Sunday 26 February 2012

8: Processing, Penwortham and Pointless Signs

Hello, welcome to the lastest Railwaymedia Blog.

Well, there's been a bit of a gap since the last blog, mainly because frankly I've not really been anywhere. I have however been taking the opportunity to catch up with my reprocessing of pictures and have got through something like 200 this week. I've got another two weeks of night shifts to come so I'm looking forward to completing those from 2005 and maybe even moving forward to 2006. The majority of the pictures are already up on the Railwaymedia Website but the ones I'm doing will hopefully be processed to a better standard, and more importantly to a larger size. Here's perhaps my favourite photo from the batch I've done this week, taken at Manningtree on the final day of class 86 passenger operation on the London to Norwich line:

In fact this past week I have only taken one picture. I noticed Wednesday dinnertime that 47818 was heading south from Carlisle with the coaches that had been being used on the Sellafield 'Glo-ex' workers train. I just had enough time to nip to the nearest point to me on the WCML, the bridge on Bee Lane in Penwortham, though I didn't have any luck with either the line it turned up on nor the fast moving clouds which came across at the wrong moment. 

The six weeks trial of this working has now unfortunately ended; see Blog numbers 2 and 6 for photos of it when it was running. The coaches have apparently gone to Crewe for storage. It's a shame this train has finished as I was looking forward to getting more shots of it later in the year when the light is better then it has been during the trial period.

Well as that's all the 'news' I'll finish with this editions 'Stupid Sign'. I've got a bit of a dilemna for this weeks contribution. I had come across this being worn by a member of staff at Crewe station which I was going to use. You would think at some point in the process of order, manufacture, dispatch and acceptance SOMEONE would have noticed the non-deliberate mistake:

Then, though, I came across this on Saturday whilst having a jaunt by bus to some pubs along the North Wales Coast. To me this is the definate winner for this week. I can only assume it's there just on the off chance someone jumps on enroute to install a Fire Extinguisher?

Well thanks again for reading. I'll aim to do another blog in a week, though again I'm not expecting to get out and about much so it will depend whether I have anything to report, or can think of anything to say! All the best for now.

Wednesday 15 February 2012

7: Ronnies, Trams and Branches

Hello and welcome to Blog number 7. It's been a bit of time coming as I've had a fairly busy week. As you'll see I've managed to get a few shots, in a few different places, though many have been loosely based on where I had to be with work.

Last week I had two days going over the Settle and Carlisle line on a light engine. The one advantage of the route (providing you aren't in a rush to get home) is that you tend to follow slow moving freight trains which, with the long signalling sections, give a few opportunities to get a picture whilst waiting at the signals. It should be stressed therefore that the pictures aren't taken from publicly accessible areas! Both days were nice and sunny for large sections of the journey, though the actual climactic conditions were remarkably different. Both days were very cold, but on the first day that frost was especially spectacular in places like round Barons Wood tunnels:

I had expected the same engine to be provided on the second day, but still prayed for a nice Arriva liveried one instead to get some pictures. Well: 'Wish and Ye shall recieve'...

So after two pleasurable days up in the countryside, what better after work on a Friday than to end up in South London? I took the opportunity to cover a few of the branches I've never travelled on before. Chessington South was a suprise as I expected it to be a standard Southern Railway terminal station. Well it turns out it was intended that the railway would carry on past here to Leatherhead (and indeed it did for a short distance to some carriage sidings), and so it looks instead like a through station built in the Art Deco style. The Second World War, and greenbelt legislation afterwards, stopped the spread of housing and hence the need for the line south from here. Only one platform is now used, the other being distinctly derelict, but the double track (with third rail) still disappears under the road bridge into a cutting and what resembles a forest. This is the view looking towards London:


The other interesting terminii I visited were Epsom Downs and Tattenham Corner. These are both high up on the Downs and close to the Epsom Racecourse, which was primarily the reason for both the branches being built. Epsom Downs opened in 1865 and if you want to know more about this branch there is a fabulous website about it: The Epsom Downs Branch Website. Check out the picture on the early history page taken in 1907 that shows an 8-10 platform station! It is now a single track branch from Sutton, ending in a single track station, at the rear of a housing estate.

Tattenham Corner station is only about a mile away and at the end of a much longer branch from the Brighton mainline near Purley. This station has managed to retain 3 platforms and, unlike the hourly daytime frequency from Victoria to Epsom Downs, gets two trains per hour from London Bridge and also a shuttle from Purley. It still feels like an isolated place though having only a small building as a ticket office and absolutely no shelters or canopies whatsoever!

That was Friday; Saturday was another long day, though Railway Photography wasn't really on the agenda as it was off to Sheffield for some beer with friends. It is good to see Supertram there is still going strong. I remember it in 1994 when it opened and passenger use on it was abysmal as most journeys were far quicker by bus. They seem to have co-ordinated things much better now, despite Stagecoach running the trams and only a few of the local buses with the rest being operated by First Group. Here's a shot from the early days crossing the viaduct at Ponds Forge:

Well that's about it for now. I'm not planning many trips in the next week or two but if the weather perks up I might be persuaded out. There is a rumour of some 73s touring the local branches but unfortunately in the middle of the night. Thanks for reading,

Friday 3 February 2012

6: Up in the Hills and Down the Coast

It's blog number 6 and the second this week! Well, remarkably the weather has turned out to be just as good as was forecast. Very unusual for it to coincide with me being able to get out and take some photos, so I made the effort and got out to a few locations I've not been to for a bit, and also one from a week or two ago. More of that in a minute anyway.

Today has seen major disruption on the West Coast Main Line after 90046 completely derailed on the Fast Lines at Bletchley during the early hours. I hope the driver is OK as it must have been a shock and I believe he was slightly injured. Running light engine he was doing up to 75mph when it occured. I understand that there is major track damage to the fast lines and to the Overhead wires. Trains eventually started running on the slow lines past it during the early afternoon.

I didn't get up until about 1030 on Monday, having finished a night shift, so headed over to the Ribble Valley north of Gisburn to wait for the cement train to Clitheroe, and the following coal train. I really should check these things, but it appears the cement has been retimed much earlier (it arrived Clitheroe about the time I got out of bed) and after about 90 minutes wait I got news that the 6M11 coal was 4 hours late. I found out this just after I got all excited seeing a train approach. It turned out to be just the Virgin 57 on the Settle and Carlisle route refreshing trip for Preston drivers.

No point me waiting there after that so I got in the car to warm up and decided, given the very cold easterly wind, to drive to Ribblehead on the theory that I could sit in the car and wait for stuff. I got a couple of unit pictures enroute and just arrived opposite Ribblehead station as 6K05 engineers was coming over the viaduct. As the other half dozen photographers were camped out on the hill behind I stood up there to await the Chirk Logs. It doesn't seem quite so bad in the wind somehow when you are stood waiting with others.

As you can see, the log train went by in perfect conditions. Most of the others left after this, but I took a gamble and waited another hour for the late running 6M11, which came across the viaduct in beautiful red light from the setting sun which was just reaching up the valley from Ingleton. A drive home down the valley towards Lancaster, then home for a late tea and a short night at work.

 I made the effort to get up (very) early the enxt day and drive up to the Cumbrian Coast for the 'Nuke-ex' (as apparently the DRS Sellafield workers train has been dubbed). Travelling by car rather than train meant I could leave home about 90 minutes later and reach Green Road in daylight. What a difference 3 weeks make (see blog number 2). Back then there was barely any light to photograph the train heading for Barrow, and even on 800ISO the shot was poor quality and grainy. However the sun came over the hill this week 10 minutes before the train arrived providing a lovely warm glow to the frosty conditions. Several days this week they have used 47810 instead of the ususal 37.

Once again I could listen and watch it for almost 10 minutes as it made its way round the Duddon Estuary, and like the other week it was only a 20 minute wait until the flask train to Sellafield appeared the other way, with the usual DRS ecclectic combination of two class 57s, two class 20s and three wagons. The empty stock from the 'Nuke-ex' has been retimed to depart Barrow at 1015, rather than its afternoon timings which it had during the first few weeks, so it was only a further 60 or so minutes until it reappeared and passed in glorious winter sunshine. The trial of this train is due to end soon so fingers crossed it is being well used and the service continues.

Hearing the Heysham flask train had ran on Tuesday rather than its normal Thursday slot there was little point hanging round there any longer so I drove back across to the West Coast Main Line and stopped off at Docker, a location I haven't done for a year or two, for a shot of 66431 on the Mossend to Daventry 'Malcolms' train. It passed in a nice break in the developing clouds and snow covered peaks in the background added to the view. I was then going to go home but with it looking much brighter in the east I changed plans and had a 25 minute drive over to the Settle and Carlisle at Waitby. I arrived only 5 minutes before a rather early 6K05 passed double headed.

The following log train was also very early, but not early enough for the clouds which had rolled in to stay by then, so I definately decided it was time for the drive back down the M6.

All in all a very enjoyable 2 days, though my petrol tank is now well and truly in need of filling. I can't see myself getting out now with the camera until maybe the end of next week, but please keep a look out for update on here or for new galleries to be uploaded HERE.
Thanks for reading once again.