Thursday, 24 January 2019

Large Logos Go East!

Now with just two coaches 37403 leads 37407 into a sunny Great Yarmouth with the 12:36 Norwich - Great Yarmouth. 21/01/2019
With 2019 likely to be the last year of loco hauled action on the Wherry Lines out of Norwich it took little persuasion to get me onto a nice Mk3 rake up from London for another go at the class 37's in late January. Since my last visit the colours had changed- DRS blue loco's had been ousted by a pair of BR Large Logo liveried 37's. The pair in use had plenty of appeal for me; 37403 has made very few runs on the Anglia turn and is of course well known to be the loco belonging to the SRPS based at Bo'ness, and rumoured to be returning from DRS hire soon. The second, 37407 is the most recent loco to return to service with DRS after a staggering 18 years off the rails!
Here are a couple of pictures from a day of mixed weather - thick fog inland, but glorious sunshine on the coast! Enjoy!

Inland the fog lingers- 37407 departs from Brundall Gardens working the 13:17 Great Yarmouth - Norwich. 21/01/2019

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Great Western HST run down

43188 'Y Cymro / The Welshman' in GWR's attractive green livery with cast plates pauses at Reading with a London service. Reading today bears little resemblance to the station which HST's called at for most of their careers.

It is now over a year since the first class 800 of the Intercity Express Program rolled out on Great Western Railway. Since then the number of diagrams has been steadily increasing with all routes now served by the IEP's of class 800 and 802. Finally it now feels as though the complete replacement of the HST fleet on GWR High Speed services is drawing close. At the dawn of 2019 only 13 weekday diagrams remained for HST's with all remaining sets based at Bristol St Phillips Marsh or Plymouth Laira; the long established HST depots at Swansea Landore and London's Old Oak Common now being closed.
43070 stands at the semaphores at Worcester Shrub Hill
It is still possible to find HST's on virtually all of their previous routes, but now in vastly reduced numbers. I decided to catch up with one such working on 8th January taking 43070 and 43156 for a run on the Cotswold line with one of the last booked duties on this route, the 13:22 Paddington - Worcester Foregate Street and 15:51 return. Boarding the train at Reading there is a now rare flurry of HST activity with three sets in the space of around 20 minutes (gone are the days where this was simply the norm) including a pair of green power cars heading into Paddington. My train arrives sets off towards Oxford, taking the left hand spur at Wolvercote Jcn and onto the single line of the Cotswold Line. It seems slightly surreal trundling down this route at speeds far lower than the 125mph which the HST was designed for calling at small stations with platforms far shorter than the train. The centre section of the route is now double tracked and we pass several IEP's heading towards London- 'I will be sad to see them go' the guard tells me; she has been working HST's for more than 10 years and remarks that the 'lovely trains' are as old as she is. The new stock we agree is progress, but it just won't be quite the same.
43153 stands at Worcester Shrub Hill before completing the journey around
the corner to terminate at Worcester Foregate St.
As we approach Worcester the line once again singles and soon the Bristol - Birmingham line is crossed before we approach Worcester Shrub Hill. Another relic of the a bygone age of railways is here in abundance with semaphore signals controlled by manual signalboxes - re-signalling seems to have forgotten Worcester and even today there are no concrete plans to replace the semaphores with a more modern system.
After a pause of some 10 minutes the HST continues around the corner for the last couple of minutes of the journey into Worcester Foregate St. While some GWR services continue to Hereford this is the end of the line for the 13:22. As darkness begins to fall it is time for the driver to change ends and the HST to head back towards London.
With their days numbered how many more HST's will make it to Worcester?