It is hoped that the Park & Ride will generate more rail journeys and will encourage the two Train Operating Companies, London Midland and Chiltern Railways, to operate
more trains and to run services to and from Stratford later into the evening. The current Chiltern service is nothing less than scandalous, with a basic two-hourly service to Leamington Spa, some of which
are extended to London Marylebone although, as they form stopping trains on the Chiltern Main Line, are so slow as to be impracticable. I, along with many residents of Stratford, invariably drive to Warwick Parkway
to use the more frequent and much faster trains serving that station. My intention with this section is to show the development of the Bishopton Lane site as work progresses over the months following the
commencement of work. A variety of trains passing through should not be expected with only DMUs of classes 165, 168 and 172 expected to feature. It will be a bonus if any
locomotive hauled trains appear between the time of writing, 21 October 2012 and the date upon which the new station is opened.
To start this section here is a photograph taken on 11 July 2011, well before any work had taken place. It shows 172338 passing the site of the Park and Ride with a mileage accumulation run for the new unit
from Stratford-upon-Avon to Tyseley. This was taken by looking over the parapet of the road bridge which, because of unchecked undergrowth to the sides, was the only viewpoint available.
The scene on Sunday 21 October 2012 has changed dramatically from that shown above. The bushes on either side of the line have been cleared and the location of the up platform is now clearly visible to the left of the track.
It seems, if the extent of the blue railings are anything to go by, that a shot of trains passing the new station will still be possible although it is clearly not possible to be sure at this early stage. This picture was taken at a lens setting of 70mm,
equivalent to about 105mm in 35mm terms, and there is quite a gap between the bush on the extreme right foreground and the roadbridge adjacent to which I am standing. I imagine that more site clearance will take place as work progresses. The train here shown
in 172222 on a Great Malvern to Stratford service passing through some quite intense Autumnal colours. I hope, before too long, that a sunny shot will be possible to better show the seasonal effect.
Saturday 27 October 2012 was bright and sunny and with nothing of any interest around on the local main lines I has another walk up to Bishopton to see what progress had been made during the past week to the new Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station. Much more clearance of undergrowth had taken place and it looked as if
the foundations for the up platform were being prepared. I went in time to photograph the 12.17 arrival from Stourbridge Junction and here is 172343 passing the ongoing work whilst running a few minutes late. It is becoming apparent that once the station has been built the photograph from the bypass bridge in the background
of this picture will no longer be available; a shame as it is/was really the only decent shot in the area without using some private land a short distance further north which, thanks to trespass by steam enthusiasts after the Shakespeare Expresses, is unlikely to be available in the future as the farmer has clamped down on access.
Here is my next attempt at recording progress at the developing site of Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway Station. Although changes in infrastructure are the main reason for regular updates the type of trains passing the site are generally going to be limited to DMUs of classes 165, 168 and 172 so when
I was told that two of Tyseley Steam Trust's pannier tank locomotives were running to and from Stratford on Saturday 3 November 2012 I decided to record the movements in order to give a bit of variety to my photographs. The weather after a dull, wet and windy start to the day had begun to pick up a little by the
time 9600 topping and tailing the train with 7752 (London Transport L94) were due and the sun made a few brief appearances during the walk from my home. Here is 1Z57, the 09.25 from Tyseley Warwick Road, passing the new station just about on time with its not very uniform but still quite attractive rake of seven
chocolate and cream coaches. A top and tail formation for the locomotives was necessary because the train had had to run to Small Heath South Junction from Tyseley in order to reverse and gain the North Warwickshire Line and just for the record here is 7752 bringing up the
rear of the formation. Finally, it is noticeable that the final bushes on the left hand side of the tracks have been removed and that some overnight work is about to happen judging by the presence of some portable lighting generators.
The departure from Stratford-upon-Avon of 9600 + 7752 was timed for 11.15 and with a rapidly clearing sky I walked round to the bridge on the A46 trunk road. I like quite extreme backlighting for steam as it makes for a dramatic exhaust and with the train, now running as 1Z58, just hitting
the 1/75 gradient of Wilmcote Bank, a decent show of exhaust was guaranteed on a chilly morning. From a photographic point of view the fact that the locomotives were running bunker first was unfortunate but this had been made necessary because no reversal was apparently possible at Worcester, the train's
destination, and it was preferable that they should run chimney first up the Lickey Incline later in the day. It must be said though that 1) pannier tanks were designed for bunker first operation and 2) it made absolutely no difference to the passengers who had paid their fares which enabled the train to run
at all. Whatever the perceived shortcomings I was pleased to get this picture as I'm not aware of any other locomotive hauled trains, either steam or diesel, scheduled to visit Stratford before the new station opens in May 2013. The contractor's access to the site is by way of the temporary road visible to the right of the tracks which
runs from the County Council's rubbish and recycling tip on the other side of the road.
Work on the new Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station is continuing with progress on both the up and down sides of the line. This scene is from Monday 10 December 2012 amd shows 168002 passing the site with the 09.10 from Londson Marylebone. A lot of
the area is quite heavily shadowed but there was a fairly clear patch in just the right place for a reasonable shot.
It has been a while since I updated my small collection at the new Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station. There didn't seem a lot of point of taking anything when the whole scene was covered by the recent snow but when
Sunday 27 January turned out nice and sunny after overnight had thawed what snow was left I thought it time to record progress. Here then is 165032 rolling down Wilmcote Bank with the slightly late train into Stratford due at abround midday.
It can be seen that the up side platform supports are in place and that those on the down side will be completed soon. It seems as if the platforms will accomodate only four coach trains but as there will be nothing longer than that using the station
that will be no problem.
Progress at the new Stratford-upon-Avon Park & Ride station has been quite noticeable during the month of February and by the 28th of that month both up and down platforms had been constructed.
Here is a four-car class 172 led by 172222 passing the site as it forms 2S24, the 09.55 to Stratford from Stourbridge Junction and just missing the sun which was starting to burn off some misty high cloud.
My previous assertion that the platforms would be sufficiently long for just four coaches seems now to be inaccurate as there actually seems to be plenty of room for a six-coach set to call; possibly useful
on Bank Holiday weekends. The probable location of the station buildings can be made out judging by what appear to be concrete foundations just to the left of the up platform.
When driving over the Bishopton Lane railway bridge in Stratford-upon-Avon the other day I noticed that a few changes had taken place at the new Parkway station so on 14 March 2103, the next sunny day, I had a walk up
there to update my small portfolio of record shots. The train here pictured, passing the newly tarmacked platforms at 11.17, is 172215 with an unidentified sister unit forming 2S24, the 09.55 from Stourbridge Junction.
This is quite a good time to be here as it is possible to see two trains within the course of a few minutes. Only five or six minutes before the London Midland train went by, 168216 as seen in this slightly wider view from a higher viewpoint, had
passed on the way to the terminus with the 09.10 from London Marylebone. The positions of the platform lamps can now be seen and although much work remains to be done the local press has reported that things are ahead of schedule so the May 2013
opening is not in doubt.
A major step forward in the construction of Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway & Ride station took place just before Easter 2013 when the new inter-platform footbridge was installed. In common with all new station bridges it has been designed with accessibility for the
disabled in mind and includes reasonably shallow ramps along with the usual steps for everyone else. The construction work is running well ahead of schedule and the first train is expected to call at the station on Sunday 19 May. This picture taken on 2 April 2013 shows 172342 passing the station with 2S30, the 10.55 from Stourbridge Junction, running a couple of minutes early after a quick trot
down Wilmcote Bank.
Since my last update from the new Stratford-upon-Avon park & Ride station there have been a few changes. The posts for the platform lighting and travel information loudspeakers have been installed along with the rear fencing for the platform edges
and access steps for permanent way staff. This photograph was taken on Saturday 20 April 2013 as 172334 headed towards the GWR station at Stratford with 2S30, the 10.55 from Stourbridge Junction. The station is due to open on 19 May 2013 and work is ahead of schedule at the time of writing.
It looks as if landscaping remains to be tackled but this will be done only when there is no further infrastructure work requiring heavy machinery to be carried out. There should be a reasonable photograph available of incoming trains from the Bishopton Lane bridge
when, or if, anything out-of-the-ordinary visits the town. I'm not so sure about the picture from the A46 bypass bridge visible in the background; a favourite haunt of people wishing to see the Shakespeare Express steam-hauled trains on summer Sundays. I may have a look on the next sunny evening.
The first train to stop at the new station at Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway ran on Sunday 5 May 2013 where it was booked to sit for about thirty minutes. The schedule said that it should arrive at 12.15 at which time I was still playing the organ at a nearby village church but I managed to make a sharp exit and arrived on the road bridge overlooking the station
in time to see 172215 sitting in platform 1 with engineers apparently ensuring that the door and platform clearances were adequate. Within a few seconds I heard a train approaching from behind and took this shot, probably the first to show trains crossing here, as 172219
headed off towards Birmingham and Stourbridge Junction.
The platforms at Stratford Parkway are on a slight curve so it was necessary for 172215 to be drawn forward a few times to ensure that all was well for the full length of the station. As the sun stayed out for my entire visit I took plenty of photographs to ensure some variety and this is the penultimate one before 5T15 went to the GWR station to reverse. It can be seen in the right background that an
approach road and small roundabout leading to a drop-off point have now been completed and it seems that little construction work remains to be done. The remainder of the time before opening on 19 May will hopefully see the ground around the
station see some landscaping work to make everything look neat and tidy.
My final picture from Stratford Parkway on 5 May 2013 was a wider view taken as 172215 pullled away from the platform. This photograph shows more clearly the area surrounding the station and where some work remains to make it look more attractive. The sun clos to midday at this time
of year is already too high for good photography and this effect is exacerbated by the layout of the running gear of class 172 units which is virtually hidden under the bodywork, hence the area of dark shadow in those areas.
The first public trains booked to use the new Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway Station were booked for Sunday 19 May 2013. I wasn't able to photograph the first actual arrival, the 09.30 from Stratford to Kidderminster, so decided to wait until when the
sun would hopefully be a lot more favourable than at the earlier time. I arrived in time to see 165038 forming 1D19, the 09.36 from London Marylebone pull into platform 1 and a short time later move away towards the GWR terminus after dropping off a couple of passengers.
When it returned as the 11.58 to London, several passengers boarded after arriving on foot from a nearby new housing estate. I was told by a friend who went to film the first train here that there was no fuss, no paper banner broken to mark the occasion,
very few photographers and not even a bouncy castle in the car park!
After photographing 165038 at Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway I hung on for a few minutes to obtain a slightly different picture, this time of 172331 running as 2S06, the 10.40 from Kidderminster to Stratford. The light had picked up a bit since the Chiltern unit and I was pleased
enough to get a sunny shot on the first day of the station's operation. It wasn't all going exactly to plan as some of the automated information equipment wasn't fully operational but that aside everything seemed to to be finished to a high standard
including the huge disabled passenger-friendly footbridge built on similar lines to that at Honeybourne. For completeness, here is a view of the outside of the station pictured from the new footpath leading to Bishopton Lane. Just as a reminder of how the site
looked before any work was even envisaged, here is a picture of 67001 with the Northern Belle in October 2009.
Sunday 29 January 2013 was a perfect winter's day and in the course of a walk along the towing path of the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal my wife and I made a short diversion to the roadbridge overlooking Stratford Park & Ride Station just as 172216 pulled away whilst
forming 2S06, the 10.10 Great Malvern to Stratford service. The shadows were rather intrusive but I hadn't taken a shot here for some time and thought that a seasonal photograph would make a reasonable update to my collection.
After visiting Hatton on 2 Deecember 2015 1Q05 went through Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations before heading for Stourbridge Junction. The plan was for it to go as far as Kidderminster to reverse and then run to Round Oak on the stub of the Stourbridge Junction to Bescot freight line but as had happened the previous year
the reversal took place in Stourbridge yard putting it well over an hour early. I hoped that this early running would stick as it meant that a couple of shots around Stratford-upon-Avon would be possible and a 'phone call from a friend confirmed
that 1Q05 would follow the 2S48 Stourbridge Junction to Stratford. I made the short walk to Bishopton Lane bridge adjacent to Stratford Parkway station and within 5 minutes saw 37612 rolling down Wilmcote Bank and through the platforms. The light
was dreadful but I was happy enough to get an image showing a locomotive-hauled non-passenger train in this location.
Once 1Q05 had gone into platform 3 of the terminus at Stratford on 2 December 2015 I walked round to Parkway station to have an attempt at a shot of the final leg to Tyseley. There were 2 passenger trains in front of it but it was still 83 minutes early when it came passed me in what
was virtual darkness needing a stratospheric ISO setting to achieve a high enough shutter speed. This is not an attractive location but it did well enough for a record shot.
It has become usual for a steam hauled train to visit Stratford-upon-Avon on the Saturday nearest to 23 April, St. George's day or the anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth and, it is alleged, his death although the latter isn't actually recorded.
In 2016 gauging issues at Wilmcote station prevented steam being and this resulted in WCRC's 37706 + 47760 working 1Z44 from Paddington to Stratford. It is typical of WCRC that what is probably their dirtiest locomotive
was leading the train as it passed through Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station running just about one minute ahead of schedule and missing some sunshine by about 5 minutes. Just as I arrived on the road bridge at Bishopton this fox was scouring the hedgerow for prey. I photographed 37706 when it looked far better in
its petroleum sector colours as it approached Basingstoke station on 28 September 1990 at the head of a morning Micheldever to Ripple train of empty oil tanks. The slide from which this scan was taken wasn't in the best of condition accounting for the rather poor quality of the blue sky's rendition.
On Thursday 4 May 2017 a friend pointed out to me that a special VSTP working was running along the North Warwickshire Line from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon and back. The timings were such that the only
location where the sun was at a half-decent angle was around Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station so I walked up there, arriving just before the preceding service train, 2D34 from Stourbridge Junction to
Stratford via Dorridge formed of 172345 pulled in for its booked stop where a few passengers joined the train for the short trip to the terminus.
A VSTP working from Tyseley to Stratford-upon-Avon and back via the North Warwickshire Line ran on 4 May 2017. This had escaped my attention so when a friend pointed it out I decided that even though it was steam operated
it worth be a worth a walk to Stratford Parkway station, about the only place on the line where the sun is at a decent angle at around 13.45. It is, after all, just over 4 years since the last time I saw a steam locomotive!
The headcode was 5Z96 so it didn't need a lot of imagination to work out the the locomotive would be pannier tank 9600, built by the GWR in 1945 and it was entirely predictable that the inward journey would be with it running bunker first.
This is perfectly acceptable as these engines were designed with this in mind unlike those with tenders which look ridiculous running the wrong way round. This location was under construction on 3 November 2012
when I photographed the same locomotive double-heading with 7752 on a train running around the West Midlands. I'm sure that "purists" would decry an image in this sort of spot as it makes no attempt at recreating anything and in my view it's much the better
It could have been worse... On 11 November 2017 the Tyseley pannier tanks 9466 + 9600 ran to Stratford-upon-Avon and Kidderminster for their usual Autumnal ramble. I had not planned to photograph this as a 5V94 conveying a 350/2 for corrosion removal from Northampton EMD to Long Marston was down to run but this was cancelled and re-scheduled
to work later in the day by which time it would have a bit too dark for my tastes. I therefore walked up to Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway Station as this is the nearest location to my home where the diminutive locomotives would be working hard. There was always a chance of the incoming class 172 getting in the way but I was happy enough to take
the risk on the basis that I had never intended to take this image. Sure enough, the 172 from Stourbridge was in the platform as 1Z28 approached and the driver seemed to pause for quite a while after receiving and acknowledging the 2 buzz code to pull away from the guard. I simply put my 24-70mm zoom onto its widest setting and ran off about 10
shots as the panniers came through the station and actually quite like the result showing as it does the contrast between ancient and modern. Here is another view of the same locomotives taken a few years ago from the adjacent bypass bridge while the station was under construction.
It is hoped that the Park & Ride will generate more rail journeys and will encourage the two Train Operating Companies, London Midland and Chiltern Railways, to operate more trains and to run services to and from Stratford later into the evening. The current Chiltern service is nothing less than scandalous, with a basic two-hourly service to Leamington Spa, some of which are extended to London Marylebone although, as they form stopping trains on the Chiltern Main Line, are so slow as to be impracticable. I, along with many residents of Stratford, invariably drive to Warwick Parkway to use the more frequent and much faster trains serving that station.
My intention with this section is to show the development of the Bishopton Lane site as work progresses over the months following the commencement of work. A variety of trains passing through should not be expected with only DMUs of classes 165, 168 and 172 expected to feature. It will be a bonus if any locomotive hauled trains appear between the time of writing, 21 October 2012 and the date upon which the new station is opened.