Anglian Adventure


37423 hasn’t been a regular performer in Anglia in the same way as 37405, 37419 and 37425 have been over the last couple of years. Seen here leaving Lingwood with 2P17 1117 Great Yarmouth-Norwich. Of note is the DBSO in the consist – this has been used as a brake vehicle in the set for a number of months. 16/11/17


56301 stands at Foxton with 6M07 Barrington-Wembley. The loaded inward working conveys spoil for disposal at the closed cement works with the wagons returning empty to London. Previously operated by DCR, the trains this week were run by ROG, utilising 56301 which is owned by the Class 56 Group. Rumours are that this flow will be going over to one of the larger FOC’s shortly. 16/11/17


The driver of 37716 shuts off for Brundall Gardens station as 2P12 0836 Norwich-Yarmouth passes the village of Postwick. Of the four ex-Spanish heavyweight Class 37s acquired by DRS, this is the only one that has made it back into mainline service. Three are on loan to preserved railways and one has been scrapped for spares. 17/11/17


37423 again, slowing for Lingwood, passing the public foot crossing, with 2P17 1117 Great Yarmouth-Norwich. 17/11/17



Looking good in the winter sunshine, 59203 and 59205 slow for a single yellow at the end of Reading with 7C77 1240 Acton-Merehead Quarry empty ‘jumbo’ train.

31s at 60

The Nene Valley Railway hosted an A1A Group organised celebration for the 60th birthday of the venerable Class 31s; the first example was completed in late September 1957. With support from various railways and organisations, this saw 31108, 31162, 31271, 31285, 31452, 31459, 31465 and 31466 come together to operate trains over the weekend of 14th and 15th October 2017. The examples carry a wide range of liveries so provide a decent representation of the classes history.

There was a break in the Sun late on Sunday afternoon which allowed a few decent shots.


31452 – provided by DCR – is currently the only Class 31 left in mainline service, aged 56. This machine hasn’t done badly really; returned to traffic from scrap condition by Fragonset Railways in 1998 (being displayed at the Toton Open Day) and 19 years it is still going strong. In that time it has passed to FM Rail then to Mainline Rail after FM Rail was wound up. It then passed on to Devon and Cornwall Railways.


31285 was one of three locos provided by HNRC – the other being 31459 and 31465. Wearing Network Rail yellow livery and bearing some additions to the front end used with the test trains, it slows for the restriction over the River Nene bridge with a service from Peterborough to Wansford. Network Rail had a fleet of four locos, operating test trains around the country which were progressively retired up until the last one was stopped in 2015.


Just as the sun sets, 31162 bearing its previous identity of 5580 (or D5580) was the first Class 31 acquired by the A1A locomotive group in the early 1990s and retains a working (albeit isolated due to requiring an inspection) steam heat boiler. It is running with 31271 which is also an A1A owned machine.


Bulgaria 2017 Part II

Back to Bulgaria again and returning to the usual haunts! We were a couple of weeks later than normal and consequently the weather was on the turn; the sun didn’t feature as much and the temperature was down on what is normal for us! Nevertheless, a good time as per usual so thanks to the usual crowd for the company!


44120 at Sindel with BV9620 0915 Varna-Ruse. We saw this on its inaugural working after overhaul back in June and three months later it still looks remarkably pristine – especially against the stock! Note the addition of the UIC number on the front of the loco in place of the number plate. (26.09.17)


The main event! With the influx of ex-Romanian Class 40 locos (commonly referred to as junk) earlier in the year, tracking down 87s which don’t have one shoved on the front is quite a challenge.

Today, however, on arrival at Sindel we were greeted with the phrase “Днес почитаме” from one of the BZK drivers which means “Today, we honour”. This, naturally, caused some excitement and the sun even made a slight reappearance from behind a bank of cloud for the occasion.

87029 and 87028 stand waiting for the single line working ticket for the line to Ruse with the daily trip working from Razdelna. (26.09.17)



No apologies for the repetition as 87025 stands at Sindel shortly afer sunset. It arrived from Ruse behind an EA which then ran round to top 85004 (ex 86235) before departing towards Karnobat. It would have been nice to see 87009, but one can’t complain! (26.09.17)


The weather deteriorated rapidly as we moved inland to Sofia via Pirdop. Present were 87003, 87004, 87010, 87019, 87020, 87029, 87033 with 87012 arriving behind a 40 on a train from Iliyantsi. The first departure to Razdelna had 87019 inside a 40 but the subsequent departures did not feature any 87 input. A BZK driver indicated this is because the tonnages of the trains have dropped. (27.09.17)


A number of the BDZ passenger fleet have been going through overhaul over the last year or so (including 44120 as above), and another one is 44140 which is an extremely recent entrant to traffic judging by the clean pantographs. The loco is seen here leaving Iliyantsi with BV30115 Sofia-Karlovo. Train lengths on the long distance trains have actually increased since we were last over there in June, but the same can’t be said for the locals; this was the second instance of load 1 trains we saw that week! (28.09.17)


The freight sector (BDZ-TP) seems to be particularly buoyant at the moment and a typical scene here at Iliyantsi as 46012 has arrived with a train load of sulphuric acid tanks from Pirdop. This is unusual as it is usually BZK who work these tanks. The loco was swapped and then headed up the freight avoiding line to Voluyak (and onward to, I assume, Serbia). (29.09.17)


The passenger loco shortage continues, although there weren’t as many freight engines out as we have seen before, and 61003 is on hire from the freight sector. This isn’t unusual as there are usually a couple of freight 61’s on hire working between Sofia and Blagoevgrad and around Dupnitsa. 61003 seen here arriving into Sofia with a terminating BV50110 from Blagoevgrad. (30.09.17)

The Bomber

DRS supported the Ribble Steam Railway diesel event over the weekend of 30th September/1st October 2017 in the shape of 37424/37558. It wasn’t blessed with superb weather (!) but a couple of shots are below to record the first (and last?) visit of a large logo Class 37 to the line. (01/10/17)



Gronks on Tour

Didcot Railway Centre held a running day with the two resident 08’s over the weekend of 23/24 September 2017. It featured 08604 in pristine BR blue, contrasting with 08742 carrying workstained and faded parcels red and black.

08742 was one of the last shunters to be owned by DB Cargo, and was sold to Harry Needle Railroad Company in mid 2017.


08742 is air brake only, so had to work with 08604 at all times which translated the train brake for the vacuum only GW saloon car that was used to carry passengers on the demonstration line.


The 565 Special

565 Railtours in conjunction with the Branch Line Society ran an excellent charity railtour from Carnforth to Carmarthen featuring a pair of West Coast Class 37s which gave way to a pair of Colas Class 37s – a first for the railtour scene! There was sufficient time for a couple of shots at Carmarthen while the locos were running round. (02/09/17)



Forgotten Four Oscar Nine Zero

Fastline Freight (an arm of Jarvis) provided a regular Class 56 hauled train through the West Midlands during 2006 and 2007 with a Birch Coppice to Grain container train. After a shaky start with numerous empty trains, loadings started to pick up until the train was regularly running with a full load. 56301, 56302 and 303 were employed, although the latter two performed more regularly.

Other flows from Doncaster and then Trafford Park to Grain did start running, although these were less of a success and ended up running empty regularly. With Jarvis entering administration in 2010, the whole operation ended and the locomotives being sold to preservationists and then – in the case of 56302 and 56303 – back to main line operators.

Two views below of 56303 passing Aston (top) and approaching Bescot (bottom) in the spring of 2007.



Sheffield Sandite

Class 20s have operated the South Yorkshire based RHTT circuits for nigh on 10 years now; the majority of those operated by DRS with the exception of 2011 which was DB Schenker operated with hired in Class 20s. Restrictions for a tunnel on the Penistone line have prevented anything other than 20s or 37s (excluding those with roof mounted horns) from operating over the line.

In the first couple of years of operation, DRS supplied 20301-305 from the initial batch refurbished by Brush Traction as the later 20306-20315 batch refurbished by RFS were heavier. Occasionally supplemented by a 37 or – in 2016 – a 68, that batch of five locos have remained pretty consistent on the turns.

Rumours abound that 2017 is to be their last year of operation so quite what the future holds traction wise, nobody knows!

The two photos below show 20305 (top) and 20302 (bottom) at Sheffield in October 2007.



The White Ladies


60049 rumbles through Prudhoe on the Tyne Valley with 6M46 1109 Redcar-Hardendale conveying the iconic “white ladies” on 8th September 2007.

Nicknamed because of their distinctive appearance, this rake of CBA wagons ran between the loading point at Hardendale (Shapfell Works) and Redcar (for Lackenby steelworks) conveying lime – the lime dust coating the wagons.

This train was a regular runner throughout the up until 2009, finally ceasing with the closure of Lackenby steelworks for the first time in 2009. The wagons were placed into storage in the wagon graveyard in Tees Yard and disposal came in 2015/6 at TJ Thompson, Stockton.

The revival of steelmaking on Teesside under Thai-owned SSI in 2012 saw a return of the Hardendale-Lackenby train, initially under Freightliner and then GB Railfreight but using a short rake of polybulk wagons. With the closure of the Lackenby plant in 2015 these wagons were placed into storage and then scrapped in early 2017 at CF Booth, Rotherham.

Bulgaria 2017 (part 1)

Another of the customary trips to Bulgaria; two trips this year (at least) so this will be Part One featuring the Varna and Pirdop areas. As a general note, it is getting harder and harder to see 87s working on their own as the previously semi-reliable BZK workings are now dominated by ex-Romanian Class 40 junk (the fleet of which has grown considerably over the past year) and the Bulmarket trains are quite unreliable. In fact, the rules in Bulgaria say that the more powerful loco is required to be on the front of the train when under power which means the 5000hp Class 87 will always be relegated to second place.


A typical Bulgarian scene as 44151 arrives at Sindel with BV9620 0915 Varna-Ruse, unusually with a pristine rake of stock! 12.06.17


That’s more like it, a careworn 45149 along with a tatty rake of stock come clattering round the corner into Sindel with BV2612 1035 Varna-Sofia.


BDZ ‘big diesel’ 07106 seems a trifle overpowered for the two coach load it has in the rear as it stands at Devnya working KPV28204 1615 Varna-Dobrich. These powerful diesels are the only ETH fitted diesel engines that BDZ have on their books so its a case of them or nothing! 12.06.17


To release a DMU for other duties, one of the Varna-Dobrich and Dobrich-Kardam diagrams has gone over to loco haulage – how long for is unknown. 55206 and a single coach depart from Beloslav with KPV28206 1850 Varna-Dobrich. This train arrived in to Varna with 55195 in charge. 12.06.17


The driver looks back to check that the whole of his train is inside as 45163 arrives into the yard at Sindel with an empty box working off the line from Karnobat. 13.06.17



85001, 86004, 85004 and 87025 bring a tank train from Ruse into Sindel. 85001 (ex 86701 and 86205) and 85004 (ex 86235) along with 87025 form part of the sizeable fleet of ex BR traction that Bulmarket currently employ. The ex-86s were renubered, initially to Class 87/7 and then to Class 85, to avoid a clash with the Bulgarian (actually ex Danish) Class 86 ‘EA’ locos. 13.06.17


87025 at Sindel after the other three locos were detached and run round to the other end of the train. ‘Borderer’ was detached and ran light to Varna to pick up another rake of tanks. 13.06.17


The crew from DB Cargo EA 86015 take a breather with the crew from BDZ 46037 at Karnobat. The EA is heading the train from Chelopech (near Pirdop) to Burgas with product for export.


On to Pirdop now where the invasion of GFR 40 (let’s just refer to them as junk) continues. 87 activity was minimal with the majority of trains hauled by or topped by the junk. It was mainly limited to shunting activity in some rather attractive lighting conditions. 87026 is seen here being retrieved from the stabling line to go become the inside loco on the evening Pirdop-Burgas departure. 14.06.17


87012, still looking good and slightly workstained is retrieved from the stabling line. The two locos pictures here went on to work the first departure for Razdelna conveying a rake of loaded sulphuric acid tanks. 14.06.17


As part of the same renumbering scheme mentioned above with the Bulmarket Class 85’s, the Class 92 fleet employed by DB Cargo Bulgaria has been reclassified as Class 88 and 88030 stands at Pirdop having arrived from Chelopech quarry. Since the bulk Burgas-Pirdop copper ore train has gone over to BZK, these locos don’t have any regular booked work so it is quite difficult to see them. They still do appear on the Chelopech/Pirdop-Burgas loaded wagons occasionally, but not solidly. Indeed ‘Ashford’ was sent back into the sidings shortly after this photo was taken. 14.06.17


Unfortunately not quite what it seems, 87019 is pan up at Pirdop, but only to undertake a shunt manouvre into the station area. After being brought out of the sidings earlier in the day during a mega shunt, it was promptly put back again after this! 15.06.17


It was left to the last minute to catch something ‘interesting’. Unusually worked by a pair of 87s with the junk dead on the rear, 30580 arrives into Pirdop with 87004 and 87003 in charge. The driver seemed happy (as did we)! 15.06.17


87020 has tended to be one of the more elusive machines in the last 5 years, not really appearing much. Looking rather worse for wear with peeling paint on the bodysides, it stands in the departure roads at Pirdop waiting to leave on a train for Serbia as the tail loco behind 87003 and 87004. 15.06.17


On its first working after 8 years out of traffic, 44120 stands at Iskar with BV1621 Sofia-Dimitrovgrad which it worked to Plovdiv. 46208 was tucked inside as insurance. Note despite the UIC numbering taking hold of the fleet, this loco hasn’t succumbed as yet despite the repaint and works attention – NB as of a week later, the UIC numbers had been fitted. 16.06.17

Bubble and Squeak

Chiltern Railways are to dispense with their two Class 121 bubble cars at the end of the 2016/2017 winter timetable citing unavailability of spare parts as the reason. To celebrate this, the Branch Line Society – in conjunction with Chiltern Railways – ran a  railtour taking in a fast run from Aylesbury to London Marylebone and then to Oxford, finally back to Aylesbury via Claydon Junction and Quainton Road. 121034 in BR green was turned out on the day.


Standing under the trainshed at Marylebone. I wonder when the last one in passenger service stood here was…


Stood in the platform at Quainton Road. The station is a fantastically kept in a period scene, despite having no booked passenger trains, and the green bubble looked right at home (barring a few minor modern additions!).


Removal of a few of those modern additions courtesy of photoshop produces something a lot more old school.


Short Set

A free morning coincided with some sunny weather so headed out for a couple of shots of the Anglian Short Set in action.

First off, 37425 slows for the speed restriction over the road bridge at Postwick with 2P18 1036 Norwich-Great Yarmouth.


37405 coasts into Lingwood with 2P17 1117 Great Yarmouth-Norwich. I had hoped this would be 37423 but it was out of hours to exam and was swapped the night before.



9 lives

To commemorate their removal from the Southern franchise, a team of Southern employees organised a railtour in conjunction with the Branch Line Society from London to Brighton and return along with some rare bits of track around London and Brighton. 73202 was an added bonus for some shunt manouvres around the Brighton area.


73202 has just attached to 2402 at Brighton ready for a trip to Lovers Walk depot, Preston Park carriage sidings and then Hove carriage sidings…


…which is where this photo is taken (thanks to Tube). The 73 was operated in multiple with the Wessex unit on both diesel and electric power.

Having had more reprieves than probably anything else in recent times and for their ninth lives, 18 of the 24 Wessex units will be transferring back to the South Western franchise to operate trains between London and Portsmouth. What happens to the remaining six is less certain, although Alliance Rail has aspirations to use them for an open access operation. Watch this space.


It’s cloudy bright

In a complete first for this blog, steam trains have appeared!

The HSB (Harzer Schmalspur Bahnen) centered around the Harz mountains in Germany, while essentially a tourist operation, isnt quite your normal preserved railway. The fleet of 1950s steam engines run all day, every day providing a service between Werningerode and Nordhausen with extensions to Brocken. Brocken is 1125m above sea level, so you can imagine the steam engines get a good workout!


997237 departs from Werningerode Westerntor station, over the road intersection. It is quite a spectacle watching the traffic stopping to allow a steam train to pass through.


997239 arrives into Drei Annen Hohne. The engine has been worked non stop to pull the 7 coach train up to a height of 540m above sea level in just 15km!


99 7239 again, leaving Drei Annen Hohne for Schierke (685m above sea level) and finally Brocken (1125m above sea level).


In addition to the full size steam engines, there are a number of smaller engines which get sent out on charters or special running days. 99 6001 seen here being prepared at Werningerode.

Now on to Switzerland, where the weather wasn’t as good but the freight passing through Spiez heading from or to Italy was pretty much non-stop. The below photos come from Mulenen which is just outside Spiez heading towards Italy.


SBB 4/4 and 6/6 pair on a steel train. Note the approaching express on the other line; all tracks in Switzerland are bi-directional so it isn’t exactly unusual to see a passenger train overtake a freight train, both going in the same direction!


CrossRail TRAXX pair headed by 186 902 heading up the incline from Spiez.


Yet another pair of TRAXX led by 185 526. They are getting around Europe like an infestation, but at least there are a decent variety of colour schemes on offer. The blue and grey of these Railpool examples aren’t exactly overly inspiring though compared to some of those you can see…


BLS Vectron 475 405 on top of 485 004 heading towards Freiburg with one of the ‘roll on roll off’ lorry services. BLS have 15 of these machines on order in total, although they don’t seem to be particularly well used at present.


Another pair of TRAXX, albeit a slightly more colourful pair. 185 140 leads another UID classmate through Liestal.


BLS vectron 475 404 light engine towards Basel through a light snow shower.

There will be more to come, given time. Watch this space!

Post Christmas Blues

The Anglian short set(s) were again booked to be out in the period between Christmas and New Year 2016 and combined with decent weather forecast it seemed rude not to take the opportunity to take advantage.


First off, 37405 leads 2J67 0747 Lowestoft-Norwich through Brundall just as the sun makes it over the top of the trees. 27/12


37424 had arrived from Derby a few weeks previously. It looks shiny but doesn’t work properly – not bad for a c£500k job! 27/12/16


37424 again leaves Lingwood with a Yarmouth bound train; not technically brilliant but serves to highlight the ‘quality job’ done on the overhaul (well at least the paintwork is shiny). 27/12/16


68025 at Brundall. 27/12/16


37424 at Brundall with 2P18 1036 Norwich-Great Yarmouth. 27/12/16


Just as the sea mist starts to roll in, 37405 stands at Lowestoft prior to departure of 2J91 1955 departure to Norwich. 27/12/16


Another beautiful morning as 37422 brings in the morning Lowestoft-Norwich service through Brundall. 29/12/16


The sun is edging higher and higher in the sky, but not enough to clear the heavy overnight frost away as 37405 approaches the foot crossing at Lingwood with 2P12 0836 Norwich-Great Yarmouth. 29/12/16


68025 on the rear of the set headed by 68005 as it slows for the Lingwood stop with 2P11 Yarmouth-Norwich. 29/12/16


The heavy frost is still visible as 68025 arrives into Cantley with 2J70 Norwich-Lowestoft. 29/12/16


37422 arriving into Lingwood with 2P18 Yarmouth-Norwich. 29/12/16

Heavyweights are Hell

Rail Operations Group ran the second of their newly announced charters on 23 October 2016; a relatively relaxed Derby to Derby via a circuitous route taking in Hereford, Gloucester and Worcester. Highlight was a pair of 37/7s which hadn’t worked a passenger train for many years – ex-Spanish 37884 and 37800.

37800 was taken back to its old stomping ground, the former Glo Cymru was a Cardiff Canton coal machine for a number of years after conversion.

Two photos below of the pair after arrival at Worcester.



Breaking New Ground

To celebrate 15 years of GBRf operation, a series of charter trains were run by the operator for charity. Taking 20s to Inverness and Swanage, 73s to Kings Cross and various 66s all over the place, the four day railtour covered various outposts served by the railfreight operator.

The main event (certainly as far as I’m concerned) was saved for day four when 87002 broke new ground, not only for the class but for electric locos in general; it became the first to work over the newly electrified line between Wigan and Liverpool via St Helens.


It would have been nice to be able to get a shot of it somewhere en route, however this will have to suffice; Royal Sovereign stood underneath the trainshed roof at Lime Street station after arrival from Edinburgh.


Bulgaria 2016

Off to the East again in search of 87’s…

First day in Varna; the morning Ruse was, naturally, headed by some 40junk with 87003 inside so was duly ignored. That left 87004 and a rake of cargowaggons on site. These disappeared early afternoon.


44126 clatters into Beloslav with a late morning train for Varna. 23/05/16

Something we’ve seen previously but only once with an 87 on the front; the evening Bulmarket path seems to run every day, producing an EA on the first day (naturally in full sun) then when an 87 produces the weather is bilge. Nevertheless, a welcome sight as 87025 runs in with a short rake of tanks from the Ruse line before running round and heading towards Karnobat. The whole run round procedure was completed in a matter of minutes – as usual (for BG) it would put the UK to shame!



Next day and there was nothing at Raz other than 87004 and a rake of cereal wagons (parked separately) and no sign of any movement. On speaking to the staff, 004 wasn’t due off until the afternoon (we guessed the same path as yesterday). Further research indicated it was a public holiday so putting 2+2 together guessed there would be no Ruse train today. To the beach (naturally after a shot of 004 in the early morning sun).


Returning early afternoon, 87004 was now hooked up to the wagons so looking good for a departure. Britannia seen here looking workstained and faded before departure with the famous cereal train for Nova Zagora. Compare it to THIS PHOTO shortly after arrival in Bulgaria in 2010.


A couple of days later, 92025 and 92030 stabled at Pirdop awaiting departure for Burgas. As the line between Koprivishtitsa and Iganovo was shut, the train was travelling the long way round via Plovdiv (R/R). Note 92030 (having lost its Ashford nameplates when it left the UK) has now gained stick on letters in the old style since it arrived in BG! 26/05/16


44001 nips through light engine, heading round to the depot, after bringing in an arrival in from the Plovdiv direction. It would later go out on a departure for Burgas, although the trains were terminating short at Koprivshtitsa for an autobus forward. 28/05/16


45173 arrives into Sofia with train BV20202, the 0500 departure from Ruse. To the left of the loco is a Class 41 loco which has been permanently wired to the overheads to act as a shore supply. 28/05/16


They aren’t all as pristine as that however! Veteran 43309, bearing many battle scars, arrives into Sofia with a train from Dupnitsa. 28/05/16


Class 61 electric locos are still out working with four of them observed on passenger trains. 61012 arrives at Sofia from Blagoevgrad. 28/05/16


44001 passes 87012 at Pirdop, the bent skoda (known locally as ‘banana’ on account of its livery, arrives with a train from Koprivshtitsa while the passengers came from Burgas via bus!


Having passed through on a train from Sofia earlier in the day, we decided to return to see whether there had been any movement.  87007 was still in the same position but staff were in attendance so we stayed around to see what happened. 28/05/16


87019 ran in light, we presume from Poduyane as it was observed there earlier in the day, and was attached to the front of 87026 to form the evening departure for Dimitrovgrad (and on to Serbia). 28/05/16



87007 leaving with a short rake of tanks up the Mezdra line. 28/05/16


43510 and 44068 arrive into Iskar with a train from Plovdiv (and probably Turkey via Dimitrovgrad). 28/05/16


After last nights activities with 87s, I decided to back to the new favourite spot. On arrival 87019, 87026 and 87012 were parked up.


87026 and 87012 were put on the sharp end of a train of boxes while 87019 was run around to the rear, just visible in the photo below. 29/05/16


After some mass shunting (and avoiding the clouds floating about), 87026 and 87012 depart with a lengthy train for Dimitrovgrad (Serbia). 87019 was on the rear. 29/05/16


Spotting in Switzerland

Having been convinced to have a few days away in Switzerland based in Wassen which is on the Gotthard Railway, here are the results. The Gotthard Railway is one of the main arteries from northern Europe to Italy and goes through the Swiss alps over some pretty gruelling gradients. A new tunnel is due to open imminently – the Gotthard Base Tunnel – which will take the freight away from this scenic line.


The layout of the railway is somewhat unique; coming from the bottom of the valley at Erstfeld (left hand side of the map above) to the top of the mountains at Goschenen (right hand side) and climbing approximately 2000ft in the process. Most of this takes place at Wassen where there is a system of double loops to climb the mountain. Standing in Wassen village, you can observe the same train three times climbing from the bottom of the valley, heading through Wassen station (which itself is level) on the middle layer and then up on the top layer heading towards Goschenen. Map shamelessly borrowed from Wiki.


On the middle layer, 4/4 11262 drags a tamper.


6/6 pairing lead by 11678 with a cargo branded sister heading from Erstfeld towards Goschenen. Just to the left of the red aspect of the left hand side signal can be seen a tunnel structure which carries the line at its highest level.

swiss_611194 and a service train. All loco hauled trains over this route convey a first class panoramic coach with larger than normal windows – seen here second coach from the front.

11159 dragging a unit through Wassen station.



DB Traxx 185107 with a steel train.


185135 with another steel train heading down towards Erstfeld; just about to enter the second of the curves to take it to the bottom of the valley.


The photo is nothing spectacular but it highlights the gradient coming up from the bottom level to Wassen station. 4/4 11243 in charge.


HST 40 – Bristol SPM Open Day

Great Western Railway held an open day at Bristol St Philips Marsh depot on bank holiday Monday 2nd May. It was billed as ‘HST40’ – a celebration of the High Speed Train.


The open day saw a surprise in the form of 43002 unveiled in original Inter-City 125 blue and yellow as well as being named ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’. Kenneth was the designer of the iconic nose cone of the HST.


Colas sent newly overhauled 47749 which was renamed ‘City of Truro’, seen here alongside preserved 46045 and 37884.


Each of the GWR shunters has been overhauled and repainted into a heritage livery; 08822 has regained Intercity livery.


50007 and 50050 came from Boden Rail and 50035 was provided by the Fifty Fund.


37884, 45045, 47749 and the tender from 6100 Royal Scot.


The sun came out just at the end of the day and the staff at the depot moved the access steps from the front of the powercars allowing this shot.

L-R: 43187 (GWR), 43423 (GC), 43013 (NR), 43300 (VTEC), 43048 (EMT), 43187 (GWR).

A fitting end to the day. Well done GWR and all the staff at SPM!

The Pines Express

UK Railtours ran a 2016 recreation of the Pines Express from London Euston to London Waterloo via Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth. Originally billed to feature an 86 from Euston to Manchester for a GBRf 66 to Bournemouth and a pair of GB 73s back to London Waterlook.

Thankfully the 86 was substituted for 87002, giving the first sight of an 87 back in the trainshed at Piccadilly since the final Virgin West Coast train in 2005. 30/04/16.


Tottenham get all the fun

87002 has had quite a bit of action of late; a few GBRf operated footexes for Thomas Cook/Tottenham Hotspur FC and also the occasional foray out onto the sleeper. Seen here passing through Kidsgrove with an ECS for Crewe from Stoke. 18/04/16



What could be the last West Coast Railways Class 37 on a railtour; 37706 stands at Carnforth after arriving with the Branch Line Society ‘Ermintrude, Dougal and Florence Tracker’ from Cleethorpes. 23/01/16


Short week with the short set

The Anglian short set was in use in the short week between Christmas and New Year and featured 37422 and 37425. 37422 was living up to its reputation and doing virtually none of the work, leaving 37425 to push or pull it around. Photos taken over a few days.


37422 at Norwich before departure for Great Yarmouth. 29/12/15


37422 departs from Brundall. The former Robert F Fairlie still hasn’t received its PaintShopPro branding due to the poor standard of the bodywork repairs/prep/repaint during its stay at Glasgow Works. The bottom of the cabsides are bubbling already and there are numerous paint blisters all over. It does look good in all over blue however – long may it evade the vinyls! 29/12/15


37425 at Norwich prior to working the 1736 to Great Yarmouth. 30/12/15


37422 tails the return of the first Great Yarmouth trip at Lingwood. Had I not been stuck in traffic, I would have made the outward working. Never mind…


The one worth waiting for! 37425 leads the second Great Yarmouth to Norwich arriving at Lingwood. 31/12/15

Bulgaria 2015 – part 2

And here we are again! 🙂

This was more of a ‘travelling holiday’ and after flying into Sofia, it took us to Kazanlak (via an afternoon at Pirdop), Varna, Ruse and then into Romania.


45182 rolls into Svoge station, through the town with its houses nestling on the sides of the gorge, working the 0535 Lom-Sofia service.


87003 – one of the last two of the fleet sporting round buffers – stands at Pirdop during one of their famous shunts. Patriot was the middle of the the line of locos and required extraction before becoming the second loco at the front of the evening departure to Razdelna.


44002 buzzed in with an afternoon Burgas-Sofia local – running (late) from Koprivshtitsa due to digging up in the middle of the day with all the passengers bussed around the block.


Tail loco for the evening departure was 87012. Still looking rather clean, the loco has just been prepped ready for departure. It was nice to be able to get a shot of it ‘pan up’ rather than just being dragged dead (as last time we came).


Another shot of 012. Cue the bemused looks from the staff as we wandered up and down the station taking photos – you’d have thought they would be used to it by now!


Skoda electric 44117 departs from Pirdop with 30116 local that was supposed to be from Koprivishtitsa however due to digging up it started somewhere short of that.


The other loco in the fleet still with round buffers was also stabled at Pirdop. 87033 is looking rather tatty of late and could do with a bit of a spruce up. An ex-GFR Class 40 can be seen behind the 87.


On to Varna now and the usual morning activity of heading out to see what was on the morning Razdelna-Ruse trip freight which is usually a good bet for having an 87 on. Before it arrived however, something completely new for us in Bulgaria was the appearance of a pair of OBB Taurus’. They arrived from the Ruse direction before running round and heading off towards Nova Zagora and Turkey thereafter.


A short rake of hoppers this morning for the Ruse wagonload freight and the ‘regular’ 87026 was at the sharp end (on its own) seen heading through Sindel.



The afternoon was spent in the pub (vice the beach as the clouds and drizzle had come in) but the evening cleared up so we went out for the evening trains. The others went off in search of winning engines, but on seeing that 87012 had arrived and was crewed up I decided to stay at Razdelna to watch it leave.


Foreign engine #2 – while waiting for the 87 to leave, 46124 came round the corner with a rake of box wagons which had originated in Varna docks. With the sun out, it seemed rude not to get a shot of it – perhaps my anti foreign trains stance is softening 😉


Not long after the 46 left and just after I lost the sun, 87012 snaked its way out of the yard with an evening departure for Pirdop. In the 3 or so years we have been coming to Varna, we haven’t seen anything leave in this time slot so can only assume it was something related to the engineering block between Kazanlak and Pirdop. Unusually, it was on its own with no tail engine!


Not seen one this far in before! 87028 stands at Ezerovo waiting for the single line section. We were on the train opposite and while the single line working tickets were being issued, took the opportunity to jump off for a quick photo. You wouldn’t get away with doing that in boring old UK…!


We were heading out to Sindel for the usual morning Razdelna-Ruse trip freight but on passing Razdelna the unwelcome sight of ex-GFR Class 40 junk on the front of the train with the 87 inside. I declined to take a photo, but settled for this one of 44066 with a train to Ruse.


Last shot of the trip, heading from Ruse to Gorna Orjahovitsa we crossed this lash up coming out of the terminal at Polski Trambesh. This was the best of a bad lot – it was raining and early morning so the light wasn’t up to much. Still, never seen 3 of the 4 Bulmarket ones on the front of a train before so worth including. With the news that Polish PKP Cargo are interested in buying Bulmarket, who knows what this will mean…

Back next year? Of course…

Mary and Strathclyde Region


With all the hype surrounding the railtour to Bournemouth running today, here are 37401 and 37405 last time they worked in a pair on a passenger train. The date was 5th April 2008 and the train was a York to York via Harrogate mini tour which they worked after arriving from Wolverhampton with the main tour. This was also the last time 37405 worked a passenger train before storage and sale to Diesel Railtour Shambles.

Anglian Short Set

Two days around East Anglia chasing the short set with varying degrees of success. On both days the cloud brought an end to play around 1200, on the first day the middle Lowestoft runs were substituted with a unit and on the second day the Lowestoft and first Great Yarmouth were substituted with 156418.


The first day saw an early morning drive to Buckenham to catch the ECS heading to Lowestoft. 170205 heading to Lowestoft with 2J64, the 0645 from Norwich, was used as a test shot and came out looking relatively decent. It can only be a matter of time before they succumb to the white paintbrush so capturing an example in the ‘one’ blue can’t be a bad thing to do. (03/08/15)


Running bang on time and looking superb in the early morning sunshine is 37425 leading 5J67 0640 Norwich Crown Point-Lowestoft past the foot crossing at Buckenham. 37425 had just come back from tyre turning at Derby Etches Park which seemingly involved a clean of the front end. (03/08/15)


Next up is 37425 lifting 2P12 0836 Norwich-Great Yarmouth up the gradient at St Michaels Way foot crossing away from Brundall station – the home signal to the left of the train protects the junction where the line to Yarmouth via Acle leaves the Lowestoft line. The junction onto the single line is 25mph and both locos were working hard at this point to overcome the gradient and the curve of the line and get the train up to linespeed. (03/08/15)


Unfortunately incoming cloud put paid to any more photography for the day and the two middle Lowestoft trips were a unit, so one last shot of 37419 at Great Yarmouth waiting departure time with 2P33 1817 to Norwich. (03/08/15)


The next day saw a more favourable forecast, however a failed tamper on the Sheringham line put paid to the first two trips of the day as 37425 was used to rescue it! The set reappeared for 2P18 1036 Norwich-Great Yarmouth seen here approaching Whitlingham Junction before slowing for the stop at Brundall Gardens. (04/08/15)

A little bit of Scotland comes to Lancashire

The East Lancs Railway held their Summer diesel gala over the first weekend of July featuring visitors from the SRPS stable of engines. 20020, 26038, 37025 and 47643 featured alongside resident and long term loan visitors. The Sunday of the gala was changeable weather wise, starting off cloudy before the sun broke through and then ended with a monsoon in the afternoon.


Starting off at Irwell Vale, 37109 waits departure for Rawtenstall. Looking quite weatherbeaten now, the exhauster seems to be burning oil – hence the blue smoke coming from the exhaust outlet behind the buffer beam.

47643_SpringsideFarm 31466_SpringsideFarm 40145_SpringsideFarm

On to Springside Farm before the weather closed in; 47643, 31466 and 40145 all dodging clouds.

Bulgaria 2015 (part 1)

The first of hopefully two trips to Bulgaria this year, with this one primarily about seeing as many of the 87s out there as possible. Unfortunately much of the BZK freight runs at night, and with limited gen on timings, it was a bit of a gamble as to what we would see.


^ The morning of the first day was spent at Ilyantsi where 87006 was stabled for most of the morning. A GFR 40 on hire to BZK arrived (far left of picture) to pick it up and take it to Pirdop. Seen here being shunted out of the yard.


^ After arrival from Sofia, 87022 was the tail loco on 30581 to Razdelna. Sidelined last year after a fire when a member of the crew was attempting to defrost the air system, it was repaired and received a full repaint into GBRF blue livery. 21/04/15


^ The second day didn’t start off particularly nice weather-wise as can be seen by the picture of 87004 with 87010 shortly after being detached from 30584 from Razdelna. 22/04/15


^ The weather did steadily improve as can be seen by the picture of 92034 waiting for the off from Pirdop to pick up a train of wagons from a nearby quarry. The 92 works the train for the haulage capacity, diesel locos being insufficient. 22/04/15


^ Some of the native traction now; 44001 leaves Klisura with 3621 Sofia-Burgas. Only two of these type exist (44001 and 44002) and were refurbished in the 1990’s at Koncar works, being basically a modernised version of the traditional Skoda Bulgarian passenger engines. 23/04/15


^ 87013 was part of the final batch of locos transferred over to Bulgaria – accompanying 87004 and 87014. Unfortunately, of the three, 87014 was never accepted into traffic and survives as a spares loco at Podujane works in Sofia having donated its transformer to 87010. 87013 – along with 87010 and 87007 as tail loco – arrives into Pirdop with 30580 from Razdelna. Tail loco was 87007. 23/04/15


^ Immediately after arrival, 87013 was detached and run onto the front of another trainload of tanks which left shortly after. Seen here with partner 87010 and also 87028 as the tail loco on the next departure. 23/04/15


^ 87007 was detached from the rear and this begun the mother of all shunts! 23/04/15


^ 87007 collected 87028 from the other set of tanks, then collected 87010 from the tanks that had just arrived from Razdelna…


^ …before dumping the other two locos out of the way and then running back to be attached to the rear of the formed up departure. 87028 can be seen on the right hand side waiting to be shunted. 23/04/15


^ 87012 has been the first of the class, since arrival, to be fully overhauled. One of the first pair of locos to be exported in 2007, it went to Craiova in Romania for attention and much to everyone’s surprise, was repainted in full Network SouthEast livery. It is seen here on arrival from Podujane depot behind 87003. 23/04/15


^ 87012 and 87003 joined 87010 and 87028 waiting to be shunted into the stabling siding, alongside 87006 also waiting to be shunted. 23/04/15


^ 87007 went out as tail loco on 30580 to Razdelna behind a 40 with an UID 87 inside. 23/04/15


^ Just outside Pirdop for the morning Burgas arrival and the driver winds 44100 up for the run to Anton and onward to Karlovo with BV30111, the 0545 from Sofia.


^ 87033 and 87029 at Pirdop the next morning. 87033 arrived as tail loco from Razdelna with 30582. 87029 arrived shortly after with train 30584 and both were shunted out of the way on top of some junk and a rake of tanks from Serbia. 24/04/15


87007 arrives with 30580 which was formed of a full rake of tanks, but unusually one loco was on the front. 24/04/15


^ After arriving with 30580 from Razdelna 87007 was shunted straight round on top of 87029 to form 30587, seen here heading up the incline out of Pirdop. At this time of day the sun is virtually head on but with a pair of 87’s on the front, it was a shot that couldn’t be missed…


^ …and bringing up the rear as tailgunner was 87033. 24/04/15

All in all, over the 5 days in Bulgaria all of the operational BZK 87s were seen, with only 87012 not under power. We didn’t see any Bulmarket locos this time however.

Back in September…

Royal Sovereign to the Rescue

After the Caledonian Sleeper operation became a separate franchise on April 1st 2015 and GBRf were contracted to provide locomotives, it was expected that Class 92’s would be the motive power for the electric portions with Class 73/9’s doing the diesel parts north of Edinburgh. Delays in the locos coming out of Brush led to Class 90’s and 67’s being subhired from DB Schenker. After a number of failures in the first couple of weeks, 87002 was drafted in to provide support to the ailing fleet. Initially thought to be just for one week, it continued into a second week and at the time of writing is about to commence a third week of operation – running faultlessly throughout.


^ Shortly after the arrival of 1B16 from Aberdeen and the Class 67 was detached, 87002 stands waiting for a shunter to attach to the stock.


^ Seen here on arrival from Edinburgh Waverley with 1M16 Inverness-Euston at destination after a storming run down the West Coast. 16/04/2015

Nene Valley Gala 2015

Nene Valley Railway held their annual diesel gala over the weekend of the 11th and 12th April 2015. Reduced from a twice yearly event to yearly due to financial issues, a number of visiting locos were rostered. Particularly appealing were a Class 56 from UKRL and a Class 60 from DB Schenker (as was 37190 before it was pulled from the lineup). DBS locos are making something of a comeback on the gala circuit…


50008 shares shed spare with 31271, 31601 and 60001 at Wansford.


56104 came from the UK Rail Leasing stable at Leicester. Seen here leaving Peterborough station for Wansford.


60001 also leaving Peterborough for Wansford.


50015 came from the East Lancs Railway seen arriving at Orton Mere, plough end leading.

I’m getting too old for this

Pathfinder ran another series of railtours on the 6th and 7th March, starting with a trip to Ironbridge, then a second tour running overnight visiting such exotic places as Bradford Interchange and Forster Square, Ilkley, Glossop and Hadfield and finally a third tour on the Saturday visiting Ormskirk, Preston Docks, Seaforth Docks and some random branch near Wigan. It was supposed to go to Liverpool Lime Street but the DRS traincrew decided otherwise after not noticing they had been wrong routed.

A small selection of pictures – not the standard 3/4 views as they will be available elsewhere on Flikr no doubt – but something to highlight the locations.


Not sure where this is…
Bradford Interchange isn’t exactly unheard of for loco hauled trains (the Tour de France last year saw 47s and 67s visit) but it is rare for Class 37s.


The first charter into Ilkley since 1980blip apparently!


Oh go on then, couldn’t resist a 3/4 view. Platform 1 at Leeds certainly isn’t unfamiliar to Class 37s, the Arriva Settle and Carlisle job used to leave from here…not with 37419 though.


Reginald Munns

First photo of 2015 and the honour falls to 60092 departing from Crewe with a railtour heading for Chester, via Crewe IEMD. On a dull day like this, the bright red loco and mixed bag of stock does a bit to add some interest as it weaves through the mass of clutter at Crewe North Junction.

60092 was christened ‘Reginald Munns’ on delivery from Brush Traction, Loughborough in 1992 and was one of the few names which were not associated with mountains, reformers, scientists and traditional inventors. Reginald Munns along with Jack Stirk (60093) were co-inventors of the Merry Go Round concept which revolutionised the delivery of coal to UK power stations by rail.

I couldn’t quite decide which picture I liked the most, so I’ve put them both on here!




Mid Norfolk Railway December Gala

Mid Norfolk Railway held another of their excellent galas over the weekend of 27/28th December 2014 and had 68007 from DRS as a guest engine. The Sunday was the better day for photography with loads of sunshine so a couple of photos are below:


47596 arrived at Wymondham with the first train of the day from Dereham.


68007 makes its way up the bank from Dereham, at Rashes Green.


47367 and 47596 approach the level crossings on departure from Dereham. Shortly after, 47367 developed some kind of fault so the remainder of the trip saw 47596 pushing.


The long awaited return to traffic of former St Blazey favourite 37674, after a considerable period in preservation, took place on 30th November 2014 with a running weekend at the Wensleydale Railway.

Delivered into preservation at Kirkby Stephen East in 2007 where it was made serviceable, however the lack of track meant it never actually ran. Fast forward 7 years to 2014, it – along with the rest of the locos from Kirkby Stephen East – moved to Wensleydale and work started to return to traffic.

Still in undercoat, giving a hint to its eventual livery, it runs round a train at Northallerton West



CrossCountry loco hauled

During 2005-2006, the Voyager fleet was struggling with availability (due to defects with overhauled engines) so Bombardier was contracted to supply replacement trains. This was in the form of Class 90s and DVT’s supplied by EWS with Mk2 coaches supplied by Riviera. At the peak of the troubles there were 2 sets out working daily between Birmingham and Manchester with additionals formed of a full length West Coast Mk3 sets and 57s.




02 November 2005: (top) 90022 stands at New Street with the first set, (middle) 90020 at New Street with the second set waiting departure with 1Hand (bottom) 57305 stands at Derby with a full West Coast set having worked from New Street on 1D94.


10 November 2005: 90040 at Stafford 1H04 1748 Birmingham-Manchester.


17 November 2005: The DVTs weren’t exactly overly reliable and there was commonly TDM faults which resulted in the set being either top and tailed or having to run round at Manchester and being sent via Aston to turn the set. 90037 stands at New Street waiting to take the ECS back to Crewe LNWR via Aston.


25 November 2005: 90037 was back on the opposite end of the set, seen at Stafford with the 1248 Birmingham-Manchester. 90022 was on the second set.



10 January 2006: Still going strong but with 90039 in charge.


09 February 2006: Down to just the one set, and 90027 departs from Stafford for Manchester.


01 March 2006: 90031 at Wolverhampton for Manchester.


05 May 2006: 90028 at Stafford.


31 October 2006: TDM problems again saw 57301 called into action to bring the last trip of the day back to New Street. Seen here at Stafford on the 1954 Manchester-New Street.


13 Dec 2006: 90039 waits to leave New Street with the 1248 to Manchester.


26 Jan 2007: Voyager availability was particularly on its knees on this day as a Class 57 and Mk2 stock was summoned to work a Birmingham-Newcastle and return service. 57307 seen here departing Derby for Newcastle.


12 March 07: Following another TDM failure earlier in the day, 90019 was drafted in at short notice to complete the diagram that day, with 90027 on the other end of the set. Seen here at Stafford.


13 March 07: 90019 remained on the set for a second day running, again with 90027 on the other end. Quite what management thought of this, seeing as both Virgin and First were bidding for the CrossCountry franchise at the time…


14 March 07: …and the day after we found out! 90019 was removed from the set allegedly due to its livery and replaced with a Class 57. 57316 is started up at New Street prior to departure with the 1648 New Street-Manchester.

87s – life after death

Since 10th June 2005, the 87s retired from Class One passenger duties were left with no booked work and nothing on the horizon (at the time). Prior to this date, 87013 and 87014 had been taken as standby locos by GB Railfreight for mail traffic which had just returned to the rails. These two were rather long in the tooth so, once released by Virgin Trains, 87002  87012 and 87019 transferred to GBRf and were put straight to work hauling dead Class 325 mail units about (this was around the time they were having problems with the motor coaches).


Above: One of the first passenger duties after the ‘end’ on the West Coast was for the ACORP weekend at Norwich. Two special trains (London-Norwich and Norwich-London) were booked for 87 haulage along with the associated return legs which ran as service trains. Originally planned to be a single 87 working with a DBSO (think this would have been a first), it changed to 2 locos due to concerns over the TDM. 87019 and 87007 were the chosen locos and worked top and tailed with a full Mk2 rake. 87019 seen above at Liverpool Street waiting to head for Norwich with the last train of the day, 24th September 2005.


Above: A couple of weeks later on 19th October 2005, there was a special train from London Euston to Birmingham New Street in the morning and a return in the evening which were being operated by Cotswold Rail. Problems which meant GB Railfreight had to step in and provide 87012 and 87019. The latter brought the ECS into Euston in the morning and then spent the rest of the day dead in tow, on the back to Birmingham and behind 12 on the return to Euston. 87012 Birmingham New Street 19/10/05.


Above: Cotswold Rail had a number of locos on lease, two of which saw semi-regular use (despite regular rumours of new freight flows for them). 87007 was repainted into their silver livery, followed by 87008 although that never saw use and languished at Wembley until storage at Long Marston in early 2008. 87007 stands at Rugby with a stock move between Wembley and Oxley on 17th February 2006.


Above: Use on mail traffic continued throughout 2006 with the 87s getting continuous use. At one stage, the motor coaches were all removed, making the 325s 3 car units and necessitating loco haulage. 87002 (along with 87006 and 87026) was a late addition to the GBRf fleet, never working again after 10th June 2005, it was moved to Oxley for repairs in February 2006 and emerging again in late March under its own power. It worked with GBRf until (again with 87006 and 87026) Virgin started its loco hauled training in June 2006. Seen here at Carlisle passing through with 1M44 Shieldmuir-Warrington. 11 April 2006.


Above: Over the Easter weekend 2006, the mail traffic was diverted via the East Coast. At the time, this gave the (then) unusual sight of an 87 working in daylight on the ECML. 87002 worked Northbound and 87026 worked Southbound. The former is held for a signal check at Peterborough on 18 April 2006.


Above: Whilst they were using 87002, 87006 and 87026 as mileage accumulation before going over to Virgin, the two original GB locos 87012 and 87019 also saw use. 87019 seen here at Rugeley Trent Valley heading 1S96 to Shieldmuir on 25 April 2006.


Above: As thoughts turned to handing 002, 006 and 026 over to Virgin, the time came to replace them in the GB fleet. 87022 and 87028 which had been stored at Oxley since DRS finished with them, were brought back to Wembley and underwent reactivation work as replacements. 87022, on one of its initial runs hence the inclusion of 87002 dead in tow, passes Rugeley Trent Valley on 1A97 Warrington to Wembley PRDC on 25 April 2006.


87028 at Stafford working 1S96 Willesden PRDC-Shieldmuir gets looped at Stafford for a late running Pendolino on 31/05/06.


Above: Fast forward a few months to July, the 325s were getting back on their feet and 22 and 28 were settled down, and the first few days of the month were 87012’s last runs in the UK. Up on 30th June on 1S96 to Shieldmuir, stable at Polmadie over the weekend and back to Wembley on 3rd July with a demic 325. Suitably spruced up to mark the occasion, it was back to Wembley where it sat until December 2006 when it went to Dollands Moor and onwards to Bulgaria.


Above: FM Rail started a new luxury train operation called the Blue Pullman in January 2006. Predominantly hauled by a pair of similarly liveried 47s, there were times when an electric loco was called for and a number of 86s were leased with this intention. Until they were ready, GBRf stepped in and provided an 87 (plus driver) whenever this was required. The 86s never made it into traffic and 87s kept going until the operation was wound up in late 2006. 87028 seen above accelerating away from the 50mph speed restriction at Morpeth with an outing to Edinburgh on 12th August 2006.


Ab0ve: Another outing on the East Coast with the Blue Pullman but this time from London to Darlington for the ACORP festival being held there. This trip was 87028’s first outing sporting its new ‘Lord President’ nameplates. The train went back South top and tailed and the day after they worked a GBRf staff trip from London to York and returned to Barking! 87022 and 87028 seen here at Newcastle with the ECS from Darlington to Heaton TMD on 23 September 2006.


Above: 87028 sits spare at Wembley with 87006, 86213, 87007 and 87008 for company, 11th May 2007.


Above: Another outing for an 87 to the Northern part of the ECML with 87022 working London Kings Cross to Berwick upon Tweed. The eagle-eyed observer will notice that the stock is no longer the Blue Pullman set. FM Rail collapsed at the end of 2006 which saw the entire rake of coaches sold off to Cotswold Rail. Hertfordshire Railtours (which had been part of FM Rail) remained solvent and continued trading with the luxury tours using Riviera stock. 87022 brings the empties into Berwick upon Tweed ready to head back to London 23 June 2007.


Alongside the mail traffic with the occasional poshex, another unusual working took place during 2007. A brand new rake of coal hoppers needed transferring from London to Doncaster and it would have been rude not to use something unusual to haul them. Cue 87022 and 87028. The pair hauled the train, in multiple, before returning light engine to London. Seen above at Newark Northgate on 1st July 2007.


This may well have been the final ‘Blue Pullman’ hauled by an 87. A London Kings Cross-Prestonpans and return weekend trip (for guests to visit the Edinburgh Military Tattoo) saw 87028 decked out with 18 WB stickers and gold buffers (that had become synonymous with the class in the final days). Lord President seen above under the trainshed at York on 4 August 2007.

87022_Oxley 87022_Oxley_2

Above: The final curtain call for the class came at the end of 2007 with OTMR being made mandatory for all vehicles operating on the main line after 31st December. With the overhaul of the 325s having been completed and the fleet restored to full health, it wasn’t deemed cost effective to fit such a small number of locos with the kit (GB only had 2 in their fleet by this time). The news came that Porterbrook had sold the remaining members to a company called Romic Ace who then sold a number to the Bulgarian Railway Company (a private open access operator). A final railtour was organised on the 29th December 2007 which would have run from Birmingham International to Glasgow Central (and return). I say “would” because that was the intention – if it wasn’t for West Coast Railway Company! A problem with the stock (lighting and heat) and then a guards door falling off its hinges meant it was cancelled, everyone went home and a day or two later the loco was hauled dead to Wembley, never to work on the mainline again.


Above: Thankfully, in addition to the non-runners 87001 in the NRM and 87035 at Crewe Heritage Centre, 87002 also escaped oblivion (or being sent half way across the world). Officially ‘preserved’ in early 2008, it returned to the main line in July of the same year working occasional railtours, stock moves and more notably being hired to GB Railfreight for their mail train standby and winter ice breaking work amongst other things. Having failed at operating the ‘final’ railtour, a comeback railtour was run by Spitfire Railtours (remember them?!) between Birmingham International and Glasgow in October 2008 – seen on arrival at Glasgow Central.


Above: One further high profile railtour job was for the 2010 ‘Three Peaks Challenge’ which it hauled from London Euston to Crewe on the 24th June 2010 – seen here on arrival. It handed over to a silver Class 67 for the run to Bangor (for Snowdon) and then on to Ravenglass (for Scafell) and finally Fort William (for Ben Nevis).

One Golf Two One (and associated)

With all the hype surrounding the end of the ‘Pretendolino’ Mk3 set at the time of writing,  I would like to take the opportunity to remind all viewers that the ‘real’ end of the West Coast was on December 22 2006.

This gives an opportunity for a trip down memory lane and relive 1G21/1B05 from June-December 2006.


17/05/06 …. Crew training kicked off in May 2006 with 87006 and a full rake. The full rake was then stood down for work to bring it up to standard which saw a load 4 (TSO+RFM+FO+DVT) scratch set made up and come out to play with 87026.

Being based in Birmingham for uni, it was ideal really and Virgin helped with their YP availability in the morning/evening peaks for trips to London. Trips in the early days were non-existant due to working in Newcastle over the holidays. First chance I got was 19/06/06…


19/06/06 part 1…. the lesser known of the turns booked for an 87 at the time was the 0620 Rugby-Euston. I decided to do it one day to London for a day out and return to Birmingham on 1G21. Oh how wrong I was, turning up at Rugby at 0600, this greeted me. 87026 had been failed by the driver. 😦


19/06/06 part 2…. never mind, off to London and wait for the return in the evening. The gen was that 87006 was being put back on the set so all good to go. On arrival, 87026 had run round and led into Euston and was sat on the blocks.


19/06/06 part 3 …. wandering to the front of the train, it was loaded and looked good to go. Then the guard made an announcement that there would be a delay due to technical issues. A fitter was summoned, scratched his chin and then shook his head. Caped. Set went ECS to Wembley. Jinx.


26/06/06 – there was the inevitable farce with TDM! This saw the set running in reverse formation for a week or so. 87006 leads South from Coventry to Euston with 1B05.


The jinx continues! 17/07/06 saw 87002 kicked out for 1G21. On leaving Euston it became clear that something was wrong as 2 struggled to achieve anything near line speed. Eventually relegated to the slow lines (I think at Hanslope), on passing MKC the guard announced the train would be terminating at Bletchley. The drivers said it hadn’t had any work carried out on it and was no surprise it wouldn’t go.


87006 5B05 Euston 22/09/2006


87002+87006 (dit) 1G21 Euston-Birmingham 10/10/06. 87006 was still DIT reportedly due to a points failure at Wembley so couldn’t be removed from the set. First appearance of 87002 since its failure at Bletchley on 17/07.


87002 5B05 Euston-Wembley ECS 11/11/06


87002 1G21 Birmingham International 16/11/06

Timetable change was 10th December 2006 and was supposed to see the end of the Mk3 set with the diagram going over to plastic filth. The last day on Friday 8th December was caped due to high winds or something like that causing chaos and we thought that would be it, a damp squib.

Famous last words…

Continuing tilting plastic shortages saw it come back out for more (including some daytime runs too!) which saw some extremely spirited running and early arrivals!


87002 Birmingham International 1G13 Euston-New Street


15/12/06 …. This, yet again, was supposed to be it. 87002 waits to leave Euston with the ECS for Wembley.


21/12/06 …. and its still going strong! 87002 stands at International with, yet again, 1G13 to New Street. It worked 1B65 back to Euston before going back to Birmingham on the more normal 1G21 ex Euston.


22/12/06 …. this is the final day! 87002 back at International. A plastic bag on the OHL at Adderley Park was causing chaos that afternoon but was cleared in time for a final run into New Street.

And that, as they say, was that.

More cheese Gromit?

There was a Class 37 running day at the Wensleydale Railway on Sat 20th September which saw resident 37250 come out of hibernation plus the added attraction of 37682 from DRS. This is one which hasn’t done a great deal recently and hasn’t worked a passenger train since April 2012 at the Mid Norfolk Railway and before that on the main line since 2009. Furthermore, if rumours are to be believed then it isn’t long for this world…


37682 is one of the last two remaining ‘original’ looking 37s (37194 being the other) on their books (i.e without the stupid WIPAC clusters or the DRS multi sockets) and looks quite good being as its not pristine like all the rest of the fleet – it looks as if it’s actually done some work. Although, stood next to 37250 which is part way through bodywork attention it looks pristine!


This is what 37682 looked like last time I took a photo of it over 10 years ago; sat at Peterborough on 19th July 2003. Stored finally in December 2004, it made its way to DRS via Harry Needle and a bit of panel beating on the nose!



Colas Tug

60021, the second to be released from the Colas overhaul program, had its first main line test run in September 2014 working from Toton to Ratcliffe Power Station and then back to Liverpool via Warrington on 6F58 Ratcliffe-Liverpool Bulk Terminal.

The former Star of the East, with no bodyside branding, seen here passing Stoke on Trent station.



Fort William in errm Liverpool

The RTC season of steam tours based around Crewe kicked off on the last week in July and saw 37518 (along with 57316 and 47245 after the 47 failed) being used as the engines for the diesel portion.

It followed the same pattern as last year with Saturday being a Carlisle tour and Sunday going down the North Wales Coast. This year however, the diesel locos did the Crewe-Liverpool-Crewe legs.


37518 at Crewe after arriving back from Liverpool on the Saturday morning. 26/05/14


Now onto Liverpool awaiting departure back to Crewe on Saturday evening. This ran as a service train after it was comandeered by London Midland to transport large numbers of people who had been in Liverpool to watch the ‘Giants’ festival. 26/05/14


Finally, waiting departure for Crewe on the Sunday morning after being brought in by 47245. 27/07/14

Done by the sun! (60063)

After spending hours trying to find the spot and being in sunshine for the entire time, when the train actually appeared the sun did a vanishing act. Running with a rake of Freightliner wagons (reportedly whilst the booked rake undergoes maintenance) 60063 passes Brierlow Bar with 6H23 1519 Briggs Sidings (Hindlow)-Tunstead (about 15 early).

Have tried to rescue the pic as best I can, but at least the spot is known now for another try.




What no 68?

Diesel Railtour Services held their annual open day at Crewe on Saturday 19th July billed as the launch of the 68 and one was booked to haul a railtour from Eastleigh to Crewe (for the open day).

Not having had much luck with them (thus far) since the first one arrived on UK soil due to eletronic interference problems, predictable one wasn’t available for its first booked job nigh on six months after delivery. Even the 70s didn’t take that long! 57009 and 57008 deputised – reportedly the formers first passenger working – seen here leaving Crewe heading to Chester.



New (or old?)

…depends if you listen to the DfT or not I guess. After promising they would be fully refurbished and fitted with air-con, it seems the good people of the North will have to live with them as they are for now.

57306 brought the first of the Class 319s to their new home of Allerton direct from Bedford on the night of the 19/20th June. Unusually, there were no translator vehicles involved, with the loco coupling directly to the unit courtesy of the tightlock coupler in place of the dellner which was removed when the loco came off lease from Virgin.


Close up 0f the coupling arrangement showing the retractable tightlock coupler and the temporary electrical control box.



Driving Miss Daisy

Llangollen Railcars brought in 101685 for their annual DMU fest at the Llangollen Railway in late June 2014 and in the run up was used on driver experience turns with monies raised going towards the maintenance and upkeep of their superb fleet of DMU’s. 101685 is in exactly the same condition – internally and externally – as it was when it came out of service with First North Western all those years ago in 2003.

Just a couple of photos from our three round trips on the evening of the 19th June. A superb evening supporting a worthy cause!




Bulgaria 2014

Time for the annual pilgrimage to Bulgaria. In addition to the 87s which went over in the late 2000’s for private operator BZK, 3 Class 92’s went over in 2012/2013 and can now be found working freights for DB Schenker and finally and most recently, 4 more 87’s went over to work for private operator Bulmarket with the last two, 87009 and 87025 only entering traffic in early 2014.


Quick wrong side of the sun shot from a passing train; 87012 at Karlovo with a Pirdop bound tank train. 87003 was on the rear. 11/05/14

87010_029_Sindel Looking absolutely filthy and consequently not doing the photo any good, 87010 and 87029 pass through Sindel with the daily Razdelna-Ruse freight working. 12/05/14


A day later, and it was the turn of 87012, 87013 and 87003 on the Razdelna-Ruse trip which only had 1 wagon in the consist. That’s 15,000hp for just 1 wagon – almost DRS standards. 13/05/14

87025_Sindel As the light starts to die, 87025 (the most recently returned to traffic) stands at Sindel on the rear of a tank train heading for – we assume – Ruse. This one, along with the other three operated by Bulmarket are notable in the fact they are fitted with two pantographs which has necessitated the removal of the fire supression system. Hopefully this doesn’t mean if one catches fire, it is game over! 13/05/14

92027_Razdelna 92027 stands at Razdelna having brought in a train of empty box wagons for loading at Varna docks. Seems this was the first visit of a 92 here as it was attracting quite a bit of interest from the BZK and BDZ staff based here. This one hasn’t had the snowploughs fitted that the other two have had. 14/05/14

87023_VarnaSp 87023_VarnaSp-2 87023 was one of the two Europhoenix liveried locos exported which have retained their livery, albeit with Bulmarket branding added. Velocity stands at Varna Spirka next to an ex-Danish ‘EA’ (also operated by Bulmarket) which are numbered in the 860xx series – so there’s a Class 86 and 87 sat together. 14/05/14

87019_Pirdop On to Pirdop now, on paper at least, the base for the BZK 87 fleet. Still carrying its pseudo-LNWR black livery which is looking a little worn now, 87019 stands in a brief burst of sunshine with an ex-DB 232 diesel for company. 87019, along with 87012, was one of the first two to be exported from the UK, being accepted into traffic in June 2007. The others soon followed. 16/05/14

92034_Pirdop Also at Pirdop was 92034, doing a bit of shunting prior to heading down the line towards Sofia to pick up a rake of box wagons loaded with quarried product. 92034 was the first of the three 92’s exported to Bulgaria and unlike the other two that were exported to Romania which were quickly repainted in DB livery, these three are all in near to ex UK condition. Only the top headlight, snowploughs an DB sticker on the front end gives it away. 16/05/14

92034-87034-87004_Zlaticha 92034 stands at Zlatitsa. A track machine (that can just be seen in the picture of 87019 at Pirdop) had failed in the section between Pirdop and here necessitating a rescue mission by 92034 87034 and 87004. The 87s had come  light engine from the Sofia direction. Not sure if this is the first time that an 87 and 92 have worked together in Bulgaria, but I certainly haven’t seen any pictures of it! 16/05/14

87034-87004_Zlaticha The former William Shakespeare and the current Britannia shunt the demic track machine onto another road at Zlatitsa before continuing on their journey to Pirdop. 16/05/14

Early morning sortie before the flight home sees 61012 and 61007 (which had powered also) on arrival at Sofia Central with the 0505 Kulata-Sofia. 17/05/14.