Class 67 is one of the latest class of diesel locomotive to be introduced to the railways of Great Britain. It is not the prettiest of designs but I admit to quite liking them, especially for the exhasut note when working hard. They were introduced to haul high-speed mail trains across the whole network but this traffic disappeared soon after their emergence mostly through the dogmatic attitude of government in relation to a publicly owned Post Office and the inability of EWS to organise a party in a brewery. Their main fields of employment are currently in the charter field where they are virtually guaranteed to be found hauling the Northern Belle and VSOE luxury trains. They also figure heavily in the charter market and have taken the place of the once ubiquitous class 47 when "unspecified traction" is advertised. Two of the class, 67005 and 67006 are the nominated locomotives for the Royal Train and as such, have been painted in the dark maroon colour of the vehicles forming that train. The pair are not solely dedicated to this work and can be seen on any traffic hauled by the class when not required for Royal duties. These duties have included quite mundane freight and stock moves. The other celebrity class member is 67029, which has been painted into the silver livery of the EWS corporate train and when on this can be driven from the dedicated DVT also in the consist. In the Midlands, a 67 could at one time be found at work on the now defunct daily Bescot to Birch Coppice car parts train - a fill-in turn between parcel work from Walsall. They have recently been introduced to the Scottish sleeper services where, of course, they have made themselves unpopular with certain factions of the enthusiast fraternity by replacing the great god, class 37.

67021 at Wilmcote It's been a while since I saw the VSOE or Belmond British Pullman as it is now known anywhere near Stratford-upon-Avon so was keen for a shot or two when it was scheduled to visit on Saturday 28 October 2023. The trip came from London Victoria with Pullman liveried 67021 being the motive power and without another locomotive tailing the coaches to avoid run-rounds. Wilmcote was my chosen location and with sun looking likely thought that the footbridge would make an attractive backdrop. Two other photographers were already in place right at the end of the platform but with a shadow from the station buildings being cast in exactly the wrong place it was necessary for me use an 85mm lens to put the locomotive in a clear patch of track. There must have been some problems for down trains at Fenny Compton as all trains were delayed by at least 20 minutes with 1Z26 being delayed another 5 minutes at Hatton West Junction while a preceding Chiltern Railways Train service cleared the single line to Bearley Junction. The sun nearly held on for this shot but it would have been better 30 seconds earlier. I prefer my shot from May 1987!
67021 at Henley in Arden An unusual feature of the VSOE's visit to Stratford-upon-Avon on 28 October 2023 was that the stock went to Tyseley LMD for servicing and was routed in both directions along the North Warwickshire Line via Henley in Arden. There have been a few class 67s over the line, mostly in the hands of Colas Rail's 67023 + 67027 on test trains but any diesel locomotive is rare enough to make a trip worth the effort. I left Wilmcote and drove to Henley where the cloud all too necessary here for a lunchtime shot was building up nicely when I saw from the Railcams map that the ECS had turned right at Bearley Junction and gone to Tyseley via Hatton and Dorridge. This meant another trip out later in the day for 5Z82. It was dark and beginning to rain when 67021 went through the station at full line speed and I had had to use ISO 2500 to get a decent shutter speed and aperture. The return to London Victoria was also coming this way but it was getting duller and wetter so I went home. The local adopters of the station under the Shakespeare Line Rail Users Group (SLRUG) have made a great of tidying up and refurbishing the platforms and infrastructure including the running-in boards. The station building itself is currently undergoing extensive restoration work and will soon provide facilities for both passengers and residents of the town.
67027 + 67023 RHTT at Evesham. The 2021 RHTT season was coming to an end by 4 December and being aware that I hadn't taken any photographs of the North Cotswold Line train thought that I should have at least one go at it. There are plenty of sunny daylight shots around of 3S32, the 22.01 Swindon Transfer to Cheltenham Lansdown Loop, but I like after-dark photography so knowing the the train has to stop at Evesham for a crew change and with it having to wait for an up passenger everything is likely to run close to right time went there. Here is the train on 3 December 2021 with the usual and exceptionally reliable pair of 67027 + 67023 just after arrival into the down platform with the crews preparing for the changeover.
67027 + 67023 RHTT at Evesham. Having had to leave home at around 05.30 for the drive to Evesham on 3 December 2021 I had already set up my camera with the settings I use at Stratford-upon-Avon for similar shots; these being ISO 4000, 1/125 second at around f3.5 on a Nikon D800 with 50mm or 85mm prime lens. Network Rail LED lamps clearly produce a similar number of lumens wherever they are installed and in whatever style of light as the settings were spot-on. Driver Clive Smart had just switched on the cab lights enhancing the picture nicely as he waits for 1P02, the 05.23 Hereford to London Paddington for which a a solitary passenger is waiting to clear the single line from Norton Junction. Unlike many, I don't mind seeing the filthy state of locomotives used on RHTTs and think that it gives a sense of the purpose behind the trains. This train is due to finish after 7 December 2021 and it may be the last chance for a shot of class 67s on either RHTTs or test trains as the Colas examples have been acquired by GBRf.
Here is a shot of a class 67 doing the job for which it was built, hauling a Royal Mail train. The working is 1E43 from Plymouth to Low Fell passing Defford on 27 June 2002. These trains were always handy on a sunny evening as they were reliable and gave the chance to photograph something if there wasn't much freight around. The sun on the train was a bit lucky as a piece of cloud was about to mess things up; far from unusual here as the nearby Malvern Hills often caused some local weather effects at this time of the year.
This picture shows the same train as the one in the photograph from Defford above, but this time off its normal route. The date was 24 June 2002 and on the previous day a class 56 had derailed at Oddingley on the main Birmingham to Cheltenham line. This meant that everything was diverted via Worcester so I took an afternoon off work and went to this spot near Norton, locally known as Dog Bridge because of the incessant barking of a couple of canines at a nearby house, to record whatever came along. There was plenty of action including classes 47, 60, 66, HSTs and this shot of 67028 passing under the M5 with the Plymouth to Low Fell mail. Use this link for a short video clip of the train.
In 2002 it was worth spending a sunny afternoon on the Gloucester to Birmingham line as there was a large selection of locomotive-hauled traffic, both freight and passenger, unlike 2021 when it's barely worth using any petrol to travel there unless something special in on the cards. For example, on 24 April 2002, I photographed 18 such workings along with a few HSTs and some DMUs. At 16.45 the Plymouth to Low Fell mail came north across Eckington Bridge where it crosses the Warwickshire Avon between Bredon and Defford; a popular and pleasant location for railway photogaphers for decades.
A few couple of miles north of Eckington Bridge is the roadbridge near Croome Perry wood, another justly popular location for photography mostly seen in pictures of southbound workings. In August 2002 I was there when 67007 was hauling the usual Plymouth to Low Fell mail train came north not longer after some extensive vegetation clearance had taken place and late enough in the evening for the sun to have moved round far enough for a conventionally lit image. 645
On 16 February 2005 67012 was no longer working the type of train for which it was built, high speed Royal Mail traffic as seen above, but could be seen on all sorts of stuff. The clas even worked on some freight diagrams and this picture shows one of these, the morning Bescot to EMR Kingsbury trip taking various vehicles for dismantling, passing what is now the site of Coleshill Parkway station.
No prizes for guessing this location but it is one of the few spots on the Birmingham to Gloucester line that is free of shadows during mid-afternoon in December. It wasn't absolutely ideal for this particular train, the Low Fell to Plymouth mail train, as 67026 was topping 67005 which was just out of sight at the back. I can't remember the exact reason for it requiring two locomotives but it is obvious that a reversal was required at some point due to a diversion somewhere on the route. A video of the working showing both locomotives can be found via the link.
This previously excellent and open location was reaching the end of its useful life by 20 June 2005 when I took this image of 67020 taking a 3rd electric unit from Birkenhead to Eastleigh where it was to be refurbished. The train, 5X61, was hauled by 67020 which worked many of these, and was pictured alongside the rapidly disappearing M40 at Rowington between Dorrdige and Hatton.
On 12 July 2005, one of the units taken south for refurbishment a few weeks earlier was returned to Birkenhead as 5X47 from Eastleigh. Conveniently for me at the time this ran at lunchtime, so armed with some advance knowledge, I made the short journey from my then office to the nearest point, the 3 arch bridge towards the top of Hatton Bank where 67016 appeared right on cue. The final train ran 2 weeks later but I prefer this picture to the one I took of the last working taken in the same location.
In contrast to the sunny conditions I enjoyed for the shot above, 19 March 2005 On a misty was a dull and misty day. I had made a visit to the the farm shop at Hatton Country and, never one to miss a chance, wandered across the fields to the foot of Hatton cutting just in time to catch 67020 heading north with the Eastleigh to Birkenhead unit move.. There was never any chance of sun on this day, but the misty conditions served, to my eyes at least, to separate the train from the background and give quite a feel of the atmosphere of the occasion. If one walks along this permissive footpath in 2021 there is no way of knowing that the railway is a few yards away unless a train passes by because of uncontrolled and rampant vegetation growth between Dark Lane and the footbridge in the background.
The final southbound 5X61 ran during the early evening of 27 June 2005 in conditions totally different from those shown above. 67020 was again in charge, this time of the last unit to be refurbished and I photographed it at Bentley Heath crossing near Dorridge about to enter the up goods loop to allow a Voyager and a Chiltern Turbo to pass.
67023 with 2 NR DVTs at Honeybourne Two redundant Network Rail DVTs, 82124 + 82129, were taken for storage as 3Z93 from Derby RTC to Long Marston on Tuesday 11 May 2021 and was the second such move this year, the first having taken place with 37240 providing the power on 26 March. Colas Rail's 67023 was the locomotive for today's train and was, as far as I know, only the third visit of its type to the Long Marston branch. The first of these was by 67016 with a long train from Didcot on 2 September 2011 and was also the first working to use the new alignment accessing the branch after this part of the North Cotswold Line had its track redoubled after many years of being a single line. I thought that it would be interesting to compare the views some 10 years apart so went to the footbridge at Honeybourne station and took an roughly equivalent shot. It was fortunate that the sun appeared as there was a lot of cloud in the sky following a very heavy shower just before I left home. If the rampant growth of the buddleia isn't controlled there will be no shot possible from here before long. It'll be good for the local butterfly population though!
67023 with 2 NR DVTs at Long Marston I decided to return home from Honeybourne via Long Marston and hadn't expected to beat 3Z93 with 67023 but it was still around the corner on the branch as I parked. The shot of it arriving wasn't worth the effort but I did take this view with the corridor connection of the second DVT exposed. The ground on the left recently cleared is the trackbed of the former GWR main line from Wolverhampton to South Wales and the West Country but I still have no idea why the work was done or if some new track is to be laid for Porterbrook who is about to take over the leasehold of the site.
Empty stock trains between Eastleigh and Tyseley are relatively common at the moment but the use of a pair of class 67s, particularly those of a royal persuasion, less so. The train running on 17 July 2019, 5Z62, in the hands of royal pair 67006 + 67026, was a bit early from Oxford but signalling issues at Banbury caused dealys to all traffic. I looked at a mapping app and saw about 7 trains standing at red signals in the area so waited until 5Z62 was given the road before leaving home. A booked stop at Fenny Compton was missed out which put it close to right time when it came around the curve from Budbrook Junction. Although 67s were a regular sight on the Marylebone to Wrexham and later on the Birmingham trains the claret liveried pair were not widely used on these services. Here is a picture of 67006 at Hatton in days before DVTs were used necessitating the use of topped and tailed locomotives with a couple of bashers enjoying the sound effects. The other locomotive on 5Z62, 67026, has seen quite frequent use on this line especially on test trains but a more unusual duty befell it on 11 July 2012 when HM The Queen visited Birmingham, the Royal Train being sent via Stratford-upon-Avon for reversal so that the Queen's saloon was in the correct position for her to alight at Snow Hill. Here is the rare sight passing Wilmcote in some bright early morning sun with 67006 out of sight on the back.
The ECS train for which I was waiting was 5Z52 from Eastleigh to Tyseley and was formed of 67002 with 7 or 8 coaches and 66002 dead on the rear. I was watching 5Z52 on a mapping app and it stopped outside Leamington Spa with 6M48 from Southampton to Halewood in the station's centre road and, being a long train, fouling the junction for the platform line through which the ECS would otherwise have been able to run to get around the blockage. I have no idea what the problem was but it delayed the 67's train by some 25 minutes. There was no prospect of losing the light and the colourful ensemble passed me at 15.12. Here is a view of 66002 bringing up the rear; dead in train and not acting as a banker as may have been the case many years ago when either or double-heading of heavy trains from Leamington Spa or Warwick was the norm.
The monthly 1Q48 test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon and the North Warwickshire Line was retimed quite significantly on Tuesday 7 August 2018 and made its first of two trips to the terminus at lunchtime with an arrival time of 12.47. The sun's angle was most favourable around the Stratford Parkway area and I had a short but very hot 15 minute walk there from home. The train was running a bit early and passed the station 8 minutes ahead of schedule with 67023 leading 4 coaches and 67027. There is a bit too much ironmongery poking above the locomotive's roof but that is typical of both modern and recently refurbished stations.
After visiting Stratford-upon-Avon for the first time on 7 August 2018 1Q48 ran to Fenny Compton before returning to Stratford via Hatton, Claverdon and Wilmcote. The station at the last of these retains some GWR artefacts and with a passing time of just after 15.00 this was just the spot to take advantage of the light and to give a good interesting background. A passenger train was due a few minutes after 1Q48 and I took this image at an appropriate spot to show those waiting to join their class 172 DMU for the short journey to Stratford. A shot of the northbound train isn't worth the effort in this past of the world so I left after 67023 + 67027 had passed. I must admit to not being too disappointed when 67s are diagrammed for the this working; on a sunny day with 37s in charge there would have been far too many bodies around in the best locations!
My enthusiasm for going out for photographs is inversely proportional to the outside temperature so I haven't bothered during the heatwave during June and July 2018. Although the evening of 10 July was quite warm it wasn't too bad so I had a walk to Stratford-upon-Avon station for a shot or two of 67023 + 67027 with 1Q48, the Derby to Tyseley test train. I took only my lightweight Canon G10 compact camera secure in the knowledge that with its RAW image capability it is more than capable of taking a decent picture without the weight of a DSLR and heavy lens. The train was about 15 early joining the North Warwickshire Line which put it in front of 2S64, the local passenger service from Stourbridge. There was therefore a possibility that it would be routed into either platform 2 or 3 the latter of which had just been vacated by a Chiltern service to Leamington Spa but I was hopeful that it would run as booked into P1. It did and made for an attractive scene as it drew to a halt alongside the beautiful floral display sponsored by FOSS, the Friends of Stratford Station.
The test train operated by 67027 + 67023 was followed into Stratford station by 172344 which had to terminate in platform 2 rather than its booked platform 1. The latter is just visible in the this view as the incoming and outgoing passengers swap over. I thought that 1Q48 might be allowed to leave before the passenger train but the signal for platform 2 flicked to green as I took this telephoto view from the extreme end of platform 2 so it was time to leave but with a short pause to take this wide-angle view of 67027 as it stood awaiting departure time. The picture also shows a tiny part of the hideous and gloomy high-density housing scheme under construction on the site of Stratford's cattle market.
I have been waiting for a chance to take a sunny image of 1Q48, the monthly Derby to Tyseley test train, at Stratford-upon-Avon station for a while so when 22 May 2018 had mostly clear skies I walked down for a shot or two. The sun was in the middle of a blue patch of sky as 67027 led its train and 67023 into platform 1 a few minutes late following a unit failure somewhere or other beyond Snow Hill. Platform 1 was free for about 10 minutes which allowed the shot I wanted to be taken as the train approached the footbridge.
The sun stayed out just long enough Tuesday 22 May 2018 to take a photograph of 67023 with 1Q48 standing in platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon station. The distracting background of scaffolding shows a tiny part of a huge sink estate of the future undergoing construction on the site of the cattle market. The consensus of local opinion of which I am aware suggests that within a few years this part of the town will be very much a no-go area after dark. Well done, Stratford DC...
Worcester has been a popular destination for rail charters during early May with the VSOE on Wednesday 9th and a slightly less luxurious train in Saturday 12th. I couldn't get out for the VSOE but did go for the latter working on Saturday from Letchworth. This had the unattractively liveried 67018 providing the power but despite this I went to Honeybourne as it was my first chance for a shot of a locomotive-hauled passenger train at this recently cleared location. The light wasn't particularly good but the mass of hawthorn blossom all around made up for this to some extent.
Those of us in the Warwickshire area who like to photograph test trains have been used to getting night shots of 1Q48 over the past months. It was pleasing to see that for the February 2018 run on the 20th of the month ran in a completely different schedule which saw it pass Henley-in-Arden at 11.13; the ideal for a shot from the cast-iron canal aqueduct at Edstone, just to the north of Bearley Junction. Quite a lot of cloud was blowing around in the breeze and just as with the preceding passenger train the whole scene was quite dark when the horns were blown for a foot crossing just around the corner. Luckily for the 4 of us waiting for a shot the sun found a good clear patch at just the right time and I took my first fully sunny shot of 67023 tnt 67027 on one of these trains.
After 1Q48's first run of the day to Stratford-upon-Avon on 20 February 2018 and a layover of nearly 90 minutes in platform 3 it was scheduled to go south to Banbury via Bearley Junction and Hatton West and Station Junctions. I investigated a few roadside shots near West Junction but thought them too anonymous being little more than gaps in a lineside hedge. The roadbridge at Hatton station offered a much better view even though a multiple trunked tree hides the rear locomotive. With 67027 now leading the train is about to enter the Stratford branch platform where it was booked to stand for long enough to allow 2 passengers trains to pass including 168107 running from Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street.
Following the short stop at Banbury on 20 February 2018 1Q48 went to Stratford upon Avon again, this time entering platform 2. Although not brilliant for a shot on a sunny day it's infinitely better than P3. Unfortunately, the sun came out about 5 seconds too late and illuminated the rear locomotive and background very nicely but leaving 67023 in deep shade. I made do with this platform-edge shot as it stood alongside the freshly plated floral display provided by FOSS, the Friends of Stratford Station. I waited a few minutes for this image as a class 172 was in P1 alongside 1Q48 and this was a bit distracting.
My first shot for a few weeks following an Autumn break on Exmoor is the usual test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon, 1Q48, which ran on Tuesday 31 October 2017 once again with 67023 + 67027 in charge. Because of the recent clock change this was the first of the early evening runs scheduled to arrive after dark so I went down to the station for a shot. The train arrived a minute or so early and the driver had soon switched ends and lit up the front of 67023 giving the 3 of us there plenty of time for some bracketed exposures uder the bright platform lights.
On Tuesday 5 September 2017 the test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley via the East Midlands and Stratford-upon-Avon ran again after a gap of 2 months, the August working having been cancelled not long after departure because of a fault with the on-train recording equipment. The evening of 5 September was bright and sunny when I left home for the short walk to the station where I had planned on taking a well-lit shot of 67023 arriving with 1Q48. The intention was to feature the displays of flowers on platform 2 provided by FOSS, the Friends of Stratford station, and this week would be the last possible chance before the darker evenings arrived. The class 170 which came into platform 1 as I crossed the footbridge was beautifully lit but by the time that this had left and cleared the crossover heavy cloud had covered the sun making the light so poor that the automatic platform lights had switched themselves on. Given the poor conditions there didn't seem to be much point in hanging around but I did pause to take this view of the main flower display.
The monthly test train which visits the North Warwickshire Line and Stratford-upon-Avon ran on Tuesday 9 May 2017. Colas Rail's 67023 + 67027 were again allocated and as these are still unusual on the NWL I went to Danzey station where I stood in beautiful sun for about 10 minutes before 1Q23 was due. Just before it came around the curve from the Wood End direction a small patch of cloud went across the sun and stayed there until the train had passed by. I'll take a sunny image of these locomotives one day...
The test train I had photographed at Danzey on 9 May 2017 went from Tyseley to Bristol the following day. The weather looked to be settled with good sunny spells so there was a reasonable chance that I would be able to break my duck with a sunny shot of the 2 Colas Rail class 67s. The train, 1Z22, was on time as it went though Worcester and with nothing due on the down line I was confident that a decent image would be had. A tiny piece of cloud went across the sun a minute or two before I heard 67023 + 67027 in the distance but it had cleared by the time they came around the curve from the Evesham direction. There was no-one else around which probably wouldn't have been the case had class 37s been allocated but that's not always a bad thing...
Colas Rail's class 67s, 67027 + 67023, paid their second visit in recent weeks to Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 18 April 2017 with a test train from Derby RTC to Tyseley. On this occasion their arrival was timed to be just before 18.00 with 1Q32 being routed into platform 1; the best for photography at this time of day should the sun be out. The previous train 2S64 from Kidderminster came before a bank of thin cloud found the sun but the light had faded a bit when 67027 led 1Q32 into the station. Still, this was my first image of a Colas 67 in the terminus as when the pair first ran here a few weeks ago a combination of dreadful weather and the train going into platform 3 didn't inspire me enough to make the effort after photographing it at Edstone Aqueduct. The first ever visit of a class 67 to Stratford took place on 15 August 2009 when once again 67027 led its train into the station; photographed from the GWR footbridge a few yards further down the platform than the new bridge from I took the later shot.
There wasn't much of a layover at Stratford for 1Q32 and the driver had soon switched ends and turned on the white lights ready for 67023 to lead away from the station towards Leamington and Fenny Compton loop where another reversal took place before the rest of the diagram was fulfilled. The sun did come out a little more strongly for a few seconds while 67023 was waiting to leave so I took the opportunity for a reasonably lit image as it stood under the bridge.
The monthly diagram of the test train that visited Stratford-upon-Avon on 21 March 2016 sees it leaving Tyseley the following morning and running to Bristol High Level Sidings. I didn't photograph this leg of the journey but did go out for the return, 1Z23, on Thursday 23 March. At around 13.30 on what had a reasonable chance of being a sunny day there are relatively few decent locations for a down train and I usually end up at Lower Moor. On this occasion I really wanted to have a different shot so had a wander around some footpaths in the Wyre Piddle area. Much of the line is obscured by vegetation but I did find one clear spot and here is 67023 leading 1Z23 with 67027 on the back of the formation. This picture has most things I dislke in a railway photograph; a low viewpoint and nothing to identify the location but at least it isn't Lower Moor! The sun came out fully just as 67027 passed...
Colas Rail has recently acquired 2 class 67s for use on test trains and with a 1Q48, which includes the North Warwickshire Line and Stratford-upon-Avon in its itinerary, being scheduled for 22 March 2016, I wondered if they might be allocated. I saw that overnight they had moved from Toton to Derby RTC which shortened the odds and I soon had a message from a friend confirming that 67023 + 67027 were indeed on the train. I think that this was their first run other than some tests so was keen for a shot or two and, with the good weather, was planning on a trip to Henley-in-Arden. After the booked stop near Tyseley 1Q48 joined the North Warwickshire Line some 8 minutes early so I headed off only to be faced with dark skies and rain along with horrendous traffic leaving an industrial estate on the outskirts of Stratford. This forced a quick change of plan, a different route and me bolting to a closer location, Edstone Aqueduct, near Bearley Junction. This was really the last place I wanted to go because I had photographed the first 67 working on the line there just a few weeks ago. Whatever, I made it with a few minutes to spare and just before the really heavy rain arrived. I don't much go for going-away shots because they look all wrong to my eyes but here is 67027 bringing up the rear. I waited in the small car park at Edstone to see into which platform 1Q48 was routed at Stratford and as it went into No. 3 for its 2 hour layover I went home. The later visit was at midnight and went unseen, by me, at least.
A charter from London Euston to Stratford-upon-Avon via Bedford and Coalville ran on Saturday 18 February 2017. I'm not overkeen on photographing most charters but this involved class 67s 67029 + 67022 and was routed over the North Warwickshire Line via Henley-in-Arden and was, as far as I know, the first working of the class over the line although several have reached Stratford from the Hatton direction. In the past I have usually headed for Henley station for charters but fancied a change so, bearing in mind that some of the stations on the line such as Danzey and Wootton Wawen are dull to say the least went for a shot as 1Z67 passed under Edstone aqueduct, near Bearley Junction. The light was abominable but I felt that it was well worth getting a record shot as the train, in top and tail mode slowed for the junction. The return to Euston via Hatton North Junction was scheduled for an after dark departure leaving Stratford at 17.36 and went unwitnessed by me at least.
Two special trains were run to Worcester Shrub Hill on Saturday 9 July 2015. The first was 1Z80, the 09.59 from London Victoria, which was formed of the VSOE stock top and tailed by DBS's 67015 and 67018; a class relatively unusual along the North Cotswold Line these days. The light during the morning was poor so with no prospect of any sun I went to the road bridge adjacent to Honeybourne station which gives a reasonably wide view from the north side so that the stock can be seen. The train ran close to right time during most of the journey but was a few minutes early when it appeared in the distance running alongside the Long Marston branch which, incidentally, looks ready for a visit by the weedkiller. As usual these days I didn't see a single posting about this train from anyone who photographed it further south nor were there any about the second train from Southend Victoria but as this was operated by WCRC I didn't bother to wait for it, the thought of their sludge-like locomotive colour scheme not exactly filling me with joy on such a dull day.
Empty stock workings before and after railtours are often as interesting, or more so, than the railtour itself. The train shown here passing Hatton is 5Z34, a 10.53 from Toton to Eastleigh, which ran on Monday 1 February 2016 following a charter on tbe previous Saturday. Two of the three class 67s used on the Royal Train and the 2 in the appropriate claret colour scheme were rostered for the job which made it well worth a shot as double-headed 67s are not all that commonplace, around here at least. The train left Toton 42 minutes late but picked up quite a lot of time en-route and passed me just 14 minutes behind schedule. I made it to the roadbridge at Hatton with only 2 minutes to spare having failed to find a parking spot at the station car park and so having to drive to an alternative. The weather wasn't brilliant but the unusual nature of 5Z34 made up for that and it was good to see that buffers on the 67006 had been cleaned; another unusual feature for a common or garden ECS move.
The rugby world cup began at Twickenham on Friday 18 September 2015 with games being played in Cardiff during the following day. In connection with this an ECS formed of 67029, Riviera stock and 67013 ran from Burton-on-Trent Wetmore Sidings to Old Oak Common via Hatton and Leamington Spa. The departure time was 10.56 but it was almost 2 hours after this that it finally moved. The motive power was class 67s in top-and-tail mode with 67029 leading and 67013, newly painted into my least favourite " Drains R Us" colour scheme bringing up the rear. Here is the same locomotive in a much more attractive coat of paint in the days when Chiltern Trains ran with the power on the London end of their trains.
Another sunny day on 12 August 2015 and with a test train from Derby to Derby via Oxford due along the North Cotswold Line my Morris Minor had another trip out. I hadn't actually planned to go out at all as I originally assumed that 1Q15 would be formed of the same set that I had photographed the previous day but on learning that 67003 was leading changed my mind. My first plan was the bridge just to the north of Evesham station but I thought that with a passing time of 11.10 the sun might be a little too straight so went to the tall bridge at Aldington, just to the other side of the town. The train, with 67016 bringing up the rear, had left Derby about 25 minutes early but was held to time in Elford loop to allow 1G12, the 08.41 Nottingham to Birmingham New Street and 1V48, the 06.45 Newcastle to Plymouth to pass. With a light load and 2 locomotives time was still made up and the train was 4 minutes early passing Evesham and was a further 2 minutes up on its schedule at Honeybourne. The cutting sides at Aldington were cleared completely in preparation for the line's redoubling some 6 years ago but the growth has been unchecked ever since.
The second Chiltern locomotive hauled service of the evening peak is 1K57 from London Marylebone to Kidderminster. On 23 April 2015 EWS liveried 67008 was in charge and was pictured at Hatton North Junction just before the sun dipped into some thin cloud which caused the light to lose its edge. I can't imagine that it will be long before class 67 is displaced for good from these trains and 68s become the only traction on them. It is possible that examples in DRS blue may appear occasionally as maintenance is required on the Chiltern locomotives; hopefully this will happen on a sunny day.
One of the passenger trains I was keen to photograph at Hatton North Junction on 14 April 2015 was the 16.47 from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill, 1R55. This was hauled by 67008 and gave the opportunity for a later than expected shot of an EWS liveried locomotive on a Chiltern Railways service after the date that class 68 was to have taken over all their hauled trains. The light was just about at its peak at 18.16 when 67008 became audible climbing the last few yards of Hatton Bank and I went for a shot from the footbridge rather than the field on this occasion.
One of the regular test trains over the North Cotswold Line ran on Wednesday 28 January 2015 and although nominally booked for the NMT HST it again produced topped-and-tailed class 67s. A posting from the outward run to Oxford suggested that DBS day-glo 67027 was leading so that the former WSMR and latterly Chiltern Railways 67012 would be on the front for the return to Derby. I have been after a sunny shot of this locomoive on a test train for a while so with a good weather forecast headed off to Lower Moor. Some cloud built up while the train was on its way through Moreton-in-Marsh but a clear patch of sky was visible to the west and this reached the sun in plenty of time to allow the hoped-for shot in decent winter light as 1Q15 passed the 4 photographers lined up alongside the road bridge.
I shouldn't have seen this Chiltern Railways train on 20 January 2105 as its passing time for Hatton is 11.36 but thanks to some late running it didn't come by me until 12.05. I was expecting 66755 on 6M26 from Eastleigh to Stud Farm in this path but on checking RTT found that it was long gone having run over 30 minutes early. The train pictured here is the 10.15 from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street, 1R22, with 67010 providing the traction. The second locomotive-hauled set forming 1G25 came by about 20 minutes later but I didn't bother with a virtually identical image.
Next along at Budbook on 16 January 2105 was 67010 (I think...) with the 11.15 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street train, 1R27. This was barely moving having just pulled away from the Warwick Parkway stop, the platform lights of which can just be made out at the back of the train. The choice of shots here has become rather limited because of the lineside bushes which means, unfortunately, that pictures taken with a longer lens in order to bring out the background architecture including the tower of St.Mary's church and the Round Tower of Warwick Castle are no longer feasible as half of the locomotive would be obscured.
After a bit of a dull start the weather perked up during the mid-morning of Tuesday 16 December 2014. I was doing some organ practice for various Christmas events when I became aware that the sun was shining so decided on a change of scenery and went, via home to pick up my camera, over to Hatton North Junction. I hadn't been there long when 67010 came north with 1G25, the 10.45 to Birmingham Moor Street from London Marylebone. I suppose that these trains will become popular subjects for photography over the coming months before class 68 take over the job.
The old order for Chiltern loco-hauled was next along at Hatton North on 15 December 2014 when 67008 came north with the slightly late running 10.45 London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill service, 1G25. I don't keep records of locomotives that I have seen and haven't for many years but I don't recall having photographed this one on a Chiltern train before. The light had picked up a little for this one but was still far from anything but poor and was soon to deteriorate back to its previous level.
There are many Network Rail test trains running around and on occasions the scheduled traction is not available. Such was the case on Thursday 6 November 2014 when the NR HST was running from Derby to Derby via Didcot when the train was operated in top and tail mode by 67030 + 67027. The skies were clear when I left home for Hatton but when I arrived some 15 minutes later a lot of cloud was building up in the area. I had to wait only about 5 minutes before 1Q23 appeared and is pictured passing the banner repeater signal just before Hatton station. I was pleased that 67030 was leading as 67027 has recently been painted into DBS's garish day-glo colour scheme. This locomotive has been seen in this area on many occasions hauling charters such as this one from 2010 and again a year earlier when it was the first of its class to reach Stratford-upon-Avon.
The 14th annual Global Gathering festival at Long Marston airfield took place place over the weekend of 25-27 July 2014 and Chiltern Trains provided several additional and strengthened services from Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon which included a 1Z18 09.18 departure from the London terminus. This utilised the locomotive and coaching stock from 1H21, the 07.44 Banbury to Marylebone which would otherwise be stabled at Wembley for most of the day. The locomotive on the blue & grey coaches was 67023, the same one used last year which went into platform 3, and my 2014 photograph was taken as the train arrived into platform 2 at Stratford about 2 minutes early. This wasn't the shot I had had in mind but a London Midland class 173/3 was in platform 1 waiting to depart for Stourbridge Junction a few minutes later so I had to stand a bit further along the platform than I should have liked. The return from Stratford was timed for 15.12 but with the DVT leading and the sun in completely the wrong place for photography I made do with this view, although I did take an image showing the revamped station forecourt area and another from the adjacent road bridge which wasn't completely satisfactory thanks to heavy shadows from the station vegetation.
This was my second visit to Hatton North Junction within a week and on both occasions I saw 67020 hauling a Chiltern Trains express service. On 14 July 2014 it was in charge of 1R37, the 13.15 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street train which arrived in the best light of my short session. It won't be long before the class 67s on these trains once again become popular with photographers before they are replaced with Chiltern's class 68s, due to start working crew training runs in the Autumn of 2014.
Engineering work on the West Coast Main Line resulted in some extra locomotive hauled trains along the GWR Leamington Spa to Birmingham line along with a single diverted freight working. After parking in the village of Shrewley, near Hatton, I walked across the high road bridge and while debating with myself whether to photograph the freight here or walk to another bridge heard 67012 climbing Hatton Bank with 1R27, the 11.06 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street. There is a lot of undergrowth here but the sun was high enough for most of the line to be free of shadows so I took this elevated view showing Hatton North Junction and its footbridge in the distance.
Shortly after photographing 67012 from the road bridge at Shrewley a southbound Chiltern train with blue DVT 82302 leading the silver Banbury Mk 3 set of coaching stock came south through the cutting. I hadn't expected the line to be shadow free in early May so took this image even though the background is rather anonymous. Power for the train, 1H50, the 12.12 Birmingham Snow Hill to Marylebone, was provided by EWS liveried 67023 seen in this slightly unconventional view incorporating part of the stone road bridge.
Another out and back test train ran from Derby to Didcot on 9 April 2014. Whilst booked for one for the NMT HSTs it actually ran in the hands of top and tail class 67s, 67003 + 67016. I didn't know which round the locomotives were on the up run but went to Hatton North anyway with a view to getting shot of the blue painted 67003. The line north of Leamington Spa once had many good locations for northbound photography but nowadays vegetation, either planted or out of control, has taken over to the extent that this is just about the only option. The train ran early as far as Oxford and Banbury but was held to right time at the latter and had lost a few minutes by the time it reached Hatton. Naturally enough, 67016 was leading on this leg with the marginally more interesting 67003 pushing at the back.
I suppose that in the West Midlands we are quite lucky in having regular locomotive-hauled passenger trains at which to point a camera. These are, of course, the Chiltern Railways high speed services between London Marylebone and Birmingham Snow Hill, the one pictured here being the 13.15 from Lonndon with EWS liveried 67017 providing the power. I have seen reports that brand new class 68s are to be used on these trains from early 2015 but with no sign of any deliveries in the pipeline wonder if 67s will hang on for longer.
DCR ran a train from Totton yard to Chaddesden sidings near Derby on Friday 7 March 2014. I had assumed that this would be just 31190 and the Railvac and had planned to go to a tight location suitable for a very short consist but found out during the morning that it was to be proper length train. This meant that another trip, the second of the week, to Hatton North Junction was in order. First along was 67014 with the 13.15 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street train, 1R37, the whole lot looking smart in the warm sunshine.
A test train running from Derby to Derby via Solihull, Oxford and Didcot ran on 4 March 2014 and although scheduled for an NMT HST it was formed of 67020, 4 vehicles and tailed by 67015. I have been after a decent shot of a Chiltern Railways class 67 on a test train and hoped that 67015 would be leading for this leg of the journey. The sky at Hatton was mostly clear but the warm sun had caused quite a few bits of light cloud to bubble up and it was touch and go as to whether some of these would appear at just the wrong time. I saw on RTT that 1Q18 had passed Dorridge and fortunately a completely cloud-free shot looked to be on the cards. I was slightly disappointed that the EWS liveried 67 was leading the train as it rounded the curve from Hatton North Junction but was still more than happy with the shot. The pantograph testing coach won't see much use on this trip but added a little interest to the picture.
The return of this morning's test train was due at Hatton North Junction at 14.18 and it was 2 minutes after this time that 67015 appeared coming slowly around the bend from the station after stopping in the Stratford branch platform where some crew swapping would have taken place. The sun didn't co-operate as it had in the morning but the weather was reasonably bright and this shot will do until another chance comes along. I gather that most of the NMT vehicles are currently out of service so with luck it won't be too long before a repeat comes along.
Test trains, recording various measurements of the North Cotswold Line, run quite frequently and on 26 February 2104 the NMT HST substitute ran with 67020 and 67015 topping and tailing 4 Network Rail coaches. The timings of the southbound run were convenient for me and I went over to Fladbury, between Pershore and Evesham, on one of the remaining single track sections of the line. Just as I arrived COLAS Rail's 47727 passed by light engine towards Evesham and Long Marston, running in what appears to be COLAS Standard Time, about 90 minutes late! A few minutes later 67020 appeared under the roadbridge in the distance with 1Q20 Derby to Derby via Worcester Shrub Hill and Oxford. Although 67020 looks good in its rather faded EWS livery I should have preferred 67015 to have been leading at this point as I have yet to take a decent image of a Chiltern Railways' 67 on one of these trains. I thought that the return would give the opportunity but this leg was re-routed via Banbury and Leamington Spa because of a fatality at Ascoot-under-Wychwood and I was having my lunch at about the time it was passing Leamington...
Even though WSMR and more recently Chiltern Railways locomotive-hauled trains have been running through Hatton North Junction for some years I still manage to forgot about them until the distinctive sound of a class 67 climbing Hatton Bank under full power becomes audible. On this occasion, Tuesday 14 January 2014, with the wind bringing the sound towards me, I had plenty of notice that 67010 was on the way with 1R37 from Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street. The light was rapidly fading after a sunny spell but I felt that a shot was worthwhile if for no other reason than to have something to do on the chilly footbridge.
When out with my camera I usually keep an eye on the invaluable RealTime Trains site to see where any freights are in relation to my location. Because I rarely look for passenger workings the arrival of a locomotive-hauled Chiltern service often catches me unawares as was the case when I heard 67025 approaching Hatton North Junction on 12 December 2013 with 1R22, the 10.15 from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill. There was, however, plenty of time to prepare for a shot as the EWS liveried locomotive brought its train around the curve from Hatton station although given the conditions I'm not quite sure whey I bothered!
I had thought that the locomotive hauled test train from Old Oak Common to Derby which ran on 17 October 2013 was to be the last photographable for a while because of the autumnal time change but on Thursday 31 October there was still quite a lot of ambient light around at 16.00 with a clearing sky so after checking with RTT that 1Q21 was on time went over to Hatton station to try for an image as 67028 led the train tailed by 67026 onto the Stratford-upon-Avon branch where, from platform 1, it would be framed by signals as it crawled to a stop. I soon heard the sound of a class 67 approaching the junction from the main line and was pleased that the whole train just fitted into the gap between the signals although the green aspect for the up main line was shining straight into my camera's lens and caused some burned out highlights. I like the challenges of both taking and processing minimum light photographs; full sun "on the nose" images are fine but don't really need any thought or more than basic Photoshop skills. On a previous visit to Hatton for this working I saw a waiting passenger lying under the footbridge. It wasn't a one-off; here he is once more... Although booked to stand in the branch platform for several minutes, on occasion 1Q21 had barely drawn to a stop when the signal protecting the down main and Stratford lines was cleared leaving no opportunity for another shot from the roadbridge.
The Old Common to Derby test train with topped and tailed class 67s ran once more on Thursday 17 October 2013, a day earlier than on previous occasions. The locomotives were the regular 67026 and the new (for this working) 67028. I didn't know which was leading but in the hope it was 67028 I went for a shot with the thought in mind that it would probably be the final chance north of Banbury because of the clocks going back an hour on 27 October. The sky was relatively cloudy when I left home but at Hatton North Junction there were some clear patches as the time came for 1Q21, runnng to time, to be released from the Stratford branch platform at Hatton station. The train took a while to make its way around the bend which, for once, was favourable as the sun dropped out of a slow-moving belt of cloud. I was a bit peeved that 67026 was once again leading as I should have liked a sunny shot of an EWS liveried example on this train but the silver paint job with the Union Flag graphic shows up well against the background.
The currently fortnightly test train from Old Oak Common to Derby running on Friday afternoons was scheduled for the afternoon of 27 September 2013. Once again it was booked for top and tailed class 67s and for a change, one of the locomotives was Chiltern Railways' 67015. This is unusual to say the least and I was keen to capture an image of this. Needless to say, the far more frequently used 67016 was leading when 1Q21 passed Bentley Heath crossing and although I am not much of a one for going-away shots I felt obliged to take this one as the train receded towards Birmingham. There are probably only 2 more workings of this train that will be photographable north of Leamington Spa at this time, 16.45, as it will soon be dark by then!
Over the past month or so a test train has run on Thursday evenings from Derby to Old Oak Common and returned north on the following afternoon. Although booked for an HST NMT it has thus far been worked by 67026 and 67016 and is scheduled to stop at Hatton station for a few minutes. Unusually, instead of sitting in Hatton Down Goods Loop the train runs main line as far as the South Junction where it is routed into the Stratford-upon-Avon branch platform. Although some freights use this line to exit from the loop it is still relatively unusual for something to be booked to stop in the platform. As I arrived in the station car park the rain set in and I had quite forgotten that the Theale to Lindsey tanks, 6E55, probably wasn't far away. I had a quick look at RTT and saw that it had passed Warwick so hopped onto the station bridge for a shot as it ran through platform 2. The test train was only a few minutes behind and as the rain became torrential it appeared snaking over the crossover with, thankfully in this light, 67026 leading.
With 67026 + 67016 having several minutes standing time in platform 3 at Hatton there was time for a walk onto the adjacent road bridge for another shot or two, this one as 168217 headed north on the main line passing yet another lamp post not planted vertically!. I wanted some cloud for the shots here as there would have been impossibly heavy shadows over the Stratford branch line had the sun been out but the weather by now was becoming extremely unpleasant. I didn't stay much longer, pausing only for this picture as a bit of crew shuffling took place.
When I was waiting on the footbridge for 1Q21 to appear a couple of passengers went past me and one of them gave me a look as if to say "Mad git, standing out there in this weather." True enough I suppose, but then I saw the same chap resting out full length on the ground just about keeping dry in the shadow of the footbridge when there was a perfectly usuable shelter a few feet away. I prefer my style of madness...
For the second time in a fortnight 67016 and 67026 topped and tailed a Network Meaurement Train from Derby to Old Oak Common and return. In contrast to the previous run 67016 was leading which was my incentive to go out for a shot on what turned out to be a duller afternoon than expected, there being little point in repeating a picture in worse conditions than the first. The train, 1Q21, ran close to time throughout and is here pictured passing Hatton North Junction after a few minutes pause in the Stratford-upon-Avon branch platform at Hatton station. If this run happens again with locomotives a shot of the train standing there would be worthwhile given the small number of such workings to use that particular track. A little while earlier, numerically consecutive 67017 had gone south propelling Chiltern's 1H65 15.55 from Birmingham Moor Street to Marylebone
There is a regular diagram over the GWR line from Birmingham to Leamington Spa for the Network Measurement Train which is usually formed of an HST set. On Thursday 15 August 2013 the southbound working had substitute power in the form of 67016 topping and tailing with 67026 and I resolved to go out for the Friday afternoon train returning to Derby RTC if the weather was half decent. As it turned out it was more than half decent so my hopes were high for a well-lit image of 67026 leading the yellow set through Hatton North Junction. It ran close to time throughout the run from Old Oak Common via Paddington station and Oxford and passed Hatton in some very pleasant sunshine. This locomotive was a regular on the line when WSMR first ran its passenger trains from Marylebone and here is a picture from 5 May 2008 taken from a broadly similar spot before the undergrowth took over. Today's shot from the top of the bank adjacent to the footbridge was only just possible because of the elder bushes growing put of control closed to the tracks. I've been quite lucky with 67026, the last I saw it being on July 12 2012 when it unexpectedly turned up with the Royal Train with HM The Queen on board when it ran to Stratford-upon-Avon to reverse before going on to Birmingham Snow Hill.
The annual Global Gathering music festival took place at Long Marston airfield over the weekend of 26-28 July 2013. Chiltern Railways ran several additional services from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon and the most interesting of these was 1Z18, the 09.18 from London formed of 67023 hauling the blue & grey slam door stock. The scheduled arrival time at Stratford was 10.55 and the train should have run into platform 2 but the preceding train formed of a Chiltern class 165 had gone into there some fifteen minutes earlier and wasn't due to leave as ECS until 11.00. There was little chance of 1Z18 going into platform 1 as this would be needed by the Stourbridge Junction trains so the only option was P3. This was initially a bit disappointing but I changed my mind when I thought about it; I didn't have a picture of a locomotive-hauled train going into this one. I did take a picture of 37418 standing there but this was way back in March 1994. All in all I was quite happy with this image of 67023 with it's full load of some 600 passengers arriving at Stratford; more so than the one taken of the return, 1Z62, when it passed Stratford Parkway with DVT 82305 leading in an unwelcome period of bright sunshine. The exhaust smoke of 67023 can just be made out under the Bishopton Road bridge.
Since the May 2013 timetable change Chiltern Railways have run more locomotive hauled services from London Marylebone. This picture shows 67015 climbing Hatton Bank with 1K56, the 18.47 from Marylebone to Kidderminster, at 20.15 on the evening of 17 June 2013. This location used to be a favourite for some summer months' photography and I spent quite some time here in the 1980s when the view was clearer and there was a lot more traffic. This shot of 33044 hauling the Gillingham to Preston vans was taken on 4 August 1987 before the heavy undergrowth largely spoiled the view southwards.
A locomotive hauled pasenger was next along at Hatton North on 29 May 2013. Since the start of the new timetable a couple of weeks ago Chiltern Railways have been running some additional hauled services which has necessitated the hiring in of two more class 67s. This is one of them, 67017, in charge of 1R30, the 12.15 from Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street. The weather was becoming quite unpleasant by now with heavy rain falling but I hung on long enough to record this EWS liveried locomotive on the seven coach + DVT Chiltern set.
I had been on the three arch bridge at Hatton for only a few moments on the morning of Thursday 16 May 2013 when I heard a locomotive hauled train coming up the gradient from Warwick. I just had time for a grabbed shot as 67010 headed 1R16, the 08.45 London Marylebone to Birmingham Street. This isn't a location that I would choose for a morning shot; and indeed, given the bland fore and backgrounds, not one I would bother with at all but as I was there for a southbound train...
A special locomotive-hauled train ran from Wrexham to Wembley in connection with some sort of sporting fixture on Sunday 24 March 2013. The class 67 locomotives and stock came from Arriva Trains Wales and thus presented an opportunity to record a different colour scheme in the Hatton area. I had never seen the ATW blue livery as I can't be bothered to make a trip across to their usual stamping grounds just for a coat of paint! Unfortunately, the snowy weather of the last couple of days made this trip almost as much of a waste of time, after a fairly hairy drive on the local lanes, when 67001 led a DVT, the coaching stock and a well hidden 67002 a minute or two early past Hatton Station Junction. Not only was some powdery snow falling but the train itself swept up enough standing snow to virtually hide itself.
Chiltern Trains ran an intensive service, including hourly locomotive-hauled trains, between Birmingham Moor Street and London Marylebone on Sunday 23 December 2012 to cater both for expected passenger normal associated with the time of year and because Virgin Trains' Euston services were disrupted and diverted through engineering work. The highlight was the use of hired-in 67029 on one Chiltern diagram and here is the flagship of the DBS fleet passing Hatton North Junction about fifteen minutes late with 1R24, the 10.33 from Marylebone. Had the train been on time it would have arrived in a patch of lovely winter sunlight but that was too much to ask! Still, after the weather on the previous day at least it was dry and reasonably bright.
The next Chiltern locomotive hauled, or rather propelled, service I saw at Hatton North Junction on Sunday 23 December 2012 was the delayed 1H38 12.13 Birmingham Moor Street to Marylebone. This is seen passing the junction with the Stratford-upon-Avon branch being pushed by 67014 and driven from DVT 82301. It is probably just as well that the sun didn't appear for this shot as the lineside trees would have cast heavy shadows across most of the track. This isn't my favourite southbound shot on the line but is OK now and again when it's impracticable to move between trains.
Friday 7 September 2012 was a beautifully sunny and warm day with unbroken blue skies. It would have been rude not to have taken advantage of the perfect afternoon light so I went to Hatton North Junction, arriving just in time to see 67012 hauling 1R34, the 13.37 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street Chiltern Railways service. The position of the locomotive on these trains seems to be a bit random at the moment and one can never be quite sure whether the class 67 or the DVT will be leading. The sun isn't really round onto the front of the train here at 3pm, not that it much matters, but the sloping front of the locomotive does help to lighten it a little if the sun is high enough.
This train is 1F94, Chiltern Trains' 18.07 London Marylebone to Kidderminster, pictured with 67014 leading as it rounds the curve from Hatton station to Hatton North Junction. This was running a few minutes late which, along with some sensible regulation from signallers, had allowed 56302 on a heavy train of slag bound for Rotherham to have a clear run at Hatton Bank. In recent weeks some of the Chiltern sets have been running in both the up and down directions with the locomotive leading because of some problem or other with the operation of the coach doors when the DVT is leading. This has meant that the sets have had to be turned using the Greenford Loop at the London end and on the Hatton Triangle after visiting Birmingham.
Until recently the Chiltern Railways locomotive hauled trains all have had the class 67 on the south, or town end but I remembered reading somewhere that one set had been reversed for some reason. I don't follow things like this closely so was quite pleased when 67013 appeared on the north end of 1R34, the 13.37 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street on 27 July 2012. I've nothing against photographing a train led by a DVT but it has been a while since I took a shot here at Hatton North Junction the other way round. The light was quite good by the time the train appeared, about ten minutes late, following a late-running CrossCountry Voyager going to Manchester but clouds were quickly building up behind me so it looked as if further sunny pictures were going to require some luck.
Following the visit of HM The Queen to Worcester and Hereford on 11 July 2012, the next day saw her visit Victoria Square in Birmingham. After an overnight stop the Royal Train ran to Stratford-upon-Avon for a reversal so that the Royal Saloon was in the correct place for the Queen to alight on the platform. The inward working through Wilmcote with the train led by 67006 was never going to provide more than a poor record shot given the angle of the sun at 08.30 in the morning. The return, some twenty five minutes later, was a different matter with 67026 heading the ensemble slowly through the station before heading to Birmingham with the Royal Saloon now in the right place.
The early morning train of loaded blue car carriers conveying Jaguars from the West Midlands to Southampton Eastern Docks again ran with 67011 in charge on 22 March 2012. The weather on the previous day was close to perfect and although on Thursday it was a little hazy thanks to a period of settled high pressure the sun at home was good enough for another trip to Hatton to record the unusual locomotive on the return working. I went to a location in Hatton cutting which is usuable only before the foliage has appeared on the trees and hedges and stood for a few minutes in bright sunshine. Unfortunately, a similar line of cloud which had caused me some angst the day before made itself known; this is a feature of the evening here and is probably caused by the topography of the area. The train was running a few minutes early and came into view just before the sun dropped out of the cloud. The mixed bag of cattle add nicely to the scene and I wandered down for a closer view of the friendly Highland bull who is well used to visitors to his fields.
My main reason for being at Hatton North Junction on 21 March 2012 was to take a shot of 67011 on 4M52, the 13.35 Southampton Eastern Docks to Castle Bromwich empty car carriers. Class 67 is not common on freight traffic in this part of the world and I don't recall recall photographing one on anything other than WSMR, Chiltern or charter workings along here for quite some time. I hadn't photographed 4M52 for several years because I usually clear off after 6E55 has gone north as there is just about an hour to wait for the car carriers. I did though picture the corresponding up working, 4O20 from Bescot, with its more usual motive power, from the footbridge at Hatton North Junction early one morning in 2011. The sun on 21 March 2012 had been completely clear of cloud throughout the ninety minutes or so that I had been here but was within probably five minutes of being obscured when 67011 came around the curve from Hatton station with its load of blue wagons.
A derailment on Friday 3 February 2012 involving a class 90 electric locomotive at Bletchley, on the West Coast Main Line, had one or two interesting repercussions. The most significant of these was the running of a set of Caledonian Sleeper coaches from Crewe to Wembley via Nuneaton, Coventry, Leamington Spa and High Wycombe. I had never before photographed such stock in the area so headed off to the nearest location where the sun would be favourable at around 13.00; Leamington Spa station. I like an identifiable location for something really unusual rather than just an open spot which doesn't always give much of a clue to its whereabouts. The train, 5M11, was hauled by 67017 and was about six minutes early at this point and certainly made an unusual sight with the First Group sleeper livery on the coaches. I didn't count how many there were but it seemed to go on for ages as the train accelerated off the Coventry branch on the up main line. Bertram Wooster - Phillips, to whom I am indebted, later told me that there were sixteen coaches thus making it one of the longest rakes of passenger stock seen on this line.
Now that Chiltern Railways operate some locomotive hauled trains from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone, there is usually something other than a class 66 to photograph at Hatton on a sunny weekday. The 10.55 from Moor Street with 67013 on the point is here seen about to pass Hatton station on 16 January 2012 in a small patch of line just about clear of shadows from the lineside trees on the curve round to the Stratford-upon-Avon branch. I like trees as a rule but I do wish that the small group casting these shadows were restricting the view of signals for a Stratford-bound train!
Thursday 28 September 2011 was another perfect late September day so with a couple of hours to spare during the afternoon I had a trip to Hatton North Junction with the intention of taking a few photographs of whatever came along. With trains likely from both directions I stayed on the footbridge and just a few minutes after I arrived 1R34, the 13.37 London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street, came around the curve from Hatton station. I know that it's unfashionable to take pictures of a DVT leading the train but 1) I don't much like going-away shots and 2) I rest comfortably in the knowledge that there are far fewer shots of DVTs than class 67s. DVT 82303 is leading the rebranded Chiltern coaches with 67012 providing the power from the rear of the formation.
The weather forecast for the last week of September 2011 promised a real Indian summer and on Tuesday 27th was spot on. It seemed silly not to go out for a few photographs so I went to a footbridge near Shrewley in Warwickshire, arriving just in time to have a shot of 67015 with 1H32, the 10.55 Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone train. The autumnal colours were just beginning to show and although the sun here is perhaps a tad too straight at around 11.15 the picture seemed to be fine. The light had quite a golden quality which was, I think, down to a very thin layer of wispy cloud very high in the atmosphere and the resulting slight diffusion of the sunlight.
The arrangements at Honeybourne for traffic heading to Long Marston were dramatically changed during the work to double the North Cotswold Line. A new Honeybourne West Junction has been constructed along with a new line running around the back of the reinstated island platform. The first train other than ballast workings to use the line was a 6Z36 from Didcot to Long Marston which ran on Friday 2 September 2011. Adding to the novelty was the fact that 67016 was the locomotive allocated to the train, the first of its type to set wheels on the Long Marston branch. There was no way that I was going to miss this double first and decided not to bother with the day's other working of interest, a pair or DRS 37s on the Cruise Saver passenger train from Glasgow to Southampton which was running on the Leamington Spa line. The Didcot to Long Marston train set out close to two hours late due to a problem with 67016 but all was well in the end and it arrived at Honeybourne at about 12.10 and is here seen working quite hard onto the branch with its very long train of a single tank wagon and ferrywagons which had run from Dollands Moor to Wembley and then Didcot earlier in the week. A lot of work was still in progress in the station area which accounts for the rather messy background. The line and partly completed platform in the foreground may one day form the terminus for trains arriving on the preserved line from Cheltenham and Toddington
Once 67016 with 6Z36 had joined the Long Marston branch the small gallery headed for the other end of the line and were in plenty of time to witness the train arriving. The light at 12.30 is dreadful for a shot of a train arriving here and if 67016 hadn't been the first of its class to run over the line I wouldn't have bothered with a photograph. The view towards the yard is better although the sun is really a little too straight at this time of day but once again the novelty value made a picture wothwhile as the train waited for a few minutes at the gate for the ground crew to arrive and let them in. Once in the yard 6Z36 more than filled the straight section of the line and 67016 disappeared around the curve in the background. The shunter was attached to the back of the consist and pulled the whole lot forward so that the main line locomotive was able to be uncoupled before the wagons were pushed back in order for the points to be clear for the 67 to rejoin the branch to Honeybourne. There was no return traffic and within a short time 67016, now running as 0A36, was on its way back to Didcot.
It was reported that on Monday 1 August 2011 Chiltern Railways would run one of their Moor Street to Marylebone services with a set of stock rebranded with "Chiltern Mainline" decals. The train, headed by 67014, went up to London first thing in the morning so I waited for the return, 1R34, before having a look. This train is booked to pass Hatton at 14.55 but there must have a been a problem somewhere because it was some forty-five minutes after that when it appeared. At 15.15 there was clue that it still some way away or even cancelled when 66601 with 6M22, the Westbury to Stud Farm empty ballast boxes, came slowly around the bend after having been recessed in Hatton's down goods loop so I checked the online live arrivals at Birmingham Moor Street to find that the expected arrival time was 15.57; two minutes after it was due to return to the capital. Anyway, it did turn up about as predicted with 67014 providing the power from the back with Driving Van Trailer 82305 leading. The changes to the stock are subtle, to say the least, but I suppose that nothing too dramatic should have been expected as the vinyls were put in place when the stock was stabled in Stourbridge Yard over the weekend. I understand that neither the locomotives used by Chiltern nor the DVTs are to be rebranded.
Chiltern Railways ran their first ever locomotive hauled train for paying passengers from Stratford-upon-Avon to London Marylebone on Sunday 31 July 2011. The weekend had seen the annual Global Gathering festival at Long Marston airfield and the train, 1Z23, was booked to leave Stratford at 08.10 to cater for the first tranche of festival goers returning south. The stock used was that normally seen on the Banbury trains with 67013 on the town end and blue DVT 82302 on the country end. The whole lot ran ECS from Wembley during the previous evening and stabled in platform 3, the least photogenic at the station. As I arrived to see if a photograph was possible the whole area was cordoned off by a number of BTP officers and security staff who were more than happy to move a couple of barriers so that I could use the car park and then access the platforms, albeit with a request to be quick as I could so that they were able to start allowing the passengers, waiting in line in a barriered section of the car park to board the train in time for departure. After a couple of quick shots I headed off to Wilmcote because I wanted a photograph of this first Chiltern move in somewhere completely recognisable. The sun was only just high enough at that time of day but I would much rather have this dappled view than something elsewhere that was more anonymous.
Chiltern Railways occasionally need to hire a DBS class 67 to cover a temporarily unavailable locomotive from their own fleet. The favourite replacement seems to be 67018 and this has been running around throughout the early summer of 2011 mostly on the diagram that takes it no further north than Banbury. On 14 July it was scheduled to work 1H33, the 1055 Birmingham Moor Street to Marylebone and as it was a sunny morning I went to Hatton to hopefully obtain, at long last, a well lit photograph of the brightly coloured locomotive. There was a certain amount of thin cloud floating around which caused a certain amount of angst amongst those waiting for the train but it did manage to arrive in a good clear patch, running maybe some seven or eight minutes late.
Charter trains originating from Stratford-upon-Avon are quite unusual these days so when I saw one advertised to run on 30 June 2011 I made a mental note to go out for a shot if the weather was even reasonable. The train was a 1Z90 05.53 to Edinburgh and during the previous evening everything on the weather front looked promising. I got up at 05.00 and saw a clear sky so drove to Wilmcote and then walked for about fifteen minutes along the canal towing path towards Bearley Junction. There are three foot crossings along this stretch of line and I knew that the middle one of these would be just the ticket a couple of minutes before 06.00 on a sunny morning at this time of the year; possibly the only location on the line to be clear of shadows. There was no chance of having the shot obscured by another train as 1Z90 was scheduled to cross to the single track "Up and Down Bearley" line at Bearley Junction thus temporarily blocking the North Warwickshire Line to and from Birmingham. The locomotive was 67001 with a set of twelve coaches and spot on time I heard it climbing Wilmcote bank before it came into view around the curve from Wilmcote station. I had considered travelling on this charter but 1) I don't really like travelling by train all that much and 2) five hours each way on the same day is a bit too much. Edinburgh needs more than a day trip to appreciate its wonderful character in my opinion. Happily though, the train was well loaded and with further stops arranged would, I imagine, have been close to full.
The annual Glastonbury Festival saw a train running from Preston to Frome to cater for those unable or unwilling to go there by road. The locomotive involved was 67001 hauling seven blue and grey coaches, the ensemble being routed via Birmingham New Street, St Andrew's Junction, Tyseley and Leamington Spa before heading south towards Didcot and beyond. The sky looked to be clearing a bit at 13.45 after a largely cloudy morning and with 1Z25 being due at Hatton at 14.30 I decided it might just be worth the short trip for a photograph. There was a brief shower of rain a few minutes before the train was due but this cleared away just in time and some weak sun managed to poke through the thick clouds as 67001 appeared on the curve from Hatton North Junction. A few moments later 165021 arrived in the Stratford branch platform from Leamington Spa and is here seen about to leave for the terminus.
The 10.55 Chiltern Railways train from Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone, 1H33, just about managed to find a small clear patch in the increasing cloud cover as it approached Hatton station on 25 May 2011. The locomotives on these Chiltern services all are currently on the London end of their trains but I dare say that one or two will be switched around at some point if a diversion takes place, maybe while the sets are running to and from Wembley depot. I wonder how long it will be before some Chiltern Railways branding appears on these sets to advertise their new operator?
As I mentioned last week, Chiltern Railways now operate locomotive-hauled services between Birmingham and London. The most convenient of the southbound trains, at least for me to photograph, is 1H33, the 10.55 from Moor Street. This is due to pass Hatton around 15 minutes later assuming that a clear run is managed through Small Heath and Tyseley. On the second day of operations, 1H33 was in the hands of 67013 and the unbranded ensemble is here seen exiting the cutting by the footbridge leading to Hatton Locks. The reflections in the carriage windows spoil the shot for me as they give the whole scene an untidy appearance; freight seems to work better in this location... This service train was followed three minutes later by a training run led by 67014, three coaches and a DVT. Unfortunately, I was quick off the mark to get home to the coffee pot and was already away the bridge by the time it appeared.
Chiltern Railways is to operate more trains with class 67 locomotives and stock from the week commencing 29 May 2011. In connection with this there have been a couple of what I took to be timing runs from Wembley depot or London Marylebone to Hatton and return. On 18 May, 67013, DVT 82301 and a five coach silver rake of stock worked 5Z67, booked to arrive at Hatton at just after 13.32, just after the class 165 on the Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa shuttle had left the station. The relatively rare sight of locomotive-hauled stock away from the main line at Hatton is here seen crawling up to the signal at the country end of the Stratford branch platform after coming north along the down goods loop.
The train shown in the picture above was due to leave Hatton station for Marylebone at 13.58, this time running as 5H45. This photograph shows it running on the up line down Hatton Bank just after regaining the main line and putting up, for a class 67, quite a decent exhaust. This is probably my least favourite location around Hatton but is the closest to the station where the train reversed so I went there in case of early running. As it happened, the train was spot on time so with hindsight I would have had time to have gone elsewhere.
Crew training and familiarisation runs with former WSMR stock and locomotives continue before next week's start of regular locomotive hauled trains between Birmingham and London from Chiltern Railways. On 16 May 2010 DVT 82301 and its coaches were being propelled up Hatton Bank by 67014, all wearing the livery of their previous operator, just fitting into what is just about the only remaining gap in the undergrowth large enough in which to fit a train.
Good Friday, 22 April 2011, was marked on the GWR Birmingham to Leamington Spa with the running of several additional trains. I had intended to go to a footbridge near Dorridge station but inertia took over on the drive along the A3400 and I turned right and ended up at Hatton. First along was 67012 hauling a 5R04 Stourbridge Junction to Banbury train here seen sweeping around the curve adjacent to Hatton station. It is noticeable that the locomotive has had the WSMR branding removed, although the coaches have still to be so treated.
The return working from Banbury of 5R04 as seen earlier on 22 April 2011 was allocated the headcode 5J04 and departed at 15.41. The train is here seen approaching Hatton North Junction with DVT 82303 leading five coaches and propelled by 67012 under a largely clear sky and some of the highest April temperatures I can remember.
Since WSMR ceased trading there have been several scenarios bandied around about what will happen to the stock under the care of Chiltern Railways. I suspect that no-one outside the company knows for sure but they are certainly using one set for crew training. Here is 67013 passing Hatton with 5Z50, the 09.43 Birmingham Moor Street to Bicester North on 8 March 2011 in light just about as good as it gets. By a small coincidence, I photographed the last daylight (just!) working also with 67013 in the same location on 28 January 2011. What a difference a few weeks makes... Whatever, it is good that this valuable asset is almost certain to see further regular use, maybe in a new livery, over the coming months.
Since the demise of the Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway Company, the vehicles previously used by them haven't been entirely idle with quite regular appearances having been made between London and Birmingham. On 7 March 2011, 67013 unexpectedly, to me anyway, propelled a five coach set and DVT north through Bentley Heath at about 11.45 although I didn't take a shot because of the very harsh backlighting and also because I had an insufficiently wide angle lens on my camera at that time. Not to worry though, just under an hour later the train returned south, running as 5Z52 Birmingham Snow Hill to Bicester North.
On Sunday 27 February 2011, a Birmingham football team was playing a match in London and extra trains were arranged by Chiltern Railways to cater for the expected demand. Unusually, eight coach class 168 units formed the specials and a couple of the timetabled services were operated by locomotive hauled coaching stock. The first of these was 1H35, the 11.13 Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone, was was formed of 67001, six Mk3 coaches and Chiltern DVT 82302. The weather was absolutely dreadful, misty and wet with a cold wind blowing heavy rain into my lens as I stood on the roadbridge at Hatton as 67001 passed by in the region of seven minutes late; indeed, the conditions were so bad that I wish I had stayed at home in the warm.
Wednesday 26 January 2011 was notable because it was the day that WSMR announced that it was to cease running trains two days later. The speed of the action seems unusual, almost as if its mother company, DB which also has an interest in Chiltern Railways, has a currently hidden agenda which sees other uses for the valuable locomotives and stock in the near future. The final up train, 1P23, ran with five coaches, presumably to cater for the expected enthusiast demand, led by 67013, and as I took my first photograph of one of the company's trains at Hatton it seemed appropriate to attempt a shot of the final one in the same place. It's a shame that the low sun sank into some cloud just before the train became audible, but maybe a slightly gloomy shot is a fitting finalé for these innovative and well-liked trains. I haven't taken all that many shots of WSMR trains but those I have can be found here.
The WSMR company is cutting some services from early December 2010 and one of the losers is 1J82, the 11.20 London Marylebone to Wrexham train. Unfortunately, this is the only northbound of the company's offerings to run on the GWR Leamington Spa to Birmingham, all others going via the much less photogenic route via Coventry. On 23 November 2010 I was at Hatton to photograph a southbound freight when 1J82 appeared running through the station and although I really don't like and rarely take these going-away shots just because the locomotive is on the back of the train, I did take this one because 1) 67018 is always worth a frame and 2) this may well be the last chance that I have to photograph this train in decent light.
For several weeks I have had it in mind to go out on a sunny Saturday morning to photograph a couple of northbound freights on the Cheltenham to Birmingham line. The morning of 16 October 2010 was clear and bright so I made up my mind to go over to Badgeworth where, as the line runs East to West for a short distance, the sun would be in the right place at the right time. On the way over, I decided to stop off at Northway, near Ashchurch, for a few minutes to take a shot of 67026 on a 1Z29 Whitchurch to Kingswear charter. I didn't have to wait for long in the very cold wind before the train appeared in the distance and approached the footbridge formed of an almost complete rake of Virgin Railway Mk 2 stock. The sun was just high enough to allow the shadows to clear the main line at the time that the train was booked here, 08.54.
I noticed on an early morning locomotive allocation list on Monday 4 October 2010 that 67018 was on the way from Wrexham to London Marylebone. I thought that the return train was 1J82, the 11.20 from the capital, one which which runs via Hatton rather than the branch to Coventry. I further knew that the locomotive had recently been on the north end of the formation although didn't know if this had changed through weekend diversions and the possibility of a few reversals. With the weather looking good I made the trip over to Hatton Bank to find 1) that there was a lot of cloud floating around and 2) the wet summer had meant an awful lot of growth from lineside vegetation. Just a couple of minutes before the train was due the sun went behind a thick cloud but it managed to poke through the edge just as I heard 67018 climbing the bank from Warwick. All in all, because of the undergrowth hiding the DVT this isn't really the shot I wanted but at least the side of the train is well-lit. The paint under the cab window looks almost artificially bright but I altered neither the colours or the saturation when processing the RAW image or when doing the final post-production in Photoshop.
For the second Saturday running I have photographed a charter in this spot. This week, on 25 September 2010, it was 67027 on a 1Z56 Manchester Victoria to Oxford run of the Northern Belle dining train. The light here at 10.30 is just about perfect so Hatton station curve was really the obvious choice unless one has an obsession about shooting backlit scenes for pseudo-artistic reasons! The train, with 67029 on the back, was running spot on time and a few minutes behind 168112 on a Birmingham Snow Hill to Oxford service, the Chiltern Line being under an engineering possession. It was due to stop at Leamington Spa for a few minutes, presumably for pathing reasons, and at Banbury to allow those passengers who had chosen to go on a trip to Blenheim Palace to leave the train.
Following the purchase of EWS by DB Schenker, three of their locomotives were painted into the striking house colours of the new parent company. One of these is 67018 which, over the weekend of 14 and 15 August, was hired by WSMR to cover a temporary motive power shortage. I wanted a picture of the locomotive in case it either blows up or is repainted and the chance came on 17 August when it was rostered to work 1J82, the 11.20 London Marylebone to Wrexham train and was, as I don't much like going-away shots, leading the formation. The weather was cloudy but I would rather have a record shot in poor light than none at all; it may be possible to improve on it later if the right working and conditions coincide, but if something untoward happens it may not. Here then is 67018 leading the train around the curve at Hatton North Junction at 12.55 with three Cargo-D Mk3s and a further coach and DVT in WSMR's own colours bringing up the rear. Just as I arrived on the bridge, 66166 was coming south with 4O21, the 11.40 Hams Hall to Southampton service, also running spot on time.
The Northern Belle luxury train was scheduled to travel from Leeds to Stratford-upon-Avon on Friday 13 August 2010, running via Dorridge, Hatton North & West Junctions, and Bearley Junction with a booked arrival time of 12.31. When I photographed 1Z73, led by 67021 with 67005 on the tail, dropping down Wilmcote Bank it was running a few minutes early and would have had to have waited for a few minutes outside the station until the 12.27 DMU to Stourbridge Junctiion had left platform 1 and cleared the associated crossovers onto the up main line. The weather was filthy, as I have come to expect for charters to Stratford, with a blustery wind driving rain straight into my camera's lens.
I have, for a couple of weeks, been trying to take a well lit photograph of a complete set of WSMR branded stock on the mid-morning train from Wrexham to London Marylebone. On each occasion I have been foiled by either the weather or the lack of the refurbished coaches on the appropriate train. Saturday 24 July was no different for although the weather was favourable the train, 1P01 (1P03 on weekdays) had three Cargo-D coaches and a single WSMR example just in the front of the trailing DVT as it arrived into the up platform loop at Leamington Spa. Ironically, a complete set of WSMR stock formed the down train, 1J85, standing in the shadow of the station buildings behind 67013 in platform 2. WSMR DVT 82303 was bringing up the rear of the train which has just passed the starter signal and is about to swing right onto the branch to Coventry.
Most passenger trains on the GWR line through Banbury are formed of multiple units from either Chiltern Railways or Arriva CrossCountry. One of the former is represented here by 165038 approaching the station stop with the 09.38 from Stratford-upon-Avon. A welcome change from units is provided by the albeit infrequent locomotive-hauled services run by WSMR, of of whose trains 1PO1, the Wrexham to London Marylebone, headed by 67015 with three Cargo-D Mk3s and a single coach and DVT is WSMT's own colours. Note that the Cargo-D stock has three different colours adorning the coach roofs.
The second of two stock moves along the Hatton line on Thursday 15 April 2010 was a 5Z80 from Crewe to Eastleigh, taking ECS south in preparation for a rail charter on Saturday. The locomotive used was 67016 and the train is here seen descending Hatton Bank a few minutes early at about 13.20. My orginal plan had been to go a mile or so north of this location for this shot, having just taken quite a similar view of 47815 also on a Crewe to Eastleigh stock transfer, but I was too busy chattering and decided to stay where I was. The light had improved by a small amount since the previous photograph but still was on the dire side of dreadful. Still, DBS 67s are not all that common along here these days so a record shot was worth the short trip from home.
I've no interest in horse racing, but the Cheltenham Festival can usually be relied upon to produce one or two trains taking punters to the racecourse. On 16 March 2010 a Euston to Cheltenham special ran, unsurprisingly powered by 67006 and 67005. The outward run was booked to go via Worcester but in the event went straight down the Old Road. I was at Norton Junction after photographing the Round Oak to Margam steel empties and decided not to move onto the main line for a shot because the light would have been tricky, to say the least. In any event, the ECS was booked to go to Worcester for servicing so there was every chance of a photograph on the northern end of the Cotswold Line. Here is 67006 leading the colourful ensemble towards Worcester with 67005 bringing up the rear.
On Thursday 10 December 2009 a stock move of refurbished WSMR stock was scheduled from the Marcroft works at Stoke-on-Trent to London Marylebone. As I had not yet seen any of the stock in the company's own livery I decided that a quick trip over to the Coventry line would be a good idea, especially as the sun looked as if might stay out for a while. As it happened, the ECS move was either cancelled or heavily delayed but this train, 1P13, the 11.27 Wrexham to Marylebone service hauled by 67010 probably didn't look a lot different as it passed Wootton Green, a short distance west of Berkswell station. Before leaving this location I couldn't this shot of 350118 in the lovely afternoon light as it headed to London Euston.
The Northern Belle made its third visit of 2009 to Stratford-upon-Avon on 9 October. The train started from Leeds and as well as Stratford, passengers were able to alight at Birmingham International for the Horse of the Year Show. The original plan was it to run from Birmingham International to Coventry and Leamington Spa, before reversing and heading for Stratford via Hatton station. In the event, the plan changed and the reversal took place at International with the train running via New Street and Dorridge to Hatton North and thence on to Stratford via Bearley. Here is 67002 leading the smart stock through Bishopton and passing the site of the Park and Ride station due to be constructed in the near future. This site was chosen because it is immediately adjacent to the existing and under-utilised Park and Ride for car travellers. With the reversals planned for the journey it was obviously necessary for the train to be topped-and-tailed and 67001 is just visible under the bypass bridge in the background.
The second charter that I photographed on 5 September 2009 was the second visit in recent weeks of the Northern Belle to Stratford-upon-Avon. Wilmcote is on the way home from Hatton where I had been photographing earlier in the morning so it seemed silly not to drop in at the attractive station for a shot of 67027 passing through with 1Z67 from York. The light had entirely collapsed by the time the train was due but I felt that a picture was worthwhile as this is only the second daytime working of class 67 along the line. The train is here seen passing under the GWR footbridge, which although in reasonable condition is painted in a strange shade of browny-pink, quite unlike anything the GWR or any subsequent railway company has used.
I hadn't really intended to go out for the return from Stratford-upon-Avon of the Northern Belle on 5 September 2009 but when the sky brightened but remained cloudy at about 16.30 decided that this would be a good opportunity to obtain a shot of 67027 with 1Z68 on the curve at Hatton North Junction. Other than an early morning class 150 and the steam hauled trains to Birmingham on summer Sundays, nothing uses the line from Hatton's West to North junctions and with a bright but cloudy afternoon a shot from the north side of the bridge, to my eyes better than that from the other side, is possible. Here then is the train heading slowly towards the Leamington Spa to Birmingham main line and thence on to York.
One of the few classes of diesel locomotive not previously to have visited Stratford-upon-Avon is class 67, although a signaller friend says that one may have reached Bearley Junction on an overnight engineering train from Bescot. Saturday 15 August 2009 saw the Northern Belle run from Leeds to Stratford with 67027 and 67002 performing the honours thus being the first class members to be photographed here. As a local, I felt it necessary to record the arrival at the station and here is 1Z83 coming into platform 1 with 67027 leading and 67002 just visible on the back of the train.
While the passengers were alighting from the Northern Belle at Stratford-upon-Avon I made my way to the roadbridge over the line to get another view as the stock was shunted out of platform 1 and into No. 2. There was a bit of a delay as the rear of the train was beyond the platform end signal meaning that the points could not be switched and the shunt signal activated. The stock had to be pulled further south until the track circuits were clear before moving forward and out of the station as is seen in this photograph. This caused the following DMU from Stourbridge Junction to be delayed by some 10 minutes and which gave the unusual sight, witnessed from the road as I walked home, of two trains doing a bit of parallel running into platforms 1 and 2 respectively. The return to Leeds, 1Z84, was booked via the North Warwickshire Line but in the event was routed via the very much less interesting line through Claverdon and Hatton North Junction. The signal box at Henley in Arden was switched out but the preceding DMU would have been past Shirley, the end of the section from Bearley Junction, in plenty of time so this caused a bit of a disappointment for those of waiting for it. To me, this was the only route that had any interest as locomotive-hauled trains are not exactly unusual between Hatton and Tyseley...
The Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway company run regular trains through Banbury and these have added some interest to the line for railway photographers. The trains are usually formed of a DVT, three Cargo-D coaches and a class 67 locomotive but on Saturday 23 May there was a football match at Wembley involving a team from Shrewsbury and 1P01, the first of WSMR's trains of the day, was strengthened by the addition of a fourth coach. It is here seen approaching Banbury with DVT 82303 leading and propelled from the rear by 67013.
In connection with the football match mentioned above, WSMR ran three additional services from Shrewsbury to cater for fans wishing to travel to London. The first of was 1Z01, the 08.40 to Marylebone formed of DVT 82305, five Cargo-D Mk3's and 67015 and the train is here seen on the approaches to Banbury station from where it will run to Aynho Junctioin and then run up the Chiltern Line via Princes Risborough. Return fares for the special trains were the same very reasonable £40.00 which is the standard charge for the trip on any of the company's trains. As far as I am aware, this was the first charter run by WSMR, a good initiative to capture some business from road transport in a niche market.
The second of WSMR's specials from Shrewsbury to Marylebone was 1Z02, which left the Shropshire town at 09.07 with their newly reliveried 67010 leading 3 Cargo-D and 5 Virgin coaches together with DBS's 67021 on the rear. These footexes aroused a surprising amount of interest from railway enthusiasts and this bridge near Banbury stone terminal had around 20 photographers in situ. I imagine though that the earlier passage of a railtour had brought out quite a few who may not have otherwise been present. The third special train to Marylebone from Shrewsbury was formed of an eight coach class 168 hired from Chiltern Railways but I didn't wait to see this one as it wouldn't have looked very different from Chiltern's service trains, most of which were running in a similar formation on 23 May 2009.
The WSMR passenger services nearly all travel to Leamington Spa and beyond via Coventry as this is a shorter route than the photographically much better line via Solihull and Hatton. Diversions because of out of course running and congestion around Birmingham do occur from time to time but on 14 April 2009 everything ran to the booked plan and here is 67012 heading 1P13, the 11.22 Wrexham to Marylebone train near Wootton Green on the line from Birmingham to Coventry. This is quite a pleasant rural location but it is difficult to vary shots, a large bush in the middle ground is becoming intrusive and there is no chance of photographing anything heading towards Birmingham because of heavy undergrowth on the other side of the bridge upon which crosses the line here. For these reasons it isn't a place I visit very often but it is a useful place if anything out of the ordinary comes along or when one just fancies a few shots of passenger trains.
The WSMR trains between Wrexham and Marylebone are now using DVTs on all 3 sets of stock. However, on Saturday 15 November 2008, the first up train on the day, 1P01, was reported as having both a DVT and 67015 on the north end meaning that on the return diagram these two vehicles would be leading. With this in mind I went over to Hatton for 1J86, even though the light was simply dreadful - too bad in fact to bother with the walk from the station to North Junction. 67015 leading the DVT, stock and 67013 came up the bank spot on time, following a Cross Country Voyager, and the unusual formation was duly recorded. Note the class 165 Chiltern Turbo waiting for the road in the Stratford branch platform; this is the 13.40 from Stratford-upon-Avon to Marylebone.
The weather on Saturday 6 December 2008 was perfect; clear skies with bright winter sunshine. With the prospect of a couple of diverted freights along the Leamington Spa to Birmingham line I went over to Hatton North Junction for a short, or so I thought, session. The first train I photographed was 1J86, the 12.17 Marylebone to Wrexham service with DVT 82301 propelled by 67014. The sun at Hatton doesn't get round onto the front of the train here until just before sunset so I decided to take a view that maximised the well illuminated side of the train. Fewer photographs of these northbound WSMR services have been taken since the DVTs were introduced, maybe there will be a brief upturn in interest when the refurbished coaches in the company's own livery are introduced.
In addition to the Central Trains locomotive-hauled extras to Cheltenham Races on 13 March 2007 there was also a 1Z41 from Euston. This was routed via Coventry, Birmingham and Worcester and was topped and tailed by 67021 and 67029. The former looks as if it has been once too often through an automatic washer as it heads the rake of mostly blue and cream stock away from Worcester. Note the tower of Worcester Cathedral in the background along the spire of another church, the name of which escapes me. There are signs of spring around as witnessed by the plum blossom about to appear in the tree on the left of the photograph.
67021 + 67029 have been performing on the Euston to Cheltenham Race special all week, so there was a danger of exactly replicating the photograph I took earlier this week. However, a headboard has been acquired and this, together with a slightly tighter angle, serve to differentiate today's picture from that taken on Tuesday. It just shows how little work class 67 has if the same locomotives can be dedicated to a train for four consecutive days.
There have been fewer trains running in association with the Cheltenham Festival in 2007 than in previous years, with no workings from the north of the country. There was, however, an extra train on 16 March in the form of a Victoria to Cheltenham charter utilising the Northern Belle stock. This ran via a circuitous route from London to Didcot, Chippenham, Bath, Bristol Parkway, Yate, Gloucester and on to Cheltenham. After arrival at its destination, 1Z59 was booked to run to Worcester Yard so that the stock could be serviced and stabled before returning to London in the early evening. The ECS is here seen on the approaches to Worcester behind 67014 having just passed under the M5.
The Northern Belle ran from Leeds to Oxford on 19 July, being routed via Crewe, Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, Solihull and Leamington Spa. I really had wanted to photograph the train, headed by 67029, at Hatton North Junction because this is an excellent southbound shot, especially with a long lens in order to bring up the background. Unfortunately, a couple of commitments during the morning left me with insufficient time so I had to settle for Hatton South Junction instead. Here is 1Z92 about to pass Hatton station spot on time at 12.31.
The luxurious Northern Belle dining train was booked to run from Manchester Victoria to London Victoria via Oxford on 13 September 2007. It was topped-and-tailed by 67026 and 67029, this class of locomotive being the usual for these workings. I was glad that the red 67026 was leading 1Z74 as it gave a good splash of colour to the rural surroundings of Shrewley, in Warwickshire. Although this looks to be a quiet and peaceful spot, the M40 motorway is only a few yards away to the left, as the topography of the area means that the railway follows the most favourable gradient profile and the engineers designing the road obviously appreciated the GWR's wisdom and built their carriageways alongside the railway for several miles.
Class 67s are pretty solid on the 6G36/6G42 turns from Bescot to Birch Coppice and return. The train on 18 September 2007 was no exception as 67012 was allocated to the quite long train of loaded IZA twinsets here seen passing the roadbridge at Lea Marston. There was no return traffic on this occasion and the 67 returned light engine, via the slow lines through Whitacre Junction, later in the morning. The front of the locomotive looks as if it has been used for target practice...
There was a football match at Cardiff on Sunday 1 April 2007 and a couple of trains ran from Doncaster to accomodate fans, or more probably, railway enthusiasts needing a dose of locomotive haulage. The trains were booked to pass Abbotswood Junction at 10.31 and 10.44 respectively but it soon became apparent from gen postings that both were running late. I had decided to go to Croome Perry, largely because it is just about the closest spot on the line to my home. Sadly, the late running meant that the sun was past its best by the time 67029 passed me at 10.56 with a 12 coach rake of Virgin liveried MkII coaches.
The second train was hauled by 67005 and consisted of a mixture of Anglia, Virgin, chocolate and cream and intercity coaches. It picked up a lot of time between reports I saw from Burton-upon-Trent and Water Orton so my plan to drive to Bromsgrove for a better lit photograph were shelved because of the likelihood of missing it altogether. Here is 1Z47 at Croome Perry at 11.28 with the sun pretty much gone off the side.
67005, one of the 2 class members painted into the livery of the Royal Train, has been at Bescot recently, and on 2 August 2007 made its second appearance of the week on the train to Birch Coppice. The outward working, 6G36 was a very short train consisting of just one IZA twin-set, but the return, 6G42, was slightly longer and just about made an acceptable southbound shot at Lea Marston. It is, of course, a gamble here whether the train runs on the fast or slow lines but all was well today when the train went by at about 11.30.
A timing trial for the new Wrexham, Shropshire and Marylebone Railway company was carried out on Tuesday 16 October 2007. The train consisting of 67005, the opulent looking 3 coach EWS executive set and 67029, ran as 1Z05 from London Euston to Birmingham Snow Hill via the Chiltern Line through Princes Risborough. It is here seen in rapidly failing light passing Hatton North Junction with 67005 leading and 67029 bringing up the rear.
The return of 1Z05 from Birmingham Snow Hill to London Euston was, predictably enough, 1Z06. There was a gap of nearly 2 hours between the trains so I walked from Hatton North Junction to the excellent cafe at Hatton Locks, both for the exercise and for one of their home-made cakes. Whilst trekking along the towing path the rain started to fall in earnest and by the time I had returned to the bridge adjacent to Hatton station it was absolutely pouring. The poor composition of this photograph is the result of me trying to keep my camera reasonably dry as the rain drove straight into the lens. The light was dreadful and I had to raise the ISO to 320, a level well beyond my normal setting of 200. 67029 is still in clean condition following its naming "Royal Diamond" by Her Majesty the Queen at Rugeley last week, in honour of her and Prince Phillip's 60th wedding anniversary.
The Northen Belle from Manchester to Bath ran today, 17 June 2006. As the North & West line was partly closed it ran via Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Cheltenham. I wasn't going to bother with it until the gen came through that silver 67029 was allocated to the job, and as I didn't have a decent picture of this locomotive.... The train is seen here near Stoke Works Junction, just south of Bromsgrove, runnning just a few minutes late. This livery really suits the shape of the class and is well set off by the inclusion of the 3 EWS beasts on the bodysides.
My final shot of a sunny session near Ashchurch on 15 July 2006 was this of 67005 on the VSOE running as 1Z87 17.10 Worcester to London Victoria. The combination of a heavy train and quite a gradient made the locomotive work quite hard. Class 67s sound pretty good when working hard, at least in comparison with most of the other traction these days. It is rare for the VSOE to be allocated anything other than class 67 these days unless it is booked to go onto lines where the heavy Bo-Bo axle loading precludes their use.
Since Easter 2005, the 6G36 and 6G42 trains between Bescot and Birch Coppice have been booked for class 67 haulage. On 8 June of that year, a nice sunny day, I decided to get a few shots of both trains and here is the first; 67002 taking 3 ferrywagons loaded with car parts past Kingsbury Junction. The slow lines via Whitacre Heath to Whitacre Junction can be seen diverting from the main in the backgound. The routing of this train can be a bit of a lottery so I decided to play safe and go just north of the junction. On this occasion, 6G36 ran via the main line.
The Birch Coppice branch isn't exactly heaving with photographic locations and this one, near the village of Picadilly is better in the winter than late spring. Still, it does give a reasonable broadside view of the locomotive and a couple of wagons.
Once the loaded wagons have been deposited at Birch Coppice, the previous days empties can be collected and taken back to Bescot. 67002 is here seen passing the houses at Wood End on the approach to the Kingsbury Link industrial estate with a much longer train than it took in. This deep cutting is the result of the track having to be lowered when the the line was re-opened.
The return to Bescot, train number 6G42, also has the choice of routes to Water Orton. My observations in recent years indicated that the slow lines via Whitacre Heath are the most likely so I went to a bridge in the village. When the train was due, a class 66-hauled coal train appeared and I began to doubt the wisdom of my decision. Looking towards Whitacre Junction, I could see the tail light of the stationary coal train in the distance. Just as I was thinking I had missed 6G42, it appeared in the distance crawling towards the signal just visible on the left of this picture. A few moments later, the coal train began to move and just as I took this photograph the signal cleared and the 67 whirred into action. This location was formerly the start and finish of a 4 track section of line. This must really have been busy in earlier times to warrant both up and down loops.
On a different occasion, 25 July 2006, 67001 was pictured coming off the lines from Kingsbury at Whitacre Junction with 6G42. Since the roadbridge here was rebuilt in 2004 I have paid fewer visits than is previous years. Steps are now necessary to take shots in both directions and the speed of traffic seems to have increased, along with the amount of abuse received from passers-by.
For a while after the loss of the contract with Royal Mail, class 67s were used on SERCO trains around the country. On 22 September 2005, 67022 passed Hatton North Junction with such a working, tailed by 67002. Other traction has been used in more recent times, including representatives of classes 37, 47 and 66.
One of the photographic highlights of 25 July 2006 was the appearance of 67005 with a rake of Anglia MkII stock running as 5Z12, the 06.00 Norwich to Bescot. It was booked to pass Whitacre Junction at 10.00 and appeared at 10.01 - not bad on one of the hottest days of the year.
An earlier run utilising 67005 was this, 1Z44 07.30 Ealing Broadway to Kidderminster on 19 February 2005. The train is seen making light work of Hatton just after 11.00 in some really crisp winter light. It was such a crisp morning in fact, that it took me nearly 30 minutes to drive here from Stratford-upon-Avon instead of the usual 12 or 13 such was the icy state of the lanes.
67013 was booked to haul a 5Z40 ECS move from Old Oak Common to Crewe on 1 June 2007 in connection with a railtour with the preserved class 40, 40145 the following day. It was booked to leave Old Oak at 11.05 but ran almost exactly one hour late throughout. Here is the attractive-looking train passing Hatton North Junction under a good sky, the clouds of which had only just cleared from the sun, at 15.14. Compare this picture to this of a pair of EPS 37s taken on the wet Saturday morning of 4 May 2007 in the same location. The trees have really come into leaf in the intervening weeks but have yet to lose their "spring green" in favour of the less photogenic and slightly duller summer colours.
The newly introduced WSMR trains between Wrexham and Marylebone commenced on 28 April 2008, whilst my wife and were holidaying near Exmoor. My first opportunity for a shot came on Monday 5 May which being a bank holiday meant that all trains ran via Hatton rather than Coventry. This is 1P03 rounding the curve at Hatton South Junction just as the light began to pick up after a wet start to the day with 67025 was leading the 3 Cargo-D Mk3s with 67026 dead on the rear. This top-and-tailing will cease at some point in the future when sufficient DVTs are available so I was pleased to photograph 2 EWS examples on the stock.
Just after lunch on Monday 5 May 2008 the cloudy skies began to clear nicely after a wet start so I went over to Hatton North Junction for another crack at some WSMR workings. This is 1P13 with 67013 topping 4 Cargo-D Mk3s, the dead locomotive on the rear being 67028. I quite like the WSMR grey and silver livery which gives a dignified appearance which well suits the admittedly odd lines of class 67. The train was crawling along at this point because a bullock was loose on the line. I first saw it on the West North curve as seen in the linked picture but it soon wandered toward the main line. I rang a signaller friend at home and he immediately called in to alert Saltley panel. All trains were stopped to be warned as they approached the sectiion and told to proceed at low speed. A down Chiltern Turbo made the unfortunate beast head back into the wood (formerly a goods yard) and it wasn't seen again despite 3 Network Rail men conducting a search.
My final photograph at Hatton North on 5 May 2008 was of 1J87, the 15.17 Marylebone to Wrexham WSMR service. This was the return working for 67026 and 67025, which I had seen earlier in the day at South Junction. The train was running a few minutes early and was at normal speed, the all-clear having been given after the previous problem with a bullock on the line.
After a bit of a cloudy spell during the mid-afternoon on 7 May 2008, the light picked up again at around 16.30 so I went over to a public footpath near Warwick Parkway station to obtain a shot of 67026 heading 1J83, the 16.10 Marylebone to Wrexham train. At exactly the time this was due another WSMR train, 1P33 went south. This service is booked to run via Coventry but I was later told that due to failure and congestion near Birmingham it was diverted via Solihull. I was thinking of adding a link showing 1P33 going away but it looked so similar to the main picture that it seemed barely worth the effort. Here is 1J83 running about 10 minutes late with 67015 dead on the back of the Cargo-D stock, the exhaust haze from 67026 doing its best to obscure the magnificent west-end tower of the St. Mary's Church in Warwick.
The morning of 7 May 2008 started bright and sunny so I drove over to Whitnash, just south of Leamington Spa, take a photograph of 1P03, the 07.25 Wrexham to Marylebone service. The train arrived a couple of minutes early with 67013 heading the stock and 67028 dead on the back. It has been reported that when DVT operations commence the locomotive will be on the north end of the stock. The DVT is arguably of equal interest but it seems a good idea to get pictures of the locomotive while one can, especially when an EWS liveried example is doing the honours. The fresh green foliage of early summer is always a pleasure to see and there are several different, vivid shades in the cutting at Whitnash. It almost looks unnatural but there has been no manipulation of the colours as I really dislike the over application of the saturation tool which one sees all too often on photographic sites. This isn't one of my favourite locations, being a bit anonymous, but the houses on the extreme left help to identify the shot a little and balance the rather overwhelming effect of a "green tunnel".
My intention in going to Hatton on 8 May 2008 was to get a shot of 67015 heading 1J81, the 10.17 Marylebone to Wrexham service from WSMR. Just before it was due I heard a class 66 horn around the curve which heralded the approach of 66505 on 4M55, the 08.58 Southampton to Lawley Street freightliner. It was obvious from the time it took to appear that due to early running it had been routed into the Down Goods Loop . The loop is now extensively used, in fact 66126 on 6M30 from Banbury to Mountsorrel had also gone this way a few minutes earlier. Some years ago, the loop was hardly ever used and I was over the moon on the afternoon of 25 June 1994 when I saw 56119 on the Coedbach to Immingham coal train put inside to allow a DMU from Leamington Spa to Birmingham pass. 4M55 was quite a long train and the rear few wagons were still south of the bridge as 1J81 throbbed past, with 67015 heading 67026. I quite like the effect and it shows the resurgence of this line as a major part of the network for both freight and passenger after many years as almost a secondary route.
If someone had told me 12 months ago that regular locomotive-hauled trains would soon be running from Wrexham to London Marylebone I would have doubted their sanity. Luckily, it was perfectly true and with the current spell of good weather I went out on 13 May 2008 for a shot of the second up train of the day, 1P03, the 07.25 from Wrexham and here it is having just passed Leamington Spa station and climbing through the blossom-fringed outskirts of that town. I took exactly the same shot yesterday, but made a complete hash of the focusing, hence my return there today. This shot is only on in the summer months because of a very high belt of Leylandii trees to the right hand side of the picture which cast shadows for most of the year.
The Northern Belle coaching stock was used for a private charter from Lincoln to Banbury on 21 May 2008. Here is 1Z60 rounding the curve at Hatton South Junction led by 67029 running almost 20 minutes early - it's always worth arriving in plenty of times for these workings as there is often a lot of recovery time built in the schedules. Class 67s were once a fairly uncommon sight on this line but since WSMR started running between Wrexham and Marylebone there are several diagrams along here for the class, especially on Saturdays and Bank Holiday Mondays when all are scheduled to run this way.
I have taken quite a few photographs from the roadbridge at Hatton in recent weeks so decided to stay on the platform for this shot of 1P03, the 08.55 Wrexham to Marylebone WSMR service. The leading locomotive is 67025 and out of sight on the rear is 67012. The current use of an EWS locomotive is a bonus although I'm sure that substitutions to the WSMR liveried examples will occur after the introduction of DVTs as a result of failure from time to time.
I hadn't planned to stay at Hatton North for the 16.10 London Marylebone to Wrexham service on 23 June 2008, but the sun continued to shine and it would have been rude not to have taken advantage of the beautiful light. Here is 1J83 with 67013 leading 3 Cargo-D coaches and 67015 just a couple of minutes late, probably as a result of the train following an Arriva Voyager. Compare this shot with an earlier one taken on 5 May 2008 when a pair of EWS 67s, 67026 and 67025 were in charge. The most noticeable change is the way the greenery has taken over in the background which gives a much "heavier" appearance to the scene.
The Royal Train ran from Harrogate to Ashchurch on Thursday 10 July 2008 where the stock was stabled overnight on the MOD branch. HM The Queen was scheduled to visit RAF Fairford on Friday 11 June and the train ran from Ashchurch to Kemble from where the Royal Party flew by helicopter to the airfield. The primary purpose of the vist was for The Queen to present new colours to both the RAF and The RAF Regiment. Here is 67005 leading the train along the Ashchurch branch in the most dreadful weather imaginable - thick cloud and heavy rain which makes the picture look rather "noisy" as if taken at a high ISO setting. In fact, because the train was hardly moving, ISO 200 was used with a shutter speed of 1/320 and an aperture of f4.
Just before the Royal Train came around the curve on the Ashchurch branch a class 153 went south on a local. 67005 led the stock along the branch and stopped by the road bridge and allowed two Arriva Voyagers to pass before crawling non-stop through the exchange sidings and off towards Cheltenham, Gloucester and Kemble. HRH The Duke of Edinburgh was taking an interest in the trackwork on the entrance to the exchange sidings and made a passable impression of a track basher! A lot of the trackwork here has recently been replaced; no doubt in preparation for today's rare usage.
One of the freights I was expecting to see, 6E55, the Theale to Lindsey empty oil tanks, did not appear and 4M36, the Southampton to Birch Coppice intermodal, had a load of empty flats at the front so my next and final photograph was of 1J83, the 16.10 WSMR service from Marylebone to Wrexham. The light had turned quite "milky" by this time, largely as the result of the number of aircraft contrails around the sky, but it held up long enough for a shot of 67015 topping 3 Cargo-D Mk3s and 67012 as the train topped Hatton Bank spot on time.
One of the Royal liveried class 67s, 67006, has been helping out on the WSMR's services for the past couple of days. As these substitutions will become less frequent when the DVTs are in use I thought that I should go out and get at least one picture with the claret locomotive leading and as luck would have it, it was diagrammed on the ideal train on Saturday 26 July 2008, the 12.17 Marylebone to Wrexham, 1J86. I wanted to get my picture somewhere with a recognisable background so went to the station footbridge at Hatton. Platform edge shots may be unfashionable but I have always liked this location for a down train and the sun is just right at around 14.00 - brushing the front of the locomotive. Here is 67006 with a couple of happy bashers scoring some haulage usually available only on charters.
An empty stock train was booked to run from Tyseley to Old Oak Common on Sunday 17 August 2008. In the event, this didn't happen because of the lack of a WCRC driver so I made do with 67028 leading 1J84, the mid-afternoon departure from London Marylebone to Wrexham passing through Hatton station in a nice patch of bright sunshine with some decently dark clouds in the background.
I have been meaning for some time to go to this location for a photograph of 1J81, the 10.17 London Marylebone to Wrexham train, but have ben thwarted by the almost total lack of sun. Friday 19 September turned out to be warm and sunny so I went to the southern end of Hatton cutting and obtained this picture of 67017 leading 3 Cargo-D Mk3s with 67003 dead in tow at the rear of the train. It was crawling towards the new signal just inside the cutting, the preceding Voyager, following 66192 on 4M33, having been checked almost to a stand. 1J81 stood at the signal for over 10 minutes; long enough for me walk back to the footbridge via a couple of Blackberry bushes, the fruit on which demanded picking, and get this rather distant shot of the train waiting for the road. On the other side of the bridge, a class 168 Chiltern Trains class 168 was standing also waiting for the block to clear. I'm not sure what caused the delay, I guess that it was either 4M33 having a problem towards the top of Hatton Bank or a signalling fault manifesting itself.
After a misty and murky start, Saturday 20 September 2008 developed into a beautifully warm and sunny day. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary around but it seemed rude not to take advantage of the perfect light so I went across to Hatton to photograph 1P03, the 08.55 Wrexham to Marylebone train. My first choice of location was a little further south than the bridge from where this picture was taken but it was heavily shadowed. 67013 is here seen topping 67025 and 3 Mk3 vehicles rounding the curve at Hatton Station Junction at 11.25, maybe a few minutes early on the booked time. The Restaurant Buffet behind the locomotive appears to have been a later candidate for refurbishment than the other vehicles if the fresher looking paint is a guide.
This train is 1P50, a WSMR service, but which started from Ruabon and ended up at Paddington because of various engineering works on Sunday 21 September 2008. It left Ruabon as a strange formation with two sets coupled together but sadly for those of us south of Shrewsbury the sets were split there. Here is 67013 leading 67025 past the footbridge just to the south of Hatton Cutting running in the region of 20 minutes late and managing to arrive in a patch of sun in a sky increasingly populated by piles of fluffy cumulus clouds generated by the warm sun and ground still damp from the recent wet weather.
After a misty and murky morning, Saturday 27 September 2008 developed into a gloriously sunny and warm day. It would have been almost unforgiveable not to have taken advantage of the light so, with a couple of late afternoon workings heading north along the Leamington Spa to Birmingham line I dropped in at Hatton North Junction for a short session. The first train to come along was 1J87, the 15.17 Marylebone to Wrexham service led by 67022. I think just one WSMR liveried class 67 was on duty again during the day - pretty much the same as the past week.
I don't much like the northbound shot of a train on the through lines at Leamington Spa but have included this photograph taken on 10 October 2008 for completeness. It shows 67028 heading 1J81, the 10.17 London Marylebone to Wrexham passing the station. It seems to me that the hoped for competition resulting from railway privatisation seems to work only for the larger operators such as Arriva and Virgin. I'm sure that WSMR would carry a lot more passengers if their stopping pattern was more favourable. It seems ludicrous that half-empty trains are not allowed to pick up at some stations or have to pass through without stopping at all while grossly inadequate 4 and 5 coach Voyagers run around overcrowded. The Voyager that ran a short while after this WSMR train was so full that over 20 passengers were refused entry and had to either wait for another or make alternative arrangements.
One of my reasons for being at Leamington Spa on Friday 10 October 2008 was to record the first run of a WSMR DVT, 82301, south of Crewe. The train is 1Z09 Crewe to Marylebone which at this point was running about 50 minutes late but still managing to catch some sun in the right place as it was propelled through the up main line by 67015. This wasn't quite the shot I was after, but the Voyager receding on the down line was in the platform when the signal was cleared for 1Z09 so I had to change position to minimise my chances of the shot being blocked. Leamington Spa station, with its East-West layout, is just about the only location in the area where trains can be satisfactorily photographed around midday if they are coming from the Coventry branch as the sun will be too straight further north or south.
The first revenue earning run of a WSMR DVT took place on Saturday 11 October 2008. I went to Hatton for the up train in the morning but through slightly late running it was diverted via Coventry, a shorter route. The return, 1J87, the 15.17 London Marylebone to Wrexham was really the more significant as the DVT, 82301, led the train. It was reported as running about 15 minutes late; not normally a problem, but when it was due at Hatton North Junction at about 17.00 and the sun was very rapidly heading for the horizon, every minute counts. I had a feeling that it was stuck behind the train to Stratford-upon-Avon and this was confirmed when I heard the Chiltern Trains Turbo rattling down the branch. It was about 4 minutes later when 1J87 came into view with the DVT and its train being propelled by 67015. I was initially surprised to be alone for this historic shot but then, there was no locomotive on the front which meant that the blinkered attitude of most enthusiasts made it of no interest...
I had forgotten that Chiltern Railways operate a locomotive-hauled (or propelled...) service on Saturdays so wasn't prepared when 1H38, the 09.10 Kidderminster to London Marylebone came around the bend at Shrewley on Saturday 13 December 2014. Class 67 is soon to be replaced with new class 68s leased from DRS on these services and at the time of writing the first Banbury trains are but a few days away if things go to plan. On this occasion 1H38 was led by DVT 82309 with 67017 providing the power as it approached the footbridge at the top of Hatton Bank; a quiet lookign location which is, unfortunately, close to the busy M40 with its accompanying constant drone of heavy traffic.