Sunday 9 September 2012

27: Chopper News, Company News and Chiltern News

Hello and welcome to the latest Railwaymedia Blog. I am now this time up to edition number 27 and it will cover my ramblings over the past few weeks since my return from Belgium.

Work for me tends to run in batches of 3 weeks of solid work and then two fairly 'easy' weeks, hence the gap since the last edition. I have however managed to get out a few times in between, and have also been ploughing on with my scanning of bus pictures. I have changed my New Additions section slightly to not only advise as before of any brand new uploads, but also to show what website alterations and re-uploads I've made. Or of course you could find out all these changes by just reading this blog!

A few days after I posted the last edition I learnt of an engine move from Birmingham to Kilmarnock being operated by the first reliveried pair of Harry Needle's class 20s, numbers 311 and 314, hauling two barrier coaches. As it was booked to go a slightly convoluted route from Washwood Heath via Derby, the Hope Valley and Manchester rather than the West Coast Main Line throughout, I decided to catch the train to Chorley to get a picture. After one aborted attempt when I had learned it had failed (briefly as it turned out) at Derby, my second trip from Preston to Chorley got me there just in time to photograph it.

The only thing was it was a shame they were operating in 'top and tail' mode rather than the two type 1's leading; they looked good in blue when with their former owners DRS, but their new livery certainly stands out! I believe Harry Needle may soon be operating four pairs of these locomotives.

Preston this year has been celebrating it's Guild Fesival which occurs once every 20 years. I will be honest that until this week it has slightly passed me by, but one 'event' I couldn't miss was the visit of the original Deltic loco to the Ribble Steam Railway. Because it was manufactured by English Electric at the Dick Kerr works in the town it has come to stay for the rest of the year. Unfortunately it is not operational so can only be viewed inside the museum, but a great opportunity to see it away from the National Railway Museum at York.

A brief interlude from my wanderings bring us onto the latest in the West Coast Franchise saga. Now that Dickie Branson has started court proceedings the franchise award to First Group has had to be postponed until that is sorted. There are now reports that Dirctly Operated Railways (the government 'owned' company) may have to take it over as the new Franchise, whoever it turns out to be, won't be ready to take over on the 9th December. So looks like I shall become Nationalised...

However much I may believe that's how the West Coast should stay, this blog will I'm afraid have to stay privatised: or at least will continuing following our privatised railways (and also as much as possible the so-called privatised railways of other European Countries, which in most cases are anything but that!). In the next edition of the blog I shall be reviewing my forthcoming trip to that most nationalised European railway: SNCF. Strange how the French seem to manage to keep both trains and track in national ownership whilst we are told we aren't allowed to due to European Law.

Back in Blighty, passing through Birmingham during the recent spell of nice sunny weather I went on the search for City Centre locations I hadn't done before. One I had spotted last year was about half a mile north of Snow Hill station, actually opposite the Midland Metro tramstop of St Pauls.

The tree on the right seems to have grown considerably so a zoom lens was a necessity; the shot, a late afternoon one, also meant the light was getting low even at the start of September. Hanging round this bridge waiting for this picture and the car park in the distance above Snow Hill station drew my attention. Knowing the next day I would be back in Birmingham at the right time I took my zoom lens up there too. It's not the best location ever but certainly the only reasonable shot I know of in the city centre area for pictures of southbound trains on this line.
Friday I ended up in London with work and so went over to West London. After a few afternoon shots at West Drayton on the Great Western Main Line, which you need to get whilst you can before the route is electrified and the bridges rebuilt, I went to South Ruislip on the Marylebone route in search of not only the Chiltern class 67s but also the elusive new class 172/1.

The evening loco-hauled Chiltern workings from London Marylebone are currently the 1646 to Birmingham Moor Street, 1807 to Kidderminster and 1813 to Banbury. When these train were operating for Wrexham and Shropshire the loco was always on the London (south) end, however Chiltern's policy now is to have them on the opposite end, which is far better for photography in an evening. I did see the stock though for the 1813 and that was still the 'wrong' way round. I didn't have time to stay at Ruislip for the latter two trains but I did get a shot of the stock for the Kidderminster service just after it had arrived at Marylebone from Birmingham.

You will notice the absence of any pictures of the Chiltern Class 172s: well these units must be the most under-utilised new units on the railway. Out of the four 2-car units they own, just three are in use on any one day. The up to date diagrams for them seem to be as hard to find on the internet as the units are in real life! From observation on the day the three must work into Marylebone in the morning seperately, then they all couple up and work the 1740 to Bicester. I did think the 0955 from High Wycombe would be one, and went for a picture, but the diagrams have obviously changed and a class 168 turned up instead. Had I stayed at Ruislip I could have got a picture.

So that's my wanderings for the last 3 weeks or so: tomorrow I am off to France and of course I shall keep you informed of what we find there during our search for SNCF's dwindling loco-hauled passenger workings. I'm also looking forward to my first trip on the pioneer high-speed railway.

Thanks again for reading; any comments you have on both this blog and the Railwaymedia website are more than welcome. Our domestic high speed trains include of course the Pendolino. It will be interesting to see if the TGVs have notices such as this one. Does anyone really want to look at the bottom of a table for the entire journey and, even if they did, what harm could they come to by so doing?! Bye for now!

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