Saturday, 31 December 2011

Picture of the week- 31st December 2011

Another year has passed by in a flash- In railway terms I have had quite a year, with my trips abroad to Poland, New York and to France. My travels in the UK however seem to have diminished somewhat- the perils of work and an active life making time to get out on the railways much more difficult to find these days!

There are many plans in motion for 2012 which I look forward to writing about, but for now, it is time for the final 'Picture of the week' from 2011- This picture is from a similarly dull week of weather between Christmas and New Year in 2010 and features a First Great Western HST set at Waterloo. For several days over the holiday period trains were being diverted to avoid Reading which was shut for major renewal works. Trains to South Wales were routed via Didcot, Banbury and the Chiltern line into Paddington, while West of England services left their normal route at Westbury to travel by way of Salisbury, Basingstoke, Woking, Staines and into Waterloo.
Pictured is the 10:26(?) departure from Waterloo to Penzance on 30th December 2010. Power car 43034 'TravelWatch SouthWest' will lead 43040 'Bristol St Phillip's Marsh' to Westbury before the set reverses to continue to Penzance.

May I extend a very Happy New Year to you all,

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Picture of the week- 20th December

Back in the peak of the summer steam season Gresley A4 locomotive 60019 'Bittern' (masquaradeing as long scrapped sister 4492 'Dominion of New Zealand') is seen passing over the River Mole on the South West Main Line with a returning 'Dorset Coast Express'. It was amid much surprise that the locomotive came back from winter maintainance at the start of 2011 sporting full side valences and painted into pristine LNER blue. The A4's lost their original side valences during WWII for ease of maintainance and were never reinstated.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Picture of the week- 16th December 2011

With a potential forecast for snowy weather over parts of the UK over the next few hours it would be silly not to take a look back at the snowy weather experienced around this time last year.
The first snow in the south east came even before November 2010 was out giving a rather odd image of snow on the trees of which many had not lost their leaves!
Further periods of snow continued virtually up until Christmas before a mild new year quashed any hopes of snow in early 2011.
The photograph above shows Black 5 45379 paused at a festive Ropley on the Mid Hants Railway with a Santa Special. Due to the snow both trains out that day were top and tailed by diesel locomotives- 33053 can just be made out at the back. The date is 19th December 2010.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Picture of the week- 8th December 2011

The curtain is now coming down on another year's RHTT season. As usual this period of the year provides some interesting opportunities for the railway enthusiast. Special trains (many of them loco hauled) descend onto many parts of the network, including those which usually see nothing out of the ordinary.
While the majority of routes this year have had 'normal' traction on their trains in the form of class 66 and 67 locomotives from DB Schenker, there have been exceptions. The circuit covering the North Wales coast and Cumbrian line has been covered by Network Rail class 97's (as ERTMS is required) while lines in the Anglia region have once again seen Heritage traction in the form of DRS class 37's. The most interesting circuits however must have been those operating in Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire where weight restrictions caused DB Schenker to hire in six Class 20 locomotives. The locos have come from private operators and preservation groups and with their varied liveries have provided a splash of colour to the Autumn scene.
The images above shows 20227 leading a train (with 20142 on the rear) from Hull to Hatfield and Stainforth via Selby and Knottingly at Gilberdyke. The date is 26th November and the weather could scarcely be better!

Friday, 2 December 2011

Picture of the week- 2nd December 2011

Photographing trains can require an awful lot of patience at times. This was one of those times. On my first trip to Poland during February 2011 we found ourselves at a small crossing beyond the station at Koslow (we had originally been on an overbridge- but the wind and rain had forced us to the relative shelter of ground level).
The reason we were standing in this location some two hours from our base at Krakow in the cold, wet and rain of February- The LHS broad gauge line. This is to my knowledge the most westerly penetration of Russian broad gauge into Europe running some 400km from the Ukranian border to a location close to Katowice in Poland. Traffic levels are low- on average no more than 10 trains a day, but when they do come they are a sight to behold. Having waited almost 3 hours we had all but given up on the LHS line (and the standard gauge mainline which had also produced little traffic) when our ears began to home into a distant rumbling. In a state of disbelieve that the train was *actually* coming, the mamouth train emerged in the distance some minutes later with three distinctive yellow and green ST-44 locomotives.
Known better by their Hungarian class designation- M62, these locomotives are common throughout the former Soviet states- more than seven thousand single locomotive units having been constructed since the mid-60's.
More than a thousand locomotives found use in Poland, designated as class ST-44. 68 of these were gauged to 1,524mm for use on the LHS line. Today the numbers in operation are vastly reduced, though the broad gauge line retains a good number of the locomotives alongside a batch of VERY heavily rebuilt machines now designated ST-40.