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

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

Rail Adventure Power Cars and 20007 at Honeybourne Three more class 777 tri-mode units were moved for storage from Walton Old Junction at Warrington to Long Marston on Thursday 16 February 2024. I was unable to get out for this but there was an arguably more interesting train the following day when 43468 + 43480 took the barrier/brake force wagons from the Warwickshire site to Wembley along with green liveried 20007 which had been there as a standby in case the GWR battery unit 230001 had any issues on its test runs. The lighting at Honeybourne at around 09.30 on a sunny morning is a bit challenging and it was a few moments before I noticed 20007 behind 43468 + 43480 along with the wagons so I put on my longest lens and took a few bracketed exposure shots as 6Z79 came to a stop at the hut in which the branch token is kept. A GWR man was already there to take the token back to Long Marston ready to release 230001 from the exchange sidings for its run later in the morning.
Rail Adventure Power Cars and 20007 at Honeybourne It's not every day you can get to see a triple-header with 2 HST power cars and a class 20 but on 16 February 2024 that's exactly what what was on the front of 6Z79 from Long Marston to Wembley. The power cars were taking a load of barrier/brake force wagons away after delivering 3 class 777 units for storage. The severe backlighting and unchecked undergrowth didn't help matters but there was no way that I was going to ignore such an unusual working. As soon as the bushes and shrubs come into leaf within a few weeks this shot will disappear unless Network Rail decide to do some clearance work but the chances of that happening are around zero. Or less.
Rail Adventure Power Cars and 20007 at Honeybourne There was an up GWR service to London Paddington due within a minute or so at Honeybourne on 16 February 2024 as 6Z79 with 43468 + 43480 + 20007 stopped at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction so it wouldn't be held for long; in fact, just until the IET was in the platform. It was fortunate the first two wagons were flats which a half-decent view of green 20007 making for a sight that I can't imagine has happened before. The class 20, which came from the SVR at Kidderminster as a standby in case GWR 230001 had any problems on its test runs, was detached from the consist there causing around one hour delay to the run forward to Wembley via Birmingham and Nuneaton.
Battery 230001 at Honeybourne What was probably GWR battery powered 230001's final run in the Midlands took place on Friday 16 February 2024 when it ran as 5Q23 from Long Marston to Reading Traincare Depot. Several GWR men were waiting at Honeybourne to board the train and they told me that tests over previous days had been succesful with the range achieved being gradually increased from 40 to 86 miles, more than enough for the 70 mile run to Reading. The train managed to catch a spell of sunshine as it drew to a halt on the branch with just enough of a gap in the shadows for a reasonable picture. The "Viva Venturer" nameplate has been retained to mark the unit's origin within the former Vivarail business.
Battery 230001 at Honeybourne As soon as the preceding IET to London Paddington had arrived at Moreton-in-Marsh on 16 February 2024, 230001 was released from the Long Marston branch and allowed to run forward to Honeybourne North Junction to join the up main line. It was due in platform 2 to pick a GWR contingent in addition to those already on board, including historian and TV presenter Tim Dunn, for the rest of the journey. This is my final shot which I took slightly early to show the GWR-style seat on the platform. It is pleasing that no problems were met on the journey and Reading Depot was reached 3 minutes early and it was later reported that just 45% of the batteries' capacity was used during the journey.
GWR 802005 at Moreton-in-Marsh The GWR's 230001 was once again out on test on 24 February 2024 with runs from Long Marston to Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh. I went to the latter because of the lower-quadrant semaphores which are the only ones of the type under which any of these tests have run. The battery unit was working as 5Q11 and left Evesham 6 minutes early which meant that a clash with a down IET spoiling the photograph was possible. Fortunately the 09.52 Paddington to Hereford, 1W01, was on time as it arrived and left promptly leaving the view northwards clear.
GWR 203001 at Moreton-in-Marsh The down line starter signal was still lowered on 14 February 2024 as 230001, the 10.25 Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh, 5Q11, arrived almost silently in the station. The northbound IET that had just left was barely out of sight around the corner as the battery-powered unit came under the Fosseway roadbridge. Appropriately enough, the GWR style and colour totem sign on the side of the building to the right of the train is advertising the Fosseway Business Park.
GWR 203001 at Moreton-in-Marsh This is the view from the station footbridge, also a public footpath to the town from a nearby park and housing estate, looking south as 230001 stopped by the GWR signalbox waiting for the road to run forward and cross over to the down line. The signal on the right is a relatively recent addition used for any down trains terminating here before returning to London Paddington.
GWR 203001 at Moreton-in-Marsh The GWR battery unit 230001, now under the headcode 5Q12, standing at Moreton-in-Marsh of 14 February 2024 had to wait until the preceding service train had reached Evesham before it was allowed to leave. I waited at the end of the platform to take this not very good quality video clip on my 'phone as it pulled away.
GWR 203001 at Moreton-in-Marsh I walked from Moreton-in-Marsh station to the nearby roadbridge in the hope that 230001 would run as scheduled and make another trip up to Moreton. It did not report after leaving Honeybourne North Junction so I was pleased when it appeared and came to a stop at the starting signal just before 800022 arrived giving the chance for a shot of the strange bedfellows side-by-side.
GWR 203001 at Moreton-in-Marsh It didn't take long for the signal to give the road for 5Q13 to pull forward over the points at Moreton-in-Marsh on 14 February 2024 prior to reversing into platform 1. The weather had deteriorated and some misty drizzle was falling as 230001 moved quietly forward.
GWR 203001 at Moreton-in-Marsh At the risk of overdoing things I took a final shot of 230001 moving across the switches as 5Q14 prior to entering platform 1 at Moreton-in-Marsh on 14 February 2024.The drizzle was quite steady by this time but predictably enough stopped as made the 5 minute walk to my car and gave to bright sunshine during the drive home. These tests are in preparation for further trials between West Ealing, where a fast charger has been installed, and Greenford with a view to entering public service. Mileages in excess of 70 have been achieved with spare battery capacity left and the unit should run to Reading mover the next few days.
GWR 230001 at Long Marston There were some more test runs from Long Marston planned for GWR's battery unit 230001 on Friday 9 February 2024. The weather was dire with dreadful light and heavy rain but I fancied a few shots at Evesham station which retains some original GWR character if the modern platform lights can be ignored. I had been told that 5Q11 should run but you can never be 100% sure although when 2 GWR personnel with company rucsacs arrived on platform 1 it seemed very likely that it wasn't a wasted journey for me. It came to stop some 12 minutes early and stood for long enough to take a picture of one of the battery sets situated under each of the driving vehicles. The unit was first rolled with purely battery power for a visit (by road) as a demonstration train to Scotland in October 2021 as shown here passing Evesham signalbox on the 13th of that month.
GWR 230001 at Long Marston A reversal at Evesham involves a run to Evesham West Junction which marks the end of the double-track section. This takes several minutes and gives plenty of time to walk off the station and onto the roadbridge at the southern end of the platforms. The rain was still falling on 9 February 2024 at 230001 still running as 5Q11 from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh ran past the wildlife friendly garden on the right that is maintained by local volunteers. All of the former Vivarail class 230s have been tested along this route and here is TFW 230006 in much better weather on 21 May 2020. The first main line outing for 230001 was on the night of 28 November 2016 when running under diesel power it made the journey as 5Z26 to Leamington Spa from Tyseley and return.
GWR 230001 at Long Marston Something appeared on RTT a few days ago showing an 0Z20 operated by Rail Adventure from Kidderminster SVR to Long Marston on Monday 5 February 2024 with a unit from there going on a couple of trips between Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh. I had no idea what might be involved so went to have a look only to find that the road from the village to the roadbridge was closed. It was possible to drive to within 50 yards of the bridge where a team of civil engineers were working to establish why part of the road was in danger of collapsing down the embankment into the rail site. They were quite happy to let me stand amongst them on the bridge and within a few minutes I was surprised to see 230001 in full GWR livery come around from the shed area. This shot was my first sight of 5Q11 and here is a picture of the middle coach with some detail of the power source.
GWR 230001 at Long Marston It took a few minutes on 5 February 2024 for 230001 to move around from the previous picture and reverse into the exchange siding ready to move out onto the branch to Honeybourne. A stack of other stock was visible including classes 701 and 777 together with some of the TPE Mk5 coaches and DVTs that have recently arrived from Longsight. The crew member was unclipping the points before they were shifted to allow egress from the site once the gates had been opened.
GWR 230001 at Long Marston A bit of weak sun managed to appear as 230001 left Long Marston on 5 February 2024 with 5Q11 to Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh. It was then time to leave as the civil engineers were preparing to drill a 12 metre hole in the roadside and said that it would soon become very noisy and probably a bit messy, so off to Honeybourne for me.
GWR 230001 at Honeybourne There were very few cars in Honeybourne station car park on 5 February 2024 because of a rail strike so I was able to park right by the entrance to platforms which was handy as 230001 was just running down from the staff hut after dropping off the branch token. With no other traffic on the line 5Q11 was able to leave without delay and was therefore running about 25 minutes early at this point.
GWR 230001 at Honeybourne The best bet on 4 February 2024 for a shot 230001 returning from Evesham to Honeybourne and on to Moreton-in-Marsh was from the footbridge at Honeybourne as there is no doubt about its location. The reversal at Evesham and run back here didn't take long and here is the battery unit passing through at quite a decent speed.
GWR 230001 at Honeybourne GWR's dark green livery looks almost black in poor light as it does here as 230001 returned from Moreton-in-Marsh on 5 February 2024. A bit of lining out in gold would give it a lift but I don't suppose anything will change at this stage.
GWR 230001 at Honeybourne After yet another reversal on 5 February 2024, this time at Honeybourne North Junction, 230001 rejoined the Long Marston branch and sat for a short while before the points were shifted and the shunnt signal lit to show that it was routed into Honeybourne Sidings. I had to leave at this point but saw afterwards from RTT that the second planned run to Moreton-in-Marsh didn't take place with the unit returning to Long Marston.
37409 at Leamington Spa An ECS operated by LSL Rail from Crewe to Southall ran on Sunday 4 February 2024. The consist of 5Z82 was interesting in that it was 37409 in a completely non-authentic but attractive ScotRail livery, green class 20s 20096 + 20107 coupled cab-to-cab and 3 coaches. There appeared to a chance of sun and the only place close to home for me with a decent shot in those circumstances was Leamington Spa station. I parked a 6 or 7 minute walk away and on checking RTT saw that the train was already only about 3 minutes away having picked up a lot of time on the run from Nuneaton. I had missed 37409 on its run in the new colours thanks to heavy traffic and thought the same would happen this time. Fortunately a CrossCountry Voyager, just visible here, was up 5Z82's tail so I arrived with time for a few shots. Only one other photographer and his young son were waiting and I took this as the Voyager pulled out with the lad trying without luck to get the driver to give a blast or two on the horn for his video.
37409 at Leamington Spa The Voyager in the previous picture soon cleared the section out of Leamington Spa on 4 February 2024 allowing 37409 to move away. Having taken plenty of stills I took a short video clip as it pulled away. The request for horn blowing was successful this time!
68027 with TPE stock at Evesham Another train of TPE stock for storage at Long Marston ran from Longsight on Thursday 1 February 2024. This time the locomotive was 68027 and with some decent light looking probable it was a worth a drive to Evesham, one of relatively few locations at this time of the eyear with a largely shadow free shot. I looked at both the station footbridge and roadbridge at the south end of the station but there still were intrusive shadows from various bits of infrastructure so went to Briar Close. Quite a few other photographers also turned up and it was unfortunate that the sun passed behind cloud a few minutes before the train, running as 5Q94, was due.
A Hereford to Paddington train at Blackminster This should have been a picture, albeit taken about one hour earlier, of Rail Adventure's 4 HST power cars topping and tailing 2 class 777 units going to Long Marston for reasons unknown to me. Something went wrong as is usually the case when more than one train is scheduled to go to the Warwickshire site on the same day but 6Z45 festered in Worcester Yard, eventually leaving about 120 late by which time I was at home. The GWR units looked faintly ridiculous with the nose cone open and it must make quite a difference to the drag coefficient at more than a moderate speed.
Rail Adventure Power Cars and 777029 between Evesham and Honeybourne More apparently less than top quality new stock went to Long Marston on Tuesday in the form of Stadler battery unit 777029 from Walton Old Hall Jn. at Warrington. The unit was moved by Rail Adventure using their HST Power Cars in top and tail mode with universal barrier wagons. I chose to photograph it from a boarded foot crossing complete with gates and stairs between Bretforton and Blackminster on the North Cotswold Line. It seemed likely that the train would leave Norton Junction early because a GWR service from London Paddington, 1W02, was running late giving 6Q45 time to get along the single track from Norton to Evesham. The barriers protecting the road crossing were lowered about 22 minutes early and 43465 + 43484 led the ensemble with 43468 + 43480 bringing up the rear. The through air pipe allowing the unit's brakes to be isolated can just be made out between it and the first barrier wagon. There was time to turn around and take this shot of 777029 as it went away to Honeybourne North Junction.
Rail Adventure Power Cars and 777029 at Long Marston Long Marston can be on my home from the Blackminster direction so I dropped in on 20 January 2024 and arrived just as 6Q45 was entering the site. The Rail Adventure Power Cars that had led the train from Warrington were detached and moved into Road No. 2 alongside the other pair. The light had completely collapsed by this time but the sun suddenly found a tiny gap in the clouds and it was almost as if a spotlight had been shone on part of the scene including the many brand-new but still unserviceable class 701 EMUs. The glaring sun really increased the contrast between the sunlit area and the dark sky and I didn't do anything to enhance the sky or background during post-processing of the RAW image. This wasn't Rail Adventure's first visit to Long Marston as 43468 + 43465 + barrier wagon arrived in the evening of 20 June 2022 for display at that year's Rail Live event.
Rail Adventure Power Cars and 777029 at Long Marston The light soon returned to its former dull state as 43468 + 43480 and a barrier coach pulled out of the exchange sidings at Long Marston on 30 January 2024 leaving 777029 in road No.1 of the exchange sidings. I left after this image was taken but these power cars and barrier would have reversed onto their twins in the other road ready to leave for Warrington the following day.
68021 at Evesham It seems that most TPE locomotive-hauled coaching sets are being taken from Longsight to Long Marston for storage. On Monday 29 January 2024 68021 took more stock to the site and I thought that a picture as it passed through Evesham station would make a decent shot showing it in a location obviously away from its usual haunt. After a bit of an off-route diversion just after leaving Longsight 5Q97 ran close to time and passed Evesham a few minutes early in increasingly gloomy light. There was a set booked to leave Long Marston going TO Longsight but this was unsurprisingly cancelled with 68021 returning northwards as a light engine.
68026 near Evesham Another set of Trans-Pennine Express stock was taken from Longsight to Long Marston on Thursday 25 January 2024. Unlike an attempt to shift a set the previous week when the locomotive failed at Stockport resulting in the train being dragged to Crewe by a class 57 where it was cancelled, 5Q94 ran close to time throughout and passed Evesham in some quite odd lighting conditions just 2 minutes late. This picture was taken from a footbridge south of there as 5Q94 with 68026 climbed through the cutting towards Honeybourne. I took a short video clip on my 'phone but the wind had picked up a bit and the noise from it became a bit intrusive.
37219 at Stratford-upon-Avon Following a weather alert on the evening of 21 January 2024 which mentioned that many trains were cancelled because of strong winds associated with storm Isha I had a quick look at the RTT page for Stratford-upon-Avon to see if there were any cancellations. There weren't but I did see that a 3Q14 was on its way from Derby RTC, a train that usually arrives here between midnight and 2am, but this time scheduled to reach the terminus at 21.50. This was a bit more reasonable so despite my wife saying that I must be off my head (so?!) went down to the station. A friend up the line had confirmed that 37219 was on the back of the Structure Gauging Train which is ideal for static shots before it reverses on the station.. The weather was absolutely foul with strong winds and driving rain; the basic bus shelter on platform 2 being almost useless to keep anything dry. As soon as the driver had reached the locomotive cab and switched on the lights I grabbed a few shots before moving along the platform to take this one in a better spot of light from one of the platform lamps as 3Q14 moved off.
68021 at Long Marston A third set of TPE stock, TP12, was moved from Longsight to Long Marston on Thurday 11 January 2024. This time it worked with a class 68 loocmotive, 68021, as was used when the stock was in normal service. It may be heretical but I was pleased to see an "unadulterated" set on this occasion rather than one being dragged by an ROG class 37; not that I was remotely unhappy to have taken this shot a couple of days earlier. I was mostly interested in getting a shot or two at Long Marston itself and it was fortunate that 5Q94 ran a bit late from Worcester as 2 sets of roadworks necessitated quite lengthy diversions around separate bits of Warwickshire. There was no chance of any sun, a good job here at around 12.45, when 68021 with the short train appeared in the distance and crawled along the last few hundred yards of the branch from Honeybourne.
68021 at Long Marston It took quite a while on 11 January 2024 for the token to be installed in the groundframe and getting the points switched to allow 68021 with 5Q94 to run onto road 2 of the exchange sidings. The light was getting worse but it was worth getting a shot of the stylish DVT as the train moved away from the roadbridge.
68021 at Long Marston There was time to switch to a long lens at Long Marston on 11 January 2024 before 5Q94 led by 68021 moved at less than walking pace into the exchange sidings. This image shows the large number of SWT class 701s currently stored here along with a few other bits and pieces of stock including another TPE set and class 68. Rather than being dumped here as was the case with the other 2 sets brought here 68021 later left light engine and was taken to Crewe, possibly for another similar trip next week. A concrete pad has been constructed in the distance on part of the trackbed once the main GWR line to Stratford-upon-Avon and appears to have some railway-related stuff, looking like wheelsets, stored there.
37884 + 68024 at Evesham Trans Pennine Express locomotive-hauled stock withdrawn from service is gradually being moved from Longsight to Long Marston. Unusually, a locomotive is included in the train consist and when the second set was moved on a sunny 9 January 2024 it ran in a very convenient lunchtime path rather than in the dark as happened with the first, so was one of those "must have" images. As 5Q94 was reported to be double-headed with 37884 + 68024 (dit) I wanted a recognisable location with a bit of height to better show the unusual formation. After checking out a couple of locations that proved to be too shadowed I settled on the bridge just before the station at Evesham despite having been there only the previous week for another move to Long Marston. An arguably more interesting working involving a class 68 visit to Long Marston took place on 3 August 2020 when 68026 took a rake of box wagons to Stowmarket for noise level tests.
47749 at Evesham The flow of SWT class 701 EMUs into Long Marston continued into 2024 with 2 more sets, 701524 + 701518, having left Eastleigh on 4 January. Something was found to be wrong with the paperwork meaning that 47749 with 5Q86 festered in Eckington Loop for a couple of hours before being allowed to continue to Worcester TC while things were resolved. It seemed likely that the final leg of the journey would take place on Friday 5 January and sure enough a schedule appeared early in the morning which was replaced with a later path showing 5Q86 to pass Evesham at 11.19. The weather wasn't too bad so I went to Briar Close between the signalbox and station for my first shot of the year. The train ran to time and 47749 soon appeared in the distance with a bit of brightness breaking through the clouds.
67021 at Wilmcote It's been a while since I saw the VSOE or Belmond British Pullman as it is now known anywhere near Stratford-upon-Avon so was keen for a shot or two when it was scheduled to visit on Saturday 28 October 2023. The trip came from London Victoria with Pullman liveried 67021 being the motive power and without another locomotive tailing the coaches to avoid run-rounds. Wilmcote was my chosen location and with sun looking likely thought that the footbridge would make an attractive backdrop. Two other photographers were already in place right at the end of the platform but with a shadow from the station buildings being cast in exactly the wrong place it was necessary for me use an 85mm lens to put the locomotive in a clear patch of track. There must have been some problems for down trains at Fenny Compton as all trains were delayed by at least 20 minutes with 1Z26 being delayed another 5 minutes at Hatton West Junction while a preceding Chiltern Railways Train service cleared the single line to Bearley Junction. The sun nearly held on for this shot but it would have been better 30 seconds earlier. I prefer my shot from May 1987!
67021 at Henley in Arden An unusual feature of the VSOE's visit to Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 October 2023 was that the stock went to Tyseley LMD for servicing and was routed in both directions along the North Warwickshire Line via Henley in Arden. There have been a few class 67s over the line, mostly in the hands of Colas Rail's 67023 + 67027 on test trains but any diesel locomotive is rare enough to make a trip worth the effort. I left Wilmcote and drove to Henley where the cloud all too necessary here for a lunchtime shot was building up nicely when I saw from the Railcams map that the ECS had turned right at Bearley Junction and gone to Tyseley via Hatton and Dorridge. This meant another trip out later in the day for 5Z82. It was dark and beginning to rain when 67021 went through the station at full line speed and I had had to use ISO 2500 to get a decent shutter speed and aperture. The return to London Victoria was also coming this way but it was getting duller and wetter so I went home. The local adopters of the station under the Shakespeare Line Rail Users Group (SLRUG) have made a great of tidying up and refurbishing the platforms and infrastructure including the running-in boards. The station building itself is currently undergoing extensive restoration work and will soon provide facilities for both passengers and residents of the town.
37254 at Stratford-upon-Avon The usual test train from Derby RTC and back via Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa, 1Q48, ran on Tuesday 3 October 2023. I haven't bothered with it for a while as I've been waiting for either 37607 or 43277 to be allocated but with a warm and dry evening had a trip to the GWR station. the train ran early because the WMR service usually running in front of it was cancelled and I arrived with about one minute to spare but knew the exposure settings from previous outings so had set up my camera at home. With 37254 leading and 37175 out of sight on the back, 1Q48 slowed to stop in platform 1. I don't know what the green thing looking like a plasma ball is but assume it's something to do with the lights both under the coach and those on the coach roof for the OHL inspection cameras.
37175 at Stratford-upon-Avon As mentioned above 1Q48 from Derby RTC on 3 October 2023 ran early and as soon as it was in the platform at Stratford-upon-Avon the departure signal was changed to green and within a couple of minutes the driver was in the cab of 37175 ready for the return to RTC. The turnaround was so rapid that I didn't have time to set up my 'phone for some video which was a shame as the exit from the station was quite spirited.
The final public run of an HST at Hatton The final public run of a CrossCountry HST took place on 26 September 2023 with a 1Z43 charter from Leeds to the preserved line at station at Swanage. I have taken very few shots of the last few weeks of the trains' services but felt almost obliged to have a shot of this working. It was clearly not going to be a sunny morning and I drove through torrential rain on the trip from Stratford-upon-Avon but this had eased quite a lot as I walked onto the roadbridge. The HST set was led by power car 43008 repainted into Intercity swallow livery which on a such a dark morning was probably a good thing. Some late running was the order of the day and 1Z43 was 7 minutes late as it crawled towards Hatton station with a Chiltern local from Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa having been given the road first. There were a couple of cars on the road so I didn't cross for a picture of 43007 on the back of the set. These sets used to work on this with diverted trains as seen in this shot from 1994 with a Bournemouth-bound service perfectly aligned with a class 166 leaving the branch. In 2006 and 2007 Virgin Trains hired a Midland Mainline set as seen here at Hatton station for a 1V36 service to Reading to cater for extra passengers going to the Festival there.
66623 at Hatton There were a few freights through Hatton on the afternoon of 19 September 2023 including a rare appearance from the Theale to Earles Sidings empty cement tanks, 6M91. This was in the Down Goods Loop at Hatton when I arrived and on checking the Railcams map watched as the exit signal was changed to green. This allowed a couple of minutes to walk to the footbridge to take this shot of 66623 in its latest colour scheme. The locomotive is no stranger to different liveries; in July 2012 it was put into a blue scheme marking Freighliner's association with the Bardon Group. It's a pity that no-one could be bothered to paint the roof...
66727 at Hatton Another non-standard livery locomotive was on the next northbound freight through Hatton on 19 September 2023 in he form of GBRf's 66727. The train was 4H33, the 14.45 Banbury Reservoir Sidings to Hindlow empty stone boxes, the stone stockpiled at Banbury being used to build the immensely important and cost-effective Acton to Birmingham HS2. A rapid switch to the other side of the footbridge was needed as the sun popped out as the train rounded the curve in the background.
66790 + 69010 at Hatton I didn't bother with the third train heading north at Hatton on 29 September 2023 as the light died on a grubby 66/7 on a virtually empty 4M59 intermodal. A southbound infrastructure train was next in the form of 6O01 from Scunthorpe to Eastleigh with 66790 leading 69010 in green undercoat on the way for its final colour scheme to be applied. On this occasion the train was a decent length unlike the previous time I saw it with a class 69 in tow. Network Rail has done a sterling job in keeping the vegetation under control here, I'm used to intrusive bushes and trees on the side of lines but see undergrowth in between the running lines less often. On 27 December 2001 it was still possible to see the Grand Union canal.
56096 at Ashchurch The chance came along for a sunny shot of the Chirk Kronospan to Baglan Bay empty log carriers on Wednesday 13 September 2023. This time it was running as a VAR with its usual 6V54 headcode again with 56096 in charge. The train ran a bit late around Birmingham but fortunately picked up enough time to avoid any chance of being put into Ashchurch DGL which would have mightily cheesed-off the 7 or 8 photographers on the footbridge at Northway, just north of Ashchurch station. The locomotive had just been opened up after a 30mph TSR for freights over the road crossing in the background.
165132 at Ashchurch After 56096 with 6V54 had passed Ashchurch on 13 September 2023 I decided to hang on for the Round Oak to Margam empty steel train. Running in front of the freight and also from the Worcester line was 165132 with 2T42, the 09.52 Worcester Foregate Street to Bristol Temple Meads, slowing to pick up 3 or 4 passengers at Ashchurch for Tewkesbury station.
66197 at Ashchurch Some cloud had begun to build up by the time 6V05 from Round Oak to Margam had appeared on the maps as it waited for the road at Norton Junction. An especially annoying shadow was crawling south along the line as 66197 came into the section and if there had not been a 30mph TSR for freights it would have been well clear. At least it was the right way round...
56096 at Defford An unusual working for the Birmingham to Gloucester line appeared in the timetable over the weekend on 10 September 2023 in the form of 56095 on the Chirk Kronospan to Baglan Bay empty log carriers being diverted from its usual route making a drive to Defford for a shot even on a very dull morning worthwhile. The train, 6Z54, ran close to time as far as Stoke Works Junction where a track machine waiting to leave the single line from Droitwich caused a Birmingham to Hereford service and the following CrossCountry train a few minutes delay. This was mostly made up on the run down to Defford where a tiny touch of brightness appeared just as 6Z54 with the dirty 56096 came under the roadbridge in the background. The locomotive wasn't much cleaner than when I photographed it at Evesham in the early morning of 24 November 2022 while working the daily RHTT.
66061 at Defford As 56096 with empty log carriers was heading past Norton Junction near Worcester on 11 September 2023 66061 was waiting for the road for 6V05, the 09.15 Round Oak to Margam (only to Llanwern on this occasion). The empty steel train was only a couple of sections behind 6Z54 and came down from Abbotswood behind what looked like a newly repainted 66061. I'm not a great fan of the day-glo colour scheme but it does have its uses on a really dull day as this image shows. The currently in-vogue stock, a CrossCountry HST, was also running south on 1V50 from Edinburgh but with no prospect of any sun and a hour or so to wait I headed for home.
196005 at Stoke Prior Another trip to Stoke Prior for me on the morning of 9 September 2023 to take a sunny shot of 43047 and 43046 taking the Midland Pullman from Paignton to Fort William on the first day of a three day trip. Just after I had parked, the 08.50 Birmingham New Street to Hereford appeared which I shot as it went away to wards Stoke Works Junction wih 196005 trailing 196007.
170114 at Stoke Prior I rarely see class 170 units so tend to take a shot or two when I happen to be somewhere on one of their routes if the light is favourable. This example is 170114 working the 07.45 Cardiff Central to Nottingham train formed of 170114 at Stoke Prior and about pass Bromsgrove before climbing the 1/37 of the Lickey Incline.
196011 at Stoke Prior About 30 minutes after taking the picture of 196005 shown above another pair of 2 car class 196 units, 196011 + 196006 came off the single line from Droitwich with 1M58, the 08.40 Hereford to Birmingham New Street West Midlands Trains service. This was a good choice of location on an increasingly hot morning as the roadside trees gave some very welcome shade both to the photographers, not that there were many of us there, and their cars. Thanks to Steve Widdowson for the id of the units I missed noting.
196011 at Stoke Prior The Midland Pullman owned and operated by LSL is always worth a photograph on a sunny morning. I knew that the closest location to home and with favourable light would be Stoke Prior to the south of Bromsgrove. This run was a 15 hour marathon from Paignton to Fort William a journey which despite the beatiful accomodation and food is something, as one who dislikes rail travel, I would never countenace undertaking. The train, 1Z43, was running on time and came into view just as a class 170 on its way to Cardiff came south under the roadbridge. This potential blocking scenario was a possibility but with things running well to time was not a problem.
37116 + 37610 at Evesham The regular 1Z22 from Derby to Bristol ran on Wednesday 6 September 2023 with 37116 topping 4 coaches and 37610. It had been to Stratford-upon-Avon during the previous evening but having taken pictures of the same locomotives there on other occasions I didn't bother. After a misty start Wednesday cleared to bright sunshine so I went to Evesham station for a shot from the footbridge. The train ran a couple of minutes early and a bit disappointingly coasted through the station with the engines being opened up only when out of sight. This didn't help the video clip I took on my 'phone as the train passed. I can't say that I'm a fan of the utilitarian galvanised platform light standards and other stuff; even the bland GWR green would be an improvement.
196008_012 at Stoke Prior With the prospect of a sunny day on 5 September 2023 and some decent trains on the Birmingham to Gloucester line I took a trip to Stoke Prior to the south of Bromsgrove. First to come south and before the shadows had cleared was 1V24,the 09.50 Brimingham New Street to Hereford with 2 car class 196s 196008 + 196012 and for which the shot needed a long lens to clear the worst of the shadows. Despite having photographed many of these trains on test and training runs including this one of 196012 at Stratford-on-Avon Parkway these was the first I had seen on a revenue earning service. The view towards Stoke Works Junction is much clearer with regular clearance of lineside growth being carried out.
170113 at Stoke Prior Just a few minutes after the class 196s had gone south on 5 September 2023 CrossCountry 170201 ran north the the 08.45 Cardiff to Nottingham, 1M01. The colour scheme of these trains seems to suit them well being distinctive but not garish unlike many others around at the moment.
799201 at Stoke Prior The Porterbrook sponsored Hydroflex unit 799201 was taken out for a long main line run on Monday 5 September 2023 with a trip from Long Marston to Kings Norton OTP Depot and then to Gloucester before returning home. Working as 5Q90 this is the hydrogen cell powered unit just after joining the main line at Stoke Works Junction and then facing the 1/37 climb to the summit of the Lickey Incline at Blackwell.
43008_007 at Stoke Prior With the approaching withdrawal of the CrossCountry HST sets the company reliveried a couple of their power cars into older-style colours. This has caused a lot of interest amongst photographers but I am not especially keen on the sight of mismatched liveries on what was intended to be a co-ordinated appearance, hence my not having dashed about taking lots of pictures in recent days. As it happened 43008 + 43007 were rostered to work 1V50, the 06.06 Edinburgh to Plymouth on 5 September 2023 and so a shot presented itself as it ran slowly around the curve at Stoke Prior on the approach to a red signal at Stoke Works Junction. As it was going so slowly there was plenty of time to cross the road for a picture of 43007 in a copy of the original blue and yellow colour scheme. I don't know why 1V50 was delayed but a mapping app showed delays to northbound trains too.
196002 + 196001 at Stoke Prior This is my second shot of class 196 on a service train with 196002 + 196001 working the 10.40 Hereford to Birmingham New Street, 1M61 on 5 September 2023 and approaching the roadbridge at Stoke Prior 8 minutes late at 11.47. It can't be said that these are the best looking units on the network but I do like the colour scheme especially when compared the duller livery carried by class 172.
799201 at Stoke Prior This is the photograph that was my main reason for going to Stoke Prior on 5 September 2023 taken as 799201 now running at 5Q91 approached the approach controlled signal protecting Stoke Works Junction. For some reason the train sat at the signal for at least 20 minutes by which time I had gone home but not before taking the very unusual movement shown below. The Hydroflex made it to Gloucester albeit after the late running but it was failed and was rescued and returned to Long Marston bu 37884 which ROG had thoughtfully sent to Worcester Shrub as insurance. I had planned to go out again in the afternoon but have a lot of shots of 37884 dragging units around Worcestershire so stayed at home under the shade of a tree in our back garden!
220015 at Stoke Prior I was just packing up at Stoke Prior on 5 September 2023 when another photographer who was looking at his mappping apps said that something unusual was about to happen. A CrossCountry Voyager was entering Stoke Works loop so that it could pass 799201 standing at the signal on the main line. The shot of a train in the loop isn't great thanks to the lineside undergrowth but something as unusual as this just had to be photographed. The train was the 10.03 Manchester Piccadilly to Bristol Temple Meads operated with 220015.
66791 at Ashchurch It's been a while since anything ran along the branch from Ashchurch Exchange Sidings to the MOD depot. Tthe last train was on 22 Dec 2021 with 66792 taking in a long set of containers. This train altogether eluded me and I'm grateful to Paul Stewart on the BLS for updating me. My long wait ended on Saturday 12 August 2023 when 66791 ran as 4Z36 from Kineton MOD taking a long set of empty container flats in to be loaded. The train ran via Didcot, Swindon and Gloucester rather than the more obvious route through the West Midlands and encountered a delay south of Gloucester when a trespass incident caused all lines to be closed for around 30 minutes. Here is 4Z36 passing Ashchurch station just after the sun went behind some rapidly thickening cloud.
66791 at Ashchurch There are two ungated public footpath crossings on the sharply curved Ashchurch branch and because the train must be propelled to the depot it is necessary for a man (or 2 on this occasion) to walk in front of it to ensure the safety of any pedestrians. The branch had recently had some vegetation cut back and this was the clue that it would be worth keeping an eye on things in case something was scheduled.
66791 at Ashchurch It took quite a while for 66791 to propel 4Z36 from the sidings at Ashchurch along the branch to the MOD depot on 12 August 2023. The light had become a lot worse during this time and it was really dull when the locomotive was in the right spot for a photograph. I should have quite liked a picture from the station footbridge as seen in this one of 60079 in November 2007 but as expected the undergrowth has increased to the point where there is no clue at all as to the location. The vegetation growth in the view from roadbridge hasn't been quite so rampant as this picture of 66161 with a failed 60085 from June 2008 shows, along with the full story of the events of the morning. The loaded train was Ashchurch was to run on the following afternoon but a lunchtime commitment prevented me from a having a pop at that.
170108 at Lea Marston Following a couple of days when the weather forecasts changed almost hourly Wednesday 9 August 2023 finally looked to be clear and sunny for several hours in the morning. A run of The Statesman train from Reading to Scarborough cried out to be photographed and about the nearest location I think of when the sun would be right was Lea Marston, just north of Water Orton. I don't see many class 170 units and even fewer in the sun so took this shot of 170108 working 1M00, the 07.45 Gloucester to Derby service which passed the roadbridge excatly on time.
43271 + 43251 at Lea Marston The monthly North Cotswold Test train, 1Z22, was due at Lea Marston just after 09.00 on 9 August 2023 but quite often runs about 60 minute late so that a prolonged fester in Stoke Works Loop is cut out. On this occasion the Railcams maps showed it to close to right time when I arrived at Lea Marston and the colourful ensemble with 43271 leading 43251 made a decent contrast to the largely green background. It hardly seems credible that I haven't been here since 2014 for at one time my visits were quite regular given the number and variety of freight movements that used to run on the line. Since that visit someone had placed a signal just in front of the roadbridge which means that a slightly longer lens is needed for a clear shot looking north.
47593 + 47712 at Lea Marston The main reason for being at Lea Marston on 9 August 2023 was to take an image of 1Z60, the 06.30 Reading to Scarborough, with 47593 + 47712 hauling The Statesman. I couldn't think of many places better than this for the shot and was really surprised to be alone on the bridge. It was in 2014 when last I came here for this photograph of 50007 on an unusual job and there were certainly a lot more folk around for that! The pairing of 47593 + 47712 on a sunny morning was the attraction and with clear blue skies there was no need to be gazing around for odd bits of cloud lurking. I took a slightly dodgy video clip on my 'phone just for the record.
153376 at Hatton Another day and another colourful DMU at Hatton. This time it was 153376 in Network Rail blue working a 2Z19 12.35 from Derby RTC to Reading West from where it went, oddly on a different schedule, to Barnham. Not having a picture of the unit in the blue colour scheme I went to the roadbridge at Hatton for a shot and arrived as 2Z19 was passing Dorridge. The sun was in and out but just arrived in time for a well-lit picture showing off the livery to good advantage.
142003 at Hatton On Tuesday 18 July 2023 there was what for me at least was the first class 142 Pacer to travel over the GWR Leamington Spa to Birmingham line. Locomotive Services Limited's 142003, with Sellafield on the destination blind, worked under its own power from Eastleigh to Crewe in the newly acquired Greater Manchester PTE colour scheme, not something to be missed for anyone with a interest beyond elderly locomotives. In fact, there were a surprising number of folk at Hatton, the ideal place being a thoroughly recognisable location for such a rare move, to see 5Z42 pass even though the weather was very dull with some drizzle falling. There had been a few false stories, presumably from armchair experts, flying around that Pacers were not allowed over the electrified lines between Eastleigh and Basingstoke nor through parts of the West Midlands but there were plenty of photographers up and down the line to disprove these theories. I have very few pictures of class 142 and the only shots I have been able to find both were taken at Manchester, one of them being just the cab of 142001 on Victoria station and the other 142047 passing through the remains of the Exchange station.
66129 at Hatton There are two freights up Hatton Bank within a few minutes of each other on weekday lunchtimes. The first is 4M19, the 09.47 Southampton to Birch Coppice, which on 5 July 2023 was hauled by by 66129 which is seen here on the down main line towards the summit of the 1/75 of Hatton Bank. It was a heavy train, fully loaded except for a couple of flats at the back and the gradient had slowed the train to about 20mph with the class 66 making about as much noise as they can - not a lot...
70809 at Hatton Running a few minutes behind 4M71 on 5 July 2023 was the daily Westbury to Bescot departmental train on this occasion using the headcode 6X50 instead of the usual 6M50. The consist was 5 autoballasters and a railvac, the latter of which required the "X" designation. The train is routed along Hatton Down Goods Loop and it is handy to have a cloudy day as bright sun would make life a bit dificult for the photographer. Less handy was a CrossCountry Voyager heading down Hatton Bank at about the same but it was travelling probably 3 or 4 times faster than 70809 in the speed-restricted loop and cleared in plenty of time.
70809 at Hatton The railvac was on the back of 6X50 with 70809 as it climbed Hatton Bank in the goods loop. The pictures in both directions from this roadbridge are becoming more and overgrown and are really scenes resembling little more than green tunnel but this is the only location giving the view of a train in the loop from a publicly available spot.
66419 at Hatton There were two choices of trains to photograph on Monday 27 June 2023. The first was 56051 after it left Long Marston with the short set of ballast cleaners taken there by 56058 on 13 June or 66419 with an STP run of 4E18, recoded as 6X18, from Fairwater Yard to Doncaster. The latter was taking a number of vehicles from the Track Replacement Train, an impressive set of kit, so there was no difficulty in choosing to go to Hatton. It stuck to its timings north of Didcot and crawled around the curve towards Hatton station even though the signal at the end of the platform was green. I took this shot mostly to see if there was any potential for a similar shot much later in the day over the summer.
66419 at Hatton The very slow approach of 6X18 to Hatton station on 26 June 2023 continued until it reached the footbridge when the driver opened up 66419 and it began to accelerate towards Hatton North Junction. As the load rather than the locomotive was the main point of interest I took this shot of some of the wagons followed by another towards the back of the consist.
799201 at Long Marston Rail shuttles operated by ROG between Honeybourne and Long Marston were run for Rail Live 2023. Following on from last week's runs on the branch using 769935 I was expecting that to be in use so was surprised when the unit turned out to be the Porterbrook Hydroflex Mk2 799201 coverted from 319382. Here is the first passenger-carrying working on 21 June 2023, 2Z20, approaching Long Marston on the final stretch of the branch from Honeybourne. I took this telephoto shot mostly because the sun was in and out of heavy cloud and the track nearer to the roadbridge was in shadow.
799201 at Long Marston It's not very often that I use multiple shots of the same train but the sun cleared the clouds very nicely as 799201 came closer to the roadbridge at Long Marston on 21 June 2023 with 2Z20 from Honeybourne. The longest day of the year is a good choice for Rail Live 2023 as this time is just about the only chance to take a fully conventionally lit image here.
NR helicopter at Long Marston All the time that I was at Long Marston on 21 June 2023 two helicopters were circling and intermittently hovering in the area. Judging by the livery and underslung cameras I took them to be police aircraft but on checking the full-size RAW image saw that they were Network Rail owned and were taking publicity film and photographs. I'm glad they have the resources to spend the very large sums on this judging on the dreadful state of parts of the network and hope that film of the awful traffic congestion was also taken. On my way home the road through Long Marston was at a standstill to the outskirts of Welford-on-Avon, some 3 miles. I hate to think what the Chipping Campden road was like...
799201 at Honeybourne After leaving Long Marston on 21 June 2023 I went to Honeybourne to see if a shot of 799201 using the temporary platform was possible. It wasn't long before the hydrogen-powered unit arrived in some, um, challenging light onditions. I took a shot for the record and hoped that the back of the train would become the front as it picked up passengers from up and down GWR trains. It didn't because the power equipment was in that coach and this shot in the platform is all that was available with most of the unit being under the roadbridge.
50007 near Evesham One of just two stock movements to Long Marston for the 2023 Rail Live took place on Monday 19 June when 50007 took Transport for Wales 756003 from Cardiff Canton for it to go on display at the event. I had intended to photograph 5Z50 twice, once before it reached Worcester Traffic Centre, and then again afterwards but I spent nearly 30 minutes watching an otter on my local canal and so left things a bit late for the first picture. It was easy enough to reach my location between Evesham and Honeybourne with time to spare and the train stuck to the booked schedule and passed this foot crossing just about on time.
50007 near Evesham When I first heard about this stock move the notion of a class 756 was new to me and having seen this one shan't be rushing to Wales for any images when (or if judging by many recent introductions!) they're in service. These new Stadler units are Tri-mode multiple units with diesel, electric, and battery capabilities and are therefore said to be more environmentally sound than their predecessors. The yellow signal in the distance shows that 5Z50 will be checked before Honeybourne North Junction and switched onto the Long Marston branch.
172004 at Bentley Heath A short visit to Bentley Heath on Thursday 15 June 2023 for a colourful 6O01 from Scunthorpe to Eastleigh. Before the freight there were a couple of diesel units including a pair of 172/0s led by 172004 working 2V76, the 15.03 Dorridge to Worcester Foregate Street just after leaving the station. It's not the most scenic shot but at this time of day the sun is directly side on to trains so the illumination is good enough for most people.
66743 + 69007 at Bentley Heath The main reason for my trip to Bentley Heath on 15 June 2023 was for a shot of 66743 + 69007 at the head of an unfortunately very short 6O01, the 1018 Scunthorpe to Eastleigh infrastructure train. I had planned for a picture using a medium telephoto lens to compress the perspective a bit but the first bit of shadow for days managed to cast a shadow in just the wrong place. This forced a rapid lens change which was possibly only because 6O01 was crawling towards an adverse signal prior to being turned into the goods loop for an extended layover of some 45 minutes. In retrospect the 35mm wide angle view worked out quite well contrary to what I initially thought. It seems likely that 69007 was having a tow to Eastleigh in order to be used on the weedkilling train based there and to avoid an expensive light engine move.
66743 + 69007 at Bentley Heath It's not often that a going-away shot takes my fancy but this one of 66734 leading 69007 and a single wagon towards Dorridge Up Loop on 15 June 2023 seemed well worth a frame. Whatever one might think of the class 56 converions programme it's undeniable that GBRf likes to cater for the enthusiast with its choice of liveries for the class 69s with 69007 in the shade of BR used when the original locomotive, 56037, was built.
1Q18 at Honeybourne Following several nights of engineering work in the Stratford-upon-Avon area the usual monthly test train was disrupted. The late evening 1Q48 ran on Tuesday 13 June 2023 with 37612 + 37254 but I couldn't where to go on a sunny evening so didn't go. On the folloiwng day a 1Q18 (rather than the usual 1Z22) ran from Derby RTC to Brisol and Weymouth and on a another sunny day I went to Honeybourne the test train with 37254 leading went through the station. It ws running a few minutes late and it was fortunate that a down GWR was also a but late which otherwise might have been a problem.
769935 at Long Marston While at Honeybourne for a test train on 14 June 2023 work was progressing to build a temporary platform to cater for shuttles to and from Long Marston when Rail Live 2023 is open. At the same time a GWR class 769, 769935, was being tested on the branch and as my way home from Honeybourne can be via Long Marston I stopped off to find the unit just beyond the roadbridge. The light was as bad as could be but I took the record shot shown here. Rail Operations Group was operating 769935 and in case of a failure had sent 37884 to act as a standby and had parked it along the 15 or 16 class 701s sent here to be stored.
56078 at Long Marston A rare early(ish) morning train to Long Marston ran on Tuesday 13 June 2023 when 56078 took 6C41 05.54 from Bescot to the Porterbrook site. It consisted of 2 large empty ballast hoppers with associated plant which I assume will be on display at Rail Live on 21 and 22 June 2023. The train ran early for part of its journey but was put back on time after a fester in Cofton Loop. The locomotive was due to leave Long Marston later in the day and is probably considered too ancient to be on display at a modern railway event!
40145 at Clayon, Gloucestershire To mark 50 years of Pathfinders (formerly F & W) Railtours a specially anniversary train was run from Burton on Trent to Weymouth. Somethin a bit special was clearly required to haul it and LSL's 40145 was the chosen locomotive. I chose to go to Claydon in Gloucestershire with the idea that there probably wouldn't be many other photographers there and sure enough there was just the one. The train, 1Z40, with 47815 on the back to help shunt at Weymouth and probably give a shove up Sapperton Bank, ran on time and passed at a very good rate of knots making a fair old noise. I took a short video clip which suffers a bit from wind noise not to mention my camera in rapid-fire mode...