Friday 28 June 2013

45: Grey Grids, Turquoise Trams then South to Surrey

Hello and welcome to edition 45 of the Railwaymedia blog.
As I guessed at the end of my last blog posting, the lovely weather we had been enjoying during the first week or so of June didn't last long enough for my day out the following week. I decided on a trip to Oxford and Kings Sutton, principally for the class 56 hauled trial fly-ash train from Calvert to Didcot Power Station, but also for the Chiltern loco-hauled evening services.

The first of these aims didn't quite work out as planned. With the fly-ash train booked to finish at the end of that week I planned visiting a few Oxfordshire Wetherspoons before making my way to the footbridge south of Oxford at Hinksey Yard to photograph it. Checking up on the way there Real Time Trains was showing the train as cancelled so, with it being somewhat cold (I hadn't taken a coat thinking it would be warm down south!), I was sat in the pub when I realised 3 minutes before it was due that it was now running again. Despite a bit of a jog down the road all I could managed was a glimpse of 56091 from the distance as it crossed the bridge by Oxford station.

Trying to salvage something however, I did later get myself to Hinksey and was rewarded by the fact I learnt two more class 56's were expected! One was a Colas working with 56105 heading south from Crewe to West Ealing dragging a couple of Network Rail vehicles, the second was another working to Calvert, this one from Thorney Mill hauled by 56311. It was touch and go if we would actually get to photograph them passing each other but in the end they were 3 minutes apart.

With at least 9 class 56s currently being used on the mainline (Colas Rail using 56087, 56094, 56105, 56302 and DCR using 56091, 56301, 56303, 56311, 56312), 2013 has seen a remarkable change in fortune for the class. Maybe some operator will start using class 58s? Wishful thinking.

The evening was finished off at Kings Sutton and Banbury to photograph the Chiltern workings. There are four loco hauled trains out of London Marylebone at the moment on weekday evenings, the 1647 to Birmingham, 1715 and 1815 to Kidderminster and 1750 to Banbury. I travelled from Banbury to Birmingham on the 1815 and what a pleasure it is to be on these refurbished Mk3 coaches with a tasteful and smart grey interior. An hourly all day service with these would be nice.

My other two main trips out this month have been both to South London, with varied results; both I again based around visiting Wetherspoons pubs I had yet to visit. To some extent because there are so many in the London area you can, with the help of a bus/tube/train map, just follow your nose and from one pub go to the next nearest one and so on. I started off going to the one nearest Canary Wharf in the Docklands, with the added aim of getting a few extra DLR pictures.

My other aim of the day was to end up in the Croydon area to photograph the tramway which I had not covered since June 2007. Since my last visit there has been a small batch of Variobahn trams delivered to increase service frequencies, and all the older Flexity trams have been reliveried from their previous quite nice livery based on the old London Tram red and cream to a much more lurid turquoise, white and blue effort. The weather cleared up nicely in the afternoon so I spent an hour or so photographing the most scenic section of the line, that through the South Norwood Country Park near the Arena stop where the branches to Elmers End and Beckenham Junction diverge.

Aside from the now obsolete original livery I hadn't realised the other 'nod' to the original London Tram system is that the numbering system for the Croydon Trams commenced at the rather odd number of 2530 because the highest numbered original tram was numbered 2529.

A week later and I headed back to London. The intention was to return to South East London and cover both the Wetherspoons and the trains in the area east of Woolwich and Lewisham, but on the train down from Preston I realised that  Royal Ascot was taking place that weekend. In past years I have gone down to Egham to photograph the several special trains that run for racegoers, so thought that would be a better idea for the day. The empty stock workings I had seen on the internet turned out though to be just the returning units from the augmented London to Reading service.

I have plenty of pictures of most of the South West Trains units, certainly plenty of the 450s, so I ended up only taking seven pictures all day and instead made my way slowly across from Windsor to Epsom doing the various pubs I needed in that sector of London. The weather like the previous week cleared up by late afternoon, but by this stage I was mostly well off the railway system and using buses to visit places like North Cheam on the Surrey border at the southern edge of the Travelcard area. When I was (much) younger this was the stamping ground of London Transport's DMS class of Daimler Fleetlines and I think I visited Cheam once back then, I certainly have pictures of those buses in Sutton and Morden taken around 1991 which I will scan in in due time. The one sunny shot I did manage was a bog standard station shot of a class 455 at Epsom

Thinking about those pictures of DMSs spurred me on to finishing the processing of a few scanned pictures that have been on my computer for some time awaiting uploading to the website. Having cleared those I intend over the next two weeks to resume scanning my collection of 6x4 prints, assuming the weather doesn't perk up allowing me to get out with my camera. For now I will recommence scanning in my bus pictures as I am currently about half way through these. The latest batch I finished off  this week included shots like this one from Liverpool taken in 1993 depicting a former London Transport Leyland Titan drafted into service with Merseybus.

As always thanks for reading and please keep an eye on my New Additions section for any new updates. If you decide to head to East London just be careful of giant cats on the prowl...


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