Wednesday, 26 April 2017

District D-stock bows out

The last D-stock service, complete with commemorative stickers enters Dagenham East on the last day 21 April, 2017.
On Friday 21st April District line D-stock made it's last public run. Entering service from 1980 the 'D78' tubes replaced pre-war CO/CP and post war R stock. Originally delivered in unpainted aluminium the D stock trains served on the District line (and for a brief period the East London Line) serving destinations from Ealing Broadway, Richmond, Kensington Olympia and Wimbledon through to Upminster (Due to platform lengths C-stock was used on the branch to Edgeware Road). The D-stock will be remembered for being the last of the London Underground fleet to be painted into the corporate white red and blue livery upon its refurbishment from 2005-8. At the same time the trains lost their wooden floors and distinctive hanging grab straps. The trains also became the first on the underground to feature dot-matrix LED destination displays.

Happier times for D-stock with re-furbished and original condition sets
passing at Whitchapel on 14th September 2007.
The mid-life refurbishment could have seen the trains last another 20 years in service, however the decision was taken that all sub-surface stock would be replaced with a uniform fleet of new Bombadier S-stock. Following replacement of A-stock on the Metropolitan and C-stock on the Circle, District (Edgeware Road branch) and Hammersmith & City Lines it was time for the D-stock to take it's turn to bow out of service with withdrawals starting in January 2015. The final run public, the 16:35 from Upminster to Ealing Broadway was well patronised with enthusiasts, locals the press and of course commuters wanting to pay their farewells to this London workhorse. A railtour on 7th May will mark the last use of D78 stock on the London Underground, however some may yet live on as part of the Viva Rail class 230 'D Train' project to create a low cost DMU for branch line service.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Crofton on the Berks & Hants

43163 in a special 'Visit Plymouth' livery speeds towards the west country past lock 57 on the Kennet  at Crofton. 11/04/2017

The hamlet of Crofton in Wiltshire is a well known railway location and somewhere I have intended to visit for several years. Until now however there have been other 'priorities' in this part of the world- namely photographing the Great Western main line before electrification ruined many classic photo spots forever.

43015 leads a westbound HST approaching Crofton.
With hideous masts and catenerary now plaguing the main line it was time to head a little further south to this delightful spot where the Berks & Hants line between Newbury and Westbury parallels the Kennet & Avon canal.

59206 leads a loaded stone train as a barge negotiates lock 57.
At Crofton there are a series of locks which are overlooked by the railway allowing a number of pleasing images of the railway. Further interest is added by the presence of Crofton pumping station, housing one of the countries oldest working beam engines. These engines once pumped water to the top level of the locks to keep the Kennet & Avon canal flowing. Today this job is carried out by an electrical pump, however the steam powered beam engines are restored to working condition and several times a year are fired up to perform the task they were originally built for. Not only is the pumping station fascinating (even when cold) but also provides a cafe and facilities so you can grab an ice cream and a cake between the trains!

An empty stone train returns to the Mendips behind 59104 'Village of Great Elm'
Traffic mainstay of traffic on the Berks & Hants is GWR HST's however there are also a good number of stone trains the vast majority of which work to and from the Mendip quarries at Merehead and Whatley in the hands of Class 59 and 66 locos.
Crofton was the perfect location to explore on a warm and sunny spring day and I will certainly be back.

A Great Western HST speeds towards London- the chimney of the Crofton Pumping Station can be seen above the power car.