that 16 ex-Fastline coal hoppers was the load; something quite unusual along the GWR line from Leamington Spa to Birmingham. I left it very late to make the drive from Hatton to the Dark Lane overbridge and arrived just as a mapping app showed 6Z59 about to enter Hatton DGL. Despite the train travelling at walking pace while climbing through the loop an ISO setting of 800 was needed such was the light but no-one would want to take this shot on a sunny day with the sun being all wrong.
After taking the shot shown above there was plenty of time to drive to Hatton station for another image as 59003 with 6Z99 passed the station. As this train was in the same path as 6M40 the reason for it being looped was the same; to allow Chiltern Railways' 1R37, the 14.10 from London Marylebone, to pass. As soon as 168218 had passed the points allowing egress from the loop were switched and 59003 soon appeared with the vandalised hoppers. A similar set of wagons was taken from Chaddesden to Long Marston which I photographed at Blackminster in April 2010, one of several such moves at that time.
The Indian Summer of 2018 continued on 10 October 2018 so when a light engine move from Doncaster to Long Marston showed up on RTT a quick trip during the afternoon seemed to be in order. I arrived at the latter a few moments before 66717 and watched it run into the exchange and couple up to the 6 large box wagons in road 2 ready for the run to Hexthorpe Yard. This view was taken as the crew prepare to leave with 6E31, and with some varied stock visible in the yard, including some D Stock hopefully awaiting conversion to class 230 in one of its guises.
It takes quite a while for anything to traverse the length of the Long Marston branch at the moment so it was necessary to wait at Honeybourne while 6E31 picked its way over the rotting trackwork on the parts of the line. There was no prospect of the sun going anywhere as there wasn't a cloud to be seen ion the sky over Honeybourne station as 66717 moved towards a green signal giving it the road onto the down main line. The GBRf man in the background had come by road to operate the ground frame equipment and walked back to his vehicle. What a ridiculously disjointed railway we have at the moment. Someone has to drive from heaven knows where for a simple operation like this on a branch line backwater. The worst I have seen here was when a man had to drive from Woking to operate the equipment for both inward and outward moves and then drive home. It could have been worse; it might have been a taxi as is the case all too often.
Tuesday 9 September 2018 was a clear and sunny day in the Autumn, or Indian Summer as it seems to be at the time of writing. There was the prospect of an unusual train over the North Warwickshire Line so after a gym class I went over to Edstone between Wootton Wawen and Bearley Junction where the cast iron aqueduct (the longest in England) tales the Stratford-upon-Avon canal across the flood plain of the diminutive Rive Alne. First along was newly painted, or vinyled, 172338 running as 2D22 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford-upon-Avon, its colour scheme matching the changing colours on the surrounding trees.
Vintage Trains of Tyseley has, in October 2018, just been been granted a Train Operating Company (TOC) licence. The first train run under the licence was a 5Z65 Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon ECS and early morning chat suggested that 47773 would in charge. By the time I reached Edstone Aqueduct this allocation had changed to 4965, Rood Ashton Hall, which was quite a disappointment especially considering that it would be running tender first in this direction. Still, I suppose that the train is notable if only because of its tiny place in the history of the privatised railway.
A trip to Hatton North Junction was in the offing for the sunny afternoon of 9 October 2018 with a few decent bits and pieces at which to aim the camera. Just a few minutes after my arrival on the footbridge along came DR98908 with the daily RHTT from KIngs Norton to Kings Norton via large chunks of the West Midlands. I never mind taking the occasional image of a MPV and used to cover their workings along the North Warwickshire Line in some detail before the advent of the West Midlands new signalling system when the signal boxes and their associated limited opening hours pushed the trains' operation into the nighttime hours. The odd substition was welcome though; albeit not actually on the NWL.
There were several freight movements at Hatton North on 9 October 2018 and although I did photograph all of them the images from a single location can look a bit repetitive so edited highlights only... This shot of 66127 with 4M71, the 0947 Southampton Western Docks to Birch Coppice, is included because of the exhaust from the locomotive as it climbes the final few yards of Hatton Bank after leaving the Down Goods Loop to allow a couple of passenger trains to pass. The class 172 waiting at the signal is the 14.03 Stratford-upon-Avon to Stourbridge Junction, 2W80,formed of 172345.
The train due to pass Hatton North on 9 October 2018 which interested me the most was a 5L46 from Bristol Temple Meads to Ely Papworth MLF Sidings. This was a FGW HST with just 2 coaches led by 43175 and destined for storage; not so much HST GTi but HST M-Sport! There was some early running in the Thames Valley but this was knocked out by a fester in Hatton DGL where its booked path was regained. This wasn't the first FGW HST to pass here nor was it the first 2+2 formation I have photographed but very much worth going out for.
By the early part of October the shadows for a southbound shot at Hatton North Junction ared becoming a bit intrusive but it is just about possible to take a half-decent shot of 6O30, the Castle Bromwich to Southampton train of JLR vehicles. Here is 66087 with the usual impressively long train of open wagons and vans. I imagine that the higher value vehicles are in the better protected environment towards the back of the train.
A pair of GBRF container trains has recently started to operate between Southampton and Hams Hall. The afternoon working is 4O69 and on Tuesday 9 October 2018 it ran, some 75 minutes late, with 66713 on the front. As I mentioned above the shot from the footbridge at Hatton North is becoming shadowed but a broadside view is available at a few points along the footpath away from the line. It was unfortunate that there were no containers on the front wagons as an extra splash of colour would have been welcome. The stock feeder in the left foreground is unlikely ever to be used; this has been a turf producing farm for many years. Just a few sections behond 66717 was palindromically numbered 66066 with 6X01, the Scunthorpe to Eastleigh train of long welded rail sections.
One of the attractions of a sunny Autumn day is the deep shadows that are cast by the sun as becomes lower in the sky. This is demonstrated in this view of 59003 with 6M40, the Westbury to Cliffe Hill empty ballast wagon train as it passes Hatton North Junction on 9 October 2018. It seems to the fashion in some quarters to use the Shadows and Highlight Tool in Photoshop to such an extent that no truly deep black is visible. I was always taught that a full range of from 0 to 255 should be the aim to show fully in every digital image and not to bleach out blacks in shadowed areas. GWR Hall 4936 was coming this way but I didn't feel like hanging around for the thick end of an hour so left although I did see the kettle from my car shortly after the train had left Stratford.
The continuing saga of WCRC's 57313 at Stratford-upon-Avon finished on Saturday 6 October 2018 when 33207 was sent from Southall to collect and take it to Carnforth. The schedule for 0Z51 appeared during the previous evening and whilst I sort of hoped that a 33 would be diagrammed for the novelty value of a class 33 at Stratford it didn't seem all that likely. An early morning posting confirmed the allocation and despite the pouring rain and cold wind I walked to the station for a shot or two. There was early running between Oxford and Hatton and I thought that with some smart working it could arrive before the 09.03 Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge service needed the single track between Bearley and Hatton West junctions. It wasn't to be so I had a chilly wait in the basic shelter on platform 2 until a horn announced 33207's presence just around the corner. The light was dire but considering the minimal effort needed to be here it was worth the walk.
The failed 57313 was stabled just beyond the end of platform 1 and had necessitated the closure of the platform to all traffic. It wasn't long before 33207 had coupled up to the class 57 but there were 2 local trains to arrive and depart before it was due to leave. Once the 10.03 to Stourbridge Junction had gone 0Z51 was moved along platform 1 under a yellow signal where the driver kindly paused for a few seconds to allow me to take some shots with bracketed exposures before pulling away. This final image shows the pair of locomotives heading for the crossover onto the up main line.
Another of the WCRC charters to Stratford-upon-Avon ran on 4 October 2018, this time originating as 1Z50 from Scarborough. The arrival time at Stratford was 13.51 and as the day which had started with cloudy skies had become clear and sunny I walked down to the station for an image or two. Running a few minutes in front of the charter was 172334 with 2D44 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction and diverted into platform 2 to allow 1Z50 to use P1. The sun was still a bit straight at this time but as virtually all recent charters here have run in cloud it was good to see 57313 (on at least its 5th visit here) and the uniform stock in strong sunlight. Out of sight at the back of the formation was 47746. The booked dparture time for the return, 1Z51, was 16.40 but as I type this at 16.55 it was still in the platform, albeit under a green signal...
After returning home from photographing 57313 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 October 2018 I looked out for 1Z51's departure on a mapping system. The booked time, 16.40, came and went with no sign of movement until the green signal for platform 1 eventually was returned to red because of the imminent arrival of a class 172 from Stourbridge Junction. It was some 80 minutes later when the train finally left for Scarborough no doubt to the huge amusement of the passengers. On my way to my health club the following morning I happened to glance over the road bridge by the station and could see some WCRC maroon through the bushes and assumed, wrongly, that it was 47746 dumped there following some failure or other. I went for a walk to the station in the early afternoon and found that it was 57313 that had failed and been shunted a little way to the south of the platforms. This meant that platform had had to be closed to all traffic and all passengers for the busy Birmingham line trains had therefore to cross over to P2. At the time of writing I don't know what is wrong with 57313 but guess that a brake fault might have been found and that either a fitter will be sent by road or with a rescue locomotive in the near future.
The regular test train, 1Q18, from Burton Wetmore Sidings (or Derby RTC in the past) is generally formed of the NMT HST. On the sunny day of 25 September 2018 this was apparently under maintenance and 4 vehicles were topped and tailed with 37025 and 37099. I had so far failed to take a properly sunny image of 37025 although I do have an after-dark picture taken on a similar working at Stratford-upon-Avon which is, in some ways, more satisfying. Anyway there seemed little chance of the sun disappearing and with the train being on time from Hereford a drive over to Croome Perry seemed like a good idea given that this is one of the more attractive locations which is not too far from home. All went well and 1Q18 came south from Norton and Abbotswood Junctions passing the wood the trees of which are in the early stages of gaining their Autumnal colours.
Whilst waiting for 1Q18 with 37025 + 37099 in charge at Croome Perry on 25 September 2018 I saw from an online mapping app that the Corby to Margam empty steel coil carriers was behind a red signal on the main line Abbotswood Junction. As soon as the test train had cleared the section 6V92 was released and soon appeared under the farm occupation bridge. Just a few minutes later the Berkeley to Crewe nuclear flask working, 6M56, came north and with a lineside tree in just the wrong place I simply stayed where I was and took this view as it went away towards Abbotswood Junction.
Several years ago it would have been possible to take around a dozen shots of freight workings on the Birmingham to Gloucester line but in 2018 there are far fewer and sheer boredom makes it moe likely than photographs of passenger units will be taken. Here is 170109 working 1V10, the 13.04 Nottingham to Cardiff Central service on 25 September 2018 passing Croome Perry near Pershore.
A train I hadn't photographed before 25 September 2018 was 6V50, the 13.04 Burton-on-Trent to Cardiff Tidal. This is of interest largely because it utilises ex-MOD ferrywagons thus making for a relatively rare sight on the line through Croome Perry. It ran about 60 minutes early from Cofton Junction which was handy because there was no way that I would have waited for an on-time arrival! It was held for a few minutes in Stoke Works loop to allow a couple of passenger trains to pass but after that had a clear run. Here is 66024 with its vans in an interesting colour scheme no doubt applied by brain-dead vandals in a yard somewhere or other.
There were a few trains of interest to me on Tuesday 18 September 2018 including 50008 taking a few flats from Long Marston to Wembley and Vivarail's 230003 going to its new home at Bletchley. As planned there would have been an inconveniently long gap between the two but 50008 was delayed for ages at Landor Street resulting in a very late arrival at Long Marston. This made things a bit easier so I went for the 50 which I probably wouldn't have if everything was on time and decided to go straight to Honeybourne for a shot as 4Z68 approached the station running about 90 minutes late. The light was pretty awful but a 50 on even a not very inspiring freight is worth a frame or two especially against a backdrop of foliage beginning to gain its Autumnal tints. I later saw that the lost time was made by the sensible expedient of running 4Z68 from Landor Street to Rugby and the WCML via Nuneaton rather than by the convoluted booked route through Sutton Park, Walsall, Bescot and some twiddly bits around Birmingham.
Following 50008's late departure from Long Marston there was a knock-on effect with a delay caused to 230003 running as 5Q13 to Bletchley. The Long Marston branch is a One Train Only line and after the token had been dropped at the Staff Hut it was necessary for it to be collected and driven back to Long Marston. A West Coast man was ready and waiting to do this to minimise any further delay. As the unit appeared in the distance a 5 car IET moved away from the Honeybourne stop giving the chance for a shot of the two very different trains; a shot that will be difficult to repeat!
There is currently a severe speed restriction over most of the branch but it wasn't long before 230003 appeared in the distance, dropped off the token and made its way into the station area ready for a reversal at Honeybourne North Junction. The light had picked up a little but wasn't strong enough to cast anything but the lightest shadow. Still, there is only once chance for these moves and one has to take what's available on the day.
I was keen to take my final shot of 230003 in a recognisable location and in any event there wouldn't have been enough time to drive to another decent location especially as I had gone over in my Morris Minor; not built for belting around country roads! I was happy enough to get a record shot as 5Q13 passed through Honeybourne station even though the light had collapsed altogether by that time.
Vivarail's first production unit, 230003, made its debut on the main line on Monday 17 September 2018. It should have run the previous week but there was apparently a small problem with the fuel system found while on test within Long Marston. To avoid the possibility of a fruitless wait as happened when the run was aborted before, I waited at home until I saw from RTT that 5Z01 had actually moved. The original plan was for a run from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh, thence to Evesham before returning to Long Marston so I arrived at Honeybourne in good time for 5Z03 from Evesham and planned to take a shot as the train ran along the branch line but it struck me that it seemed to be taking an awfully long time to come the short distance from Evesham and wondered if it had stopped to arrange an alternative path back to Moreton. With this in mind I stood on the footbridge over the up main line just in case. This proved to be a good choice as 230003 came from Honeybourne North Junction on the main rather than the branch line. I waited on the platform for the return to Evesham, now 5Z04, but the sun came out at just the wrong time making for a poor result.
The next stage in 230003's test programme on 17 September 2018 was shown to be another trip from Evesham to Moreton in Marsh. As there wasn't time to move to another location I stayed at Honeybourne to take an image from the down platform as 5Z05 headed south. Once again though things went differently from the plan and the first thing I saw was 230003 moving slowly along the Long Marston branch rather than on the up main line. A quick sprint was needed to get up and over the enormous footbridge and I made it with no time at all to spare so this is very much a grab shot as it ran slowly towards its current home base. The unit is in its final livery ready for a new life on the Bedford to Bletchley line and here is some bodyside detail clearly showing this.
At the time of writing there is a severe speed restriction due to poor track condition over the whole of the Long Marston branch so there was no need for a high speed dash from Honeybourne to record 230003's arrival. The light stayed poor but I was more than content to have scored some reasonable shots on the train's first outing. I took another view as it entered the yard mostly to show 230003 with an unrestored example of the same original class in a siding.
A casualty of the hot and dry weather of the 2018 summer was a steam special from Preston to Stratford-upon-Avon which had to be postponed until the threat of the countryside being set alight had passed. By 8 September everywhere was nice and damp so 46100 Royal Scot was allocated from Crewe. The train met about an hour's delay around Wigan because of a problem with the diesel locomotive used from Preston and this delay stuck for the rest of the journey. I don't have much of an interest in steam photography although I quite enjoy seeing and hearing the locomotives in action; what does put me off is the crowds that tend to gather in every single location. There is a spot near the station which I have meaning to check out for a while and I thought that 1Z48, the return to Preston, would be the ideal chance. It turned out to be not too great but I did bang off a few as 46100 prepared to leave. The smoke was a bit of a nuisance and the sun came out at the wrong moment but it gave me an idea of what might be possible if we ever get a decent train first thing on a summer morning.
The exit from Stratford-upon-Avon is awkward for the crews of steam locomotives because it is on a adverse gradient, has some quite severe curvature and worst of all if the train is in platform 1 it has to negotiate a crossover to the up main a short distance from the station. It is quite usual for a diesel to give the train a shove and on 8 September 2018 D1935 was used as was working quite hard as I took this shot. The picture of Royal Scot leaving wasn't a success because of steam and smoke obscuring the front of the locomotive. The white tanker in view just in front of D1935 was the one used to water the steam engine; good to know that the tender tank and boiler won't be clogged up with weeds!
One of the occasional Longtown MOD to Fenny Compton MOD trains ran on Wednesday 5 September 2019. I had been meaning to to go for a shot of one so with the times of 3F04 being convenient went to Hatton road bridge. I had seen from a mapping app that the train headed by 66131 was likely to escape from the Birmingham area early and even though there was a chance that it might be held to time in Dorridge loop I went in plenty of time. This was a good job as the app showed it passing Lapworth, about 3 minutes north of Hatton, as I arrived on location. MOD traffic can carry a huge range of different wagons and although today's wasn't the most inspiring I have seen the combination of 4 wheel open trucks and containers made for an interesting contrast.
My interest in all railway related matters has been waning recently, so much so that I couldn't be bothered to go out for topped-and-tailed class 47s with some ECS at Hatton on Saturday 1 September 2018. The most I could be bothered to do was to walk to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a single shot of 172335 as it arrived with 2D40 from Stourbridge Junction. The novelty of the new colour scheme will wear off quite soon as more units are repainted from the current green colour scheme...
I was walking along the towpath of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal on the morning of 18 August 2018 when I saw a reliveried class 172 about to enter Stratford station. I assumed that it was the 08.21 arrival from Stourbridge Junction and after returning home worked out that the same unit should return on the 14.21 arrival. Luckily, a friend texted me to say that it was actually on 2D40, the next service which ran via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction which meant that the train I had seen earlier was 5D70 from Tyseley depot running early. I had a walk to the station in the afternoon taking my Canon G10 and arrived a few minutes before 172335 in its new colour scheme arrived with 2D40.
To my eyes the colours applied to 172335 by West Midlands Trains really suit the lines of the class, more so than the original green as seen here at Bentley Heath on the same unit in 2012. I don't know if this will become the standard livery for the class but intend to kep an eye on this example in the hope of getting a sunny shot next time. There were no Chiltern Railways services on 18 August 2018 as engineering work caused their replacement by a fleet of buses such this being loaded with passengers and their luggage against the new backdrop of Stratford-upon-Avon's hideous new high-density housing scheme. Thanks to Chris Morrison for letting me know the correct train that 172335 was working.
D'oh, a deer; but not a female deer. A roe deer buck crosses the exchange sidings at Long Marston on Monday 13 August 2018 as 230001 approaches with 5Z01 to Moreton-in-Marsh. I saw from RTT that something was making some test runs between Moreton and Evesham and wondered if it might be one of the class 230s earmarked for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line. With that in mind I thought a shot or two would be in order so went across to Long Marston to see what was running. There was nothing in view until a few moments before the booked departure time, 09.40, when I saw some movement in the background.
It didn't take many seconds for the gates to be opened and for 230001 to exit the Long Marston site and head for Honeybourne. I have many images of the this unit in good light and with little prospect of much sun in the short term I left and headed to my health club for a swim. Had one of the later units been in use I should have had a good chase around to get a few pictures in the bag but on this occasion... I later saw from RTT that 230001 ran to Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham West Junction but then returned to Long Marston with further runs for the day cancelled.
The monthly 1Q48 test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon and the North Warwickshire Line was retimed quite significantly on Tuesday 7 August 2018 and made its first of two trips to the terminus at lunchtime with an arrival time of 12.47. The sun's angle was most favourable around the Stratford Parkway area and I had a short but very hot 15 minute walk there from home. The train was running a bit early and passed the station 8 minutes ahead of schedule with 67023 leading 4 coaches and 67027. There is a bit too much ironmongery poking above the locomotive's roof but that is typical of both modern and recently refurbished stations.
After visiting Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time on 7 August 2018 1Q48 ran to Fenny Compton before returning to Stratford via Hatton, Claverdon and Wilmcote. The station at the last of these retains some GWR artefacts and with a passing time of just after 15.00 this was just the spot to take advantage of the light and to give a good interesting background. A passenger train was due a few minutes after 1Q48 and I took this image at an appropriate spot to show those waiting to join their class 172 DMU for the short journey to Stratford and no, I wasn't tempted to bleach out the shadows as seems to be the fashion at the moment. A shot of the northbound train isn't worth the effort in this past of the world so I left after 67023 + 67027 had passed. I must admit to not being too disappointed when 67s are diagrammed for the this working; on a sunny day with 37s in charge there would have been far too many bodies around in the best locations!
I don't often photograph charters but there are one or two that make me think, "I suppose that I really should go out...". Such was the case on Sunday 5 August when 50049 + 50007 worked a train on a circular route from Birmingham International via Worcester, Ledbury, Hereford and Bristol. It was due at Defford at around 16.30 and with the weather decent enough I went there for a shot, with Bredon Hill in the background, from the road bridge. There was quite a lot of cloud around the sun and when the gathered throng heard 1Z50 approaching from Eckington the line was in shadow but it cleared at the last moment with no more than 3 seconds to spare. The sun was just round enough to please everyone so no fiddling about with the Magnetic Lassoo tool on Photoshop should be needed. For some unfathomable reason the locomotives are numbered 50011 and 50006 respectively on the side visible here but have the correct numbers on the other side - ridiculous! Seeing 50007 paired with another of the class reminded me of my shot from November 1986 when it was leading the Saturday morning Cardiff to Glasgow service through Longbridge before the BL factory disappeared. No-one who saw the Boston steel also on a Saturday morning but in 2014 would forget that sight in a hurry...
A set of JSA steel hoods has been due to leave Long Marston for Eastleigh for a couple of weeks and the second attempt to shift them took place on 24 July 2018. The locomotive was 47813 which arrived a bit late and had to wait a long while inside the site while the stock was shunted out of a storage siding after more delay casued, I think, by brake problems. Even when coupled to 47813 the stock seemed to be causing problems and much examination of the wheel areas took place. Another light engine move, this time from Bescot, was due and RTT showed it having passed Evesham and I made the entirely wrong assumption that it had reached Honeybourne and had been put into the tamper sidings there. A drive down there showed that nothing was there so I turned around and went back towards Long Marston but saw 47813 with 6O86 some 90 minutes late heading along the branch where it runs parallel with the Broad Marston road. Not having taken a long lens with me on this occasion this picture giving a panoramic view of Long Marston yard was all I managed. Oh well, it gave my Morris Minor a good run around the lanes... I later discovered that a wagon had been shunted out of the rake and that whatever had come from Bescot had been turned round at Evesham.
Another brief outing for my Canon G10 on Monday 16 July 2018 when LSL's D1935 (47805) ran as 0Z48 from Crewe HS to Stratford-upon-Avon. I'm not all that bothered about light engine shots but the chance of a two-tone green class 47 at Stratford without making any effort was worthwhile. The timings were such that a 2 minute diversion while on my way home from the gym and swimming pool, with my lightweight camera in my bag, would find me at the station at just the right time. The road-learning move, in preparation for steam specials later in the year (if it rains before then!) was booked into platform 3 and arrived exactly on time. The sun, had it cooperated would have been in just the right place as D1935 ran into the station against the backdrop of Morrisons supermarket. This wasn't 47805's first visit to the terminus as it was here on 29 November 2006 in the company of 47815 when they operated a Compass Tours charter from Liverpool South Parkway. It was here again in 1991 when in Intercity colours and when there were still semaphore signals on the platform ends.
As soon as 47805 had stopped in platform 3 at Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 July 2018 the diesel engine was stopped and the four man crew alighted and took a few photographs of their locomotive before walking under the nearby road bridge to inspect the headshunt and locomotive release points. The locomotive has also carried Virgin and DRS colour schemes and has been to Long Marston on several occasions.
My enthusiasm for going out for photographs is inversely proportional to the outside temperature so I haven't bothered during the heatwave during June and July 2018. Although the evening of 10 July was quite warm it wasn't too bad so I had a walk to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a shot or two of 67023 + 67027 with 1Q48, the Derby to Tyseley test train. I took only my lightweight Canon G10 compact camera secure in the knowledge that with its RAW image capability it is more than capable of taking a decent picture without the weight of a DSLR and heavy lens. The train was about 15 early joining the North Warwickshire Line which put it in front of 2S64, the local passenger service from Stourbridge. There was therefore a possibility that it would be routed into either platform 2 or 3 the latter of which had just been vacated by a Chiltern service to Leamington Spa but I was hopeful that it would run as booked into P1. It did and made for an attractive scene as it drew to a halt alongside the beautiful floral display sponsored by FOSS, the Friends of Stratford Station.
The test train operated by 67027 + 67023 was followed into Stratford station by 172344 which had to terminate in platform 2 rather than its booked platform 1. The latter is just visible in the this view as the incoming and outgoing passengers swap over. I thought that 1Q48 might be allowed to leave before the passenger train but the signal for platform 2 flicked to green as I took this telephoto view from the extreme end of platform 2 so it was time to leave but with a short pause to take this wide-angle view of 67027 as it stood awaiting departure time. The picture also shows a tiny part of the hideous and gloomy high-density housing scheme under construction on the site of Stratford's cattle market.
It's Saturday therefore it must be 37601 on 5Q94. So it was on 30 June 2018 and after playing the organ at a nearby village I thought that there might just be time to reach Honeybourne to grab a shot as the train joined the Long Marston branch on its way to the site where corrosiion repairs to 350264 will take place. The sun at just after midday is much too high for decent photography but that can be mitigated to some extent by using a long lens and having a head-on shot as shown here. Not one for those who stick to some dogma or other about using only a "standard" lens but at least a change in perspective now and again alters the effect for the viewer and makes a for a less consistently similar appearance of images than is sometimes seen. A FGW HST (43154 OC52 43010) was in the platform as 5Q94 stopped at the staff hut to collect the single line token and the heat haze from 1W02 slightly blurs this view of 350264.
The annual Rail Live event is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday 20th and 21st June 2018. As usual there were stock moves planned to bring in various items for exhibition and the first of these took place on Monday 18 June when a 5Q94 from Derby Litchurch Lane ran early in the morning. I had no idea what was going in but it turned out to be a class 345 unit from the new Crossrail stock build hauled by ROG's 37800. It was due to arrive just before 07.00 and although it reached Worcester 11 minutes early it was held there, presumably because of a late-running passenger train, and reached Long Marston 21 minutes late. I don't keep up-to-date with some of the new stock being built and didn't know what the train was until I saw the number on the side of the front coach.
There was the usual short wait while the single line staff was put into the ground frame to allow 37800 with 5Q94 to enter the exchange sidings at Long Marston. As soon as this had been done the train moved forward allowing this shot of the rear cab to be taken amidst the unchecked vegetation threatening to obscure this view altogether. The sun had just began to come out and there is a faint glimmer of light on the roof. One of the older fixtures at Long Marston, Pandora has moved and replaced with an elderly-looking diesel crane.
On 19 June 2018 Network Rail sent a short-formation test train for display at Long Marston topped and tailed by 67027 + 67023. As far as as I know this was only the second time the class has been on the line and the first since 67016 hauled the first revenue earning train along the new formation at Honeybourne following the North Cotswold Line partial re-doubling. Here is 1Z05 arriving at Long Marston and again a few moments later as it entered the site.
It soon became clear that the 67s were not to be part of the exhibition as they were uncoupled from the stock and stabled at either end of road 3 where a variety of withdrawn or stored stock is kept.
The second arrival at Long Marston on 19 June 2018 was a first (and probably a last!) for the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch. DRS sent a class 88 to Rail Live for display and this ran as 0Z76 from Crewe with an arrival time at Honeybourne of 13.42. This gave me more than enough for a drive there from Long Marston as 0Z76 had got caught up with the usual GWR late running arounf Worcester. I don't always bother with light engine moves but this one was just about unusual enough fot a shot or two.
I thought that a quick belt down to Long Marston would be required to take a second shot of 88004 on 19 June 2018 but in the event it took the locomotive much longer than expected to make the short journey, possibly the single line staff hadn't been taken back after 1Z01's arrival. Anyway, it did arrive and made a unusual sight as it approached the road bridge and soon went into number 2 road, making an interesting front-end contrast with the other stock, before going round the circuit into the exhibition.
The rail-mounted crane at Long Marston which has recently been stabled close to the road bridge was fired up on 20 June 2018. After some checks that was working properly it moved towards the main complex and began doing whatever it had to do.
On both days of the Rail Live event at Long Marston a special train was organised running from London Paddington directly to the platform within the site. The stock involved on 20 June 2018 was a 4TC set topped and tailed by 73963 + 73962 and this was a first for the Long Marston branch, if not the North Cotswold Line itself. Three of the class, 73006, 73138 and 73201 , have been dragged to and from Long Marston but there have been no examples of them visiting under their own power. I wanted a shot as the train, 1Z73 surprisingly enough, arrived so went no further than the road bridge at the site entrance. The sun was in and out but wasn't too bad as it approached.
The ground crew were keeping a careful eye on the points as 1Z73 moved along No. 1 road on its way to the small platform which is out of sight around to the right at the end of the exchange sidings. The train is passing 5 oil tanks which were due to be taken to Lindsey Oil Refinery by 70811 later in the day.
The return of 73962 + 73963 from Long Marston to Paddington was due to leave the latter at 14.54 and I arrived at Honeybourne with about 15 minutes to spare. There was some speculation that there was a problem with the brakes on 1Z74 and this was borne out when the arrival time came and went. Another train was due to run into Long Marston as 70811 was on its way with a single tank from Lindsey Oil Refinery but with the single line occupied there was a bit of confusion about what was going on as RTT showed that 6Z25 was in the Evesham area with nowhere for it to be looped. In the event 1Z74 came first and made for a decent enough image as it ran from the staff hut to the road around the back of the station. It ran ran straight through and was supposedly heading for the crossover just around the corner for a reversal and return via the up main line. It later transpired that the train ran straight to Evesham where the passengers were turfed off to use a scheduled service to Paddington while the 73s and stock went to Worcester Yard to see what could be done. There was nothing possible there and 5Z74 went to Eastleigh via Cheltenham and Bristol the locomotives by then double-heading the stock.
The class 73s and 4TC set shown above had only just gone around the corner to Honeybourne North Junction when 70811 appeared with its modest load heading for Long Marston. I'm not a fan of very short formations but this isn't too bad as the locomotive and tank fits quite nicely into the space between the bridge and signal. There was a return load for 70811 but I had had enough of hanging around by then and headed for home.
Following the problems with 4TC stock on 20 June 2018 I wasn't sure if the train would run as booked on the following morning. However, a quick check saw that at 5Z73 had run to Paddington P12 from Eastleigh, the stock being 4 carmine & cream Mk1s. I wanted to have a drive in my Morris Minor and somehow found myself at Honeybourne just in time to witness 1Z73 arriving at the station on the up main line in somewhat challenging lighting conditions. Reversal at Honeybourne North Junction didn't take many minutes and the train soon ran onto the Long Marston branch for its trip to the Rail Live exhibition.
For the final run of the class 73s from Long Marston to Paddington I went to a bridge between Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh. This shot needs a relatively wide angle lens so that as much of the train as possible is clear of the shadows from lineside trees. This stretch of line sees few locomotive-hauled workings so it's always having a shot somewhere along here when the opportunity arises.
On Thursday 15 June 2018 ROG's 47813 + 47812 took 6 barrier coaches from Leicester LIP to Portbury in readiness for another stock movement of TPE Mk5 coaches to Manchester. This train, 5Q32, ran the follolwing day and was due to pass Stoke Works Junction, the nearest location for me, at about 11.50. This gave me time to have my morning swim before driving over from Stratford-upon-Avon to the road bridge beyond the junction. The journey took longr than usual because of grass verge cutting, 2 tractors, 3 horses and a slow-moving B & Q lorry but I arrived with about 15 minutes in hand before the slightly late train was due. There was a Cross Country train immediately behind 47813 + 47812 with the new stock and barriers providing brake force so it seemed likely that it would be crawling along prior to being turned into Bromsgrove loop but two huge plumes of exhaust smoke as the train came into sight put paid to that idea. The smoke eased back a bit before 5Q32 passed the bridge but there was still enough to mask the stock to some extent as power was kept on ready for the climb up the Lickey Incline.
I had a message during the morning of Monday 11 June saying that 59003 was working 6M40, the Westbury to Stud Farm empty stone hoppers. This was well worth a shot so I went to one of the very few remaining northbound locations on the Leamington Spa to Birmingham line, Hatton North. The first freight to pass was 4E18, the 09.47 Fairwater Yard to Doncaster Wood Yard train conveying new concrete sleepers. This train is often used to move spare Freightliner locomotives around the system but on this occasion just one, 66531, was in use. It's notable that this was the engine used for the first train to Long Marston after the branch from Honeybourne had seen no traffic for several years. This ran on 16 September 2005 when some Virgin coaches and DVTs were taken for storage.
One of the regular runners on the line through Hatton North Junction is the 11.56 Westbury to Stud Farm stone empties, 6M40. This is invariably a GBRf class 66 job but this habit was changed on 11 June 2018 when 59003 was allocated. The light was good during the afternoon and the sun had just about dropped enough for a decent shot; it being much too high and harsh between about 11am and 3pm at this time for a good result even if it is on the front... The empty stone hoppers are booked into Hatton DGL for about 10 minutes but because of a Chiltern service running 2 minutes late it was 3 minutes leaving. I could hear 59003 working hard after leaving the loop mand passing through Hatton station but it was accelerating well as it came towards North Junction.
Bank Holiday Mondays usually throw up one or two diversions and 28 May 2018 was no exception with 6M50, the 07.55 Westbury to Bescot departmental train, being sent to Birmingham via Hatton instead of the longer route through Coventry and Nuneaton. The timings were convenient for me so I had a run over to Hatton to take an image in a location which showed that 6M50 was off its normal route. There was no load between Westbury and Hinksey Yard but the headcode was changed from 0M50 at Oxford so there was going to be at least something behind 70817 and DIT 66849. This service wasn't booked to run into Hatton DGL but as it was a few minutes early it had to be looped to allow a Chiltern class 168 to pass and this picture shows the last of the autoballasters crossing to the down main line.
Five new imporetd Mk5 coaches for use on the new Trans-Pennine locomotive-hauled services were due to be taken from Portbury Automotive Terminal, Bristol, to Manchester on 25 May 2018. The locomotives and barrier stock were taken from Leicester to Portbury on the previous day ready for 5Q43 which had a departure time of 09.00 and a route via Gloucester and Cheltenham. There was unfortunately considerable disruption around Bedminster on Friday morning with trespassers apparently being chased up and down the lines by BTP. {Cue Benny Hill music...}. I originally planned to drive to Stoke Prior immediately after my morning swim but when I checked RTT in the gym car park saw that the train was still at Pill. I went home and kept an eye on 5Q43 and saw that it eventually left over 2 hours late which was marginally better for me as the torrential rain had almost stopped by then. I had a quick drive to Defford and soon saw 37611 + 37884 leading the 5 coaches (including what I call a DVT), 4 barriers and 47812. The heavy load behind the new stock made me wonder if they were included for brake force as maybe the Mk5s were without operational brakes and therefore through-piped. The weather, although without the heavy rain, was still filthy with almost no light and heavy mist everywhere. I wouldn't have bothered but know full well that I shall never be inspired to travel and photograph the stock in action on the Trans-Pennine route.
After photographing the first Mk5 stock move on Friday 25 May 2018 I stayed at Defford for a few minutes as the NMT HST was heading from Reading Triangle Sidings to Derby via Paddington and South Wales. I hadn't seen this train for ages so waited, despite the dire conditions, for 1Z20 to come along led by 43013 and tailed by 43062.
I have been waiting for a chance to take a sunny image of 1Q48, the monthly Derby to Tyseley test train, at Stratford-upon-Avon station for a while so when 22 May 2018 had mostly clear skies I walked down for a shot or two. The sun was in the middle of a blue patch of sky as 67027 led its train and 67023 into platform 1 a few minutes late following a unit failure somewhere or other beyond Snow Hill. Platform 1 was free for about 10 minutes which allowed the shot I wanted to be taken as the train approached the footbridge.
The sun stayed out just long enough Tuesday 22 May 2018 to take a photograph of 67023 with 1Q48 standing in platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon station. The distracting background of scaffolding shows a tiny part of a huge sink estate of the future undergoing construction on the site of the cattle market. The consensus of local opinion of which I am aware suggests that within a few years this part of the town will be very much a no-go area after dark. Well done, Stratford DC...
The prototype class 230, 230001 made some more runs from Long Marston on Thursday 17 May 2018. I had intended to take some pictures of all the trips but had a message before leaving home saying that something even more unusual was running on the line through Hatton a bit later on. I still went to Long Marston for the first part of 5Z01 and arrived a few minutes before 230001 came into sight as it ran along the exchange sidings. Within a vey short time the gates were opened and it started on the short journey to Honeybourne. Over to the right and out of shot the diesel shunter was on the loop moving a class 319 EMU around towards the exchange sidings in preparation for its journey to Wolverton during the afternoon.
Vivarail's 230001 paused on the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne for a few moments until the signal was cleared to allow it to go to Honeybourne North Junction and to reverse on the main line and head off to Moreton-in-Marsh, Honeybourne isn't the most attractive station in the area but it does at least have a GWR-Style piece of ironwork on some of the platform's benches. The sun was at full strength but still a little straight at this time of the morning, just on 10.00. There were some more moves during the rest of the day along with another Long Marston to Wolverton class 319 drag but I went home for some coffee before going to Hatton.
Coal trains have been a very rare commodity of the GWR line from Tyseley to Leamington Spa in recent years. On the morning of 17 May 2018 I had a message from a friend saying that a Freightliner locomotive was in charge of a 6V40 Barrow Hill to East Usk Yard and was due at Hatton at 11.50. I changed my plans so as to be able to take a photograph of this unusual working and decided to go to the high bridge at Shrewley, just to the north of Hatton North Junction. The train, which had originated at York on the previous day and had been recessed overnight at Barrow Hill, was running about 20 minutes late but this wasn't a bad thing because 4M55 hauled by 66516 was in Hatton DGL and was a candidate for blocking out the view of an up train. All was well however and 6V40 came around the bend surrounded by Spring greenery and a healthy sprinkling of hawthorn blossom. Talking of flowers, this iris was growing on the narrow grass verge alongside the bridge.
Vivarail's 230001 made some more runs between Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh on Tuesday 16 May 2018 and as I had limited time went to Thistley Hill near Mickleton for the second up run although knowing that the sun would be too straight for most people's taste. First along was am IET forming 1P25, the 0954 Great Malvern to London Paddington which was running about 10 minutes late and certainly not being pushed to make up considering how slowly it passed me. I don't know which unit it was; I don't bother much with numbers and don't separately record them. Recent vegetation clearance has really opened the view along this stretch of line; this shot would have been impossible until the clearance works. It won't last...
This was the train I went out to photograph near Mickleton on 16 May 2018. Vivarail's 230001 was making some more testing and mileage accumulation runs and had already gone from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh and then down to Evesham and I was here for 5Z03 from Evesham West Junction back to Moreton. RTT showed that it had arrived at Evesham but whichever system activates the train on the railway computer systems hadn't done so and until I saw it coming up Campden Bank wasn't sure that it was on its way. The next run due in about an hour would have been better for the light but I couldn't wait so was sort of relieved to see later that it had been cancelled with 230001 returning to Long Marston from Evesham.
During the late morning of 15 May 2018 a schedule appeared suggesting that a class 143 pacer, running as 5Z43, was on its way from Cardiff Canton to Long Marston. As the afternoon was clear and sunny and as my previous shots of 143s here had been in poor light I went across to Long Marston for a shot or two. This one taken as 143601 ran the final few yards along the branch from Honeybourne from the top of a pile of earth left in the field during works to update Pebworth's sewage facilities by taking the village's waste to the nearby Milcote sewage works.
The usual procedure for moving a class 143 at Long Marston ws followed on 15 May 2018 when 143601 entered the exchange sidings and immediately reversed to reach the workshop area by running anti-clockwise around the circuit. This shot was taken just as it began to move and against a backdrop of a variety of stored stock.
The first run of a 9 car IET over the length of the North Cotswold Line was on Monday 15 May 2018 when 800302 worked 5X23 between Stoke Gifford and Oxford and back again. The afternoon leg of the test was better for me and I went to Lower Moor between Evesham and Pershore, a spot where the full length of the train could be seen to advantage. The bland overall green blends all too well with the background as the train passes the hydroponic glasshouses growing various salad crops.
Defford, on the main line from Birmingham to Gloucester, is only a few minutes drive from Lower Moor and with another shot of the IET to be had along with one or two bits and pieces that is where I went next on 15 May 2018. First along and running the thick end of 2 hours early was 37099 propelling 3Z62, the 12.32 Derby R.T.C.(Network Rail) to Exeter Old Yd Waggonersway. Much of the earliness was the result of missing out a lengthy layover in Abbotswood Loop and as my mobile data provider sent a new SIM card at the weekend but without telling anyone that the APN settings for data had to be set from scratch I had no access to anything so didn't know where trains were.
The roadbridge at Defford is one of the few in the area where a decent two-way shot can be had. I like the northbound view because of the attractive vista of the valley of the River Avon and the mass of Bredon Hill in the background. If standing on the bridge ready for a southbound shot it is easy to keep an eye for anything coming the other way on the long straight through Eckington and when a headlight is seen there is time to cross the road. On this occasion, 15 May 2018, the light was on the front of 43301 leading 1S61, the 12.25 Plymouth to Glasgow Central, the HST being in what I think is by far the best of the current crop of colour schemes on that class of train.
My second shot of 800302 on 15 May 2018 was as it returned to Stoke Gifford from Oxford via a reversal at Worcester. It is shown here passing the site of Defford station still running at 5X23 once again matching the green background. I think the colour could have been a shade or two lighter and much more like the Middle Chrome (Brunswick) Green with a contrasting lining-out used by the GWR on its express passenger locomotives.
There were at least 2 movements of old locomotives on the main line on Monday 15 May 2018 but this one took my fancy more than a pair of class 50s running light engine. The train pictured here at Defford is a 5Z20 11.15 Ferme Park to Kidderminster SVR presumably to take locomotives and stock there for some gala or other. I nearly went to Dog Bridge at Norton Barracks but decided on an image from here to take advantage of the wider angle to better show 20205, 20189 and 73136 leading a 4 TC set with 20142 and 20007 bringing up the rear.
Worcester has been a popular destination for rail charters during early May with the VSOE on Wednesday 9th and a slightly less luxurious train in Saturday 12th. I couldn't get out for the VSOE but did go for the latter working on Saturday from Letchworth. This had the unattractively liveried 67018 providing the power but despite this I went to Honeybourne as it was my first chance for a shot of a locomotive-hauled passenger train at this recently cleared location. The light wasn't particularly good but the mass of hawthorn blossom all around made up for this to some extent.
Vivarail's 230001 was shown as running between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham on Tuesday 8 May 2018 and with what appeared to be guaranteed sunshine I went over to Evesham for the second of the day's runs. I arrived at Briar Close just in time to see 165113 forming the 10.39 Great Malvern to Paddington, 1P27, approach the signal box for a stop in the station where a class 800 was waiting to head north. The new GWR colour looks smart but it's not easy to achieve a good photographic result of it even in strong sunlight.
I'm always keen to take a photograph of Vivarail's 230001 on its various test runs and must admit that I find it a more interesting prospect than yet another 37 hauled stock drag. On Tuesday 8 May 2018 230001 made some runs on the North Cotswold Line and unusually it started from Honeybourne sidings where it had been stabled, for reasons of which I am not aware, since the previous weekend. I wasn't able to get out for the first run between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham but did make it to Evesham in plenty of time for the second. Here it is arriving at Evesham station as 5Z04 and after a short wait at the signal just on the other side of the bridge until a preceding class 800 had reached Norton Junction went down towards Evesham West Junction before crossing over to the up main line.
Now running as 5Z05 after its reversal at Evesham West Junction 230001 is about to pass non-stop through Evesham on the way back to Moreton-in-Marsh. It would reverse again there before the final journey of the day and its return to Honeybourne Sidings.
A sunny morning on 5 May 2018 and the prospect of an unusual triple-headed freight on the Solihull line saw me head to Hatton for a few minutes. Running in front of the freight was 165011 forming 2L27, the 11.34 Birmingham Moor Street to Leamington stopping train. When I left home the sky was cloudless but during the drive over a lot of cloud bubbled up; inevitable on a warm morning after some wet weather earlier in the week. There was still more blue sky around than cloud so I wasn't going to turn this image of a 2 car unit.
An early morning message said that the 08.55 Freightliner from Crewe Basford Hall to Southampton was to be headed by 70015, 70004 and 70003, clearly a way to take 2 locomotives from unbalanced diagrams for work next week. This to me was a much better option than yet another shot of 37601 with a class 350/2 EMU going to Long Marston. It was a pity that 57301 wasn't still around following its trip to Warwickshire on the previous day - the choice of train would then have been more difficult. Anyway the novelty aspect of a triple-header appealed and here is 4O29 passing Hatton's banner repeater signal running 4 minutes late. This slight lateness was fortunate as a northbound Chiltern service is due here at exactly the same time and also because the sun managed to be in the middle of a large clear patch of sky.
Track relaying work on the Long Marston branch finished sometime during the night of 3/4 May 2018 and the first revenue-earning train ran on the morning of 4 May. A light engine was shown to be running from Crewe Gresty Bridge and after a bit of digging, not helped by the fact that the reporting number was changed from 0V70 to 0V94 near Wolverhampton, found that 57301 was the locomotive involved. This was the first DRS liveried, as opposed to the Pullman coloured, class 57 to go along here so I went over for a shot. There was no return train schedule showing at the time but the headcode suggested that a stock move, probably a class 319, was going to leave the site. Some delay was encountered along the Stourbridge Junction line but a little time was picked up and arrival was at 10.24 some 20 minutes late. As this was the first non-infrastructure move over the new track I took this image of it a few yards from the end of the branch. While 57301 stood in the sun with 319008 waiting to be collected another unit was being propelled to join the other but I wanted to get to my health club for a swim and I have previously witnessed how long it can take for 319s to be coupled and for the door locking mechanism to be made operational I stayed no longer. I later saw that 5Q70 left for Wolverton 70 minutes late at 12.22...
The engineering work on the Long Marston branch continued over 2 and 3 May 2018 with another 6X04 from Fairwater Yard on the Tuesday afternoon. Knowing that a lot of vegetation had been removed from the North Cotswold Line I went, in hope, to a spot near Mickleton where a clear shot would be available. The location had seen significant clearance work and I was hopeful of a decent outcome at shortly before 20.00. Running in front of 6X04 was 1W36, the 17.52 Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill which was 2 or 3 minutes late when it passed me formed of 165109.
The shadows at Mickleton were becoming a bit intrusive on 2 May 2018 as I was waiting for 6X04, the 13.45 from Fairwater Yard to Honeybourne North Junction. The preceding passenger service didn't help matters by being 2 or 3 minutes late as the sun was sinking rapidly and the remaining lineside bushes' shadows were encroaching on the line. Nonetheless, freight of any description is as "rare as the stars upon a clouded night" (Louise Morgan Sill) along the North Cotswold Line south of Honeybourne so to take an image in mostly decent light was more than welcome. The locomotives were 66543 and 66526, the same as Monday's run and the train's consist looks to be much the same. The location has seen a lot of lineside work work since my previous visit in September 2016 but there was still a huge smouldering pile of manure casting smelly smoke around. Fortunately the slight breeze drifted it away from the line.