37418 at Evesham Loram, often associated with OTP such as rail grinders have recently taken over the operation of the inspection saloon Caroline and have repainted 37418 into a startling colour scheme of red and white not dissimilar to that of a junk food outlet. The chance for my first view of it since losing its more conventional livery arrived on Wednesday 3 July 2024 when it worked a 2Z01 from Worcester Shrub Hill and return via a bit of a convoluted route via rversals at Bristol and Westbury which fortunately left it leading for the run along the North Cotswold Line. The weather was poor with dark skies and drizzly rain so I thought that a picture with some solid background might be appropriate so went to Evesham station. I took some video in the hope of some noise but was disappointed especially since I spent quite some time fiddling around trying to get a steady platform for my 'phone. It sounded almost as if 37418 had been fitted with battery packs rather than the usual 12 cylinder diesel engine.
37601 + 93001 at Long Marston Following Rail Live 2024 the few exhibits that had travelled to Long Marston left on Friday 21 June 2024. The only one I wanted to photograph was 93001 being taken back to Worksop by 37601 which had arrived earlier from Derby RTC. I couldn't be bothered to travel far given the number of roadworks in several parts of Worcestershire so went first to Long Marston arriving about 2 minutes before 0Q26 moved away at 14.13 some 20 minutes early.
37601 + 93001 at Honeybourne By the time I had driven from Long Marston to Honeybourne, parked in the only space left in the station car park and walked to the roadbridge on 21 June 2024 37601 + 93001 were already at the Staff Hut where the single line token is kept. My longest lens coupled with a bit of post-processing cropping produced this image with the crew having a few minutes in the sun before moving to the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction.
37601 + 93001 at Honeybourne The Honeybourne end of the Long Marston branch is horribly overgrown with the only reasonable shot being head-on with a wide-angle lens; not ideal but there you go. The sun just cleared a small patch of cloud in time and allowed a nice bright image as 0Q26 approached the roadbridge on 21 June 2024. I took a separate picture of 93001 on the basis that there won't be another chance in the foreseeable future and another as 0Q26 slowed for the signal.
37608 + 93001 at Long Marston Rail Operation Group's brand new tri-mode 93001 was taken from Worksop Down Yard to Long Marston on 17 June 2024 ready for it to be displayed at the annual Rail Live event. The move was interesting not only because the class 93 was a new locomotive for the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch but also because a locomotive almost exactly 63 years old was used to transport it. I wanted a shot of the green pair at Long Marston itself which made the arrival photograph on a sunny day a bit challenging given the sun's angle. I wasn't too bothered about this having taken a decent shot of a couple of days earlier which took away any pressure. Once again the green background does its best to hide 0Q67 arriving close to right time.
93001 + 37608 at Long Marston This was the view of 93001 with 37608 I had in mind on 17 June 2024 and it was good that the sun stayed out for it despite there being a lot of cloud blowing around. I tried to shoot a short piece of video as 37608 took 93001 into the yard but the bright sun was shining on my 'phone screen which made the touch controls awkward to see. For some reason several class 701 EMUs have been moved from the sidings near the road to others nearer the event site with some old stone hoppers having been shifted across.
37608 at Evesham My main reason for being at Evesham on Saturday 15 June 2024 was to take a photograph of 37608 in its new green livery working 5Q94, the 07.23 Oxley Sidings to Long Marston taking Class 730 EMUs 730213 and 730226 for storage. The train should have passed here at 10.15 and given the weather at the time I wasn't going to bother but following a fester in the siding at Kings Norton OTP because of a brake problem between the locomotive and the units, it was 184 minutes late. This gave a chance for the conditions to improve and once 5Q94 had reached Stoke Works Junction I went to Evesham in the hope that they would be at Worcester early enough to pick up some time. It was unfortunate although not surprising that a GWR service 1P23 from Great Malvern was late enough to scupper the chances of that. This wasn't an entirely bad thing as clear patches of sky were developing and as 37608 appeared in the distance the sun came out. It was a bit windy but I took some video as 5Q94 passed the signalbox. I wish the driver had opened up about 5 seconds earlier...
37407 at Evesham Two Transport for Wales class 197s were taken from Donnington Sidings near Wellington in Shropshire to Long Marston on Wednesday 5 June 2024. Yes, more new stock going for storage in Warwickshire to make room at other sites. The locomotives, 37407 and 37218, newly acquired by ROG, took a couple of barriers from Derby to Donnington where the train including 197027 + 197029 was made up ready for a 13.33 departure. Running under the headcode 5Q94 the train ran close to time as far as Worcester where a delay unsurprisingly caused by a late-running GWR service made it some 25 minutes late at Evesham. The better-looking of the locomotives was leading and I didn't bother with a going away shot of the fairly scruffy plain blue 37218. As class 197 was new to the North Cotswold Line I took this view of them. Thanks to Rob Pritchard for information on the reason for the units movement.
37884 at Long Marston Yet another class of brand-new rolling stock is ending up in Long Marston. This time it is LNWR class 730 EMUs, the first of which ran on Friday 24 March 2024 and arrived with ROG 37884 topping up its Long Matston loyalty card once again. The weather was dull but a first is a first and all that so I made the journey across to take a few shots, the first being this as 5Q94 from Oxley CS approached the site. It was running 64 minutes late after being diverted from the Stour Valley from Wolverhampton to go via Pleck Junction and Sutton Park reportedly due to a cable theft somewhere between Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
37884 at Long Marston As soon as the single line token was in the ground frame and the road set at Long Marston on 24 May 2024 37884 took 730224 to join the host of other stored and redundant stock in the yard. The shunter was ready to move it to wherever in one of the yards is to be stored until it is ready to be used.
37884 at Long Marston I took this picture on 24 May 2024 to show some of the huge number of stored new and currently unwanted trains in the yard at Long Marston. Apart from 730224 there are stacks of class 701 EMUs along with some TPEx sets. I think that the four coaches in the fourth siding are the remaining CrossCounty Mk3s but I can't identify the 3 car EMU parked few yards in front of them. It appears that this siding may be slightly raised above the level of the others which may explain why the coaches appear taller than those surrounding them.
37884 at Honeybourne Another 5 car class 730 EMU went to Long Marston on Saturday 25 May 2024. This time it came from Derby Litchurch Lane although still running as 5Q94 and with 37884 collecting its final loyalty card stamp for a free flat white. My wife and I had been for a late breakfast at a café a few miles away and left it a bit late but luckily the train was equally behind time so there was time to walk from the station car park at Honeybourne to the roadbridge for this image of an increasingly overgrown part of the Long Marston branch.
37884 at Honeybourne Here is the obligatory picture of a train receding from the camera at Honeybourne as it heads towards the single line staff hut and Long Marston. This time it's 37884 with LNWR 730207 running as 5Q94 from Derby Litchurch Lane virtually brushing the bushes which will soon make a shot here next to impossible.
37218 + 37407 at Defford Rail Operations Group has hired two class 37s, 37218 and 37407, and after running light engine to Landore earlier in the week returned to Derby RTC on Friday 17 May 2024 towing 3 barrier wagons and 37800. I read somewhere that 37800 had some wheelflats which may have been why 5M58 was planned to run at 45mph. The train left Landore 65 minutes late but picked up about half of that when I photographed approaching the roadbridge at Defford. The shot would have been quite tricky here had the sun been out but I wanted a location that clearly showed the whole train including the dead 37800 on the back.
37884 at Stoke Pound Judging by its frequent appearances at the site 37884 must have a Long Marston loyalty card. On 9 May 2024 it ran light from Taunton (!) to Warwickshire in order to collect 769935 and take it to Doncaster for reasons unknown to me. I went to Stoke Prior because there is never any guarantee that a train from Long Marston will leave at anything near right time and if early the exit shot from the yard is shadowed and if late it means hanging around for too long with no action. I left home only when I saw that it had moved leaving plenty of time for the 25 minute trip from home. The preceding train from Hereford and Worcester was a few minutes late but it wasn't long before 5Q23 appeared in the background as it left Stoke Works Junction. The unit was quite clean after having been stored at Long Marston since 14 June 2023 at the worst possible time of day for a photograph, and may have been spruced up for the journey to Yorkshire.
37330+37677 at Lowsonford, Rowington or Finwood Saturday afternoons in the early to mid-1990s were good times to be on the GWR Birmingham to Leamington Spa line with 3 container trains, usually a few MGRs and other bits and pieces of freight now and again. A location no longer worth visiting is the bridge near Lowsonford and Finwood where the line parallels the M40 for quite a distance. When the motorway was built hundreds of young trees were planted to help deaden the traffic drone and these grew so well as to obscure the line almost completely. On 7 September 1996 the afternoon Leeds to Southampton was powered by 37330 + 37677 pictured as they rounded the curve before joining up with the path of the motorway. The view from the other side of the bridge offered an equally decent view.
On 11 October 2010 there was a train taking a long rake of Ferrywagons out of Long Marston due to leave around 12.00. After leaving Hatton where I had taken a few pictures of Freightliners I went straight to Honeybourne where unlike on the bridge at Long Marston the sun would be about right. About 20 minutes after arriving the train headed by 37604 + 37603 could be heard rumbling along the branch and as hoped ran forward into the headshunt which gave the shunter a shorter walk to put the single line staff in the hut and then operate the ground frame. There was a Paddington to Hereford service on its way so a silly number of shots were taken from different angles while waiting.
There was a bit of delay for some reason and the newly scheduled time for 6Z80's departure from Honeybourne towards Evesham was 13.20 and it was about 5 minutes before this that I left and headed to Aldington, a couple of miles to the east of Evesham. I thought that the sun would still be on the track in this fairly deep cutting and luckily all was well. It wasn't long before I heard the leading locomotive's horn as the train approached approached Clayfield Lane crossing and then it appeared under the roadbridge with the brakes on, ready for the stop at Evesham to exchange tokens for the next single track section to Norton Junction.
The Mainline blue colour scheme looked really striking when clean, as demonstrated by 37013 near Stenson Junction with a Bescot to Toton departmental train on 30 March 1996. This loocmotive formerly carried a BR blue livery with an added white stripe when I photographed it at Longbridge in April 1987.
An early start on 1 June 1996 for EPS 37604 + 37611 working 1Z37, the 05.50 Bristol Temple Meads to Workington and Sellafield tour with Pathfinder Tours. I hoped that any shadows would be clear of the line at Northway, Ashchurch at 06.48 if the train was on time, which it was, to the minute. Both locomotives were acquired by DRS with 37611 later going on to work with ROG.
37065 at Andover I had a trip to Hampshire on 15 April 1993 starting at Andover to try for a shot or two of the MOD train going to Ludgershall. I had only just parked when 37065 came under the bridge on the down side of the station giving me a few moments to take this shot of it arriving at the station. Within a couple of minutes the ground signal behind the barrier wagon was cleared and the train reversed into the sidings.
37065 at Andover The two barrier wagons were to be shunted out of the train at Andover on 15 April 1994 and here is 37065 waiting for the shunter to uncouple the second of the two.
37065 at Andover Once the shunting had been completed at Andover on 15 April 1994 37065 left the small yard on its way to Ludgershall. I assume that goods of an explosive nature were being carried in the four-wheel wagons and that there was no facility for shunting at the MOD depot. In the hope that a loaded train would be returning I went off to a roadbridge on the Ludgershall branch with surprisingly clear tracksides and was disappointed when 37065 came along as a light engine.
There have always been occasional excursions to Stratford-upon-Avon for no other reason than to allow passengers to enjoy the historical aspects of the town or simply have a walk along the River Avon. This train, headed by 37418, came from Cardiff on 19 March 1994 and was organised by Regonal Railways. This day was notable in that a long-serving member of the station staff, Aubrey Wheeler, retired at the end of the afternoon shift and I was lucky enough to be invited into the staff room for a drink and to witness Aubrey's presentation by the Area Manager. I took advantage of the quiet spell outside to nip across the tracks and take this shot of the train standing on platform 3. Since then, the siding in the foreground has been lifted, this being done when the station area was resignalled. On 14 January 2023, 37418 was again in Stratford this time looking a bit more Scottish.
I had time on 19 March 1994 for a drive to the field at Bearley Junction for a shot of 37418 returning to Cardiff on the single line to Hatton West Junction. I can'T027_sona_280390 remember whether the train ran via Birmingham or Oxford. All the decent railway infrastructure in the background has long since disappeared with Bearley Junction being controlled from the Snow Hill panel at the West Midlands Signalling Centre.
The slide from which this scan was taken shows 37114 descending Hatton Bank on 20 September 2003 with a 6Z62 Bescot to Hinksey Yard. The consist was a set of rail carriers with equipment for unloading the new rails on site. There was a lot of cloud around but I struck lucky for once with the sun finding a clear patch at just the right moment.
37409 at Leamington Spa An ECS operated by LSL Rail from Crewe to Southall ran on Sunday 4 February 2024. The consist of 5Z82 was interesting in that it was 37409 in a completely non-authentic but attractive ScotRail livery, green class 20s 20096 + 20107 coupled cab-to-cab and 3 coaches. There appeared to a chance of sun and the only place close to home for me with a decent shot in those circumstances was Leamington Spa station. I parked a 6 or 7 minute walk away and on checking RTT saw that the train was already only about 3 minutes away having picked up a lot of time on the run from Nuneaton. I had missed 37409 on its run in the new colours thanks to heavy traffic and thought the same would happen this time. Fortunately a CrossCountry Voyager, just visible here, was up 5Z82's tail so I arrived with time for a few shots. Only one other photographer and his young son were waiting and I took this as the Voyager pulled out with the lad trying without luck to get the driver to give a blast or two on the horn for his video.
37409 at Leamington Spa The Voyager in the previous picture soon cleared the section out of Leamington Spa on 4 February 2024 allowing 37409 to move away. Having taken plenty of stills I took a short video clip as it pulled away. The request for horn blowing was successful this time!
37219 at Stratford-upon-Avon Following a weather alert on the evening of 21 January 2024 which mentioned that many trains were cancelled because of strong winds associated with storm Isha I had a quick look at the RTT page for Stratford-upon-Avon to see if there were any cancellations. There weren't but I did see that a 3Q14 was on its way from Derby RTC, a train that usually arrives here between midnight and 2am, but this time scheduled to reach the terminus at 21.50. This was a bit more reasonable so despite my wife saying that I must be off my head (so?!) went down to the station. A friend up the line had confirmed that 37219 was on the back of the Structure Gauging Train which is ideal for static shots before it reverses on the station.. The weather was absolutely foul with strong winds and driving rain; the basic bus shelter on platform 2 being almost useless to keep anything dry. As soon as the driver had reached the locomotive cab and switched on the lights I grabbed a few shots before moving along the platform to take this one in a better spot of light from one of the platform lamps as 3Q14 moved off.
37884 + 68024 at Evesham Trans Pennine Express locomotive-hauled stock withdrawn from service is gradually being moved from Longsight to Long Marston. Unusually, a locomotive is included in the train consist and when the second set was moved on a sunny 9 January 2024 it ran in a very convenient lunchtime path rather than in the dark as happened with the first, so was one of those "must have" images. As 5Q94 was reported to be double-headed with 37884 + 68024 (dit) I wanted a recognisable location with a bit of height to better show the unusual formation. After checking out a couple of locations that proved to be too shadowed I settled on the bridge just before the station at Evesham despite having been there only the previous week for another move to Long Marston. An arguably more interesting working involving a class 68 visit to Long Marston took place on 3 August 2020 when 68026 took a rake of box wagons to Stowmarket for noise level tests.
37254 at Stratford-upon-Avon The usual test train from Derby RTC and back via Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa, 1Q48, ran on Tuesday 3 October 2023. I haven't bothered with it for a while as I've been waiting for either 37607 or 43277 to be allocated but with a warm and dry evening had a trip to the GWR station. the train ran early because the WMR service usually running in front of it was cancelled and I arrived with about one minute to spare but knew the exposure settings from previous outings so had set up my camera at home. With 37254 leading and 37175 out of sight on the back, 1Q48 slowed to stop in platform 1. I don't know what the green thing looking like a plasma ball is but assume it's something to do with the lights both under the coach and those on the coach roof for the OHL inspection cameras.
37175 at Stratford-upon-Avon As mentioned above 1Q48 from Derby RTC on 3 October 2023 ran early and as soon as it was in the platform at Stratford-upon-Avon the departure signal was changed to green and within a couple of minutes the driver was in the cab of 37175 ready for the return to RTC. The turnaround was so rapid that I didn't have time to set up my 'phone for some video which was a shame as the exit from the station was quite spirited.
37116 + 37610 at Evesham The regular 1Z22 from Derby to Bristol ran on Wednesday 6 September 2023 with 37116 topping 4 coaches and 37610. It had been to Stratford-upon-Avon during the previous evening but having taken pictures of the same locomotives there on other occasions I didn't bother. After a misty start Wednesday cleared to bright sunshine so I went to Evesham station for a shot from the footbridge. The train ran a couple of minutes early and a bit disappointingly coasted through the station with the engines being opened up only when out of sight. This didn't help the video clip I took on my 'phone as the train passed. I can't say that I'm a fan of the utilitarian galvanised platform light standards and other stuff; even the bland GWR green would be an improvement.
37427 at Croome Perry My interest in and knowledge of railway preservation is limited but as I was already at Croome Perry on 23 May 1997 it would have been rude not to have taken a shot of 37427 dragging Warship D821 from the West Somerset Railway to Kidderminster on the Severn Valley Railway.
37672 + 37413 at Droitwich A train popular with photographers on Saturday mornings was the empty china clay wagons from Cliffe Vale to St Blazey which in 1993 was still hauled by pairs of class 37 locomotives. On 17 June 3672 + 37413 were on the train which I shot as it opened up just before passing though Droitwich Spa station from the Kidderminster line. It was a case of double diesels at Droitwich on this morning as 58002 + 58020 had just passed the same spot with a Derby to Paignton HRT charter.
37672 + 37106 at Stoke Prior Another view of 6V70, the Cliffe Vale to St Blazey china clay train but this time diverted from its usual route via Kidderminster to the Bromsgrove line. The date was 14 September 1998 with 37672 + 36106 providing the power as the train nearly caught a bit of sunshine at Stoke Prior after it had descended the Lickey Incline.
37203 at Drakelow I was on a footbridge at Drakelow Power Station on 14 February 1996 photographing a selection of loaded MGRs including this headed by 60073 when the unexpected sight of 37203 coming from the Burton-on-Trent end of the Coalville Line appeared. The train was formed of a good quantity of HAA hoppers and without any knowledge of where it was going made an educated guess and drove straight to Coalville in the hope that it was going there to swap these hoppers for another set. Unfortunately, it had simply stabled them in left background and after a short break came out light engine and went back towards Burton.
37684 at Hatton It was quite a surprise when I had a message on 27 December 2001 saying that 37684 was working a 6T50 13.20 Bescot to Didcot train consisting of a long rake of empty engineering wagons. There was plenty of time for a drive over to the roadbridge at Hatton where the welcome post-Christmas entertainment passed me at 14.20.
37698 at Stoke Prior It was a real shame that the sun went into some cloud just as 6V14, the Hull Saltend to Baglan Bay acetic acid tanks with 37698 on the front came along the goods loop at Stoke Prior. Had it been on the main line it would have been a full sun shot; not something I'm obsessive about but a good sunny shot of a Loadhaul 37 was always welcome.
37197 + 37427 at Croome Perry In the spring of 1997 a Swindon to Stud Farm stone train ran along the Gloucester to Birmingham line with oddly, I thought, loaded wagons going to the quarry although I imagine that some ballast had been left from an earlier job. Pairs of 37s were allocated and were due to pass Croome Perry at around 4pm so having taken a couple of days off work went for a shot on a few occasions. This one of 37197 + 37427 was taken on 14 May 1997 and ran about 20 seconds too early.
37372 + 37263 at Croome Perry The following day, 15 May 1997, the sky was completely clear for much of the day so I went to Croome Perry for another go at the Swindon to Stud Farm stone train. This time the locomotives were 37372 + 37263 with the right one leading for my tastes. Typically, some thin cloud appeared exactly on cue and just took the edge off the scene.
37207 + 31439 at Shrewley An A1A charter from Preston to Stratford-upon-Avon on 24 February with Regional Railways 31439 providing the power for the inward part of the tour. "Dutch" liveried 37207 ran light engine to Stratford and was attached to the front of the train for the return journey and in spite of the weather being absolutely filthy I went to the tall bridge at Shrewley, just north of Hatton North Junction, for a shot of the unusual pair in the cutting. Although being barely visible through the murk there was no mistaking when the train had cleared the junction in the background and opened up for the run towards Dorridge and Birmingham.
37709 at Croome Perry A train that has long disappeared from the WTT is the LPG tanks runs between Humber and Baglan Bay. On 28 October 1997 37709 was on the northbound empties and I photographed passing Croome Perry; a location that sees the trackside vegetation cleared from time to time but more often than not is a bot too overgrown. It is, of course, the southbound shot that sees a huge amount of attention from enthusiasts. The same locomotive was on this train at Badgeworth on 23 July 1999 shortly before class 66 took over the job.
37038 + 37197 at Claydon, Gloucestershire In the days before digital cameras were worth the money, poor light for me meant black & white photography on most occasions. There was poor weather on 16 March 2002 when Pathfinder's The Valley Voyager railtour with the by then very commonplace pairing of 37038 + 37197. This view of the special was taken at Claydon, just south of Ashchurch.
37505 at Longbridge I used to go to Longbridge on Saturdays to take photographs of the locomotive-hauled passenger traffic and never saw many freights. On 25 April 1987 there was a steel train, Cardiff to Lackenby according to some information I had, with 37505 in charge which I shot as it passed the now-gone Longbridge motor factory. There were processing problems with Kodachrome slide film at the time at the colour rendition of this image was very poor, probably made worse by the misty atmosphere.
37274 at Ryecroft Junction It was easy enough to identify this locomotive at Ryecroft, near Walsall, om 20 May 1991 thank to the oversized number on the front but the origin of the train is more tricky. Clearly a Speedlink Coal Network working going to Toton, but it could have come from any of several yards including Gobowen, Washwood Heath, COD Bicester and Didcot. Without access to the daily coal sheets precise knowledge of these jobs was difficult to find out.
37517 at Ryecroft Junction A few minutes after the taking the picture of 37274 shown above I heard another class 37 climbing out of Walsall towards Ryecroft Junction. This turned out to be 37517 with the daily Wolverhampton to Lackenby empty steel train with the standard motive power for the time. The redundant trackbed to the right of the running line was once part of the through line to Lichfield via Pelsall and Brownhills. Part of the line was still open in 1991 to cater for bitumen traffic to the Charringtons depot at Brownhills but this ceased in the late 1990s.
37198 at Hatton Hatton Bank wasn't much of an obstacle for 37198 on 11 July 1991 when it worked the Bicester to Lawley Street MOD stores train. On some occasions this was a huge train with traffic not only from Bicester but also Ludgershall and Didcot being conveyed but on others was either one or two vans or even a light engine move.
37416 at Cropredy Another example of a miniscule Bicester to Lawley Street MOD train on 26 March 1993 with 37416 passing Cropredy, neat Banbury. I used this location a few times but in all honesty there wasn't much to commend the view in either direction. Here is a shot of 37694 on a Bescot to Sheerness steel train on 21 August 1999: pleasant enough on a nice afternoon but a bit bland.
6V70 at Totnes I took a number of photographs of the Saturday Bescot to St Blazey empty china clay train but mostly in the Midlands. On 6 November 1993 I was in South Devon and decided to have a drive to Totnes for a shot of it from the roadbridge just to the west of the station. After struggling to find anywhere to park I walked onto the wrong side of the bridge and heard what could only have been a pair of class 37s opening up for the climb to the summit of Rattery Bank. The road was quite busy and my wife aged a couple of years as I dodged the traffic, dropped my camera bag onto the footpath and grabbed a shot on my Mamiya 645 loaded with TRI-X using whatever settings were there from a previous shot. Luckily the light must have been equally bad then as the negative showing 37674 + 37690 with 6V70 turned out to be nicely exposed.
6V70 at Gloucester The usual power for 6V70, the Bescot to St Blazey empty china clay hoppers was a pair of class 37/6 locomotives but on Saturday 2 October 1993 single "Dutch" livery 37263 was in charge. I imagine that the usual pair had failed and that 37263 was found spare somewhere around Bescot and put on the train to avoid an expensive cancellation. The weather as the train pulled into the loop at Gloucester for a crew change was horrendous with no light and some misty rain falling but the colour shot was just about salvageable and showed the unusual motive power to better effect than a black & white picture.
37702 at Didcot I don't often take shots of locomotives in stabling points but now and again one just cries out to be have a frame exposed. On 15 April 1993 I had been to Andover to photograph the MOD train going to Ludgershall and dropped into Didcot for some refreshments before leaving in time to avoid rush-hour traffic on the A34. This picture shows 37702, 05905 and 37068 waitimg for their next jobs with the still-operational Didcot Power Station in the background.
1Q18 at Honeybourne Following several nights of engineering work in the Stratford-upon-Avon area the usual monthly test train was disrupted. The late evening 1Q48 ran on Tuesday 13 June 2023 with 37612 + 37254 but I couldn't where to go on a sunny evening so didn't go. On the folloiwng day a 1Q18 (rather than the usual 1Z22) ran from Derby RTC to Brisol and Weymouth and on a another sunny day I went to Honeybourne the test train with 37254 leading went through the station. It ws running a few minutes late and it was fortunate that a down GWR was also a but late which otherwise might have been a problem.
37277 + 37241 at Hatton A poor quality image thanks to the time of day and mist at Hatton on 24 April 1987 but a pair of class 37s on MGRs from the East Midlands to Didcot Power Station were never commomnplace. The train was going downhill and about to pass under the bridge at Dark Lane, Hatton so the locomotives weren't making a lot of noise but this would have been different at Leamington Spa when they would have been wound up for the climb to Harbury Tunnel.
37277 in Moreton Cutting, Didcot Another shot of 37227 but this time in better light as it took a mostly unifrom set of engineering wagons along the up slow line at Moreton Cutting on 15 October 1993. The background is dominated by Didcot Power Station and the town gas-holders all of which have now gone. Overhead catenary has been erected here and I don't suppose that much of a shot is available in 2023.
37277 near Didcot Later in the day on 15 October 1993 and after a drive to the other side of Didcot here's another shot of 37227 with a different set of p-way wagons heading west. I have no idea from where these two trains started or were going but I guess That the earlier one hadn't gone much further than Reading. The autumnal colours were beginning to appear nicely and the dark sky helped to show them to good effect.
37513 near Water Orton This picture and the one following were taken within a few minutes of each from the field along side the fast lines at Water Orton on May 1988. This shot shows 37513 with a Lackenby to Wolverhampton steel train with the closed and soon to be demolished Hams Hall Power Station in the background. It was always a bit of a lottery as to whether freights used the fast or the slow lines via Whitacre Junction but I was lucky on this occasion.
37229 near Water Orton Just after 37513 had cleared the section 37229 followed with a Toton to Washwood Heath Speedlink Coal Network train of HTA hoppers. This train fed other workings including those to Didcot and Gobowen. The linked pictures show the returning empties at Tyseley and Cosford respectively.
37699 at Tipton Another picture of a Speedlink Coal Network, this time the Washwood Heath to Gobowen train. The location was the towpath of the Birmingham Level canal at Tipton with the station of that name just visible. The date was 16 June 1987 with 37699 making a slightly unsharp image caused by my having had to run along the towpath to this relatively clear spot in the bushes for an attempt on a reflection of the train in the canal and not having quite enough time to properly set my camera.
37254 at Bretforton Class 37s are hanging on for trips on the monthly test trains to Stratford-upon-Avon (1Q48) and Bristol (1Z22). On Tuesday 22 March 2023 37254 + 37116 were allocated and having exhausted most of the after-dark shots around Stratford I didn't go out, The following morning had a good forecast and despite driving to Bretforton in variable cloud it began to clear as 1Z22 was leaving Worcester. The remaining wispy cloud blew away just in time as 37254 leading 37116 came into view from the very substantial foot crossing at Bretforton and passed the former crossing keeper's cottage. It's nearly always a waste of time taking a going-away shot of topped and tailed trains but here it is anyway.
A Cardiff to Scunthorpe empty steel train ran on some Saturdays in 1988. On 6 January 1988 37506 + 37512 in matching livery were on the train and I photographed it just after it had passed Water Orton. 645
The weekly Sunday Luncheon Expresses from London Marylebone to Stratford-upon-Avon were originally steam hauled throughout but after a while it was discovered that it was more efficient to use a diesel locomotive from Banbury to Stratford. Almost anything could turn up and I photographed classes 25, 31, 37, 45, 47 and 50 at various times and on 11 September 1988 37352 was provided. I didn't see it arrive at the station but got there in time to see the shunt move which put the stock into platform 2 ready for the steam locomotive to drop onto it. It's not the greatest spot for a photograph but there was just about room at the end of the platform to take this one before the class 37 moved away. 645
On 16 August 2002 I had one of my very rare trips by train and travelled with a group of friends on a locomotive-hauled Cardiff to Fishguard Harbour service, 1B96, with predictably enough a class 37 in charge. Unfortunately, something went wrong and the train didn't get to Fishguard with 37402 failing at Jersey Marine North Junction with loss of coolant. A assisting locomotive in the form of 37419 was sent as 1Z99 from Cardiff Canton which pushed the whole to Llanelli where the train was terminated. The passengers on the nearly full 1B86 were instructed to get off and then catch a DMU back to Cardiff. This would have been a 2 car unit and a mass refusal by the passengers to move caused control to change their minds and we went to Bridgend where it was finally terminated with the stock going ECS to Canton. The passengers were able to get onto a more sensible alternative at Bridgend and thence to Cardiff. Thanks to Adrian Kenny for reminding me of the details of what happened on the day.
Another shot from Defford is this taken during the evening of 11 August 2002. 37521 + 37114 were booked to work a Cardiff to Liverpool footex, which turned into an ad-hoc railtour. I nearly didn't go out for this at all because the weather at home was dreadful but decided a monochrome shot would be OK so picked up just the Mamiya 645 containing black and white film. My wife said, "Why not take the one with colour - you never know?", so I grabbed my OM1 too and drove off. As you can see, the black clouds blew away just in time but I completely messed up the colour shot and it's not sharp... The leading locomotive, 37521, ended up with Colas Rail and I did eventually take a colour shot of it at Henley in Arden on 21 May 2019.
37510 at Tibberton Three LNER class 91 locomotives were taken for scrapping from Doncaster Belmont to Newport on Friday 3 February 2023. A similar train should have run earlier in the week but the brakes couldn't be released on one of the 91s. Despite a cloudy forecast the sun was in and out at home making choice of location awkward. In the end I settled on Tibberton, a few miles from Worcester, and arrived and realised that my 'phone was in the kitchen! I thought that someone else would turn up to help with where 7Q78 was but not a soul was there. Luckily, someone turned up at a foot crossing further north so I was fairly confident that 37510 with 91112, 91115 and 91125 hadn't already gone. There is variety of shots available in this location so I unusually took a sequence with this being the first as the train passed in front of some colourful but bare trees.
37510 at Tibberton There is something in the background of all the shot opportunities at Tibberton to gibe some identity to the picture and this is most usually seen with 37510 with the class 91s passing a farmhouse, signal and another foot crossing, one of 4 in about 1/2 mile of track. The train was nearly one hour early at this point, largely because 3 February 2023 was a strike day and there had been nothing to get in its way for much of the journey from Doncaster.
37510 at Tibberton My final shot of 37510, 91112, 91115 + 91125 at Tibberton on 3 February 2023 was this as 7Q78 was about to pass the fourth foot crossing and go behind a thick hedge meaning that there would be no chance of a shot of the blunt end of the trailing locomotive.
37610 at Stratford-upon-Avon The monthly test train, 1Q48, was due to visit Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 25 January 2023 with, initially, 37607 being said to be one of the locomotives. This unfortunately was changed and on the day 37610 + 37612 were allocated. The train appeared to be cancelled but did eventually leave Derby RTC some 2 1/2 hours late. By missing out a layover at Tyseleyt LMD and a run to Birmingham Moor Street the deficit decreased to less than an hour as it joined the North Warwickshire Line. There was some light fog in the area and it was this that made me choose to go out for a picture as the misty atmosphere with diffused lighting appeals to me. The shot of 1Q48 arriving with 37612 leading wasn't really worth the effort but I do quite like the effect as 37610 stood in platform 1. I made a short clip YouTube channel to be found here.
37418 at Stratford-upon-Avon Here is the view showing how a WMR trains slightly mucked up the arrival shot of 1Z22 with 50008 in charge on 14 January 2023. I took it just for the record despite the tail lamp being still in place. This locomotive has been to Stratford a couple of times before with the visit on 11 March 1992 being the most notable as it had been named Gordon Grigg just for the one day to mark the retirement of an oil company senior executive for whom the train was run. This shot was taken from the window of Stratford East signal box. The temporary nameplate can be seen in this photograph taken in 1992 as a single unit DMU ran into platform 1.
37418 at Stratford-upon-Avon I went back to Stratford station for another view without a DMU in the way before it left for London Paddington on 14 January 2023. There quite a few of the passengers gathering around to take pictures so I took a wider-angle view than I really wanted but there was no time to wait for a better shot or for the tail lamp to be removed. I had planned a shot further up the line as 1Z23 left so had to clear off within a few minutes.
37418 at Wilmcote The shot I had planned for 1Z23's return to London was from the roadbridge just beyond Wilmcote station. This gives a good view of the GWR footbridge albeit one in a strange sludgy pink colour scheme; the house colours for WMR stations. There was no doubting when the train was coming as one could hear 37418 working hard with its 8 coach train and class 50 as it climbed the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank. The former Station Master's house is in th eright background; a reminder of how well the GWR looked after their staff at least as far as dwellings were concerned.
The North Warwickshire line sees few locomotive hauled trains so when I was told that weedkiller was due to visit on 22 July 1998 I decided that my shot had to be taken somewhere recognisable rather than in an anonymous piece of countryside. Henley-in-Arden was the obvious choice given that at the time it still had a signalbox (albeit switched out in the afternoon) and semaphore signals. 37114 is seen topping the weedkilling train, which was tailed by 37431, heading towards Bearley Junction and Stratford-upon-Avon in the early afternoon.
Stud Farm quarry on the Coalville line provides a great deal of the railway ballast used in the Midlands. In 1995, class 37s were the primary motive power used here and here is 37051 leaving the loader on 21 March 1995 with a long rake of hoppers bound for Northampton. This locomotive was one of the later survivors of the class in general use. I visited this location only once to my regret and I'm sure that this open viewpoint from a bank adjacent to the roadside has been obliterated by unchecked vegetation growth in 2021.645
As soon as 37051 had left Stud Farm on 21 March 1995 I legged it to the bridge at Bagworth Colliery Junction for a shot of it leaving the branch and joining the main Coalville line. On my arrival 37222 was waiting with its empty wagons to go to Stud Fam for loading and an unidentified class 58 went north with empty hoppers on the way to Bardon Hill Quarry just a bit further along. It wasn't possible to take an especially well composed image but there probably aren't many pictures here showing 3 separate trains here. The mining subsidence which plagues this line and is the cause of many speed restrictions is all too evident just beyond the junction.
Once the class 58 had cleared the section at Bagworth Colliery Junction on 21 March 1995 37051 was given the road to joing the main line towards Leicester with its train of ballast for Northampton Yard. The day had started off bright and sunny and I scored a couple of nicely lit shots including this of 47550 at Castle Gresley on the way here but by lunchtime the sky was cloudy with some light drizzle falling.
There are two bridges on the short branch from Bagworth Junction to Stud Farm, the first being a farm occupation bridge near to where this picture of 37222 was taken. I tried a couple of colour slides even with the poor light as I like the Coal Sector on class 37s and as the train was barely moving it worked out reasonably well. In fact, the train was moving so slowly that I had time to walk to the other side of the second bridge for another shot.
The second bridge on the Stud Farm bridge gives road access to the quarry and is part way along 37222's train of empty wagons in this view. I was never sure if one was allowed to be here as the cutting was clearly on the quarry's property but there were quite a few people moving around some of whom waved to me so I took this as tacit permission to be on site.
My notes give few details about this image and all I can recall is that it shows 37029 + 37038 with a 5Z38 ECS working which was passing Foleshill on the Nineaton to Coventry line. The leading locomotive ended up in Long Marston having been dragged there on on 19 March 2009.
Stratford-upon-Avon had seen no freight since the line closed beyond the station in 1976 so the occasional engineering trains were always worth a shot or two. I usually found out them in advance but this one on Sunday 30 May 1998 slipped under the radar until I heard it approach the terminus at around 08.00. It had clearly arrived from a worksite on the North Warwickshire Line for the locomotive to run round and I thought that there should be time to go to the bridge on Bishopton Lane for a picture as is left, probably on the way to Bescot. It was a dull and wet morning but anything locomotive-hauled tempted me out and 37230 was the only Transrail/Dutch liveried example to have visited Stratford.
Much as I loved black & white photography this is one of those pictures that I should have much preferred to have been on a colour slide film. It shows 37893 leaving Basingstoke with a Micheldever to Ripple Lane empty oil train on 1 August 1991. It appeared at exactly the wrong moment while I was changing films in my Olympus OM1n so this was the only shot I was able to take. The class 37 had travelled on the up slow line before crossing to the Reading line and 56051, just visible in the station on the up fast, left as the oil tanks had cleared the junction. I didn't have time to complete the film change in my 35mm camera so had to take this view of it with the Whatley to Woking loaded stone boxes.
This is a sequence of black & white pictures showing a Long Marston to Didcot working on 16 June 1998. The train was a 6Z36 with 37245 running from Long Marston to Didcot on 16 June 1998 for which I took an afternoon off work. I didn't arrive in time for the inward working and only just in time for the train's departure. The MOD was running down operations here at this time and the train was used to remove a long rake of wagons from the site. The light was dreadful and when this photograph was taken at 13.20 a light drizzle had just begun to fall. There hadn't appeared to be any prospect of sun and I left home with just a Mamiya 645 loaded with TRI-X, and struggled even with this 400asa film.
I had a quick drive down to Honeybourne Junction to picture 6Z36's arrival. The light had deteriorated further since 37245 had left Long Marston and it was fortunate that the train was standing still at this point so that a slow shutter speed could be used. The picture shows a departure from current operations in that the train has pulled forward over the pointwork to give the crew a shorter walk in order to reach the ground frame. Not longer after this date the trackwork was condemned as unfit for use and trains were supposed to stop before the junction.This ruling was been ignored a few times such as here in September 2008 and it must be said that it offered a much better picture opportunity than when the rule was followed.
Once permission had been gained for 6Z36 to join the main line towards Worcester, the train set back to the junction and once the road had been set, ran forward into Honeybourne station before heading west to Evesham. For some reason, the crew member who operated the ground frame had climbed back aboard 37245 so had to dismount again once when in the platform and walk back to reset the points behind the train.
I obviously had more enthusiasm in 1998, when workings such as this were very rare, as I set off in pursuit of 6Z36 and reached Lower Moor, between Evesham and Pershore, in time for another shot, this time in pouring rain. These days, I wouldn't quite probably bother to chase around like this.
As I left Lower Moor with the intention of going home and into the dry, I saw that the sky to the west was clearing quite rapidly. As it still early, just after 2pm, I decided to go to Croome Perry for a final photograph of 37245 after it had run round at Worcester and returned south - it was booked to run to Didcot via Gloucester and Swindon. Just after 3pm the sky finally cleared and 6Z36 gave me the only sunny shot of the afternoon. I would have much preferred the branch line shots to have been in the sun rather than this one on the main Birmingham to Gloucester line - pictures away from the main line are always more satisfying to me. It was notable that no oher photographers were around this afternoon. If something similar happened today I suspect that this wouldn't be the case.
I am not a great user of the static shot, but now and again one comes along which asks to be taken. 37042 is seen here stabled at Didcot along with 37897, 60099 and 66052. It was remarkable that 37042 survived as long as it did; no doubt this was due to it being fitted with RETB which allowed its use on ballast and special trains on the Cambrian line.
A railtour from Crewe to Weymouth ran on 23 May 2009 and here is 1Z44 hauled by 37602 + 37069 passing the stone terminal just north of Banbury station. Unsurprisingly there was quite a gallery here on such a nice morning but there is plenty of room on this bridge and everyone had the image they wanted.
On 11 April 1995 I went to Calvert to photograph the empty Bristol and Bath landfill containers only to find that the train had gone very early; in fact about 90 minutes before its booked time. On arrival at the bridge at Claydon I saw the tail light disappearing into the distance so had a fast drive to the crossing at Launton and arrived just as the barriers dropped. Within a few seconds I saw and heard 37715 coming past the signal in the background and reckoned that the driver was keen to get to Bicester in time for an early path and before the 2 hourly passenger train was anywhere near joining the single track at Oxford North Junction. I can't judge speed very well but have a sort of feeling that 37715, judging by the exhaust smoke and from the big grin and thumbs-up from the driver, that the 20mph line speed limit might possibly have been temporarily suspended (!) and that he would make the early slot from Bicester!
My plan for the sunny day of 11 April 1995 was to go to Didcot after the Calvert line for some main line action and so after leaving Launton I went straight down the A34 and then onto the bridge over the connecting line from the Oxford line to the Swindon road. I hadn't been in place for long when 37715 appeared proving my supposition that the bins had got away early from Bicester. This is a poor location not least because the back of train is lost on the tight curve but it's the only shot I have of the bins here so worth including.
The Calvert bin train was held at Didcot on 11 April 1996 to allow a few passenger train to pass so I had time to drive to the bridge at Milton a little way to the west of the station. The train headed by 37715 ran on the down relief line and was almost over-shadowed by the bulk of Didcot Power Station. All of this infrastructure has now been demolished and the shot has probably been made difficult because of the OHLE catenary.
This photograph was taken on the Bicester to Oxford line in 1999 before it was re-doubled and had an intensive passenger service. It shows 37695 with the Bicester to Didcot stores train from the COD depot which ran most days albeit withlight engine moves in one direction of other on occasions. The train is passing the junction for the disused Islip oil terminal which, until 1969, received up to 60 tanks of oil each day which was apparently sent by pipeline to Upper Heyford RAF base. There were no large storage tanks on site so this seems a vaild theory in the absence of any concrete information I could find with a quick search.
A very poor quality image but just about worth putting online because it would be impossible to repeat. It was taken on Saturday 18 December 1999 with 37689 near Islip with the weekly coal train heading Bicester COD. This train was hauled by anything that happened to be spare at Toton and I photographed classes 37, 56, 58 and even a RES 47 on one occasion.
Every couple of weeks the NMT HST runs from Swansea to Derby. On 28 July 2007 the scheduled train, 1Z94, was in the hands of DRS class 37s, 37607 and 37612 because the NMT power cars were unavailable. I had mixed feelings about this, as although the colour contrast between the blue and yellow locomotives and stock is attractive, I hadn't, through various circumstances, managed to get a decent shot of the full HST on this working. Still, I expect that an opportunity will present itself before the nights start to draw in again. Whilst most of the afternoon had seen unbroken sun, at around 17.00 quite a bit of cloud began, as usual, to spill off the Malvern Hills a few miles to the north west. A large patch had just cleared as 1Z94 came into view, much to the relief of the small gallery waiting on the roadbridge at Defford.
In 1991 there were locomotive-hauled trains between Birmingham and Aberystwyth with class 37 power. On 7 July 37418 was allocated and in this picture I shot it arriving at Wellington, Shropshire where semaphore signals still controlled all movements. I had photographed the train earlier in the day on its way to Birmingham and as it was such a nice day decided to wait for the return.
37800 + 37884 at Hatton I don't often bother to travel for a light engine move but did drive to Hatton on Friday 12 November 2022 for a shot of newly reliveried 37800 which had just received ROG's very tidy blue colour scheme. The locomotive ran from Derby RTC to Bicester COD with 37884 as insurance early in the morning and before it was properly light in Warwickshire. The return, 0V59, was due to pass Hatton at 16.02 and with cloudy skies I thought a shot would possible. I know that I won't bother to go far for a picture of 37800 on a proper train so having one in the bag while it was still clean seemed like a good idea. Unfortunately, the sun came out and as anyone who knows the area will realise that this doesn't help a lot at this time of year and being on the "wrong" side of the line makes it worse. With a bit of fiddling in the Nikon FX2 raw convertor and a bit more in CS2 a half-decent picture of the smart vinyls was possible. I assume that all ROG class 37s currently in the Phoenix livery will have their colour scheme changed to match the company's class 47s. The train ran a few minutes early following 4M19 which had just left Hatton DGL. The signal at the platform end cleared to green as 0V59 approached and the driver opened up the regulator setting off at least car alarm in the process.
37417 + 37370 at Hereford One of the few freights that ran on the North & West line on Sundays during 1991 was the Burngullow to Irvine china clay tanks. I was there on 8 September 1991 primarily to photograph 47582 on a Paddington service but in retrospect the tank train was probably more interesting. Class 37 was the standard motive power for the working at the time with 37417 + 37370 being allocated on this occasion. The tanks were relatively new at the time and were commonly called Silver Bullets. I can't remember why I didn't take a colour slide but had probably used up my supply of film on various views of 47582 and a few units.
37714 at Bescot I spent a couple of hours around Bescot on a misty and cold 22 November 1991 in the days when freight traffic was frequent and with a good variety of locomotive classes to photograph. This picture shows 37714 with a Wolverhampton to Lackenby train of empty steel wagons just to the north of Bescot Stadium station and taking the line to Walsall and Sutton Park.
37902 leaving Piggot's scrapyard at Braunstone, Leicester I do like industrial scenery and there wasn't much better than that to be found around Braunstone Gate at Leicester in 1991. This shot from 5 October 1991 shows 37902 leaving Piggott's scrapyard with the Saturdays Only 11.35 scrap metal boxes to Cardiff. The former Great Central main line is now a footpath and cycle track which passes underneath the Upperton Road bridge.
37902 leaving Piggott's scrapyard at Braunstone, Leicester There was plenty of time to change from a 150mm lens to an 80mm as the train pulled away from Piggott's scrapyard and towards the main line on 5 October 1991 and I recall that with the combination of a heavy train and some sharp curvature in the track the locomotive was making a decent amount of noise as it passed by. There is a lot more information and pictures of this area to be found on this highly recommended site.
37421 at Cosford The morning Cambrian Line to Wolverhampton was quite popular both with photographers and haulage fans because of its class 37/4 motive power. I took this shot of 37421 on 14 September 1991 as it was about to pass through Cosford station. The weather on the previous Saturday had been completely different when I photographed 37418 on the same train as it left Wellington. The locomotive in the black & white shot is still working with Colas in 2022 as shown here on 7 September 2022 as it ran through Evesham with a Derby to Bristol test train.
37705 at Reading I don't know a lot about this train apart from the locomotive, 37705, and the location, Reading. It was taken sometime in mid-1991 but it doesn't appear anywhere in my notes. It is probably a set of empty oil tanks from Didcot Power Station heading back to one of the refineries, possibly Thameshaven. I didn't buy my Morris Minor until the year after the date of this picture or I would have made sure that it was completely in the picture along with the 3 varieties of Fords also visble.
37610 + 37607 at Small Heath Eagle Raitours ran a Cumbrian Mountain Explorer, 1Z37, from Leamington Spa on Saturday 26 March 1999. On the previous day the ECS was sent to Tyseley for overnight stabling and with this, along with several freights and a sunny afternoon prompted me to take the afternoon off work and head for Small Heath. Here is that train with its nicely mixed set of stock running slowly along the up main line before being sent into Tyseley depot via the ladder crossver a few hundred yards further on.
The day following my shot at Small Heath on 26 March 1999 I went to Birmingham again for a picture of the same pair or DRS class 37s but this time with the railtour ityself rather than ECS. The curvature of the line here is such that it's not possible to include the whole of a decent length train which was a shame for this as 31468 was on th rear of the stock to provide ETH.
37421 at Wilmcote Class 37 was again allocated to the monthly test train to Stratford-upon-Avon, 1Q48, on Tuesday 4 October 2022. I have taken plenty of static shots at Stratford station so for a change went to Wilmcote where some LED lamps have been installed. Some of these are the sort that are movement actuated so it was necessary to walk past them now and again to keep them lit for when the train passed by. On this occasion 37421 was leading 37116 on the usual set of Network Rail coaches and the best lit spot on the station was such that only part of the formation was visible.
37421 at Stratford-upon-Avon Later on 6 September 2022 something of more general interest than 196108 visited Stratford-upon-Avon in the form of 37421 and 37219 working the test train 1Q48 from Derby RTC in place of the now usual HST-powered train. Despite this there were only 2 of us there for its first visit of the evening pictured here as it slowed for the stop in platform 1.
37219 at Stratford-upon-Avon There is always time for a few bracketed exposure shots of 1Q48 once the driver has changed ends and switched on the white nose lights (and hopefully those in the cab) before it pulls out on its way to Leamington Spa. Having done probably far too many shots of these workings since the installation of LED lamps on the platforms I now know what exposure is required so don't spend too much time on the images. This locomotive was one of, if not the first of its class, to receive the Colas colours and here is my earliest shot of it in the livery at Long Marston on 20 June 2014. The front end has been noticeably modified since then.
37421 + 37219 passing Evesham Following 1Q48's trips to Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday evening the usual diagram is for it to run to Bristol during the next morning with the headcode 1Z22. The stock is generally the same set as for 1Q48 but on Wednesday 7 September 2022 Railcams showed that HST PCs were in charge. Whether this was guesswork on someone's part, a deliberately mischievious act or a simple mistake will never be known but it did cause a flurry of Whatsapp, email and text messages to fly around. I eventually had a call from a reliable source saying that 37421 + 37219 were indeed on the train so fancying a shot of 1Z22 passing Evesham station had a drive over. The sky was largely cloudy but a nice big clear patch appeared a minute or so before 37421's nose appeared in the background.
In the summer of 1999 the Humber to Baglan Bay trains of LPG tanks had not succumbed to class 66 haulage and removal from the timetable altogether before much longer. On 23 July 37709 in partial Mainline livery was allocated to the returning empties and is seen here near Up Hatherley on the outskirts of Cheltenham at the time of day when the sun was at its highest and least suitable for photography. 645
There weren't many diagrams for class 37 along the Basingstoke to Southampton line in 1990 but there were a couple of daily return workings between Ripple Lane and Micheldever Oil Terminal. This picture was taken on 6 August 1990 at Battledown just to the west of Basingstoke as 37890 took a heavy load of oil to be unloaded.
I was at work on the morning of 15 February 2001 when a signalman friend rang to say that 37799 had earlier taken a trainload of cars to Southampton and would be coming north on the early afternoon 6M49. As it was a beautiful day, I awarded myself the afternoon off for good behaviour and decided on Hatton North Junction as a suitable location. This picture shows Hatton North Junction before its remodelling and removal of the boarded crossing in favour of a new footbridge. Not only did 37799 appear on cue, but I also photographed Loadhaul 60059 on 6M01 from Hinksey to Stud Farm and a 47 instead of the usual 57 on the 4M55 Southampton to Lawley Street freightliner. 645
On 6 May 1989 the Growler Group ran a railtour from Wolverhampton to South Wales, where several colliery lines, including the then threatened branch to Tower, were traversed with the help of 37702 added to the rear at Radyr. The train is seen here passing Longbridge behind 37355 after running from its starting point via Bescot, New Street, St. Andrews Junction and the Camp Hill freight line. My slide mount says that the tour "broke the rules" and if I remember correctly there had recently been a ban on non-ETH locomotives being used on railtours. 645
I had just arrived at Cosford on the misty morning of 29 November 1990 when 37167 appeared with the Washwood Heath to Gobowen Speeedlink Coal Network service. The distinctive wooden platform are station buildings are prominent in this view all of which have now been removed and replaced with their modern and mundane modern counterparts.
The Gobowen SCN train was slip-worked with the previous working's empty HEAs being taken back to Washwood Heath. The return of the train shown above is shown here with 37167 accelerating towards Cosford station after a signal check on 29 November 1990. The weather wasn't much better than for the outwards working and the locomotive's exhaust smoke didn't exactly help the overall murky look of the scene but the accompanying noise was welcome at the time.
One of the first locomotives painted into a corporate livery was 37501 which received the light blue house colours of British Steel, latterly Corus. The locomotive is seen here passing Washwood Heath No. 5 signalbox in the company of sister loco 37502 with a lightweight Cardiff to Scunthorpe empty steel train. The date of this photograph is 14 May 1988 - the last Saturday of class 31s on Birmingham to Norwich services which is why at this location. The light did not get any better than very hazy all day, but as this is my only even half-decent picture of 37501 in this livery...645
This image is dated 16 August 1999 and shows 37796 at Catholme near Wichnor Junction with the regular Beeston to Cardiff scrap metal train which additionally picked up more traffic from Kingsbury. Sectorisation of locomotive allocation was finished by the time of the picture hence the welcome use of a former Trainload Coal locomotive on this service. 645
37611 at Lower Moor Another set of class 196 vehicles was due to be taken from storage at Long Marston on Monday 1 August 2022. As is often the case 2 schedules were shown with the first likely to be cancelled and this is exactly what happened. The second path was used with 37611 with 5 barrier vehicles leaving Derby and keeping close to right time to Worcester where a 20 minute break was required for the single line from Norton Junction to Evesham to be cleared by Great Western IETs. For once everything ran as planned and here is 5V94 coming around the curve between Lower Moor and Fladbury at 12.00, just about the worst time in the summer when the sun is at its highest.
37412 at Ystrad Mynach Not a great picture by any means but one of my few in South Wales. It shows 37412 about to stop at Ystrad Mynach station on 3 February 2001 on the Rhymney line. I really wanted a picture from further along the platform to show the bracket signal but another train was approaching from behind to pick a host of passengers and there was no way that a clear shot was going to be on the cards. This locomotive was no stranger to the Welsh Valleys and here it is on 10 May 1996 at Pontycwmmer with a train of HAAs being loaded with coal destined for Aberthaw power Station.
37412 at Ashchurch The footbridge at Northway, Ashchurch is the setting for this image of 37412 as it runs south on 1 March 2001. The short train of ferrywagons had come from the Metal Box Company at Worcester and was returning to Lllanwern after taking steel products of some description to the factory at Worcester. This closed in the summer of 2013 and removed some interesting traffic from the area. The whole site on the up side of line just outside Shrub Hill station has now been taken over by housing. This locomotive was taken to Long Marston from Barrow Hill on 19 March 2009 and is seen here at Evesham prior to being scrapped. The train also conveyed 37692 + 37029 and was hauled to Long Marston by 20901 + 20905.
37892 at Stratford-upon-Avon I saw from a copy of the Special Traffic Notice in early June 1999 that a special rail clearing train was down to visit Stratford-upon-Avon at around 08.00 on the 11th of that month. I assumed that it would be a weedkiller but it seems that it was a trial run for an RHTT set being tested before the autumnal sessions. There was no news on what the traction would be and it was a pleasant surprise when topped-and-tailed class 37s appeared with a single water tank and staff/control coach. The leading locomotive was 37892 with 37198 on the back and the short train is shown here about to stop in platform 1 prior to a reversal.
37198 at Stratford-upon-Avon Mainline blue 37198 was on the north end of the short RHTT train at Stratford-upon-Avon on 11 June 1999 and I would very much have a liked a colour slide of it as it stood in platform 1. The light was dreadful and this black & white image was taken on 120 Kodak Tri-X 400asa film at 1/125 @ f2.8 and even that was a bit under-exposed so without a tripod there wasn't much hope for a colour slide on 100asa stock. Before the train moved away I went down the platform a short way and took final view with 37892 just before it left the station.
37694 at Cropredy The bridge near Cropredy, just north of Banbury, was a pleasant enough but slightly dull location for a southbound train in the summer of 1999. This picture which I took on 21 August shows 37694 with a Saturday afternoon working of a Bescot to Sheerness empty steel vans train which had originated at Wolverhampton but staged overnight at Bescot.
37274 + 37175 at Stoke Prior Class 60s seemed to operate most of the Cliffe Vale to St Blazey china clay empties by early 1999 but on 29 April I had a message that 37274 + 37175 would be on the train the following morning. I wangled some time off work and went to Stoke Prior south of Bromsgrove for a shot in the hope that the train wouldn't be running along the loop as the lineside trees were beecoming a bit intrusive at the time.
37601 with 2 class 91s at Defford Two withdrawn class 91s were sent from Crewe for scrapping at Sims at Newport on 29 June 2022 and because of gauging issues had to run to Nuneaton where they reversed and headed towards Birmingham and Cheltenham. I have never had a lot of interest in electric locomotives and had never photographed a class 91 so with convenient timings and routing went across to Defford on the Birmingham to Cheltenham line. I had little hope of getting a sunny shot and drove through a heavy shower on the way from home and sat through another even heavier while waiting for 5Q78 to get a bit closer. The rain cleared with about 10 mminutes to spare and the sun came out into a clear sky. The train, hauled by 37601 with 91122 + 91128, the latter with its nameplate, Intercity 50, still attached and barriers and tailed by 37608, was a visual palindrome (© Adrian Kenny) especially with the class 91s being marshalled back-to-back.
37884 at Honeybourne There were two trains to Long Marston hauled by ROG class 37 locomotives on Monday 14 June 2022. The first involved a couple of WMR class 196 DMUs going from Tyseley to be stored until at last they can (or cannot!) be put into service. I didn't bother with this but the second was more interesting being 768001 (formerly 319010) from Orion Rail being taken from Crewe with a short layover at Soho LMD to Long Marston for display at the 2022 Rail Live event. This unit is a bi-mode set intended for the movement of parcels traffic around the network. It is to be hoped that they are more sucessful than the GWR passenger version, class 769 which at the moment seem unlikely ever to be used. The train ran as 5Q94 and after a slightly late start from Soho was on time for most of the journey. I went to Honeybourne and arrived to find two crew members waiting with the single line token in their possession. The train appeared within a few minutes and passed the temporary platform under construction for the Rail Live shuttles.
37884 at Honeybourne There were two trains to Long Marston hauled by ROG class 37 locomotives on Monday 14 June 2022. The first involved a couple of WMR class 196 DMUs going from Tyseley to be stored until at last they can (or cannot!) be put into service. I didn't bother with this but the second was more interesting being 768001 (formerly 319010) from Orion Rail being taken from Crewe with a short layover at Soho LMD to Long Marston for display at the 2022 Rail Live event. This unit is a bi-mode set intended for the movement of parcels traffic around the network. It is to be hoped that they are more sucessful than the GWR passenger version, class 769 which at the moment seem unlikely ever to be used. The train ran as 5Q94 and after a slightly late start from Soho was on time for most of the journey. I went to Honeybourne and arrived to find two crew members waiting with the single line token in their possession. The train appeared within a few minutes and passed the temporary platform under construction for the Rail Live shuttles.
37884 + 768001 at Honeybourne The more interesting picture of 5Q94 at Honeybourne on 13 June 2022 was this one showing 768001 on its way to Long Marston. There was no need for the train to stop at the Staff Hut to pick up the token as the crew joining it at Honeybourne had already collected it which made a chase for an arrival shot less likely to succeed. It became an impossibility when I discovered that the road through Honeybourne village was closed for roadworks of some description meaning a lengthy diversion had to be made.
37884 + 768001 at Long Marston As I suspected, 5Q94 had been at Long Marston for a while when I arrived on 13 June 2022 and 768001 was in an unphotographable position behind the thick hedge. The previous arrival, 37601 and 5 barriers, had been separated from the 2 class 196 DMUs it had brought from Tyseley LMD and was ready to be coupled to 37884 reading for the return to Derby RTC. Several class 196s can be seen in seen in this distant shot with the preparations for Rail Live 2022 under way.
37884 + 37601 at Long Marston It took a few minutes to uncoupled 37884 from 768001 and move it forward onto the five barrier coaches used as brake force for the class 196 move from Tyseley earlier in the afternoon. The train, 5M58, stood here for a while and I waited for a a patch of sun to reach it but no luck whilst virtually everywhere else in the area was well lit at some point! This shot was taken as it began to move and this final image was taken after a quick lens change as it joined the branch to Honeybourne.
There were several unusual passenger trains through Leamington Spa on 11 May 1985 following a derailment in the London area. Some called at Leamington while others were sent along the main lines. This one was hauled by 37180 and branched off towards Coventry where an AC electric locomotive took it forward. The background here has changed since 1985 with a the contruction of large apartment blocks behind the GWR station on the site of the former Midland line to Rugby.
On 21 August 2001 the Severn Valley Railway had a visit from an autoballaster set to help with a ballast drop. Unusually, the train was hauled from Bescot by 50031 + 50049 and this was enough to have an early drive to Kidderminster for a few pictures. It was too dark for a shot even with 400asa TRI-X film as the train passed the main line station but the ballast drop didn't take long and here is a picture from the old footbridge (known locally as Graham's Bridge) as the SVR's 37906 brought the train back from the worksite. If I remember correctly, the exposure on Fujichrome 100 was 1/15 second at f2.8 as the train stood waiting for the 37 to be uncoupled.
It was back to black & white for a picture as 37906 moved so that a sharp image could be achieved. I think that the driver was playing to the gallery a bit as some of his colleagues were on the lineside as the locomotive moved into the platform at Kidderminster SVR so that the class 50s could be released and run-round their train for the return to Bescot. The light was dreadful for the whole morning but even though the picture quality is poor the sound on this video clip of 37906 coming into Kidderminster is reasonable.
The empty acetic tanks from Hull Saltend to Baglan Bay were a popular subject for photographers in the early months of the 21st century. On 11 May 2001 I went to Northway footbridge near Ashchurch for a shot of 37886 working 6V14 and was fortunate that the light, becoming hazy, hung for long enough to take this image as it accelerated away from a check at the signal by the road crossing in the background. This train was mostly hauled by class 37s but occasional substitutions from class 56 did happen as on 17 June 2000 when 56120 was in charge, again photographed at Northway.
On 11 May 2001 37415 + 37503 worked the empty oil tanks, 6V52, the Ironbridge Power Station to Cardiff Tidal. The light was past its best by 17.35 as the train approached the footbridge at Northway, near Ashchurch station. It was moving slowly which indicated that it was going to be turned into the goods loop. Class 37s on this train were not common by this time so had to be taken despite the hazy light. Once the train had passed the footbridge I had a quick drive to the station for a picture of 6V52 as it left the goods loop. The sun had gone altogether by this time but in retrospect the shot was worthwhile anyway.
In 1997 there was a regular MGR with HAA hoppers from Silverdale Colliery to Llanwern steelworks. On 22 August I had a tip that unusual motive power was on the train and went to Stoke Prior for a picture or two. I was slightly disappointed when 37023 + 37262 came around the curve from Bromsgrove in the down goods loop but fortunately the undergrowth wasn't too bad and a reasonable shot was still possible. The usual motive power for 7V18 was a class 56 as on 15 August 1997 and occasionally a class 60 which I photographed with 60011 on 30 April of that year.
A single class 37/7s was allocated to the Bristol to Calvert bins in December 1994 but on the 9th of that month I arrived to find 38057 + 37012 deputising for the expected heavyweight. Unloading was just about complete as I walked to the bridge from the parking spot and it was apparent that both locomotives were chucking out some smoke as they crawled along. When the driver opened up to move the train over the crossover just beyond the bridge 37057 erupted and filled the sky with smoke and dropped the exposure value by about 5 stops meaning that my 645 negative was badly underexposed. It took a lot of jiggery-pokery both in the scanning software and Photoshop CS2 to obtain even this very mediocre image with the low winter sun in completely the wrong place.
The sun, I knew, would be much more favourable on the up side of Bicester London Road station so I went straight there and waited on the roadside for the usual departure time, about 12.20. The oil from the exhaust drums which had caused so much smoke at Calvert had cleared but there was still a trace of smoke as the train accelerated away from its enforced pathing stop. The sun was just about high enough to avoid too many shadows across the line and I can still recall the noise that 37057 + 37012 were making.
Now, be honest. Having just seen that spectacle at Bicester and with time to spare, wouldn't you have jumped into the car and belted down the A34 (pre-speed cameras!) to Didcot for another crack at the bins? I did, arriving with 3 minutes to spare only to find that someone in the signalling centre had decided to cross the train over onto the main line instead of the relief it usually occupied. Still, nothing to be done about it and the shot was taken at 12.57 in increasingly murky light largely the result of steam and smoke from the nearby power station on this cold day. The leading locomotive, 37057, is still extant in 2020 but now carrying a version of the green colour scheme it wore when first built. Here it is at Honeybourne in 2016 when on the way to Long Marston with a test train.
No account of class 37 in the Midlands would be complete without a view of the 6V14 Hull Saltend to Baglan acetic acid tanks. This location has probably seen more photographs taken of the train than any other in the area and depicts 37887 at Croome Perry on the sunny afternoon of 14 May 1997. This train was popular with photographers, including me, and I have many images of it more of which appear elsewhere in the this section.
A shot of the same train north of Birmingham. Class 37/7 37711 is seen hauling the 6V14 Hull to Baglan Bay "vinegar tanks" towards Burton-on Trent on 10 September 1997.
The summer of 1997 marked quite a high point for class 37s on various freight workings in the Midlands. In the evenings there was the chance to photograph a pair of the locomotives on a Swindon to Stud Farm empty ballast train but the timings were such that a sunny evening was required. I had very little luck with this train and this is about the best of a poor lot. It was taken at Croome Perry and despite the clear-looking sky there was plenty of cloud behind me as 37372 + 37377 came north with their short train.
A train that has long since ceased operation is the Baglan Bay to Humber pressure tanks, 6E08. On 23 May 1997 37708 worked the train instead of the arguably more regular class 56. This passed the bridge at Croome Perry at around 14.30 so it was always going to be heavily backlit but I'm not obsessive about having the sun on the front especially when the working is a bit unusual for some reason.
An early start on Saturday 2 August 1997 for a picture of Pathfinder's "The Pembrokeshire Pageant". The fog had cleared just enough by the time that 37274 + 37686 appeared on the long straight piece of track on the approach to Ashchurch at 07.05. I chose this location because the lineside on the sunny side was clear of vegetation and allowed a shadow-free photograph.
37800 with 196110 at Honeybourne Despite having decided earlier in the day on 3 May 2022 that I wasn't going to bother with 37800 taking a class 196 DMU from Long Marston, when I saw that the inward working of barriers was about 60 minutes late arriving at the Warwickshire site and that the sky was brightening nicely things changed. On driving past Long Marston it was clear that the requisite shunting had taken place and that 37800 was about to couple up to the front of the consist. I drove straight off towards Honeybourne only to find that the road through Pebworth was closed making a lengthy diversion necessary complete with several slow tractors on narrow lanes. There was still plenty of time and I had to wait only about 10 minutes before I heard 56Q66 with 196110 rumbling along the branch towards the hut in which the single line staff is kept. It soon moved away and approached the road bridge and the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction where it would have had to have waited for the up IET due in about 5 minutes.
37610 + 37521 at Long Marston The schedules for Wednesday 20 April 2022 showed an empty stock move from Long Marston to Wolverton which was running on an unusual route. For a change, instead of being routed via Worcester 5Q70 was to reverse at Honeybourne and then go south through Moreton in Marsh to Oxford before reversing again and heading for Birmingham, Whitacre Junction and Nuneaton to gain the WCML and so on to Wolverton. This clearly necessitated toppped and tailed locomotives and ROG provided 37610 and 37510 with a couple of barrier wagons which arrived at Long Marston at around 09.30. I arrived about 75 minutes after this and found the train with 769927 between the locomotives and barriers already assembled and receiving some final checks.
37610 + 37521 at Thistley Hill The train shown above had to reach Moreton in Marsh before 5Q70 was released from Honeybourne to reversal and it was 16 later when I heard 37601 with 7699927, the barriers and 37521 dead on the back climbing the 1/100 of Campden Bank. The gradient was enough to allow the locomotive to produce some decent noise after the standing start at the foot of the bank. Although the lineside here was cleared a couple fo years ago it won't be long before this view is obscured once again. I had intended to go to Hatton North Junction for another shot at about 15.00 but inertia took over...
37601 at Evesham Three 2 car class 196 DMUs were taken for storage from Tyseley LMD to Long Marston on Tuesday 29 March 2022. The weather was dull and drizzly but despite this I wanted a shot of the 196s on the North Cotswold Line itself having already taken some on the Long Marston branch and inside the site itself. I chose the bridge near Evesham signalbox for my picture and here is 5Q94 with 37601 leading 196004, 196008 and 196009 past the signalbox along with 5 translator/barrier wagons. So many wagons were necessary because the units' brakes were isolated and the consist needed a through air pipe to be passed through them to link to the rear wagons. I took a separate image of 196009 and the four barriers as 5Q94 accelerated through Evesham station.
37418 at Hatton This train was the principal reason for being at Hatton North Junction on 8 March 2022. Two oil tanks were taken from Eastleigh to Sinfin Sidings at Derby following some refurbishment work. They had gone south on in very different weather conditions behind 56049 on 16 February so it was a nice bonus that 37418 brought them back in perfect light. The train had been stopped just south of Hatton station before being routed via the Stratford Branch platform and across the spur to the down main line. This, along with an enthusiastic driver, pleased the videographers waiting for it as even with a light load there was a decent amount of exhaust noise and some smoke, not to mention a lot of horn blowing. This locomotive is one of the few of its class to have visited Stratford-upon-Avon on two occasions. The first was on 11 March 1992 when it was temporarily named Gordon Grigg to mark the retirement of an oil company executive for whom the train was charted. The next visit was a charter from Cardiff on 19 March 1994 which I photographed as it stood in platform 3.
DRS 37218 + 37425 Direct Rail Services are no longer to provide locomotives for charter trains and the final use of their class 37s was on Saturday 12 March 2022 with a Bristol Temple Meads to Bolton train, 1Z12. I don't often go out for railtours these days but as it was a clear and sunny morning it seemed like a good idea to go to Stoke Prior for a shot of 37218 leading 37425 on the 12 coach Mk1 set. Needless to day the weather clouded up rapidly as I approached the village and by the time the gallery could hear 1Z12 approaching the cloud cover was complete. It was a shame that 37425 was the train locomotive rather than pilot but as 38218 doesn't have ETH capability there was no option.
37510 with 458507 at Honeybourne Another South Western Railway EMU, this time Juniper 458507, was taken from Wimbledon CS to Long Marston for storage on 21 January 2021. Given that the weather was again dire I wasn't going to bother but then suspected that because 5Q94 was topped and tailed with 37611 and 37510 there was a strong possibility that it would reverse at Honeybourne than have to run all the way to and from Worcester to access the branch. On arrival on the bridge I could see that the signal for the down main line was red and as the train was just past Moreton-in-Marsh this confirmed my suspicion. The shot of it arriving approaching the roadbridge at Honeybourne was so similar to others I have taken recently that there was little point in uploading it. This picture shows 57510 drawing to a halt to allow the second crew member to leave the train and wait for his train north to Worcester. Note that both red and white lights were lit at this point; this was rectified before the formation moved off towards the Staff Hut.
37510 with 458507 at Honeybourne As 5Q94 was a reasonably heavy train it was a fair assumption that there would be some exhaust smoke from 37510 as it moved away from Honeybourne on 21 January 2021. There was a bit of smoke so I took this shot even though the light level was very low . It was shame in a way that the 5Q94 included translator vehicles as the EMU was my primary interest given the type's rarity in Warwickshire. With this in mind I took another shot as 37510 took its train away towards Long Marston via a single line staff exchange. By this time it was dark I didn't bother to go to Long Marston for another shot especially as the angle for the picture there is so tight that the unit would be barely visible.
37800 with 3 class 455 sets at Honeybourne Three South Western Railway suburban EMUs, 455736 + 455704 + 456003, were taken at the second time of asking from Wimbledon CS to Long Marston on Tuesday 18 January 2022. The units, not the first of their type to enter Long Marston although the others travelled by road, were going for storage although it is hard to see that they have any future use. The locomotive used was 37800 and 5Q94 is seen here approaching Honeybourne on its way to Worcester for reversal. The return to Honeybourne was after sunset and it was dark enough for me at shortly after 3pm so there ws no chance of any more shots. The units were considerably cleaner and brighter than 37800 and here is a view of 2 coach 456003 bringing up the rear of the formation.
37116 tnt 37254 at Lower Moor. The usual diagram for the monthly test train visiting Stratford-upon-Avon on a Tuesday is for the same formation to run to Bristol on the Wednesday and back to either Tyseley or Derby RTC on Thursday. On 30 November 2021 the Stratford train was in the hands of HST power cars but these were swapped for 37116 + 37254 for the Bristol runs. I didn't pick up on the Wednesday run until too late but was prepared for the return to Derby. There was nearly another working with a 37 from Bicester COD via Hatton with 37800 dragging some class 365s to Crewe but this changed to no more than a light engine run so the way was clear for a shot of 1Z23. At this time of year locations on the northern end of the Cotswold Line are limited and by far the best is the roadbridge at Lower Moor on the single line from Evesham West Junction to Norton Junction. The train was about 10 minutes late which nearly caused panic amongst the small gathering of photographers but the sun stayed out long enough, by about 40 seconds, for a sunny shot. There are rumours circulating that this may have been one of the final runs of class 37s on the PLPR, in this area at least, with HST power cars poised to take over. Just for the record here is a close-up view of the train.
The Sunday Luncheon Express trains between London Marylebone and Stratford-upon-Avon in the 1980s are best remembered for the variety of steam locomotives used to haul them. At some point it was decided that the coal consumption was a bit high and it was time-consuming and awkward to reload the tender at Stratford so diesel haulage was used from Banbury on the down journey resulting in visits from classes 31, 33, 37, 45 47 and 50. On 20 April 1986 37427 appeared and I photographed it passing under the Bishopton Lane road bridge, now replaced with an ugly concrete version with Stratford Parkway station immdediately beyond it.
It was never certain if the locomotive on the Sunday Luncheon Express would be in a photographable position at Stratford station and on 20 April 1986 it wasn't until 37427 backed its train out of platform 1 that it was clear of shadows. The locomotive release crossover removing the need for this move was not installed to the south of the station until several years after the date of this shot.
I had just one trip to the Barnetby area, this being on Saturday 13 January 1990. The first set of pictures were taken at the station to take advantage of the signals. This picture shows 37377 + 37225 opening up as they return from Scunthorpe steel works to Immingham Dock with a train of empty iron ore hoppers. The same pair of locomotives were around all day and here is another picture of them further down the line later in the day.
Shrewsbury is another location with semaphore signalling and in 2021 most of those in this picture survive. The train is a Dee Marsh to Margam steel working with a pair of plain blue class 37s, in slightly different shades of the colour, 37234 + 37240 providing the power on a very dull 2 July 1988.
In the days when the weedkilling train was locomotive hauled I always hoped 1) that one of the Stratford-upon-Avon signalmen would remember to tell me about it, and 2) that the morning of the annual visit would be sunny. The normal arrival time at the terminus was around 05.45 so that the station area could be sprayed before the first passenger train to Birmingham left at 06.20. On 6 June 1984 one of the regular bobbies was on holiday in Australia and although the other regular man told me about the working he appeared to have forgotten about it on the day and arrived at his usual time before going into a right flap! I had been waiting by the box and could hear the bell of the block instrument ringing as the occupant of Bearley box tried to obtain the road for the train standing at his starter signal. Once the signalman had gone into the box he set to work by allowing 37164 and its vintage-looking train into the section and into the Down Goods Loop where I pictured it standing on the rarely used track.
Once the panic had died down a bit and the signalman had made his peace with the train crew with the promise of tea before they left Stratford on 6 June 1984, 37164 was detached from the weedkilling train and ran-round via platform 1 at the station. This picture was taken from Stratford East signalbox with the gas holders prominent in the background.
After running round the weedkilling train left in the loop at Stratford on Avon on 6 June 1984 and after cans of tea had been given to the crew 37164 was reattached ready to propel the stock into platform 1 ready for departure. Here, the secondman is walking back to the cab after coupling the locomotive and stock.
I must have been low on colour film on 6 June 1984 as this was only shot I took that wasn't in black and white. The train headed by 37164 is crossing from platform 1 at Stratford to the up main photographed from the air raid shelter - a large concrete pipe partly buried in the ground and covered with turf. If one stood on this spot today, albeit aided by levitation as the shelter has gone, the scene would be completely unrecognisable as everything has changed with the exception of the station footbridge although even this would be hidden by the new disabled-friendly version with passenger lifts.
The once regular Bescot to Long Marston trains became a bit thin on the ground after a weeks of regular early in the Spring of 2009 but on 1 July, 6V17, the 10.16 from Bescot did run, conveying a very nice rake of open box wagons which had once conveyed scrap metal. The train, headed by 37670, is here seen approaching Evesham station where it stood for a few minutes to allow a down HST to come into the platform. Once the passenger service was out of its way it was able to head south on the still single track to Honeybourne Junction where it turned off onto the Long Marston Branch. I was surprised to have been alone for this shot given that for most other moves, whatever the motive power, there has usually been one or two other photographers on site. The time of this picture was about 1pm on one of the hottest days of the year so the sun was simply too high in the sky for a really satisfactory image.
Here is another view of a well-weathered 37670 at Evesham with 6V17, the 10.16 Bescot to Long Marston as it passed the inner home signal. The scene here will change dramatically within 12 months when the re-doubling of parts of the Cotswold Line progresses; and as the weeds on the track are swept away! The signal box's semaphore signals disappeared, although the box itseld ws retained complete with an up-tp-date panel. The track was doubled for about one mile from here towards Worcester. Modern electrical signalling will mean that there will be little disadvantage in retaining single track from that point to Norton Junction and will avoid the enormous expense involved in remodelling the junction. The return working to Bescot, 6M17, ran as class 4 and conveyed a single ex-Virgin Trains DVT. As the afternoon was far too hot for my taste I didn't stay out for this, despite early running, but went home and sat under a tree in my garden with a cooling drink...
This Margam to Dee Marsh train of empty steel carriers was pictured passing Woofferton on 28 May 2000 with 37375 + 37174 providing the power. I'd been on the Central Wales Line photographing various freights diverted that way and a stop off provided the chance of a shot of this train the arrivsl of which coincidd with a lucky patch of sunshine in an increasingly gloomy sky. Woofferton signalbox can just be made out towards the back of the train.
A very poor quality picture taken on Kodachrome 64 in dull conditions showing 37116 passing Sutton Bridge Junction at Shrewsbury with an unknown southbound cement working on 27 August 1986. Having asked around some knowledgeable friends it seems likely that this was an special working of empty tanks on its way to the cement facilty at Aberthaw in South Wales. The locomotive's appearance has changed a bit by 2021. It is currently in Colas colours and is mostly used on test trains. The nose-end marker light boxes has gone and the doors in the nose have been plated over.
Class 37s had become quite an unusual sight on the daily steel trains between Margam and Round Oak in early 2003 but on 5 February I had a 'phone call saying that 37682 + 37503 had worked north on 6M81 and would, failures excepting, return to South Wailes with the empty wagons, 6V07. I left work on some pretext or other and went across to Croome Perry near Pershore and after a few passenger trains and a class 60 hauled steel train in each direction the sound of the 37s on 6V07 became audible as they accelerated away from Abbotswood Junction after leaving the North Cotswold line from Norton Junction. I took a short piece of video which can be seen via this link.
There were two class 37 workings to Long Marston on Monday 3 August 2021 the first of which was one of the regular trasnfers of a class 350 UME from Northampton. Here is 37611 with 350127, the final member of its class to carry the green colour scheme, in tow passing around the back of Honeybourne station in horrible light: a dark foreground with a bright sky and background.
37608 approaching Long Marston. Just when you want a nice cloudy and bright sky along comes the sun! Another 3 HST power cars were moved back to Long Marston from Burton on Trent on Tuesday 13 July 2021 and with a dark sky threatening train in Stratford-upon-Avon I thought that a simple record shot with 37608 with 43071, 43061, 43079 entering the site would be worth the few minutes drive. The train took an inordinately long time to travel from Honeybourne and this delay gave the sun a chance to find a big clear patch of sky. To make things worse there was a barrier coach on the back of 5Q94 which wrecked the chance of the shot which I had originally planned. I assume that the barrier was to provide an extra bit of brake force for the train and wondered if the brakes on 1 or 2 of the PCs weren't operational.
When it was open for through traffic I enjoyed photographing on the Stourbridge Junction to Bescot line including soaking up the old-style railway atmosphere around Wednesbury, although I did not visit as much as perhaps I should. This picture of 37197 heading south towards Cardiff on the evening of 22 June 1990 was taken from the abutments of the former GWR line which crossed the existing tracks at this point. For some reason I didn't take a colour picture of this working but in retrospect feel that a black and white image is perhaps better. Anyone interested in the traffic in this area in the 1970s should have a look at the "Wednesbury" section of this  Andy Williams Railway Photos  for some superbly researched details from 1970s signalbox registers along with many superb images.
Staying in the heart of the Black Country for the next photograph here is 37263 on the now-closed Stourbridge Junction to Bescot freight line near Dudley Port with the morning Radyr to Bescot departmental train. I spent a few hours here on the morning of 17 May 1991 and although the weather was pretty awful there was a decent variety of trains, including 2 37s, a pair of 20s, a 47 and a track machine.
I revisited the area shown in the picture above a couple of months later and took this image of 37048 from the bridge visible in the background of that photograph. This time the train was the Round Oak to Boston empty steel working pictured on 26 July 1991. This train had recently gone over to 37 haulage from pairs of class 20s. Unusually for one of my trips to the Black County, the weather wasn't too bad and, as can be seen from the slight shadow thrown by the 37, the sun was trying to make an appearance.
Another black white image shows 37223 descending the bank from Dudley towards Great Bridge with a short rake of coal hoppers from Pensnett. The shot was taken on an exceptionally dull 15 June 1987. I took several pictures in the area during the day, all on 35mm negative film, and not one was anything like properly exposed, so poor were the lighting conditions.
During the afternoon of the ame day as I took the picture above, 15 June 1987, 37223 came back through Dudley Port with a mixed set of steel carrying vans. I took the shot from this side of the line to show the mix of architecture here with various eras of industrial buildings on the left contrasting with modern housing on the right.
This picture was taken close to Stratford-upon-Avon East signalbox some time in 1987 although I can't find the exact date. I was at home in the evening and heard a class 37 come into the station so took a camera down, cleared my presence with the signalman and took a few shots after 37212 had run round its very short train on the down main line. The crew told me that they were to join a road-based gang near Henley-in-Arden where some bits and pieces left from p-way work were to be collected and taken to Bescot.
37611 with HST stock at Evesham. Since taking over the lease at Long Marston Porterbrook has moved a lot of stock there from Burton-on-Trent Wetmore Sidings, including quite a few HST power cars that were originally taken to the Watwickshire site after withdrawal from service but moved after a few weeks. On Tuesday 6 July 2021 another 5Q94 ran this time hauled by 37611 and comprising PCs 43064, 43082, 43043 + 43081 with no coaching stock. There was little chance of decent light but I felt that a record shot would be worth having and went to Evesham. The train ran close to right time and is seen here about to pass through the station. The locomotive later returned light to Derby RTC.
A weekend of engineering work took place at Bishopton, just outside Stratford-upon-Avon, over the weekend of 13 & 14 February 2003 when part of the down line was relaid. Only one train was involved although some road-rail vehicles did some of the work. One of these is shown here dismounting the newly laid track in front of 37695 which allow 7P04 to creep forward and began its ballast drop. This location is now the site of Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station.
As soon as the road-rail vehicle had cleared the tracks at Bishopton on 14 March 2003, 37695 from Bescot with 7P04 moved onto the newly laid track and began to drop ballast. The driver of the train got in touch with me via a mutual friend asking for a photograph and in passing told me that 37695 could barely drag itself along. It was apparently in very poor condition with air leaks making it virtually impossible to keep the brakes off. It certainly seemed to make heavy weather of Wilmcote Bank a couple of hours when I took this rather distant broadside view as it left the possession and headed back to Bescot.
37611 with 5 Mk3 coaches at Hatton The second train I photographed at Hatton on 10 May 2021 was a 5H74 from Castle Donnington to Bicester COD which comprised 37611 with 5 ATW Mk3 coaches. There was some supposition that the coaches were to be coupled to some more at Bicester and taken onwards for use on behalf of GWR to help alleviate the severe shortage of stock caused by the temporary withdrawal of class 800s which have to be inspected for cracks in the bogies. The sun was in a rapidly shrinking patch of clear blue sky but for once the light held on for just long enough. A friend filming 5H74 on the station a few yards behind the road bridge wasn't so fortunate and was completely stuffed by cloud. Before entering service with ROG 37611 was in DRS's fleet as seen here at Honeybourne with another stock move on 22 September 2008.
37512 at Great Bridge I enjoyed my all too few visits to the freight line from Bescot to Stourbridge Junction when it was a through route. On 21 May 1991 Great Bridge was the scene for this late afternoon shot of 37512 heading south with the Wednesbury to Brierley Hill trip of steel wagons. The industrial architecture of this area was the real draw for me and the locomotives and type of train were very much a secondary consideration.
37065 at Aylesbury There was some disruption to fuel oil deliveries by road to some railway fuelling depots in February 2001 and the one at Aylesbury had a special trainload to ensure that the Chiltern depot did not run short. On Saturday 24th the empty oil tanks were said to be removed although the locomotive allocation was unknown to me until part way through the journey when a friend in the area called to let me know. It turned out that the expected class 66 would not materialise and the more interesting 37065 was there doing the shunting. This first image was taken as the train was facing south in the platform prior to being uncoupled and run-round the tanks to point everything in the right direction.
37065 at Aylesbury In this shot from the bridge at the north end of Aylesbury station on 24 February 2001 37065 has been coupled to its train after a shunting move and run-round and will soon move the whole lot into platform 2 ready for departure towards the sidings to the north of the station, as seen in this earlier view of 37308, for another run-round before final departure.
37065 at Aylesbury Here is 37065 at Aylesbury on 24 February 2001 as it leaves the station for its final run-round of the day in the sidings on the then non-passenger line to the north of the station.
37065 at Little Kimble There was plenty of time to head south for the last shot of 37065 on 24 February 2001 as it went towards London with the empty oil tanks from Aylesbury depot. Some local friends were on the scene and led us to a spot in Little Kimble where the owner of an Indian restaurant kindly allowed us to use his car park to avoid too much of a walk. We heard the train coming before everything went quiet for several minutes: almost as if the locomotive had failed. It soon went (very) noisy again and the consensus was that the driver had stopped in a convenient spot for a photograph! He was clearly enthusiastic, to say the least, and this picture doesn't do justice to the scene on the day. I have some video and hope to have this digitally transferred in the near future so that it, and many other similarly noisy bits, can be viewed again.
37510 at Long Marston The North Cotswold Line and Long Marston branch saw 2 movements involving old locomotives on 29 March 2021. The first was 37521 transferring a pair of ATW DVTs to Bicester MOD for further storage and it seems as if a lot of stock is leaving Long Marston at the moment which may be linked to the imminent takeover of the site by Porterbrook. The locomotive was sent from Derby RTC from where it arrived over 30 minutes early and by the time I arrived it was coupled onto the DVTs and looked ready to leave. As it happened there was quite a delay during which I took I took this image of some land clearance going of the trackbed of the former main line to Stratford-upon-Avon presumably because Porterbrook is planning to lay some additional tracks. It was soon time for 37510 to leave albeit over an hour early and it moved onto the Honeybourne branch where it sat for several minutes. With some good fortune a gap appeared in the dense cloud and I reeled off a few shots before it left for Worcester Shrub Hill where it was to be stabled overnight. A clue to the second Long Marston working of the day can be seen in road No1 of the exchange sidings.
37510 at Honeybourne As was mentioned above 37510 and the two ATW DVTs were stabled overnight in the centre road at Worcester Shrub Hill after their arrival from Long Marston on 29 March 2021. On the following morning they continued their journey to Bicester MOD with the train, 5Q74, taking the more unusual route via Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh rather than running up through Birmingham. I wanted a location suitable for a short train but south of Honeybourne North Junction where the Long Marston branch diverges and therefore most locomotive-hauled trains travel. I had thought about Moreton-in-Marsh but the sun would have been straight down the line at 11.30 and not wishing to travel far the platform end at Honeybourne seemed the best bet. The train left Worcester a minute or two early and travelling at speed passed me some 4 minutes ahead of schedule.
37240 at Honeybourne Colas Rail has recently outshopped 37240 in a grey colour scheme with cast plates and Transrail logos. It made a few trips on test trains and on Friday 26 March 2021 was allocated to move 4 Network Rail DVTs for storage from Derby to Long Marston. In the event just 2 vehicles, 82111 + 82145, were moved and with it being an almost spotless locomotive with DVTs of a type which I don't recall having photographed previously went to Honeybourne. My usual route was closed according to a mass or yellow road signs so a diversion of 6 or 7 miles had to be made which meant that time was getting tight. At the end of the diverison it was clear that the road wasn't closed until Honeybourne village and was open to that point! I went onto the road bridge where a very nasty shower of ice pellets (not hail - wrong meteorological conditions for that!) passed a few seconds before 3Z93 reached Honeybourne North Junction. As the train went by there was a nicely dark sky to the west and a spotlight of sun highlighted the DVTs as they ran towards the hut in which the single line staff is kept.
Freight traffic has for many years been a bit thin on the ground along the Wolverhampton to Birmingham main line. In 1987 there were a fgew steel train to and from Wolverhampton Steel Terminal and one of these, albeit very short, is shown here approaching Tipton station behind 37513 + 37514 on its way to Lackenby.
This and the following few pictures were taken at Sutton Bridge Junction just to the south of Shrewsbury station within the space of a couple of hours on 20 June 1987. There was nothing unusual about any of the trains at the time and these class 37s were just part of the day-to-day to traffic. First along just after I arrived was 37214 with the empty Cawoods coal containers from Ellesmere Port going back to one of many possible loading points in South Wales. Without the weekly coal sheets or local information it was impossible to identify the destination but it would have been one of these: Radyr for Abercwmboi or Tower, Gwaun Cae Gurwen, Coedbach and Onllwyn. Thanks to Neil Higson, Adrian Kenny and Richard Davies for the possible loading points.
Also heading away from Shrewsbury on 20 June 1987 was 37429 with a Euston to Aberystwyth service. This would have electric haulage as far as Wolverhampton where the class 37 would have been attached after working an up train earlier in the day. This footbridge at Sutton Bridge Junction was and still is a favourite spot for photographers as it offered a decent shot in both directions for much of the day.
Coming off the Cambrian Line at Sutton Bridge Junction on 20 June 1987 is 37429 with an Aberytwyth to Shrewsbury train. The ballast hoppers in the siding were nicely positioned to add a bit of interest in the foreground. This 6 coach train would be a DMU in 2021 with fewer seats for passengers and certainly no bashers doing a spot of window-hanging!
In the 1986 and 1987 six class 37s were re-engined with alternatives for the standard EE unit. 37206 was fitted with a Ruston RK270T and renumbered 37906 and is seen here at Sutton Bridge Junction Shrewsbury on 20 June 1987 with a Dee Marsh to Margam empty steel train. Some called the 37/9 sub-class the "silent 9s" but my recollection of 37906 here was that it anything but silent as it pulled away from a stop at Shrewsbury station for its run down to South Wales. It was a shame that the sun managed to find a bit of cloud at just the wrong moment for this shot; it had been fully out for most of the morning and the background including the Abbey of St Peter and St Paul was lit.
On Sunday 21 August 1994 both Pathfinder and Hertfordshire Railtours ran special trains to an open day at Crewe. I'm not a fan of these events but the opportunity to photograph a couple of diesel-hauled passenger trains on the WCML appealed, especially as it was a warm and sunny day. In the event, things didn't turn out quite as I had hoped but in retrospect the outcome was more interesting than envisaged. Pathfinder offered 37903+37906 from Bristol, the train being circuitously routed via Birmingham and Nuneaton. My choice of location was Tamworth Low Level station in order to get a recognisable background. As you can see, the class 37s were routed on the down fast line and 33208+33116 on Hertfordshire's train were looped into the platform line. The noise from the Pathfinder train was excceptional as the driver opened up as he passed the Hertfordshire 33s - a clearly intentional bit of taunting! The shot of the class 33s w had to be taken from a less than perfect position but there was clearly little time to make any other arrangements.
The next few pictures show a popular Saturday morning train (popular with me at least) - the 6V70 Cliffe Vale to St. Blazey empty china clay working. It was booked for, and almost always produced a pair of 37/6 locos although on this occasion 37412 was the 2nd loco being led by 37673. The shot below was taken at Standish Junction, south of Gloucester on the frosty morning of 6 October 1993. Engineering work on the junction had caused a 20 mph speed restriction at this point and I recall the locos making quite some racket as they accelerated away towards Cornwall.
The next view of 6V70 was taken at Defford on 21 October 1993. Strangely, although this is a good southbound shot in the morning, I never saw another photographer here for this or any other train until the last few weeks of the Virgin 47s, when those disliking crowds gave up on Croome Perry and found locations with fewer bodies flocking to them. The locomotives on this occasion were 37674 + 37671 both in reasonably clean condition. One of one of the radio telescopes that make up the Jodrell Bank MERLIN (Multi-Element Radio Linked Interferometer Network) radio telescope can just be glimsped in the left background.
Moving further south to Stonehouse in Gloucestershire, 6V70, this time hauled by 37671+37670 is seen accelerating away from a signal check made necessary by a class 142 pacer being routed in front of the freight from Gloucester. The remains of the coal yard here are still visible but gradually disappearing into the undergrowth.
The final shot in this short sequence was a real piece of luck. Pam and I were on the way to our holiday cottage in North Devon on 18 November 1995 and happened to arrive at Junction 27 of the M5 (Tiverton Parkway) at 12.35. Knowing that 6V70 was due there at about that time and that class 60 was shortly to take over this train, I obtained clearance to park up in the lay-by and wait for a few (undefined number) minutes in case the train turned up. At 12.41 a large yellow nose appeared in the distance and 2 minutes later this shot was obtained. The sun was perhaps a little too straight but beggars cannot be choosers and all that and, as far as I know, this was the final run of this train with class 37 power. In case you are wondering, yes the weather was equally good for the whole of our Autumn break!
This is a very poor quality image thanks to the sun having disappeared into cloud only seconds before the shot was taken. It shows 37888 climbing from Acton Yard on 19 July 1989 with a Micheldever to Ripple train of empty oil tanks with a Royal Mail Parcels 2 car DMU overtaking it on the up relief line. A lot of building work is going on in the background and a large tree has been left undisturbed albeit in a slightly precarious-looking position on the cutting side.
The sun came out again at Acton a few minutes later on 19 July 1989 when 37890 descended the bank from the North London Line with a Ripple Lane to Thame oil train. It was possible to avoid quite a long walk to cross the 6 lane road here thanks to a broken panel in the barriers but it was a bit dodgy and needed careful timing so several shots were missed during the day. Even standing on the pavement wasn't necessarily safe as I was almost taken out by a motorcycle courier using the footpath to avoid a knot of traffic caused by the traffic lights a but further up the road.
With the sun being not far off straight into the lens this everyday scene at Alexandra Dock Jnction, Newport on 10 September 1985 was ignored by most of the other photographers present. They were of course waiting for GWR 2-8-0 2857 visible in the background to leave the yard once there was a long enough break in regular traffic. I was happy to take this shot of 37181 on its way to Llanwern with empty steel coil carriers and noted that the locomotive had clearly been somewhere quite dusty in recent days given the odd matt appearance of the bodyside paintwork.
37219 at  Stratford-uypon-Avon Topped and tailed Colas class 37s were used on 1Q48, the monthly test train from Tyseley to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon 23 February 2021. The stock ran as a VST from Derby RTC leaving there nearly 90 minutes late but with some smart running was almost back on time by the time it went to Birmingham Moor Street station for reversal. Arrival at Stratford was only a few minutes late and although the shot of an arrival here in the dark isn't great I toook this as 37219 led its train into platform 1. This locomotive was one of the earlier examples of its class to receive Colas colours; Here it is on similar working at Hatton in July 2015.
37116 at Stratford-upon-Avon> The better shot at Stratford-upon-Avon is after the driver has changed ends on 1Q48 and is preparing to leave. The platforms lights are very bright with a colour temperature close to that of daylight and allow for a hand-held shot which saves lugging a heavy tripod around. The blue colouration on the nose of 37116 is from a different sort of light in the waiting shelter. On this occasion the next passenger train for Leamington Spa was in platform 3 unlike another recent occasion when it had been routed into platform 2 alongside 1Q48. Back in 1987 37116 was one of the class in a non-standard colour scheme as shown here at Worting Junction when hauling a railtour in connectiion with the Basingstoke Open Day.
37401 + 37426 at LLandrindod Wells> Some rare freight activity over the Central Wales took place on 28 May 2000. The target for most photographers was 6M24, a train of steel coils, hauled by 37401 + 37426, and the pair are seen here arriving at Landrindod Wells, one of the passing loops on the largely single track from Llandeilo Junction to Craven Arms. I was disappointed that the locals didn't appear in their traditional Victorian dress as they sometimes do for visiting charters!
37401 + 37426 Central Wales Line 2> There is a lengthy section of single track between the loops at Llandrindod Wells and Knighton and the train is shown here at Llanbister Road where the sun managed to find a few pieces of cloud. A shame because this was one of the relatively few spots with good background views I visited and with a decent angle on the train.
37401 + 37426 Central Wales Line> The next view of 6M24 on 28 May 2000 was taken from the the first bridge north of Llandrindod Wells once the single line to Knighton, the next passing loop, was clear. My thanks to Adrian Kenny for details of those locations which my notes don't mention.
37401 + 37426 at Knighton> Here are 37401 + 37426 again on the Central Wales Line on 28 May 2000 were taken as the pulled into the loop at Knighton to wait for a westbound passenger service to pass. It was quite a lengthy stop so gave time to move further north-east for another shot as they pulled away.
37401 + 37426 near Knighton> This isn't a great location just off the Weston Road near Knighton but it was convenient and was an entertaining place to hear the heavy train accelerate in the hands of an enthusiastic driver.
Moreton Cutting just to the east of Didcot used to be a good spot for the railway photographer with many freights and locomotive-hauled passenger trains at which to point a camera. Here's a shot from 17 January 1989 with both as 37131 stood at the signal with the Chessington to Didcot Speedlink Coal Network service and 50035 opened up after being checked prior to be be turned omnto the down relief line with a Paddington to Oxford train. The light was almost gone but I hung on after taking a slide of it standing at the signal a few minutes earlier in the hope that a shot of trains passing would be on the cards. 645
This should have been a colour shot of what at the time was quite a rare sight. It shows 37898 + 37883 alongside the M40 near Rowington working the SO Coedback to Toton coal boxes om 9 July 1994 and which was usually a class 56 diagram. The black & white picture was all I managed because I thought that it would be possible to get 38 shots on a 36 exposure slide film and inevitably it came back from Fuji as a half frame! Things didn't well for 37898; the last time I saw it was at Long Marston in 2010 when it was presumably waiting to be scrapped.
In 1989 there were generally two trains each day from the Ripple Lane oil terminal to Micheldever receiving depot between Basingstoke and Winchester and these were inevitably class 37 hauled. I have loads of shots of these trains in the Basingstoke area but fewer elsewhere. On 30 November 1989 I had a day at West Ealing and among dozens of pictures, all in the sun, was this of 37891 heading west on the relief line with a train of loaded tanks heading for Hampshire.645
Another oil train this time behind 37682 + 37678 is shown here as it passed Didcot in around 1994 although I can't be sure of the date as it's not mentioned in any of my notebooks. This train must have passed at a quiet time for passenger traffic as it is travelling on the down fast line and judging by the exhaust was moving at quite a speed so unlikely to be looped in the next few miles. I think that the train was a Langley to Robeston working, one of several such each week. The leading locomotive was later acquired by DRS as shown in this picture from March 2011 when I photographed it passing Leamington Spa double headed with 37409 on a very mixed ECS train from Crewe to Eastleigh.
I very rarely take images of static subjects but did use a frame of film on this view of 37025 at Didcot. I can't find a note of the date on which it was shot but imagine that it was in the winter of 1992/1993. The locomotive is still in use but now with Colas and is mostly used, for the time being at least, on test trains as shown here at Croome Perry and again at Stratford-upon-Avon. 645
Class 37s looked excellent in the Loadhaul livery as demonstrated by this picture of 37517 with 6G78 Toton to Bescot at Whitacre Junction on 12 August 2003. This shot was taken before the roadbridge was replaced with a new one with much higher parapets making photography here much less comfortable as steps are required to see anything at all. The nanny states' favourite, pallisade fencing has also been liberally applied although careful framing can avoid most of it but there is a lot more undergrowth around the tracks in 2021 making it an unattractive location for photography. 645
This picture, and the one below are from my one and only trip to the Barnetby area. Here are 37106+37381 in matching metals sub-sector colours with a load of imported iron ore heading for the steelworks at Scunthorpe on 13 January 1990. This was an exceptionally busy line with so much freight traffic that the temptation was to save film on repetitive subjects and not to take the picture if the light wasn't spot-on.645
I couldn't decide if I preferred this picture at New Barnetby or the one above, so as the locomotives are in different liveries and have different front ends, I opted to upload both. This one is of 37377+37225 with another load of iron ore going to Scunthorpe. The relief line in the foreground wasn't in use in 1990 but I think it was reinstated at a later date to help cope with the amount of traffic.645
Much to my regret, I did not make many trips to the South Wales valleys. One of the few was to photograph 37412 on 10 May 1996 when it was unusually rostered to work to Pontycwmmer on the Blaengarw branch with a rake of HAAs to be filled and taken to Aberthaw Power Station. Here, the mechanical grab is at work filling the 2nd hopper with reclaimed coal from the former opencast site. 645
This is the view taken with a standard 80mm lens from the same viewpoint as the shot above for which I used a 150mm short telephoto. I think this that this is the better of the two as it gives a real feel for the Welsh Valley scenery and the way that mining villages are situated so close to the residents' workplaces.645
A better view of the village of Ponycwmmer is shown here as 37412 waits on the branch to Tondu. The roadside here gave some great locations on the Blaengarw branch as, unsurprisingly, it followed the line closely for much of the way out the valley.645
Freight along the line through Dudley Port, between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, was a bit thin on the ground in 1989. One of the best bets was the SO Wolverhampton Steel Termonal to Lackenby empties which on 14 January conveyed a variety of wagons but mostly those with sliding doors fondly called "pig sheds" by enthusiasts. This shot was taken alongside the Birmingham Level Canal with Dudley itself visible all around the hill in the background. 645
In 1993 class 37s were still an everyday sight in South Wales and were so commonplace that one tended only to photograph them in good conditions. Here, on 18 November, is 37191 about to propel a short ballast train from, I guess, Machen quarry into the yard at East Usk near Newport. The so-called "Dutch" livery wasn't one of my favourites, but it did suit 37s slightly better than 33s and 56s.
Here is another ballast train at East Usk on 18 November 1993, this time behind 37098 taken as it left the yard and headed east. It was virtually impossible to identify these workings without local knowledge mand a WTT.
Looking the other way from the shot above, but on the same day, this is 37802 heading west with a rake of hooded MGR hoppers. This train of empties had originated at Llanwern steelworks, visible in the background. It was fascinating to see, on occasions, great gouts of flame coming from the convertors at the steelworks. This must have been even better in the dark. The semaphore signal in the middle ground protects the exit from the Uskmouth branch. At this time there was but one trip each to and from the Orb steelworks, but in 2006 it is somewhat busier with several trains on some days going to the reopened power station.
In contrast to the picture above of 37802 this one shows 37676 + 37710 on the down fast line just to the east of Newport with an empty train of oil tanks going to Waterstone Refinery in West Wales. I don't kow the originating point of the service but suspect that it somewhere in the London area.
The intermodal train 4L46 Ditton to Purfleet hauled by DRS class 37s was one of the "must-have" trains for many enthusiasts after Easter 2006, except apparently for me, as I hadn't seen the train. On 16 June the working with 37059 + 37069 was reported as being the final run of the train so I had a drive over to Tamworth Low Level for a shot. It is seen here, poorly loaded as normal which took away a lot of the interest for me, crossing to the up slow line and almost certainly to another bevy of cameras further up the WCML.
One of my favourite lines in the Midlands is that running from Stenson Junction, between Burton-on-Trent and Derby and Sheet Stores Junction near Toton. In 1993 it carried quite a variety of traffic and it was usual to see representatives of classes 31, 37, 47, 56, 58 and latterly 60 on a daily basis. This picture shows 37515 with a heavy ballast train from Stud Farm en-route to Healey Mills. This train was often 47 hauled so it was good to see and hear a heavyweight class 37 on 25 October 1993.
The empty coaching stock from a railtour from Rugby to Whitby and return to Coventry ran from the latter location to Old Oak Common on Sunday 30 April 2006. The locomotives from the tour, 37419 + 37425, were booked to do the job. I remembered that I hadn't bothered to go out and get a picture of 37425 since repainting so thought, as it was so close to home, that I'd better make the effort. 37419 was also reported as being a candidate for storage after the run and this was the final incentive I needed. The weather was a bit on the dull side which is displayed in this picture of 5Z46 climbing the bank away from Leamington Spa station.
In September 1995 a shortage of units resulted in some Cardiff to Birmingham trains being loco-hauled. The obvious choice of power was class 37/4 - usually 37412 - at least on the occasions I saw the working. Here is that locomotive rounding the curve at Stoke Prior, just south of Bromsgrove on 28 September 1995 with the 10.43 Birmingham New Street to Cardiff. As you can see from the sky, the sun was in and out but performed right on cue for this train.
The Cardiff to Birmingham train produced locomotives intermittently for a couple of weeks. Despite having no "gen", I went to Defford on the beautiful afternoon of 8 October just in case the 15.XX from Cardiff produced. As you can see, it did, and unusually included a RES van in the consist. The loco? 37412 again and the shot was taken at 16.43 - not bad for October. 645
The area around Barrow Hill offered, in 1990, the opportunity to photograph quite a variety of motive power including 37s on trains such as the Tees - Margam and the Lackenby - Corby carrying steel coil. The latter is seen here approaching Barrow Hill yard from the north behind steel sector locomotives 37506 + 37512 on 22 August of that year.
Running immediately behind the train shown above near Barrrow Hill on 22 August 1990 was 37716 with a train of steel slabs from Tees Yard to Margam. I have several pictures of these workings but mostly in the area south of Worcester on the Birmingham to Gloucester main line. The same locomotive looked different when it led a rare visit to Long Marston with a passenger train on 1 April 2017.
An unusual working reached Stratford-upon-Avon on 11 March 1992 when 27418 headed a rake of seven coaches to the terminus from Kensington Oylmpia to mark the retirement of a senior official of, I believe, an international oil company. The locomotive was temporarily name Gordon Grigg, the name of the retiree and carried the plates for less than 24 hours. Here is the train, 1Z34, standing in platform 2 while the guests were off somewhere or other in the area enjoying the hospitality of one of the better hotels to be found nearby. Although the weather was very dull I did take a colour transparency of the scene just for the record.
As the event was so unusual I took the opportunity to record the train from several different angles and here is a shot more clearly showing the nameplate applied for the day as a class 122 single unit arrives from Leamington Spa.
The departure of 37418 with 1Z35 was scheduled for 16.00 and with the agreement and company of the BR supervisor from Leamington Spa who had come over to supervise the proceedings, I went off the platform at Stratford to get this shot. The tall starting semaphore is "off" for the single unit in platform 1 rather than the locomotive hauled train; hte starter for platform 2 being just out of view off the end of the platform. Much has changed since the date of this photograph: the semaphores have gone, the World War 2 coldstore in the right background has been replaced by a Morrisons supermarket and the college in the background has been greatly extended. The down loop connection, which although severed at this time, has now been replaced with plain track.
Although almost a duplicate of the photograph above I've included this one more because of the background than the train. On the right is the World War 2 food storage bunker which was served by its own sidings. There were rumours around in Stratford that the building had a deeply excavated nuclear bunker for use as a regional centre of government during the Cold War. This was complete nonsense which was proven after demolition and the site as cleared to build a Safeway, now Morrisons, supermarket.
By the time that 37418 was ready to leave Stratford-upon-Avon for Kensington Olympia the light had virtually died altogether and it had gone quite cold. With this in mind the Supervisor asked the signalman if we might go into the 'box for a warm around his stove and so I took this shot from the window. The quality isn't up to much but it does show a completely unrepeatable scene, even the hospital in the extreme left background that has been relaced by a dull corporate hotel and an unspeakably ugly housing development almost on top of the station. The signal box was soon to be demolished and all operations here controlled from Bearley Junction although this has changed with control being under Landor Street Junction panel.
The Tyseley to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon test train, 1Q48, ran again on Tuesday 1 December 2020. In contrast to the previous month class 37s 37610 and 37612 allocated to top and tail the 4 vehicles and although their colour schemes are about the worst possible for night photography I went to the well-lit station to have a go. This image shows 37612 pulling into platform 1 a few minutes late after a delayed start from Tyseley LMD. It's not a great arrival shot but these things are always worth a try.
One of the problems often encountered at Stratford-upon-Avon station is that trains are not put into the booked platform. On this occasion, 1 December 2020, Chiltern's 172102 should have been in P3 and well out the way for the shot of 1Q48 in P1 although once the headlight had been switched on the extra illumination on the side of 37610 was welcome. I wasn't sure about having the lamp post alongside the locomotive cab and took an alternative as the train pulled past it but the lighting was much better on this version as the lamps on P2 were in just the right spot. Despite the in-vogue motive power tonight I much preferred last month's train...
I had a trip to Langley Green on 24 May 1991 and unusually there was another photographer on the road bridge just to the north end of the station as I alighted from the train. He had some local information which although easy to obtain in 2020 was much rarer in those days. The gen said that due to a broken rail at Bescot Curve Junction the Radyr to Bescot departmental working was heading this way and was due to arrive shortly. The locomotive was 37264 and it's seen here passing the disused signal box and the line leading to Albright and Wilson's works. The light was dreadful but clear sky was beginning to appear and I hoped that some sun would soon show up.
On 24 May 1991, 37242 was used on Bescot's 6T48 to Langley Green in the Black Country. Here is the train just after it has joined the branch after leaving the yard and passing the out-of-use signalbox. Control of the line had passed to the panel at Stourbridge Junction some time before and obviously resulted in the removal of the semaphore signals. There are views from 1986 in my class 25 section which include these. Probably as a result of the 'box being on the station platform and the signalman being on the receiving end of abuse from local youths I never had any success in obtaining information on the location of trip freights from here. The best I ever achieved was a grunted "mind your own business" when I asked! A very rare visitor to the yard was 58009 which arrived there light engine from Bescot on 22 May 1991. It was apparently decided that a locomotive with such a long wheelbase wouldn't be a good idea on the tight radius of the Oldbury branch and it soon went back to Bescot. I didn't wait to see what was the replacement.
I had plenty of time to walk around to the road bridge at Langley Green from the station footbridge from which I had taken the photograph above before 37242 returned. Here is the short train about to the leave the branch with a few tanks and a ferrywagon: note that a single tank has been dropped off. It seems that the Chlorine traffic to Albright & Wilson's facility on the branch may have ceased by this time as these tanks look to be carrying fuel oil. This was the last time that I visited the yard at Langley Green and all traffic has now long since ceased. I must have a drive over there in the near future and take some "now" photographs to compare with those shown here.
The afternoon run of 6T48 involved returning to Langley Green yard and then taking loaded cement tanks and empty scrap metal wagons along the Handsworth branch to Blue Circle and Cooper's scrapyard respectively. There had been a dead spell with no freights due and I filled the time with a visit to the Holt's pub and brewery just around the corner where a pint of Entire and some roast beef and gravy doorstep sandwich were enjoyed! The return train unsurprisingly included empty cement tanks and loaded scrap wagons and it's seen here crossing over the Wolverhampton to Birmingham main line before going back to the yard where 37242 would have run-round the consist before returning to Bescot via the junctions at Soho. This line has since seen a total revitalisation with the frequent passenger services from Birmingham Snow Hill but sadly there are no scheduled freights over this section of line.
My next picture at Langley Green on 24 May 1991 was taken just as I was about to change films in my Olympus OM1n meaning that only a black & white shot on 37264 returning from Bescot to Radyr was available. This image shows that the leading end is different from the other taken earlier on the same day when another style of headlight was seen. It was a much longer train than the inward working and the very high resolution scan of my 645 negative clearly shows what appears to be a large fan mid-way along the consist and I assume that this is a rail-mounted snow blower being moved.
24 May 1991 was unusual in that due to a broken rail at Bescot Curve Junction any trains from the south which normally would have run to Bescot via the Dudley freight-only line had to run via Langley Green and the Soho Junctions to reach Bescot. However, the loaded scrap wagons from 6T42 were left in the yard at Langley Green to be collected later as 6T55. Coal Sector 37055 was allocated this job and is seen below in glorious late afternoon light just leaving the yard and passing through Langley Green station. The locomotive had come light engine from Bescot and here it is after arrival into the station and about to reverse into the yard.
This is the sort of train that if were possible at all would today get the mobile phones ringing all over the country. 37372 was collared at Birmingham New Street on 20 July 1991 to take a Manchester to Bristol train forward, presumably because the diagrammed class 47 was unavailable. It couldn't, of course, happen because with the inflexible railway we now have the train wouold simply be cancelled and the passengers left to sort themselves out. I wonder if any of the admiring enthusiasts and bashers recognise themselves?
37510 in Long Marston A train of coaching stock operated by ROG was due to run on Tuesday 17 November 2020. There was no clue about what sort of coaches or unit were to be taken to Cardiff Canton from Long Marston so I had a drive across to have a look. The locomotive, which ran light engine from Leicester, was 37510 and it arrived a few minutes after I did and ran into road 2 of the exchange sidings where 5 Anglian liveried Mk 3s were waiting. I took this view only because it shows some of the variety of stock nicely lined up in the yard, including 2 of the oil tanks from the train that caught fire on the South Wales main line.
37510 about to leave Long Marston There was quite a delay between 37510 being coupled to its coaches and 5V78 getting on the move at Long Marston on 176 November 2020. It appeared that some of the doors in the back coach were causing problems as the crew were in and out of it for the thick end of 45 minutes. They were then apparently satisfied that the train was fit to travel although it seemed that they were keeping a close eye on things as the driver eased it over the points leading to the branch to Honeybourne.
37510 leaving Long Marston I like to take a shot as trains leave the yard at Long Marston even though the undergrowth is becoming so intrusive as to limit the angle available. Here, 37510 takes 5V78 onto the branch and clears the pointwork so that the switches can be unclipped, reversed and the single line staff taken from the ground frsme. This gives a few minutes to start the road journey to Honeybourne for another shot which on this occasion I had decided to make as the sky looked a lot clearer in that direction.
37510 approaching Honeybourne station Just after I had parked and walked to the road bridge at Honeybourne station 37510 with its 5 coaches came around the bend in the distance. The staff was replaced in the cupboard and within a minute or two the train began to move towards the bridge which coincided with the sun just appearing through a much thinner patch of cloud. As 37510 stopped under the bridge the engine appeared to stall and had to be restarted, twice in fact, but it then settled down to a steady tickover and I later saw from RTT that it carried on with the rest of its trip. I understand that a Mk3 buffet car is to added to the rake at Canton before all 6 coaches are moved to Castle Donnington.
DRS's 37425 had recently been repainted into Regional Railways colours and was therefore a prime target for photographers, especially given the perfect Autumnal light on Monday 21 September 2020. In between 799001 leaving Long Marston and 37425 arriving light engine a small gallery of photographers arrived for 0Z66's arrival. It was a few minutes late but with the sun in a clear blue sky no-one was remotely bothered and plenty of shots were taken as it stood for a few moments while a member of the ground crew opened the gates.
The load for 37425 to take from Long Marston to Daventry was a single twin-set freightliner flat. This would have been a completely uninspiring subject for photography had it not been for the clean and shiny locomotive in perfect sunshine with background foliage beginning to show some seasonal colour change.
Honeybourne station isn't the best location in the late morning for an image of a train leaving the Long Marston branch but 1) I've taken far too many from the road bridge and 2) I was equally interested in taking another shot of 799001 as it left Honeybourne Sidings. As soon as both up and down passenger trains had passed on the main line the points were switched and 37425 and its flat wagon, running as 4Z67, pulled away. I suppose that a short train which doesn't obscure the locomotive is useful on occasion as seen here as it passes the sidings where ROG's 37800 was standing on duty as a thunderbird in case 799001 disgraced itself on the single trip it made from Long Marston to Evesham and return. There's a bit too much vegetation around but the unusual nature of the view makes up a little for the shortcomings.
ROG's 37800 travelled light engine from Leicester to Honeybourne Sidings during the afternoon of 17 September 2020 and the reason for this was, to me at least, a mystery until Monday 21st. It turned out that it was acting as a thunderbird locomotive in case 799001 had any problems during its first ever main line run. There were no problems apparent to me as it ran to Evesham and back as booked before standing time in the sidings to allow another train to clear the Long Marston branch. I don't always bother with shots of light engines but the rarity value of a locomotive of any description leaving the sidings won me over and despite a change in the schedules I hung around until it moved.
A stock move from Long Marston to Crewe operated by Locomotive Services Limited took place on Monday 7 September 2020 which involved 37688 in Construction Sector livery, 2 Pullman barrier coaches and 3 HST vehicles. Following the COVID-19 lockdown having been eased my health club requires members to book a lane in the swimming pool well in advance and, with a start time of 10am, there was no chance to photograph the inward move of barrier coaches. Upon arrival at Long Marston I was surprised to find only one other photographer present given the decent motive power. We watched the shunting being carried out and as 37688 arrived at the end of the exchange sidings the sun, against all the odds, began to emerge from heavy cloud. In the background it is possible to make out 321448 which I think may be a candidate for conversion to a class 769 with a revolutionary fuel system.
As soon as the usual checks had been carried out on 4Z22 the single line staff was passed to the driver of 37688 and it moved onto the branch to Honeybourne with its 5 vehicles in tow. Although the sun didn't come out fully the light was about 5 stops brighter than it had been when I arrived at Long Marston on 7 September 2020. The hawthorn berries in the lineside bushes add some colour to the scene but in all honesty I wouldn't object too much if some vegetation control happened over the coming winter. I didn't intend going for another shot beyond Honeybourne as if the sun were out it would be straight into the lens and this turned out to be wise as it was nearly an hour before the train joined the North Cotswold Line. This wasn't 37688's first visit here; it worked a mixed freight of oil tanks and open wagons to Long Marston on 26 November 2009 in the company of 37229 which I photographed at Evesham.
In the winter of 1987/88 a new unloading terminal for the Cemex company was opened at Washwood Heath and handled stone from Peak Forest. On 6 January 1988, a clear and very cold morning prompted me go visit Water Orton to take a shot of the returning empty train and this spot just beyond the footbridge where the lineside fence had sagged enough to allow for access was the ideal spot. Here are 37694 + 37676 in matching and clean red-stripe colours accelerating along the Birmingham to Derby main line having not, fortunately for me, been routed via the slow lines to Whitacre Junction. 645
The summer of 2001 saw Freightliner experience some motive power shortages, especially on the routes to Southampton via the Midlands. Several trains were 37 hauled, some by EWS tractors and others by 37/6 ex - "Euro-Tractors". One of these I photographed was 37605 on the 4M55 Southampton to Lawley Street. I had been near Burton-on-Trent on 17 August 2001 and was nearly home when my 'phone rang. I pulled into a lay-by near Bearley to be told by a signalman friend that this working had just passed Banbury. A rapid turnaround and quick drive to the nearest available location found me at Hatton station. I just had time to set up my still and video cameras when the unmistakeable noise of a 37 being worked hard became audible and after what seemed like an age the train came around the bend near the summit of Hatton Bank at around 15mph.
Another of these noisy workings ocurred on 7 September 2001 when 37605 again worked 4M55. I had more warning this time and went to another location on Hatton Bank with some video footage in mind. Once again, the train was audible for some time before it appeared and could be heard well beyond Hatton station as it passed the summit of the climb from Warwick. It was these workings that spoiled me for what today passes as class 37s "thrashing". A pair of them top-and-tail with 3 or 4 test train vehicles don't quite make the cut for me...
As a change for me on 21 September 2001 37605 worked a southbound liner, the 4O24 09.37 from Crewe Basford Hall to Southampton. It was originally booked to be on an earlier service, 4O14 which arrived in the sun behind a class 47. By the time the class 37 and its train passed Whitnash, near Leamington Spa, the sun had gone, but once again black & white film and video did what was necessary. Trains here face quite a stiff southbound climb from Leamington and have a speed restriction around the curves just beyond the station. This meant that the video footage was the highlight of the morning's entertainment. I had no luck with taking one of these trains in anything but poor light on the days that work allowed some time out of the office but good old TRI-X 400asa in 645 format allowed some decent images.
The trains of ferrywagons for the transport of car parts between Bescot and Birch Coppice were a popular target for enthusiasts in the early 2000s. To start with they were almost exclusively in the hands of class 37s, so much so that pictures rapidly became a bit repetitive! On 14 August 2003 37798 was in charge of the empties from Bescot and was routed along the fast lines rather than round the back via Whitacre Junction with 2 different types of wagond in tow.
Here is 37798 again on a lightweight train pictured at Catholme on a date unknown to me as a page from my very tatty notebook must have fallen out. It as probably taken some time in the Autumn of 1995 because 1) the light looks Autumnal and 2) work had recently commenced to build the Central Rivers depot in the background with the pointwork and new tracks already being in place. The train was I think a Burton-on-Trent to Bescot trip moving a pretty uninspiring load.
The mobile 'phone network was buzzing on Saturday 31 May 2003 when Mainline Blue (in my opinion the best of liveries resulting from privatisation) 37047 was allocated to a 6Z12 10.15 Bescot to Eastleigh train of flat wagons. Although the load wasn't the most interesting the use of a class 37 was by then rare enough to get quite a lot of people out, including at Old Milverton between Kenilworth and Leamington Spa. The locomotive failed somewhere south of here and I can't now recall just where of what locomotive performed the rescue. This isn't the greatest location on the network but there as no chance of another train getting in the way.
This is a view of the Leeds to Southampton 'liner taken at Catholme before the background was altered with the building of the Central Rivers depot now used by CrossCountry and where their fleet is now maintained. The date was 29 August 1994 and the locomotives were 37225 + 37131; both regular allocations on this type of train.
On Saturday afternoons there were 3 southbound feightliners along the GWR Birmingham to Leamington Spa line and one of these, the Leeds to Southampton, was generally hauled by a pair of class 37s. I remember this one as the train had been checked at a signal just around the bend as it was close behind a DMU slowing for the stop at Hatton. The locomotives, 37298+37225 were really making themselves heard across the Warwickshire countryside once the were given the road. This shot has disappeared now that the infant trees planted as a sound barrier to help shield the motorway's drone from nearby houses have grown up and the M40 is rarely as quiet as it was on this occasion although some 6 years later there wasn't much traffic as 37668 assisted GWR 4936 on a northbound run from Didcot. The lineside elder bushes are casting quite a shadow across the line and would soon make the location unusable. 645
Here is another shot of a pair of class 37s on a freightliner train, this time a Lawley Street to Southampton working. It is seen approaching a signal check at Leamington Spa behind 37298 (again!) + 37238 on 9 March 1993. It was far from uncommon for freights to be checked here in order for a cross-country passenger to pass and on this occasion, 47810 came from the Coventry line, stopped in the platform and then went on south towards Poole.
To complete the story started with the shot of 37298 + 37238 in the picture above, here is 47810 passing the freightliner at Leamington Spa as it recommences its journey to Poole. 47810 stayed in passenger service with Virgin Trains before going to Cotswold Rail, DRS and in 2020 LSL where it is currently in BR green livery.
Another freightliner placed into the hands of 37s in the summer of 1993 was the early afternoon Lawley Street to Southampton train. This, from memory, did not always load as well as the Leeds train and I recall it being very short on several occasions and once, at least, ran light engine as there was no traffic. However, on 7 May 1993, it was a full length set and is pictured below near Kings Sutton behind 37068+37261. I heard the train leave Banbury after a signal check a few minutes after I arrived on the bridge and recall thinking it seemed a long way from that point to where I was standing! The heavy train was still accelerating as it went under the farm bridge and away towards King Sutton station.
Later the same afternoon, at 17.32 to be precise, 37298 appeared heading north on the MOD train from Didcot, the traffic for which originated from Bicester COD. This was the last shot of the day and this 37 was the 10th loco-hauled in about 3.5 hours. You couldn't do that there today.
I have always liked freightliners and for obvious reasons they are particularly suited to colour photography. In 1993 and 1994 there were at least a couple of regular workings in the Midlands with class 37 haulage, the most popular of which was the Saturday afternoon Leeds to Southampton service. Between May and September, given some decent light, it was possible to go to one of several locations and photograph 3 southbound liners and with a bit of luck, a northbound coal train. The main focal point was the Leeds train and here is a view of it taken at Bentley Heath, near Dorridge. The exhaust smoke is testament to the work the locos were doing in recovering from a signal check while a DMU service terminating at Dorridge was shunted out of the way. The date was 30 April 1994, the time 18.03 and the locos 37131 + 37225.
Here is a much earlier view of 37131 as it pauses at a signal check in Moreton Cutting, Didcot on 17 January 1989 with 6V32, the Speedlink Coal Network train from Chessington, a location long since taken off the freight map. The light was very much on its way out and this was almost my final photograph of the day.
In the early 1990s I often went somewhere or other to take a picture or two of 6V70, the Saturday morning Bescot to St Blazey empty china clay tanks. On 5 September 1992 Droitwich Spa was my choice of location largely because of the semaphore signalling. This image, taken with a telephote lens to compress the perspective, shows 37672 + 37669 leaving the Kidderminster line and approaching the station. I had just bought a 200mm lens for my Olympus 35mm cameras and was clearly keen to try it it out on this train and seem to have the caught the signal protecting the junction just before it reached its fully horizontal position. By 2009 37672 wasn't in much for a fit state for anything but scrap and is seen here on its way to Long Marston photographed passing Evesham behind 20901+ 20905. The post-scanning processing of the TIFF file this 35mm transparency produced took 18 minutes. That's why I rarely scan old material!
On 17 October 1992 I was at Ashchurch for the china clay clay empties from Bescot to St Blazey which for some reason I noted as running with the headcode 6V45 rather than 6V70. The time was not long after 09.00 when 37674 + 37760 came into sight on the long straight section of track and this was one of the more open locations where the sun would be on the tracks almost from first light.
The sunny and warm weather continued on Wednesday 20 May 2020 which suited the run of 1Z22, the monthly test train in the up direction over the North Cotswold Line. The locomotives were 37610 + 37612 instead of the usual Colas 67s but despite, or because of this, I had not bothered with the first leg of the diagram on the previous evening when it visited Stratford-upon-Avon. The prospect of plain dark blue liveries at a time of evening when it was part way between light and dark didn't appeal. On the Wednesday I set my sights on a bridge just south of Evesham and expected 1Z22 to be running a few minutes early after a good run up from Worcester. This was the case and the two of us there soon heard the topped and tailed 37a accelerating up the bank out of Evesham and had this shot with some of the town in the background.
A Locomotive Services Ltd stock move conveying FGW Mk3 coaches from Long Marston to Crewe was showing for Wednesday 6 May 2020. I had assumed that the inward train was to be a pair of class 47s topping and tailing 2 barriers as it had been on previous time so wasn't going to make the effort. Then a message appeared saying that 37521 + 47593 were doing the job although they had been diverted from Droitwich to help a Railgrinder climb the Lickey Incline after it had run out of puff! The schedule had loads of spare time at Worcester so there was just about enough time for yet another ride to Honeybourne even though I knew that the sun would be a bit straight onto the subject. The hawthorn blossom was in full bloom as 5Z46 came along the Long Marston branch a few minutes late. The leading locomotive is resplendent in its new green colour scheme and looks very different from just about 12 months ago when passing Henley in Arden with a test train on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon.
Another ride to Honeybourne on 5 May 2020, the nearest location on the North Cotswold Line to my home, to photograph 37059 + 37402 with a 5Z50 Mid Norfolk Railway Sidings to Long Marston train of Greater Anglian Mk3 stock, until recently used with the GA class 90s, for storage and probably eventual scrapping. It was initially disappointing that 37402 was the second locomotive in the consist but in the event it was quite grubby so I wasn't bothered. The train was close to right time and its arrival on the Long Marston branch coincided with the sun being in a nice big patch of clear sky. I think I'm right to say that 37059 was the first DRS locomotive to arrive at Long Marston albeit in darkess when I pictured it on 7 November 2005.
The original plan on 17 March 2020 was for 37800 to help with shunting the barrier coaches for the HST stock's trip to Newport and to then take a class 319 to Bletchley. In the meantime it stood on the back of 5D94 for a few minutes which gave the clouds a chance to blow around a bit and eventually uncover the sun for a short while to allow this shot to be taken.
When 37800 arrived at Long Marston on 17 March 2020 it was dead at the back of the train but was soon required to do a spot of shunting. It's always good to get a show of smoke when a locomotive starts up and after several seconds of grinding and whirring the engine caught and produced some smoke before settling down. It then propelled the barrier coach onto the front of HST stock while 20311 and 20314 prepared to do the same procedure at the other end.
While waiting for the shunting to be completed at Long Marston on 17 March 2020 I noticed that at least 2 examples of Vivrail class 484 units were in various stages of being painted into TfW colours. There wasn't anything approaching a clear shot thanks to a large ex-Freightliner hopper being parked in the way but I was still keen to take a record shot as I understand that the completed units will not be tested on the North Cotswold Line but transported to South Wales and put through their paces there. I'm not that keen...
After not achieving the shot I wanted of 37403 with an inspection saloon on 25 February 2020 it was a surprise to find on the following morning that there would be another chance. There was initially some doubt about whether or not the train, 2Z02, would run but a change of route was made to avoid Shrewsbury which was suffering from high water levels at the Severn Bridge and so it was on. It was shown as using platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon which was the best bet for photography but I had my doubts as the unit running just in front was shown to be going there too. In the end I went for the safe option on a largely sunny day and ended up at Wilmcote for an image including the attractive footbridge. There was no doubting when 37403 had left Bearley Junction as the wind coming from that direction carried the sound very nicely. This isn't a shot to get approval from the light police because of the shadows around the train but it's good enough for me.
I had walked to the station at Stratford on Avon on 25 February 2020 in heavy rain but by the time 37403 with Caroline approached the sky was clearing. A passenger train was in platform 1 and I hoped that 2Z01 would be routed in P2 as at least the sunwould be on the correct side. Unfortunately it went into P3 which is useless for photography and as this happens all too frequently it does seem that someone somewhere doesn't like railway photographers. Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean that someone ISN'T out to get you!! Still, this working was rare enough to have a go even though there are few worse things than a shot against the light like this. I don't often take detail shots of locomotives but here are the nameplate, number and Scottie dog on 37403's bodyside. This train reminded me of the visit of a similar one with 31405 in 1992.
The inspection saloon that visited Stratford on Avon on 25 February 2020 didn't hang for long before going back out but while the driver changed ends some of the crew posed for photographs alongside 37403. I had hoped for some exhaust smoke as 2Z01 pulled away so was pleased when a plume or two did appear. The booked route was for 2Z01 to go to Tamworth via Dorridge and then back to Shrewsbury but very high water at the Severn Bridge there caused a rerouting and it ran directly to Crewe.
Colas Rail's 37099 was sent from Derby to Didcot on Saturday 16 November 2019 ready to collect a failed tamper from Swindon on the following day. This move, 6Z88, left Swindon about 25 minutes late because the crew requested a route via Kemble and Gloucester rather than that booked via Oxford and Hatton. The request was (thankfully!) refused and the train ran as scheduled and picked up all the lost time before Leamington Spa where a stop of around 30 minutes was showing. As expected 37099 and the short load ran straight through Leamington not far behind the daily RHTT but was then put into Hatton Loop despite there apparently being plenty of time for a run to Dorridge at least. It was eventually released and moved quite slowly through Hatton station but with a good deal of noise and exhaust smoke. The light was dreadful and a light drizzle was falling but ISO 2500 with a shutter speed of 1/800 and f4 aperture did the business.
The area of grass by the roadside at Didcot Power Station was a convenient and very reasonable photographic location. on 29 october 1997 I was there taking pictures mof the MGR traffic when 37704, unfortunately light engine, appeared on the coal and ash loop having deposited its rake of oil tanks inside the complex. I hadn't seen the inward working because, as was my habit at the time, I had started the day at Calvert to take some shots of the Avon Binliner, moving on to Didcot later. I only once managed a shot of the empty tanks leaving the station and the light was very much less favourable although the motive power made up for it.
This picture of the Bridgwater to Sellafield nuclear flask train was taken at Croome Perry on 10 July 1997 not long before DRS took over all such workings. It was at that time considered safe enough to entrust the working to a single locomotive unlike the current situation where two engines are needed in the case of failure on such politically sensitive workings.
Another nuclear flask working ws that from Berkeley in Gloucestershire. I visited there for the first time on 11 September 1997 without any information about whether the train was running so was pleased to find 37509 in the compound. A quick word with the friendly shunter and locomotive crew assured me that I was welcome to go wherever I wanted "as long as you don't get run over". The weather was very poor but beggars can't be choosers and all that so I took a variety of shots from different angles.
The locomotive run-round loop was situated quite a way away towards Sharpness Docks and when 37509 returned on 11 September 1997 returned to couple up before departure space was a bit tight at the exit end of the compound. Fortunately, I had recently bought a 24mm wide-angle lens for my Olympus OM1n and it was put to good use here as the second flask was loaded.
The driver gave the the tip-off when he was ready to leave Berkeley on 11 September 1997 which gave time to drive to the road bridge near the junction with the main line for another shot. In common with a lot of branch lines it's an utterly anonymous location but that was all there was available. I do have some shots from the old yard as the branch joins the Gloucester to Birmingham line taken on a different day but this will do for now...
In the 1990s I used to make fairly frequent trips to the GWML around Didcot to record the good variety of different locomotive classes on both passenger and freight services, something I very doubt I could be bothered to do today. On 13 October 1992 I found myself in Moreton Cutting a little to the east of Didcot and among others took this shot of 37280 + 37371 just moving away from a signal check as they headed west with a Micheldever to Waterstone train of empty oil tanks. The pair of 37s just fitted nicely between the two signals as they started the train away so the timing of the shot wasn't quite as well-judged as it may seem. 645
On 2 March 2003 privately owned 37038 + 37197 were used for a football special from Manchester Piccadilly to Cardiff. If I remember correctly, there were 4 specials within a short space of time along the North & West route including this train and a couple separately hauled by the then Royal Train class 47s. I probably wouldn't bother going anywhere for such trains today, but in 2003 I made the trip to the nearest location on the N & W, this being Woofferton, which has the attraction of a couple of lower-quadrant semaphore signals, albeit rendered less attractive because of the absence of finials. I was all set to take this shot in black & white but the sun unexpectedly appeared as the train appeared under the new roadbridge in the background so I grabbed my other Mamiya 645 loaded with transparency film.645
The Arriva liveried coaches that have been in store at Long Marston were due to be removed during the week starting 15 September 2008 but the move was put back until the following Monday. DRS class 37s 37602 and 37611 were given the job with two trains scheduled, both going to Eastleigh but by different routes; the first via Moreton in Marsh and the other via Birmingham New Street and Hatton. Here are the light engines arriving at Long Marston a few minutes late on the booked time - note the bunch of flowers placed in the cable coupler of the leading locomotive.
The gate into the Long Marston site was already open and the locomotives were ready to enter the sidings as soon as the token from Honeybourne was placed into the ground frame. The sun was a bonus after a poor forecast for the day and helps to show up the contrasting versions of DRS livery to their best advantage. The 2 rakes of coaches can be seen in roads 1 & 2 of the exchange sidings - they are going to Eastleigh to be refurbished for the forthcoming Cardiff to Holyhead trains due to commence operations later in the year.
It wasn't long before the locomotives were split and run onto their own sets of stock. It is interesting to compare the front ends of the 2 class 37s including the different positions of the horns. This is not the first visit of DRS 37s to this location, 37059 having visited for another stock move in November 2005. Fortunately, the light today was a little more favourable for photography...
The booked departure time for 5Z74 was 12.00 but for reasons unknown it some 80 minutes after this that 37602 finally moved out of the exchange sidings and onto the branch to Honeybourne. Those of us waiting for this moment had been discussing what was going on and I suggested, half in jest, that both sets should be coupled together in order to avoid the need for a road trip to and from Honeybourne to collect the token. Almost unbelievably, this is exactly what happened and 37611 moved onto the back of the first train and was coupled up. It had already become known that 5Z74 was no longer going to run via Moreton in Marsh and was to go via Birmingham, Coventry and Leamington Spa. At this point a quick run to Honeybourne seemed the logical move to see the unusual formation arrive.
Here is the odd looking combination of 5Z74 and 5Z75 just after their arrival at Honeybourne. It's a great shame that the sun failed to co-operate for this part of the operation but even in poor light it was well worth recording the unusual sight. The crew of the second locomotive soon uncoupled the rear portion which meant, unsurprisingly, that there were once again two trains to head for Eastleigh.
It was a matter of just a few minutes before the road was set to allow 37602 and 5Z74 to gain access to the main Cotswold Line and I thought a heavily framed view of the movement might work, taking advantage of the plethora of Hawthorn berries in the adjacent hedge. As soon as the road was put back 36711 made a smoky start towards the western end of East Loop.
It unusual to see a train pulled this far forward at Honeybourne, most stay on the far side of the spur to the main line. It is a great photographic advantage if the train does come forward especially if a decent patch of blue sky can be seen moving towards the sun! I had to wait about 10 minutes for this to happen but there was no prospect of the train going anywhere for quite a while so it was not a problem to wait. It was unavoidable that a selection of shots were taken in the sunny spell and here is another from a slightly different angle as the colourful consist basks in the warm sun on the first day of Autumn.
A popular Saturday morning train for photographers in the 1990s was 6V70, the Bescot to St Blazey empty china clay wagons. This picture was taken on 4 April 1992 from the roadbridge overlooking the site of Ashchurch station with 37412 + 37671 in charge long after the original structure and junctions to Evesham (right) and Tewkesbury (left) had gone but before the current station had been built. A short section of the Evesham line remains in place to the MOD Transport Depot although few trains run, the last one at the time of writing being on 26 March 2019. I last saw 37412 on 19 March 2009 when on its final main line journey to Long Marston.
This image is the result of a bit of an experiment and I can state quite confidently that it failed. The regular test train, 1Q48, from Derby RTC to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon ran on 5 November 2019 with 37610 tnt 37612 in place of the usual Colas 67s which were in turn deputising for the NMT HST currently under heavy maintenance. The location is Wilmcote station which although having some new LED lamps there are not quite enough to do the job I had hoped. The train was running about 20 minutes late and was consequently belting along at around 60mph. I used ISO 12,800 at 1/640 @ f2 but the light was simply insufficient to give an acceptable result. All knowledge is good and I shall now at least know not to bother here again in the dark!
For many years this was one of my favourite location for railway photography. In recent years though the lineside trees and bushes have grown to such an extent that one could walk along the footpath through the field and unless a train passes by have no idea that a railway runs a few yards away. In this shot 37139 is seen climbing the bank and just about catching the sun on 6 May 1988 with the afternoon Didcot to Washwood Heath spreedlink service, mostly consisting of various types of coal hoppers. 645
37350 was, in 1988, selected to receive green livery similar to that carried when the class was first introduced. The locomotive is seen heading through Kings Norton, Birmingham on 10 September 1988 with 1Z36 Reading to Middlesborough and overtaking a 3 car class 116 DMU on a local passenger service from Long bridge to Four Oaks. The train was routed along the GWR main line to Bristol Temple Meads and thence via via Gloucester to Birmingham. This scene has changed somewhat since this shot was taken with the advent of electrification on the Cross City line.645
My second and final visit to the Brownhills Oil Terminal was on 13 November 1997. On this occasion 37220 + 37158 had brought in the train of oil tanks from Immingham on a day that was considerably warmer than I endured for my first visit, meaning that less steam was visible from the equipment that warmed the oil to allow it be pumped out of the tank wagons more easily. These pictures shoul;d be viewed in conjunction with some in the my Class 60 section where more details of the depot can be found.
This is a general view of the terminal and storage tanks and 37220 + 37158 wait for unloading to be completed. I was not fortunate enough to have any really good light on 13 November 1997 but at least the sun did manage to shine a bit through some light cloud for a few minutes making the scene a little less dull.
This third image from 13 November 1997 shows 37220 + 37158 after the two sets of tanks had been made up into the complete train ready for departure. There was just the faintest glimmer of sunlight which was fading rapidly and although I went further along the line to take a shot of the train moving towards Lichfield my patience was exhausted over the following 90 minutes and I left without taking it.
In the middle to late 1990s I was in the habit of taking the odd sunny afternoon off work and heading out onto the Birmingham to Cheltenham line. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays one of the regular freights was 6V14, the Hull Saltend to Baglan Bay tanks contaning acetic acid. There was very little advance information available in those days but I was lucky in having a couple of contacts who usually let me know if something out of the ordinary was diagrammed. On 15 August 1997 a Loadhaul class 37 was in charge and I captured this image of 6V14 emerging from Croome Perry Wood a couple of miles south of Abbotswood Junction. While scanning this transparency I found two other similar views but with differently liveried locomotives so have put these below for comparison. 645
This photograph was taken on 13 April 1997 again at Croome Perry showing 37717 with 6V14, the 08.35 Hull Saltend to Baglan Bay empty acetic acid tanks. This location wasn't really all that well-known, except by locals, at that time and the vegetation in the foreground was intact and made an attractive frame. To cater for increasing numbers of photographers visiting the location some vegetation was cleared and a wider view is now possible if desired. 645
The third shot of 6V14 in this sequence was taken at Croome Perry on 14 May 1997 and shows 37887 leaving the wood with the vinegar tanks heading to Baglan Bay. This line was well worth an afternoon at this period with quite a variety of freight and several different classes of locomotive. It's very different in 2019 and the general advice is now, "don't bother"...645
Didcot Power Station was well known for consuming vast quantities of imported coal from Avonmouth Docks. It also needs regular trains of fuel oil which until recently came from South Wales. On 18 February 1998 I photographed the then weekly train leaving the coal and ash loop behind 37889+47519, both under power, with the empty tanks and just catching the last rays of daylight being photographed at 16.05. The coal-fired power station here has, in 2019, now gone altogether, the last cooling towers having been demolsihed in August of that year.
This picture, taken from the old and narrower roadbridge at Ashchurch, shows 37689 leaving the branch with flats from the MOD depot on 16 December 1999. The branch has only recently reopened to traffic and I believe that this was the second train to run from Didcot to the depot and back. I heard about the first too late to get over but I believe that a lot of others were in the same position before the days of universal digital connectivity!
Chiltern Trains ran several railtours from, not surprisingly, some of the main stations on the Chiltern Line, usually using class 37 power. The excursion run on 26 March 1994 was of particular interest to me as it was allocated Regional Railways 37414 with mostly matching stock and was booked along the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line. The attraction for me was the chance to photograph something on Wellington station's down through line which was not much used at the time as can be seen by the layer of rust both on the up and down lines. Coincidentally, a Hertfordshire Railtours 125 tour also ran this way on the same day, giving the chance for a couple of different viewpoints.
Here is another shot taken at Wellington, this time on Saturday 7 September 1991. It shows 37418 in Petroleum Sector livery with the morning Cambrian line train to Birmingham as it pulls out of the station.
On 8 June 1994 the sun made a very welcome appearance as 37703 rounded the very tight curve on the approach to the loop at Claydon L&NE Junction. Over the course of a few visits I got to know one of the Didcot drivers on this turn quite well and on this occasion was offered a cab-ride to Bicester. Sadly, I had to decline as Pam, a non-driver at the time, was with me on this occasion and I didn't fancy asking her to walk back to Calvert with me to pick up the car! This view was taken with the agreement both of Mick the farmer owning the access road to the signalbox and the signalman who kindly provided us with some liquid refreshment while we waited for the train to appear.
The weekend of 31 May and 1 June 2003 saw a couple of Pathfinder specials working to the Crewe open days. The first ran on Saturday and is pictured here at Old Milverton on thew ay from Leamington Spa to Coventry behind 37517+37695.645
The second of the Pathfinder trains to the Crewe open day ran on Sunday 1 June 2003 and is seen here leaving Droitwich on line to Kidderminster and Birmingham The locomotives are 37674+37503 and were photographed from a convenient lay-by on the A38 trunk road. I was much keener on photographing charter trains some years than in 2019 and it is quite likely that I wouldn't have bothered now. I'm glad in a way that I did take these pictures in earlier years...645
In the early 2000s there was regular trains of "pig shed" steel wagons between Wolverhampton, Bescot and Hoo Junction in Kent. On 7 June 2003 the southbound train ran and I photographed it passing Hatton with Mainline blue 37273 providing the traction.
A brand new set of Lafarge cement wagons was moved from Bescot to Long Marston on 19 March 2008. It is unusal for new vehicles to be stored there but I believe that the owner is not quite ready for them because of track alterations at the Earles Sidings site. The move has been pencilled in for a couple of weeks with paths having been established but not used. It seems a bit of a coincidence that today's move happened after 37401, freshly painted into EWS livery, was taken from Warrington to Bescot the previous night and immediately allocated to 6Z80. The train predictably aroused more interest than would have happened had a 66 been diagrammed and there was a gallery of 4 as the train passed Lower Moor on the single track of the Cotswolsd Line near Pershore.
There was some debate over whether any traffic was to be taken out of Long Marston on 19 March 2008. Having taken a lot of shots around Honeybourne in recent times, I decided to hang around at Lower Moor and passed the time chatting to a fellow enthusiast until the news came through saying a short set of ferrywagons were now attached to 37401. Everything worked smoothly and 6Z81 came west towards Lower Moor just about on time. The sun had just come from behind quite a thick cloud so a second shot in sun presented itself.
The weather forecast for Saturday 29 June 2019 was for unbroken sunshine throughout the day. This tempted out for one of my rare outings for a charter train, a 1Z80 05.39 Tame Bridge to Penzance run to mark Mazey Day in Cornwall. I thought that the sun would be high enough at Croome Perry for a shot from the less well-known north side of the line so went there arriving with about 20 minutes to spare. The locomotives used were DRS's 37218 + 37059 and one of the advantages of old stuff is that it is easier to hear them coming than some more modern traction and the pair became audible soon after crossing from the Worcester line at Abbotswood Junction. The train is pictured just after leaving the gloom of Croome Perry wood and although there was a little light and hazy cloud around which took the edge off the shadows I was happy enough with the image along with this one of 68004 bringing up the rear.
According to RTT, 5Q94 formed of 37601 + 350104 was waiting at Norton Junction for 1W02 to clear the single track from Evesham West Junction. It made up a few minutes on the run to Evesham and is seen here slowly approaching the statiion where I think it stopped briefly, possibly to pick up a crew member to operate the equipment at Honeybourne Staff Hut. I can't pretend to get too excited about yet another shot of of an ROG class 37 on a stock move but it's nice to get a sunny shot in the bag albeit with the sun a bit too high for my liking. I wasn't watching the sky before the train arrived but as 5Q94 was behind me in the station the sun went in for a minute or so as the only piece of cloud in the sky passed over. I was the only photographer on the bridge and I hadn't seen a single posting about the train so perhaps the allure of these workings has faded.
Although I have no objection to photographing DMUs I doubt that I would go to the North Cotswold Line just to take pictures of IETs. This was the case on 23 May 2019 when I was near Evesham and had just taken a couple of shots of the units while waiting for 1Z23, the regular test train from Bristol to Tyseley. The NCL was running to time and it was just as scheduled when 37610 leading the test coaches and 37521 came into view going under Mutton Bridge at Blackminster. The sun was in a clear patch of blue sky so there was no angst about losing the light, not that there was anyone else here gazing around to spot stray clouds. When in DRS colours 37610 was commonplace on test trains and here are another two shots on this line from 27 November 2006 when 1Z14 was captured passing Evesham signal box and a few seconds later as it went by the now-gone semaphore signals.
The regular test train from Derby to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon ran on nTuesday 22 May 2019. This was the first time since the previous Autumn that 1Q48 would be photographable on the North Warwickshire in daylight; its passing time for Henley-in-Arden being 18.39. It seemed likely that that the sun would be shining after a partly cloudy afternoon so I drove to Henley station where the only stretch of line largely clear of shadows was off the northern end of the platforms. The train was running a few minutes late because the preceding passenger working was late due to a passenger having been taken ill earlier in the day. This set up the very real possibility that another unit from Stratford upon Avon to Worcester might be in just the wrong place but it came and went with a good 30 seconds to spare. Here is 37521 topping and tailing the stock with 37610, substituting for the usual 67023 + 67027, approaching the station at low speed under a signal that had just been cleared from red to green. This accounts for the exhaust haze from the locomotives as the driver opened up.
The first drag of a class 350/1 EMU from Northampton to Long Marston took place on Sarurday 27 March 2019. This will no doubt be the first of many similar moves taking EMUs for corrosion rectification work at the Warwickshire site. I originally hadn't planned to photograph this train because the weather forecast for for heavy rain and strong winds but the former didn't materialise and there was some brightness in the sky. The wind at Honeybourne was very strong and made it slightly difficult to hold my camera steady as 5Q94, 37601 + 350106, left the North Cotswold Line and joined the branch. I drove home via Long Marston and the train was just arriving as I approached the bridge; it had made the short journey much more quickly than had been the case and is the result of much of the branch's track having been relaid on concrete sleepers. That well-known chase practised by many between Honeybourne and LOng Marston may now be a thing of the past...
I took advantage of a Black Friday offer to buy an additional camera and used it for the first time on Tuesday 4 December 2018. The target was 1Q18, the Derby to Tyseley test train with 37219 and 37116 topping and tailing 4 coaches and the acid test of the new hardware was to take a shot of the train as it accelerated away from Stratford-upon-Avon through the town's parkway station. It was clearly pitch black outside the station and there was mist and quite heavy rain to make the scene look extra murky. The train was running early at this point, about 19.45, and the driver seemed keen to have a good run at the 1/75 of Wilmcote Bank but a shutter speed of 1/500 in conjunction with f2 and ISO set at 6400 seemed to do the business. I had considered going to Stratford's GWR station and 10.40ish for a static shot but the locomotives were far from clean and there seemed little point in repeating a previous effort.
The regular test train, 1Q18, from Burton Wetmore Sidings (or Derby RTC in the past) is generally formed of the NMT HST. On the sunny day of 25 September 2018 this was apparently under maintenance and 4 vehicles were topped and tailed with 37025 and 37099. I had so far failed to take a properly sunny image of 37025 although I do have an after-dark picture taken on a similar working at Stratford-upon-Avon which is, in some ways, more satisfying. Anyway there seemed little chance of the sun disappearing and with the train being on time from Hereford a drive over to Croome Perry seemed like a good idea given that this is one of the more attractive locations which is not too far from home. All went well and 1Q18 came south from Norton and Abbotswood Junctions passing the wood the trees of which are in the early stages of gaining their Autumnal colours.
It's Saturday therefore it must be 37601 on 5Q94. So it was on 30 June 2018 and after playing the organ at a nearby village I thought that there might just be time to reach Honeybourne to grab a shot as the train joined the Long Marston branch on its way to the site where corrosiion repairs to 350264 will take place. The sun at just after midday is much too high for decent photography but that can be mitigated to some extent by using a long lens and having a head-on shot as shown here. Not one for those who stick to some dogma or other about using only a "standard" lens but at least a change in perspective now and again alters the effect for the viewer and makes a for a less consistently similar appearance of images than is sometimes seen. A FGW HST (43154 OC52 43010) was in the platform as 5Q94 stopped at the staff hut to collect the single line token and the heat haze from 1W02 slightly blurs this view of 350264.
The annual Rail Live event is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday 20th and 21st June 2018. As usual there were stock moves planned to bring in various items for exhibition and the first of these took place on Monday 18 June when a 5Q94 from Derby Litchurch Lane ran early in the morning. I had no idea what was going in but it turned out to be a class 345 unit from the new Crossrail stock build hauled by ROG's 37800. It was due to arrive just before 07.00 and although it reached Worcester 11 minutes early it was held there, presumably because of a late-running passenger train, and reached Long Marston 21 minutes late. I don't keep up-to-date with some of the new stock being built and didn't know what the train was until I saw the number on the side of the front coach.
There was the usual short wait while the single line staff was put into the ground frame to allow 37800 with 5Q94 to enter the exchange sidings at Long Marston. As soon as this had been done the train moved forward allowing this shot of the rear cab to be taken amidst the unchecked vegetation threatening to obscure this view altogether. The sun had just began to come out and there is a faint glimmer of light on the roof. One of the older fixtures at Long Marston, Pandora has moved and replaced with an elderly-looking diesel crane.
Five new imporetd Mk5 coaches for use on the new Trans-Pennine locomotive-hauled services were due to be taken from Portbury Automotive Terminal, Bristol, to Manchester on 25 May 2018. The locomotives and barrier stock were taken from Leicester to Portbury on the previous day ready for 5Q43 which had a departure time of 09.00 and a route via Gloucester and Cheltenham. There was unfortunately considerable disruption around Bedminster on Friday morning with trespassers apparently being chased up and down the lines by BTP. {Cue Benny Hill music...}. I originally planned to drive to Stoke Prior immediately after my morning swim but when I checked RTT in the gym car park saw that the train was still at Pill. I went home and kept an eye on 5Q43 and saw that it eventually left over 2 hours late which was marginally better for me as the torrential rain had almost stopped by then. I had a quick drive to Defford and soon saw 37611 + 37884 leading the 5 coaches (including what I call a DVT), 4 barriers and 47812. The heavy load behind the new stock made me wonder if they were included for brake force as maybe the Mk5s were without operational brakes and therefore through-piped. The weather, although without the heavy rain, was still filthy with almost no light and heavy mist everywhere. I wouldn't have bothered but know full well that I shall never be inspired to travel and photograph the stock in action on the Trans-Pennine route.
Defford, on the main line from Birmingham to Gloucester, is only a few minutes drive from Lower Moor and with another shot of the IET to be had along with one or two bits and pieces that is where I went next on 15 May 2018. First along and running the thick end of 2 hours early was 37099 propelling 3Z62, the 12.32 Derby R.T.C.(Network Rail) to Exeter Old Yd Waggonersway. Much of the earliness was the result of missing out a lengthy layover in Abbotswood Loop and as my mobile data provider sent a new SIM card at the weekend but without telling anyone that the APN settings for data had to be set from scratch I had no access to anything so didn't know where trains were.
Saturday 14 April 2018 saw yet another 5Q94 from Northampton to Long Marston conveying a class 350/2 EMU for repair work and once again 37601 was in charge. Having had very few well lit shots of these trains I thought with clearing skies that a trip out might be worth the effort. I left it a bit late to have much choice of venue and ended up at Honeybourne with, as I thought, about 10 minutes to wait which was reduced by the early running of 5Q94 to just 2 or 3. I went to the road bridge and was lucky with the sun this time but only by a few seconds as this view of 350288 shows which was taken in light cloud. There was no point in chasing the train to Long Marston as the sun would be exactly into the lens at this time and with a class 166 on the way to here from Reading I stayed put.
RTT showed a light engine running from Nuneaton Holding Sidings to Long Marston during the morning of 3 April 2018. The service code showed that the operator was ROG so not much imagination was needed to work out that one of the seemingly omnipresent class 37\8s would be involved. I arrived on the road bridge at 08.40 just as 37800 appeared in the distance on the branch from Honeybourne running some 20 minutes early. There was nothing in the exchange sidings but before the gates into the site were opened the resident shunter propelled a single oil tank onto road no.1 - not a very inspiring load, I thought. However within a minute or two 319446 was pushed onto road no.2 and slowly moved to 37800 which by now was in place. The weather wasn't too bad to start with but within 15 minutes it had gone dark, the background hills had disappeared and it was pouring with rain. A schedule showing a departure time of 11.00, about 90 minutes hence, had appeared and with the crew apparently sheltering in the cabs of 37800 I left.
Another Saturday, another run of 5Q94 and 5Q95 between Northampton EMD and Long Marston. On 17 March 2017 the weather was windy, cold and with the promise of snow but I fancied a drive out so went to Long Marston arriving just in time to see 37601 (again) comng along the branch from Honeybourne. The light was poor but even and at this time of day the last thing one wants here is the sun shining as it would be virtually straight into the lens. A little snow can be seen on the hills in the extreme background and more was forecast for the rest of the weekend. Here is 350243 being dragged onto No.1 road from where 37601 was to propel it into the visible under the first coach of the unit.
Once the shunting move outlined above was done and the locomotive uncoupled from 350243 it went back into the exchange siding and picked up 350247. While this was being done the sun came out in the background over Stratford-upon-Avon and gradually worked its way over Welford on Avon, Rumer Hill, Long Marston village and eventually the former MOD site. Just as it began to fade again 5Q95 pulled forward onto the branch and managed to approach the roadbridge with 350247 in less than the perfect light I thought it worth waiting for in the freezing wind. Next time...
Rail travel across much of the UK was disrupted by heavy snow during the first few days of March 2017. On the Friday afternoon, all Saturday and Sunday morning no trains ran to Stratford and it seemed that one snowdrift in particular near Wilmcote was particularly deep, at least according to a mapping site which showed it on the down line. I had a message from a friend on Sunday 4 March saying that 50049 was running as a snowplough across the line to Stratford although this was soon changed to 37611 because of ROG crewing issues. No times were available but on searching the mapping site I found 0Z99 between Lichfield and Blake Street on the Birmingham Cross City Line. The locomotive went into platform 12 at New Street betfore making its way to Bordesley Junction. Tysleley and Solihull before turning right at Hatton North Junction and then heading for Stratford. I went to the station to find that the newer of the 2 footbridges was closed so had to go for a ground-level shot and 37611 ran into platform 1. Sod's Law intervened and the sun came out at just the wrong moment; I would never deliberately take a shot from the shady side if there were any possible alternative as there is nothing remotely attractive about such an image and almost always results in over-processing in an attempt to counter the rubbish lighting angle.
The sun became veiled as 37611 stood in the platform at Stratford on 4 March 2018 so I took this view with my Canon G10 as the crew were debriefed by mobile 'phone and given their instructions for the next leg of the journey. Ironically, most of the snow had gone from here by the time that 0Z99 arrived but there was evidence on the plough shown in the photograph above that at least one deep accumulation had been encountered.
By 12.30pm 0Z99 was ready to leave and is pictured here moving away under the GWR footbridge. I later saw that it again ran via Hatton and went straight back to Derby and then presumably Leicester. I had never before seen a snowplough operation at Stratford hence my interest in this working. I wouldn't usually have bothered to leave the house for a light engine move!
Another move of class 350/2 stock was down to run between Northampton EMD and Long Marston on Saturday 24 February 2018 and according to a message posted on the previous evening promised to be more interesting than recent runs as Pullman liveried 57312 was to be the motive power. The weather forecast was favourable for the following day and I was looking forward to at last getting a sunny image of a 57 in this colour scheme, despite the yellow binliner covering the Dellner coupling. By Saturday morning the locomotive allocation had changed to 37601 but given the beautiful light I still went for a few shots. Here is 5Q94 passing Evesham signal box towing 350253 to Long Marston for treatment to some corrosion on the bodywork.
I couldn't make up my mind whether or not to hang around for another shot of 37601 with another 350/2 returning to Northampton from Long Marston on 25 February 2018 but given the perfect light it seemed rude to make the minimal effort necessary. The choices were either Lower Moor or Honeybourne and for various reasons I chose the latter, not the least of which being that it is on the way home from Evesham. The first indication that some action was imminent was a rumbling noise coming from the background trees and then 37601 with 350255 poked its nose around the corner before stopping at the Staff Hut to deposit the single line token. This image was taken with my Canon G10 compact with zoom on about 120mm (35mm equivalent).
There was plenty of time after taking the image shown above to have another shot on my DSLR as 37601 with 5Q95 was about to pass the road bridge at Honeybourne and run non-stop through the back of the station and onto the down main line. Despite the clear light there was a bit of haze in the background and I quite like this aspect of the image as it accurately reflects the way that a high-pressure weather system affects the atmosphere at this time of the year.
Another of the regular class 350/2 drags from Northampton to Long Marston took place on Saturday 17 February 2018. The feeds to RTT, Liverail and various other bits of software on which we tend to rely were down so I didn't actually know if 5Q94 was running until one of the increasingly rare email postings arrived, this one from Kings Norton. I couldn't get out in time for the arrival at Long Marston and by the time I reached the road bridge 37601 was shunting the incoming unit so that it could be uncoupled and attached to the one to be taken out. The departure time was 13.30 and no-one seemed to be in any hurry to leave any earlier but this did allow the time to wait for a brief gap in the clouds to take a shot with my long lens.
By the time 5Q95 was moving away from the exchange sidings on 17 February 2018 the cloud had been blown over the sun but as 37601 stood under the bridge while a crew member collected the single line staff from the ground frame it came out again. I don't much go for arty-farty going-away shots into the sun but took this one as the train went off towards Honeybourne. Some of the new rails that were dropped on the branch on 31 January 2018 are visible in this view so we should have a sleeper drop and some ballast workings to look forward to in the coming weeks.
The spring of 1987 saw a Saturdays-only Bristol Parkway to York relief service which, almost unbelievably in 2018, was hauled bu what I used to term a "chuck-out" locomotive meaning anything in the area fit enough to make the journey was used. On thge slightly misty morning of 25 April I went to Longbridge station on the Gloucester to Birmingham line and just, but only just managed this shot of 37013 with its 5 coach load passing a 6 car DMMU which was just drawing to a halt with a stopping train from Four Oaks/ I liked this location as the now long-gone British Leyland motor factory made for an imposing and instantly recognisable backdrop.
This picture from the road bridge at Tyseley is dated 12 June 1987 and shows 37217 with the daily Didcot to Washwood Heath Speedlink Coal Network train. On this occasion the usual HTA hoppers, some loaded and some empty, were augmented with about half-a-dozen HAAs which I assume were faulty in some way and were being taken from Didcot Power Station to Washwood Heath before before being tripped to Toton for repair.
The regular test train from Derby to Tyseley, 1Q48, ran yet again on 23 January 2018 with an early evening visit to Stratford-upon-Avon where it was booked to arrive into platform 3. There seemed to be a chance that it would use P2 as a Chiltern unit scheduled to leave after the 1Q48's arrival went into P3 leaving the platform better suited to photography clear. The unit left on time but the test train waited around the corner and ran, a few minutes late, into platform 3 headed by 37057 and tailed by 37116. I'm not keen on this shot but one has to make the best of things and I took the opportunity for a shot showing both red and white lights on the front of the locomotive in the minute or two before the driver removed the tail light and took it down to 37057.
Before leaving Stratford-upon-Avon 1Q48 sits in the platform for about 30 minutes which does give the chance for a few different angles although with the train on the platform edge ooptions are limited. I took this slightly wider view before leaving but that was about it.
I don't know much about this train except that it was a Peterborough to Exeter transit move of weedklling stock hauled by 37042 and pictured passing Croome Perry wood just south of Abbotswood Junction. I didn't note it down anywhere so can't provide the date on which it ran; all I can remember is that I drove a friend over from Stratford-upon-Avon to photograph it and that we arrived quite literally as it came under the bridge allowing for a grab shot which, as luck would have it, turned out OK. As soon as it had passed we returned to my car and left; possibly the quickest session I have ever had.645
In addition to the railgrinder move on Saturday 13 January 2017 there was also a pair of class 350/2 trains from and to Northampton. I didn't bother with 5Q94 to Long Marston and had no intention of hanging around for about 90 minutes after 4Z03, had it run on time. As it turned out it was obvious that 37884 with 350257 would follow the former within about 10 minutes so I stayed at Stoke Prior despite the rapidly worsening light. Unlike 50008 the class 37 was going quite slowly as it due to be routed into the Bromsgrove loop, just around the corner from this bridge.
In 2004, as 14 years later, locomotive-hauled trains were not an everyday sight on the North Cotswold line and a working that was always worth looking out for is the regular SERCO test train. This picture of 37372 and 37674 was taken on Monday 16 February 2004 near Pershore. Class 37s were in use because the next stage of the diagram starting the following day involved a trip to West Wales where heavier locos, including the class 67s now almost solid power for the SERCO train, were banned. A working earlier this year saw 67s in use on the Monday on the Derby - Oxford - Worcester section, but these were replaced with 47s for the rest of week, including West Wales. 645
I was fortunate in 1992, before the commonplace availability of mobile gen, on occasions to have access to Special Traffic Notices for parts of the West Midlands. Whilst browsing such a document in May of that year I noticed that a Daw Mill Colliery to Gobowen was down to run in the early afternoon on the 13th and had a drive over to Whitacre Junction to get a photo of it as well as numerous other freights. The locomotive allocated was 37213 in what I thought to be the most attractive of the 4 freight sectors' colour schemes. 645
Thursday 30 November 2017 was another cold and sunny day which saw the third leg of the class 37 hauled test train that I had photographed on the 2 previous days. This time it ran from Bristol to Tyseley retracing its route along the North Cotswold Line though Evesham and with few locations other than Lower Moor worth the drive, that's where I went. The green locomotive, 37057, was again leading and 1Z22 arrived a few minutes before the lights went out as some cloud blew in from the North-West, probably formed as the Malvern Hills caused some atmospheric anomalies. I do like the light at this time of the year as one gets good dense black shadows with a lot of contrast to the bright subject; if the temptation to use the Shadows and Highlights tool is overcome... On this occasion the train served its purpose and must have detected a track defect, an out-of-gauge section at Finstock, which resulted in a temporary closure of the line with a few cancellations and some late running.
The monthly test train from Derby to Tyseley via Stratford-upon-Avon, 1Q48, ran on 28 November 2017 with class 37 motive power making a change from the 67s that have featured for quite a while. The locomotives allocated were 37057 + 37254 and the former led into Stratford station's platform 3 as booked about 30 minutes early. Platform 3 is the least photogenic here but with a Chiltern service in P2 and a train from Stourbridge Junction due a little while later into P1 there wasn't a lot of choice. It is worth keeping an eye on a mapping service in case the Chiltern train happens to go into P3 but this is unusual and didn't happen on this occasion. As is the norm these days there were no posts to any email groups I use which gave a clue to which locomotive was leading on this leg of the journey so I went down in case the green painted 37057 happened to be on the back of the 3 coaches as I didn't have a shot of it here but it wasn't to be. The other locomotive, 37254, came to the terminus on 21 February 2017 and I had to take a platform-side image then when it stopped in platform 3.
The second part of the test train diagram which started on 28 November 2017 ran the following day when 1Z22 went from Tyseley to Bristol High Sidings via the North Cotswold Line. The green liveried 37057 led the train and with sun almost guaranteed I went to Briar Close at Evesham for a shot as it ran past the distinctive signal box, albeit without any semaphore signals to enhance the scene and a far from attractive radio mast on the roof. I had hoped that some Autumnal colours would be visible in the background trees as was the case on 2 November 2016 but recent strong winds had removed most of them.
A class 350/2 unit was taken from Northampton EMD to Long Marston for remedial work on some corrosion on Saturday 11 November 2017, in a much later path than originally intended. The balancing movement much later that night taking a similar unit back to Northampton was cancelled and ROG's 37601 ran light engine to Worcester with the train being rescheduled for the following day. The locomotive arrived at Long Marston some 40 minutes early at around 11.00 on Sunday 12th and I hoped that, as usually happens with these trains, the earliness would continue with the booked departure time of 12.35 being at least an hour after the actual departure. With this in mind I went straight to Honeybourne expecting just a short wait in the sun. In the event the sun went missing and the train, 5Z70, didn't appear as expected to take an available path to Worcester at just after 11.45. It actually appeared just about 5 minutes early but did manage to arrive at the Staff Hut, where the single line token for the branch to Long Marston is kept, in sunshine. I took this image with a long lens partly to show the Autumnal colours in the background and partly in case the sun disappeared again before 37601 brought its load towards the road bridge.
It seemed to take an age before 37601 and 350239 moved away from Honeybourne Staff Hut and I'm not sure if the locomotive was in the best of health because there were a couple of plumes of exhaust smoke before the train moved. There was quite a lot of cloud about but I was fortunate in that the sky around the sun was mostly clear as 5Z70 ran slowly towards its stop at the signal proecting Honeybourne North Junction. It was good to get this image as I had missed the first two movements of 350/2s through being on holiday in October and didn't bother with the late afternoon movement on 11 November. I don't know what happened later on Sunday 12th but 5Z70 stood at Washwood Heath for 68 minutes before continuing its journey. Later... 37601 was aided by 37608 from Washwood Heath so maybe my thoughts about the former's health were correct.
A schedule for an 0V94 light engine move from Leicester LIP to Long Marston appeared overnight on 5/6 October 2017 with another for a 6X56 from Long Marston to Toton later being input for the early afternoon on 6 October. It didn't take a lot of working out that a railvac would be the load for 37601 as it had gone in some weeks earlier. The departure time for 6X56 was 13.30 but experience has shown that it might well happen much earlier. I was playing the organ for a funeral just half-a-mile down the road and was doubtful that I would be able to get to the road bridge in time. I arrived at about 12.55 and found just one other photographer there who told me as I stopped on the bridge to ask if it was ready to go that 37601 and the railvac were on the branch outside the gates. I quickly parked and walked back to the bridge and just had time for this picture before the sun went behind a cloud. A few moments later the train reversed back toward the exchange sidings where some examination of the railvac took place.
It seemd that the examination of the railvac was to ensure that the vacuum hoses were firmly in place and as soon as the crew were satisfied 37601 pulled away and re-joined the branch to Honeybourne. There was a brief monent of brightness just as the train moved away but the sun didn't come out properly until I was driving through Long Marston village on the way home. I looked at the sky in the Honeybourne and Evesham directions but it looked to be cloudy so didn't bother with trying for another shot bearing in mind the minimal load being conveyed. Just in case anyone is interested the road from the junction of Station Road, Long Marston to the junction with Pebworth Road will be closed for 5 weeks from 16 October 2017. This includes the road bridge over the branch to Honeybourne. I imagine that some access will be possible to allow for access and egress for Bridge Farm. A short walk may be necessary...
A third class 319 EMU was due to be taken from Long Marston on Friday 22 September 2017; this time the destination being Allerton depot where the train will be prepared for further use by Northern Railways. The locomotive, 37884, left Leicester LIP about one hour late and this deficit continued until 0V94 arrived at its destination. I was ambivalent about going over for a shot but it looked as if the morning sun might hold for long enough and it did, but only until the gates into Long Marston were opened. While waiting for 37884 to arrive I took an image of Pandora which is gradually undergoing restoration before going to a preserved line in Devon and since the date of my last photograph it appears that some work has been carried out on the bogies.
I didn't think that it would be long before 5N36 from Long Marston to Allerton started on its journey so went without delay to a foot crossing over the line along side the Pebworth Road. Wrong again... The train was just about 30 minutes late when it finally moved by which time the sun had gone behind thick clouds. The last time I was here the bush to the right of the line wasn't anywhere as large and didn't obscure half the train but as the branch to Honeybourne is almost devoid of worthwhile locations I stayed put. While waiting for 37884 to appear I spent a few moments taking some pictures of honey bees busy collecting nectar from a lineside thistle.
A class 319 was due to be taken from storage at Long Marston to Wolverton on 13 September 2017. Unsurprisingly the locomotive was ROG's 37884 with its Dellner coupling system and 0V94 ran from Leicester, arriving at Long Marston 12 minutes early at 12.10. The mostly cloudy sky had a few clear patches so it was just a case of waiting for a suitable break while the crew switched and scotched the points to allow the locomotive into road no. 1 of the exchange sidings. The unit to be taken out was 319007 and it seemed worthwhile taking a shot as it stood alongside a variety of freight and passenger stock.
The sun angle at Long Marston just after noon isn't ideal for photography but one has to be content with whatever is available at the time even though images taken on the dark side would not usually be something anyone would consider. The sun may well have been at full strength at this moment and I had hoped that this situation would stick for the next 30 minutes or so but my planned shot from a foot crossing on the branch to Honeybourne had to be shelved when a monsoon-like storm blew in from the South-West. The rain was so heavy that I bolted for my car and left for home. Just behind 319007 a short set of flat wagons can be seen and this will form a train from here to Eastleigh on 14 September 2017; not an inspiring load whatever the motive power and one which I very much doubt that I shall witness.
The final train of Thameslink class 319s from Bedford Cauldwell Depot to Long Marston took place on Thursday 31 August 2017. I was ambivalent about going out yet again but thought that an image taken from the road bridge at the south end of Evesham station would be worth having. Unfortunately, the shot wasn't available because of heavy shadows cast by lineside trees in the car park although there was a reasonably clear patch further along the platform. I settled for that although some care on selecting the exact spot was required to avoid too many intrusive posts appearing to grow out of the locomotive's roof. The Rail Operations Group's 37884 was again in charge with the units being moved 319443 + 319440. Just for the record I took a view of 5V94 as it receded from the camera with 37884 under heavy power as the driver tried to make up about 10 minutes of time lost through a delay encountered by FGW's 1W29.
The week of the August Bank Holiday 2017 sees the final 3 trains of redundant class 319 EMUs going into storage at Long Marston. On 28 August 2017 5V94 ran in the usual path as usual headed by 37884. Indeed, because of the snap couplers on this locomotive it is unlkely that anything would be used. To misquote Dean Koontz, if anything else were to appear on it, bears would leave the woods and use a public lavatory... Anyway, the train left Worcester TC a bit earlier than scheduled and with 319432 + 319426 forming the load it passed me at 15.39. Despite my general aversion to going-away shots these really provide the far more interesting view as seen here with 5V94 passing the hydroponic greenhouses at Lower Moor.
I had a quick browse through the Hatton page of RTT during the morning of 25 August 2017 and noticed that there was a 3Z40 from Derby RTC to Reading. These are almost invariably a single locomotive with 2 or 3 coaches and a DVT and the general rule seems to be that the locomotive will propel the train going south. There was absolutely no information about the train's formation posted on any of the email groups to which I subscribe, not unusual these days even when a class 37 is scheduled, and I made up my mind not to bother. Out of idle curiosity I watched the train on a maps app and saw that it went into Small Heath loop and stayed there. I assumed that there had been a failure of some sort until a friend contacted me to say that a relief crew was running late and that it wouldn't leave until at least 13.15, oh and by the way the locomtive was 37057 and it was on the front of the train. This, on a day that seemed to offer guaranteed sun, was enough of a temptation so I went off to Hatton. I saw that it left the loop at 13.49 and waited another 10 minutes before leaving my car and walking to the road bridge where 3Z40 appeared at 14.15. The post for the repeater signal is clearly reflected on the shiny nose of 37057 and the split headcode clearly displayed the legend 1A16, whatever that may be. Another movement of class 319 EMUs to Long Marston was also taking place but yet another picture of 37884 didn't appeal on this occasion so I went home to have a delayed lunch.
There can't be many more stock moves of class 319 EMUs to Long Marston as few units are, on 23 August 2017, left in service. I had already taken most of the images I wanted of 5V(or Z)94 but one remained on my wish list. I am not one of those dogmatic photographers who slavaciously use only a fixed focal length standard as I feel some variety in my images is desirable. On this occasion I used my longest lens to capture 37884 with 319006 + 319459 just after it had joined the Long Marston line at Honeybourne North Junction with the intention of showing some extreme compression of the perspective and to leave the rear coaches of the units on the curve from the main line. The line leading off to the right is the entrance and exit from Honeybourne Sidings and despite the untended undergrowth a couple of buffer stops are just about visible. I have made this image a little larger than usual to increase its impact and your browser may alter the size with some effect on quality. A single mouse click anywhere on the image will expand it to the correct size.
As soon as 37884 with 5V94 had passed under the road bridge at Honeybourne on 23 August 2017 I crossed the road to take a final image as the train was stopped to allow the staff to collect the single line token from the staff hut. The sun was in and out but there was plenty of time to wait for it to appear to taken a conventionally lit picture alongside some bushes already showing signs of Autumnal colour change.
The afternoon of 14 August 2017 saw yet another move of redundant class 319 EMUs from Hornsey depot to Long Marston once again with 37884 providing the horsepower. It ran close m,to right time throughout the whole run which is always welcome as it means that timing my exit from home to drive somewhere suitable is easy. It looked as if the sun might be out for 5V94 so I went to Honeybourne which is the best bet should this happen. It didn't but it was reasonably bright when the train left the up main line at Honeybourne North Junction. Much of the lineside buddleia has passed its best in terms of colour but a few sprigs were in evidence as the train went under the road bridge prior to stopping at the staff hut to allow the crew to pick up the single line token.
It is usually possible to beat a train from Honeybourne to Long Marston provided that buses, milk tankers, tractors, combined harvesters and groups of cyclists are not encountered on the narrow roads. On this occasion all was well and I arrived in time to hear 5V94 on the jointed track just out of sight further down the branch. It arrived within 2 minutes in reasonably bright conditions with some early red berries providing a splash of colour in the bottom left corner of the frame.
On arrival at Long Marston on 14 August 2017 I saw that Vivarail's class 230 DMU, running in a 2 car formation, was making its way around the circuit. This gave the chance for an unusal image showing it together with a class 37, some stored class 319s, more D Stock hopefully awaiting conversion to class 230s and a variety of wagons. The gate was just about to be opened to allow 37884 with 319002 + 319002 to enter the exchange sidings.
The Long Marston staff member opened the gate for 5V94 and set the points for No 2 road giving me the opportunity to show the latest arrivals passing 319444 which had arrived on a previous occasion. I didn't hang around for 37884 to uncouple and prepare to leave for Leicester ready for another run the following day but went home.
A locomotive hauled train from the Plasser works at West Ealing to Long Marston appeared in the schedules during the week commencing 9 July 2017. There was no information about the consist or motive power nor any live sightings gen posted during the morning once the train had begun its journey nearly an late. It ran via Wembley and the WCML to Nuneaton where it turned off for Birmingham and the Gloucester line. It turned out that ROG's 37800 was hauling a Mobile Maintenance Train to Long Marston, reason unknown, before going light engine back to Leicester. Most of time lost before departure was made up and 6M94 ran close to right time through the West Midlands although a short delay was encountered around Evesham resulting in a 10 minute late arrival at the destination. I'm not really interested in photographing these moves anywhere but the North Cotswolds Line or the Long Marston branch so went to a public footpath adjacent to the road bridge at Long Marston where the sun was nearly clear of a small bank of cloud at just before 20.30.
On Wednesday 12 July 2017 the fourth train of withdrawn class 319 EMUs ran to Long Marston, this time from Bedford's Cauldwell depot. The original schedule showed the train running via London but what appeared to be a more sensible set of timings appeared under which it, 5Z94, ran to Nuneaton and Birmingham. The same locomotive as on the previous runs, 37884, was the motive power and with a reasonable chance of sunshine I left home for Evesham once 5Z94 had left Stoke Works loop. On arrival at Briar Close something had happened to the data feeds supplying RTT and Liverail and the train had disappeared from the systems. One might have hoped that there would have been a posting to one of the email groups from the Worcester area where there are usually plenty of photographers but as usual these days there were none. There wasn't really any chance of a cancellation and sure enough 37884 with 319428 + 319425 appeared in the distance just as the cloud cleared the foreground.
The second train of withdrawn class 319 EMUs went to Long Marston on 10 July 2017 with 37884 with 2 class 319s forming 5M94 from Bedford. This was one of those shots for which cloudy but bright conditions would have been ideal but the sun decided otherwise and came out onto the middle and back of the train as it ran around the back of Honeybourne station passing the micro-platform erected to a recent rail event at Long Marston and used by Vivarail's prototype class 230 DEMU. This made for some slightly tricky work in both the RAW convertor and Photoshop; something I am not keen to do but don't mind on occasions for something unusual.
The early running before Worcester evaporated and an on-time arrival at Honeybourne saw 37884 along with 319421 + 319003 pass through the station's branch platform and towards the hut in which the single line token is stored. I initially didn't bother to process the conventional locomotive-leading shot seen above because of the horrible lighting conditions and because I was mostly interested in getting a decent shot of the 319s with the dark sky over the background hills. Unfortunately, the sun didn't quite find a large enough hole in the clouds for this second image.
On Saturday 8 July 2017 two class 319 EMUs were showing as being taken from Hornsey to Long Marston where they are destined for storage. There was a small amount of confusion in the morning over whether the train, 5M94, would run as the path for the inward light locomotive move from Leicester had not been used but it later transpired that an earlier path the previous evening had seen 37884 go to Hornsey to collect the units. Various bits of early running meant that I didn't have time to reach the location I had in mind so the bridge at Long Marston was as good as it got. The arrival shot of 5M94 was of little consequence apart from the clean buffers on 37884 but the view of 319423 and 319430 was more interesting. Previous runs with 47812 necessitated barriers wagons between the locomotive and stock but 37884 has appropriate couplers and the lack of barriers makes for a better shot. I also took an image of Pandora sitting in the sun awaiting her fate, whatever that may be.
The next leg of the test train that I photographed on 13 June 2017 was Tyseley to Bristol via Worcester and Oxford during the following day. The weather was much brighter on 14 June and although the sun is too high in the sky at 11.15 at this time of the year I went to Honeybourne for a shot, largely because something more interesting than yet another class 37 hauled test train, albeit with a different paint job, was also in the area. The test train, 1Z22, was a couple of minutes late leaving Norton Junction but after a bit of smart running looked set to be back on time not long after it passed me.
The monthly test train to Stratford-upon-Avon from Derby ran on 13 June 2017. This time the power was provided by 2 Europhoenix class 37s, 37611 and 37608, instead of Colas Rail's 67s which were on the previous couple of trips. The weather was poor and it was only because the locomotives were in a new colour scheme for Stratford that I went down to the station to take a coujple of images. Here is 1Q32 ariving into platform 1. In my view, this is a livery that needs sun to show it off to its best advantage but was a commodity sadly lacking on this occasion.
I took another shot of 1Q32 at Stratford-upon-Avon on 13 June 2017 as 37608 stood at the north end of the train. This locomotive was quite grubby but at least I now have a record shot and can always hope for another visit in good light.
The next leg of the test train that I photographed on 13 June 2017 was Tyseley to Bristol via Worcester and Oxford during the following day. The weather was much brighter on 14 June and although the sun is much too high in the sky at 11.15 at this time of the year I went to Honeybourne for a shot, largely because something much more interesting than another 10-a-penny class 37 hauled train, was also in the area. The test train, 1Z22 was a couple of minutes late leaving Norton Junction but after a bit of smart running looked set to back on time not long after it passed me.
It is uncommon for anything but class 66 to work the DIRFT to Wentloog "Tesco Express" but on 31 May 2017 locomotive failure in the Washwood Heath area resulted in 3 class 37s to be sent from Crewe to effect a rescue. One of them took the errant 66 back to Crewe and the others, 37609 + 37602, took the train forward to South Wales. Even though there was little prospect of any sunshine the rarity of something other than a class 66 on this train made a trip out worthwile. I had missed the first use of a class 68 on 4V38 a few days earlier through being in a swimming pool when the information was sent to me and then not having time to walk home and drive somewhere so was keen to obtain an image on this occasion. It was only the second occasion on which 37s had been used on 4V38 the first having been on 17 September 2012 when I saw it passing Ashchurch. The locomotive swap today took absolutely ages and the train left Washwood Heath some 5 hours late but had a decent run south and passed Defford at 15.21 in just about the worst light of the whole afternoon.
Pathfinder Railtours usually run a tour covering several days over Easter weekends and 2017 was no exception when they operated a charter from Eastleigh to, on the first day, Inverness. Charters don't hold a great deal for interest for me these days but such trains are uncommon on the GWR line north of Leamington Spa as most use Coventry and Birmingham International as pick-up points. On this occasion though 1Z37 ran via Hatton and as I was already in the area having photographed a diverted china clay train I hung around for a short while albeit with a short drive to the tall bridge at Shrewley just north of Hatton North Junction. The light picked up a little just before 37609 + 37259 appeared rounding the curve in the background having just climbed Hatton Bank.
On Friday 30 March and Saturday 1 April 2017 Pathfinder Railtours ran a series of charters with one on the Saturday, 1Z77, making a visit to Long Marston. I don't often go out for charters these days but this was the first passenger train to have used the realigned formation at Honeybourne since it opened in August 2011 so I felt that a trip there would be worth the effort. The train was topped and tailed by DRS's class 37s with 37716 leading at this point and 37059 dead in train on the back. To be honest I should have preferred a pair of 68s as it would been another first for the line and one that will probably take a long time to happen. Everything ran according to plan, even the light, and here is 1Z77 running around the back of the main line platforms with a few onlookers on the ramp of the footbridge. I took another shot, on 35mm slide film, on 29 April 1994 as the locomotive passed Stenson Junction with an train of empty steel wagons; arguably a far more interesting working than the current one and with long-gone 58031 about to leave Willington power station.
The purpose of the Crewe to Long Marston train on 1 April 2017 was to give the participants a ride around the loop at the site. I stopped by the road bridge there on the way home and took a single image just as the train drew to a halt in the exchange sidings where 37716 was detached and Motorail Logistics' own diesel shunter, just about visible in the background, was attached. I don't know if 37069 stayed on the train for the circuit as I went home having achieved the photograph I wanted.
Test trains to Stratford-upon-Avon now run on a regular basis meaning that the terminus sees far more locomotive-hauled services than since before the closure of the line to the south. On 21 February 1Q48 was allocated 37421 in top-and-tail mode with 37254. The schedule meant that the first of 2 visits to Stratford was just before sunset but in the event there were problems around Rowley Regis meaning that safety inspections were being carried out leading to delays for London Midland passenger services. Because of this 1Q48 with 37421 leading joined the North Warwickshire Line at Tyseley 17 minutes early and with nothing else on the line progress was rapid and it arrived in front of my camera 42 minutes early. Thanks to a Chiltern Railways unit being in platform 3 rather than P2 as booked the test train went into P2; much better for photography and with a little unexpected sun lifting the scene.
The driver of 1Q48 soon removed the portable tail light from 37254 and turned on the headlights. It seemed likely that the train would adhere to the booked departure time so there was plenty of time for a few pictures taken from different angles. Even had the sun not been out, albeit being a bit weak given the time of day, there would have not been a shot available from platform 1 because the train hadn't run far enough down the station so a platform-side view was the only choice but you have to make do with what's available on the day.
Another visit to Stratford-upon-Avon of the now regular 1Q48 test train took place on Tuesday 25 January 2017. This time the locomotives were the less than inspiring 37601 and 37611 topping and tailing the usual 4 vehicles. The train was due to make 2 visits to the terminus with the first arrival timed for around 17.30 and with a destination of platform 3. This is worst for photography but I had kept an eye on RTT to see if the preceding Chiltern unit went, as often is the case, into this platform meaning that 1Q48 would probably go into P2. This happened so the 4 photographers present set up on P1 ready for an on-time arrival. Sod's Law intervened with the test train being held outside the station for 10 minutes until the unit left and cleared the section before running along P3 and coming to halt. In the intervening few minutes a very nicely coloured evening sky with good cloud formations had disappeared and just a mediocre image was possible with a bit of a colour cast on the front of 37611 thrown by the orange lights in Morrison's car park. I didn't bother going back for the later visit at 21.50 partly because of the commonplace nature of the blue locomotives which I have photographed previously on more interesting workings. Here is 37611 making an extremely rare appearance on the Ashchurch MOD train and 37601 leading a DRS Cruise Saver at Hatton.
A third class 37 has just been reliveried in Europhoenix colours and it saw its debut on 12 January 2017 on a return test train run between Eastleigh and London Waterloo. On the following day it led a 3Z01 Eastleigh to Derby which was due to pass Hatton at around 13.45 so as it's always a good idea to get an early photograph of something new or repainted in case things go wrong later I went to Hatton North Junction. Time keeeping wasn't far from the booked schedule after a slightly late start but it somehow managed to convert a 2 minute early arrival at Leamington Spa to a 6 minute deficit by the time it passed Hatton. The train wasn't moving fast and there was little exhaust noise although one wouldn't expect a lot with a short and lightweight formation. The locomotive's colour scheme is more eye-catching than its previous incarnation as seen here as it arrived at Stratford-upon-Avon in July 2016.
Stratford-upon-Avon has seen more test trains in recent weeks than for the past 2 years and another one appeared in the schedules for Tuesday 29 November 2016. Once again it was 1Q48 from Derby RTC to Tyseley via parts of the East and West Midlands and was due to make 2 visits to the terminus, the first being at 16.30. I went down for this early run for 2 reasons the main one being that the sky would not be completely black and thus give an attractive quality to the light and second, the next visit was at 22.40 and a cold night was forecast! Colas Rail's 37219 and 37421 topped and tailed the 3 coaches which as planned ran into platform 1 and as soon as the leading locomotive's front lights were switched on a series of exposures was made. The station lights here give a really strong and contrasty light; the amount of post-processing of the RAW (NEF) image was minimal; just a touch of sharpening at 0.2 pixel radius and a very small amount of highlight reduction on the footsteps facing the camera which the bright lights had almost burned out.
The third test train in the last few weeks visited Stratford-upon-Avon on 2 November 2016. Some extra interest was given to 1Q48 because 37025 was one of the locomotives allocated; a popular photographic subject because of its large-logo colour scheme and the split-box marker lights. By looking at the schedule on RTT and knowing that the other locomotive, 37421, was on the front at a certain point it was a simple matter to work out that 37025 would lead into the terminus for its first visit timed to be just after 16.30. The light was never going to be good as the clocks had just been put back to GMT but one should never underestimate the capabilities of decent digital cameras and a good lens. In the event I was more than happy with this image taken at ISO 800 using 1/200 at f3.2. The low light levels can be gauged by the brightness of the platform and car park lamps.
Test train 1Q48 from Derby to Tyseley stopped in just the right spot in Stratford's platform 1 on 1 November 2016 for a shot of 37421 once its front lights had been turned on. The friendly driver had just told the small group of photographers that the route was to be changed because he didn't sign the North Warwickshire Line and his pilotman had other duties in the near future. This meant that 1Q48 went straight to Tyseley via the NWL from Stratford and then ran to Leamington Spa and Fenny Compton to regain the booked route. This change clearly involved an extra reversal and this meant that 37025 would be on the back of the train when it returned at around 22.30 later that evening.
My tripod saw some more use on 1 November 2016 when 1Q48 made a nocturnal visit to Stratford-upon-Avon with 37025 and 37421 providing the power. The rear locomotive as it came into platform 2, a late change from P1, was 37025 and as soon as the driver had switched on the lights a number of shots with different aperture settings were taken. If I were to be picky it would have been better had the train stopped a few yards further down the platform as space at the extreme end of platform was a little limited and quite a wide angle lens had to be used. That said, there isn't a lot wrong with the shot and it was pleasing that no lights were sticking up out of the locomotive's roof.
The test train in the photographs above went to Tyseley for stabling on the night of 1 November 2016 before forming 1Z78 to Bristol Temple Meads on the following day, routed via Stourbridge Junction, Worcester, Evesham and Oxford. Something happened overnight, perhaps when the locomotives were fuelled, because 37025 should have led up the North Cotswold Line but as soon as 37421 came into view at Evesham hopes of a sunny shot of the large-logo locomotive were dashed. In truth the attractive Colas livery matches the subtle Autumnal tints in the scene around the signalbox but it is much easier to obtain an image of a Colas locomotive than a large-logo split box example.
The Structure Gauging Train visited Stratford-upon-Avon during the evening of Friday 28 October 2016 running as 1Q06 from Tyseley and was routed via the GWR main line to Hatton North Junction where it was to turn right and join the Stratford branch. The locomotive was Colas Rail's 37219 which, unfortunately from a photographic point of view, was on the south end of the formation. Local passenger services were disrupted due to track damage at Hartlebury and several train were cancelled. Just in front of 1Q06 was 2D63 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford which was 48 minutes late and arrived at the terminus just before I did. It ran into platform 2 and was soon turned round, its 6 coaches leaving as 2Z86 to Worcester Shrub Hill. Platform 1 contained a 3 coach class 172 which screwed up the chances of a decent shot from there as 1Q06 stopped in platform so the only choice was this just after it had stopped. The driver turned off the headlight before his train came to a halt which made a poor image even worse. I moved over to platform 1 for a shot of the DBSO where the lighting is much better and with some attractive interplay of light and shadow in the platform-side trees.
The Rail Oerations Group's class 37s, 37800 + 37884, hauled a railtour on Sunday 23 October 2016 running from Derby to Derby via the East Midlands, Birmingham, Hereford, Severn Tunnel Junction, and Worcester Shrub Hill. I don't chase coats of paint (or vinyl) around the the country as soon as something new appears but wait for it to reach somewhere convenient for me and this tour fitted the bill nicely. The train ran close to right time throughout the day and I took the easy option and went to the road bridge at Defford where a reasonably clear shot is available although some lineside junction boxes are a bit of an eyesore and could, I suppose, have been removed in post-processing. On arrival the sky was dark and sunshine non-existent but a clear patch developed over Bredon Hill which luckily spread to the tracks as 1Z37 crossed over the River Avon just behind the trees towards the back of the train. I do like the contrast from the shadowy patch in the mid-ground which adds some visual texture to the scene. On a chilly day ETH current was supplied by 47815 on the back of the formation now repainted from its former BR style livery. I took a similar shot here in 2002 when 37521 + 37114 operated a footex along the line in even more dramatic lighting.
Whenever a test train is scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon I keep an eye open in case Colas locomotives are allocated as this is one colour scheme I had yet to photograph at the station. On 4 October 2016 1Q48 from Derby to Tyseley was due to make 2 visits to the terminus and 37219 and 37175 in top-and-tail mode were reported as providing the power. The first visit was around 16.30 and although it was booked to run into platform 3, the worst possible for photography, I hoped that with no trains using platform 1 at that time and with a clear sky promising sunshine it might be routed into that platform. It wasn't and ran as booked and this shot was about the best possible in the circumstances. I didn't have a long lens with me but some judicious cropping did the job although having to compromise between shadows on the front of 37219 and its nose appearing to clip the fence was unfortunate. Even so it was better than the light on the wrong side view for which it was barely worth pressing the shutter release. Just to complete the story I took a third image as 1Q48 left Stratford for the next part of its journey around parts of the East Midlands.
As I mentioned above 1Q48 made 2 visits to Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 October the second being due to arrive just about 22.30. Following the poor results earlier in the day I dug out my tripod and went back to the station to have a crack at a time exposure under the platform lights. This time 1Q48 was due to arrive into platform 2 and it did so meaning that there was a good chance of obtaining a decent image after the driver had changed ends and switched on the cab and headlights. The station lights here are quite bright and the exposure used on ISO 200 was 1.3 seconds at f5.6 in contrast to the lighting in the days when I used 100asa medium format slide film when about 15 seconds was needed. After a decent interval allowing several bracketed exposures the train pulled out of the station for the final part of the day's itinerary to Tyseley LMD.
On Wednesday 5 October 2016 37219 + 37175 continued their test train duties with a 1Z78 from Tyseley to Bristol running up the North Cotswold Line via Evesham and Oxford. The morning was notable for absolutely clear skies and it would have impolite not to have gone for a shot somewhere south of Evesham where the light would be favourable. I decided on Clayfield level crossing between Evesham and Honeybourne a location not visited since the line was doubled some years ago. The train was close to 50 minutes late at Droitwich but by curtailing a couple of booked stops was only a minute or so late when it passed the former crossing keeper's cottage on this very quiet lane now protected by the usual automatic half barrier gates. I found out earlier that if sitting in the car only a few feet away there isn't time to get out and walk to the line if one waits for the klaxons to sound; I had missed an up Adelante quite convincingly a short while earlier so I put myself in place with a minute or two to spare ready for a grubby 37219 leading its train past the crossing at what must have been close to the maximum speed of the elderly locomotive.
A two day schedule for a 1Q05 Derby to Derby test train running via Weymouth saw 37069 + 37608 travelling both up and down the North Cotswold Line on 8 & 9 September 2016. The light on the first day was poor and with DRS 37s being relatively commonplace on the line I didn't bother but on Thursday 8th the afternoon brightened up nicely and rather later than might have been sensible I drove to just about the nearest spot to my home which is a nicely green and rural scenic location. It turned out to be a bit more green than was ideal and with a smelly bonfire of old horse manure alight directly behind me not especially pleasant. The first train to come along was 1P63, the 15.50 Worcester Foregate Street to London Paddington and was of course on the up line but being an HST I took a going-away shot as the FGW livery looks attractive with this sort of background. As 1Q05 came around the curve in the background I was lucky that the smoke from the fire wasn't blowing over the line and a nice enough if slightly restricted view was recorded.
Test trains have run over parts of the North Cotswold Line quite frequently in recent weeks. On Monday 15 August 2016 a 3Q22 from Derby RTC to Cardiff Canton was scheduled to use the line as far as Honeybourne before running to Long Marston. The locomotive allocated was 37057, one of Colas's fleet in so-called "heritage" livery, in this case BR green with small warning panels. As I don't chase locomotives around but wait for them to come to me I hadn't seen this evolution so with sun just about guaranteed went to the footbridge at Honeybourne. The train appeared at Honeybourne North Junction just about on time and passed the 2 photographers on the bridge with the recently grown buddleia adding some colour to the left of the branch. The time I photographed 37057 was way back in December 1994 when, paired with 37012, it made a smoky departure from Calvert with the Avon bins in, unfortunately, the worst possible lighting condtions with the unwelcome sun coming from exactly the wrong place. I had driven to Honeybourne in my 1969 Morris Minor and was mildly surprised to be able to park next to a white 1970 traveller.
A test train from Tyseley to Bristol High Level Sidings was down to run on 10 August 2016 and part of its route was over the North Cotswold Line as far as Finstock where a reversal was due to take place instead of at Oxford North Junction, this section of line being closed for engineering work. A message on the previous day indicated that 37254 + 37219 were on the stock at Tyseley and with reasonable weather forecast I made a note to go to Evesham after a visit to my health club swimming pool. I saw from RTT when I left the club that 1Q05 was 15 minutes early at Stoke Works but thought that it would be back to right time before I reached Evesham and this proved to be the case. The shot at Briar Close is gradually disappearing under a mass of foliage but there are still one or two clear spots although the composition isn't all one might wish. The sun was in and out but managed to be behind some thin cloud when 37254 appeared in the distance; about 3 minutes later would have been good. I went to Lower Moor for the return from Finstock but some quite heavy delay was met between Charlbury and Finstock, the single track section, and with thick cloud looming I decided not to bother with a probably dull shot of 37219 leading and returned home.
A Network Rail test train, 1Q48, was scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon on Tuesday 12 July 2016. The train left Derby RTC 163 minutes late but regained right time by missing out a return trip along the Coalville Line and although the weather wasn't good I felt that it was time that I photographed a couple of class 37s, 37608 + 37611, at my home station. The plan was for 1Q48 to run into platform 3, the worst for photography but when I arrived a Chiltern class 165 was in there and what appeared to be some relief crew members were in the platform shelter on platform 2. I took this as a clue and set up with this shot in mind. I had no idea that the former DRS branding on the locomotives had been removed and, as seen on 37611, a Europhoenix branding applied.
As soon as 1Q48 had arrived into platform 2 at Stratford-upon-Avon on 12 July 2016 it was clear that there was not to be a shot of it departing from platform 1 which is the shorter of those at the station. I therefore went to the end of platform 2 for a record shot of it leaving where I also took this view of a crew member from the class 165 taking an image on his 'phone. Before joining the train one of 1Q48's crew told me that due to a route knowledge issue they would not follow the booked route to Hatton and Leamington Spa but would have to retrace their steps along the North Warwickshire Line through Henley-in-Arden before reversing onto the GWR main line through Solihull. The train was due to return to Stratford at around 22.45; not a move I planned to see. This would have to wait for another day when, with luck, some Colas locomotives would be rostered; something that I have yet to photograph at the terminus.
It has become usual for a steam hauled train to visit Stratford-upon-Avon on the Saturday nearest to 23 April, St. George's day or the anniversary of William Shakespeare's birth and, it is alleged, his death although the latter isn't actually recorded. In 2016 gauging issues at Wilmcote station prevented steam being and this resulted in WCRC's 37706 + 47760 working 1Z44 from Paddington to Stratford. It is typical of WCRC that what is probably their dirtiest locomotive was leading the train as it passed through Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway station running just about one minute ahead of schedule and missing some sunshine by about 5 minutes. Just as I arrived on the road bridge at Bishopton this fox was scouring the hedgerow for prey. I photographed 37706 when it looked far better in its petroleum sector colours as it approached Basingstoke station on 28 September 1990 at the head of a morning Micheldever to Ripple train of empty oil tanks. The slide from which this scan was taken wasn't in the best of condition accounting for the rather poor quality of the blue sky's rendition.
This wasn't a train that I had planned to photograph on 21 April 2016 but when I arrived at Evesham to photograph the first Freightliner 70 to have used the North Cotswold Line the final leg of a 3 day test diagram was only a few minutes south of the station. 37609 + 37612 had to wait until the preceding down train, 1W29, had cleared the single track at Norton Junction and my picture was taken as they pulled away towards the road bridge. The light was poor but it did allow an image from the north side of the line to be taken which shows the layout of Evesham station quite nicely.
Having been comprehensively stuffed in my attempt for a shot of a test train at Henley in Arden on 19 April 2016 I went out on the following day for another try of it on the next leg of its diagram. Wednesday 20 April 2016 was another fine day and I took my 1969 Morris Minor for a long run around Warwickshire and Worcestershire with a short break at Lower Moor, between Pershore and Evesham, to take this image of 37609 + 37612 on 1Z22 from Tyseley to Bristol High Level Siding. I was slightly surprised to have been alone on the bridge here given the alleged popularity of class 37s in the sunshine. I chose this spot because it's a pleasant rural aspect but with enough of a background to make it identifiable. The fact that it is impossible to have one's shot blocked on a single line didn't enter my mind...
Test trains over the North Cotswold Line have been relatively frequent of late with the latest example, 1Z02, running on 23 March 2016. This was scheduled for the NMT HST but on the day it turned out that DRS's 37601 + 37688 were allocated to top and tail the yellow vehicles. The train left Derby for Bristol High Level, via Weymouth, 7 minutes late at 07.00 and with stopovers in various loops wasn't due to pass Evesham until 11.09. I had to be in the area for other reasons but had time to drive to Briar Close for a photograph. This was the ideal location in such misty and dull conditions where something solid in the background helps to counter the gloom. Just as 1Z02 approached the signalbox the signal for the down line cleared to allow a class 180 Adelante working 1W21 from Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street to leave Evesham station.
Preserved 37025, on hire to Colas Rail, ran light engine from Cardiff to Crewe during the morning of 11 March 2016 prior to working a 6Z90 12.00 from Crewe to Didcot. This was scheduled to pass Hatton at 14.38 which, on a bright and sunny afternoon, gave several options for a shot. I was torn between Bentley Heath and Hatton North Junction footbridge but decided on the latter so that I could photograph a couple of northbound workings due at around the same time. In the event it all went wrong with 6Z90 departing Crewe 156 minutes late because of a problem with the crane which formed the load for Didcot. The lateness grew to 177 minutes by Walsall and a passing time for Hatton station looked to be about 17.05. I left home with what I thought was plenty of time but some 40 minutes was made up around the back end of Birmingham and arrived on the roadbridge just as 37025 passed Dorridge. The light was dreadful by this time but odds and ends like this are always worth recording and digital equipment gives one the flexibilty to achieve something respectable.
One of infrequent Network Rail test trains was booked to run from Derby RTC to Long Marston on leap year day, 29 February 2016. Early reports said that 37421 was the motive power with a DBSO leading for the first part of the journey which meant that the locomotive would be on the front on the return along the Long Marston branch. The train, 3Q22, ran close to right time until Worcester Shrub Hill when a delay of some 45 minutes was encountered. It was unfortunate that it didn't report on the systems feeding data to RTT which left me waiting on a foot crossing on the branch with no information forthcoming. I eventually heard a horn from the Honeybourne direction and with no passenger trains around at the time concluded that it had to be 3Q22 leaving the North Cotswold Line. Sure enough, a few minutes later I heard something coming towards me along the jointed track and I took this image as the train approached the crossing.
The scheduled time at Long Marston for the reversal of 3Q22 with 37421 was 10 minutes but it actually took exactly 30 minutes for the train to reappear at the foot crossing at which I was waiting. In the intervening period the sun had passed into some high cloud which took the edge off the light although it was still quite bright. Whilst waiting I could hear a lot of shunting activity at Long Marston itself and could catch the odd glimspe of something moving around. By the time 3Q22 had passed and I had driven around the corner to the road bridge adjacent to the site activity had ceased and the crews were taking their lunch break. A pity, because they had been moving some of ex-Manchester trams around and some decent pictures would have been on offer.
Privately owned 37025 has been on hire to Colas Rail for a while and has been used for crew training on the type. On Tuesday 23 February 2016 it was booked to run light engine from Barry to Washwood Heath where some ex-Motorail wagons were waiting to be taken to South Wales. The inward move ran early and it was no surprise that the return followed suit so I made sure that I left plenty of time to drive to the footbridge at Northway, near Ashchurch, for a photograph. A few minutes after arrival 56104 came into view running light engine from Washwood Heath to Bristol and although I don't often take light engine images it seemed almost rude not to take one on this occasion given the perfect light. It wasn't long before RTT showed that 37025 with 5V37 had passed Eckington and, needless to say, some wispy cloud began to approach the sun. I was disappointed that the train was so short but it was actually quite fortunate for once because at least all of it was in clear sun between a few shady patches. I don't know to what use the vans will be put but they don't look as attractive in 2016 as they did I saw them at in November 2006 whilst en-route to Long Marston.
The second train I photographed on 18 February 2016 was the nuclear flask working from Berkeley to Crewe, 6M56, hauled on this occasion by 37612 and 37605. One of the few good things about these very short trains is that fit well in a restricted broadside view such as this location where the Gloucester to Birmingham line crosses the Warwickshire Avon at Eckington. This isn't a location that I visit very often as the variety of shots available is a bit limited but it is a pleasant and ghenerally quiet spot, albeit a bit muddy, on the odd occasion.
There were only 2 freights in prospect at Defford on the afternoon of 19 January 2016. The first to appear, running about 10 minutes early, was 6M56 from Berkeley to Crewe which conveys nuclear waste for onward movement to Sellafield. There has been some misinformation about this working in recent weeks which suggested that the trains had stopped running. In fact, trains conveying spent fuel rods with the associated high levels of radioactivity have ceased but there is plenty of lower-level waste still to be removed from the site. I have relatively few pictures of this working largely because I'm not especially interested in very short formations nor the so-called "heritage" traction used on them but I couldn't recall photographing a 37 + 57 combination so thought that one for the record would be worthwhile. Here are 37609 + 57003 approaching the road bridge having just crossed the Warwickshire Avon at Eckington Bridge.
Following the imported transatlantic inanities of Black Friday and Cyber Monday we had, on 2 December 2015, Test Train Wednesday - a shame for alliteration that it wasn't a day earlier... There were 2 workings in which I had an interest the first being what has become a roughly annual run from Derby to Tyseley via Hatton North and West Junctions, the Stourbridge area and Stratford-upon-Avon. There are few locomotive-hauled trains over the junction at Hatton North so a shot is always worthwhile. Although operated by COLAS Rail they still have insufficient locomotives of their own to run all the required trains so a DRS hire-in is always on the cards. There were 3 test trains from Derby RTC on this day and I had hoped that a COLAS pair would be allocated to 1Q05 as it would, I think, have been the first in the operator's colour scheme to have visited Stratford. Unfortunately, it turned out to the less inspiring 37612 + 37610 with 3 vehicles which I pictured first crossing from the down main line at Hatton North onto the Hatton North Curve. I included rather more sky than would be regarded as proper but wanted to show as much as I could of the gnarly old oak tree in the left of the frame. This is a sheltered location which accounts for the amount of Autumnal colour still to be seen on the lineside trees all the way to the Shrewley road bridge.
The booked route for 1Q05 on 2 December 2015 was Hatton North to Hatton West where the crew changed ends before a reversal. It all happened to plan and it was only a few minutes before it moved and came back towards the main line. The road at the junction was already set because nothing had passed since 37610 + 37612 had gone onto the curve so there was no delay to the schedule. Some cloud had built up following a bright start to the day which was probably a good job because unfiltered sun at 10.50 would have been a little awkward to say the least. I had hoped to get over to the Evesham line in time for 37175 + 37219 on a similar working but some slow and muddy lanes with 3 stops for horse traffic put paid to that idea.
After visiting Hatton 1Q05 went through Birmingham Moor Street and Snow Hill stations before heading for Stourbridge Junction. The plan was for it to go as far as Kidderminster to reverse and then run to Round Oak on the stub of the Stourbridge Junction to Bescot freight line but as had happened the previous year the reversal took place in Stourbridge yard putting it well over an hour early. I hoped that this early running would stick as it meant that a couple of shots around Stratford-upon-Avon would be possible and a 'phone call from a friend confirmed that 1Q05 would follow the 2S48 Stourbridge Junction to Stratford. I made the short walk to Bishopton Lane bridge adjacent to Stratford Parkway station and within 5 minutes saw 37612 rolling down Wilmcote Bank and through the platforms. The light was dreadful but I was happy enough to get an image showing a locomotive-hauled non-passenger train in this location.
Once 1Q05 had gone into platform 3 of the terminus at Stratford on 2 December 2015 I walked round to Parkway station to have an attempt at a shot of the final leg to Tyseley. There were 2 passenger trains in front of it but it was still 83 minutes early when it came passed me in what was virtual darkness needing a stratospheric ISO setting to achieve a high enough shutter speed. This is not an attractive location but it did well enough for a record shot.
An ECS move from Eastleigh to Derby took place on Friday 27 November 2015 so that the stock was in place for a charter the following day. I was in the Hatton area close to the appropriate time so took a few minutes to walk to North Junction to take a photograph of 5Z37 as it topped the climb from Warwick. It was running close to right time and is shown rounding the curve from Hatton statiion sounding like, well, a bit like a pair of 37s on a 1/110 gradient on a lightweight train. Locomotive-hauled passenger train in the shape of Chiltern Trains' stock with class 68s are common enough here but anything else is relatively unusual given that most charters tend to run from Birmingham to Leamington Spa via Coventry so as to be able to pick up passengers both there and at Birmingham International.
Wednesday 9 September 2015 saw the running of 2 test trains in my area. To me the most interesting was 1Q15 from Derby to Derby via Evesham and Oxford which was shown on RTT as being the NMT although on a different schedule was to be ooperated by class 67 locomotives. To add to the confusion COLAS Rail this week took over the operation of SERCO traffic but as they have only 3 operational class 37s, of whioh 2 were on other duties, there had to be some hiring-in of traction from DRS; a situation is likely to be the norm for the forseeable future. It turned out that 1Q15 was in the hands of 37605 and 37610 with the former leading for the southbound run. I decided on the footbridge at Aldington, just to the south of Evesham where the train is shown here running 38 minutes late having lost its path around Worcester and being forced to wait for a passenger train in either direction, these being 1W21 on the down line and 1P43 formed of 166212 going to London Paddington. This isn't a brilliant location but the backdrop showing various bits of Evesham including Bredon Hill and the scaffolding-covered tower of Evesham Abbey do make it a bit more interesting than it would be were it just a tree-lined tunnel. Against all the odds on a cloudy morning some sun brightened the scene although if 1Q15 had made it here 2 minutes earlier it would have been even better... As a matter of record the other test train, via Hatton, was a solo DRS class 37 propelling its train. I didn't see it.
I don't really keep up with changes to locomotive liveries so when I saw that there was a charter from Chester to Bournemouth hauled by 2 DRS class 37s, 37401 + 37405, on Saturday 22 August 2015 it didn't strike any particular spark with me. After a friend mentioned to me specifically that 37401 was to lead the train I had a quick online search and saw that it had recently been painted into BR big logo livery. This made it a bit more interesting to me and as Saturday morning looked to be clear and sunny I decided on a drive over to Banbury where the line would be clear of shadows at around 09.30. I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare and found a huge gallery on the bridge adjacent to Banbury Stone Terminal although there was still plenty of room for a latecomer. The train, 1Z37, was about 8 minutes early at this point and made for a colourful spectacle as is passed on the up main line. The leading locomotive certainly looked smart and very different from the last time I photographed it in March 2008 when it was on a train to Long Marston. There was another charter along the Banbury line later in the day, this time steam hauled to Stratford but I stayed at home this time to watch the qualifying for the Spa Francorchamps Grand Prix.
On Tuesday 11 August a Derby RTC to Derby RTC via London Marylebone was shown as running, due through Hatton at around 11.15. I had already planned to go for a drive in my Morris Minor and a walk around Hatton Locks and Budbrook so timed things so that I should arrive at the footbridge near the southern of Hatton cutting at about 11.00. I had absolutely no idea what sort of traction was on 1Q16 as nothing was shown as being allocated when last I looked at my emails. Just like the old days with the exception that RTT kept me up-to-date with the train's whereabouts. A few seconds after I reached the bridge 68012 ran south with 1H43 from Birmingham Moor Street to Marylebone and it wasn't long before I heard another train rolling down the bank. My first knowledge of what was working 1Q16 came when 37604 with 37611 on the back of the 4 coaches poked its nose around the bend in a little weak sun and fitting quite nicely into the gap in the verdant foliage. As far as I can remember the last times I photographed a class 37 in this location were when 37402 worked a Bescot to Didcot train on 14 January 2005 and a few weeks later when 37427 went to Hinksey Yard in the days when the undergrowth was less intrusive
My main reason for yet again being at Hatton North Junction on 25 July 2015 was to get a sunny shot of COLAS Rail's 37219 on a 3Z06 Eastleigh to Derby test train stock move. I know that I use the location far too much but in all honesty I can't think of anywhere with better light at around 17.30 without a much longer drive and anyway why settle for somewhere less attractive? I wanted the wider shot from the fieldside rather than the view from the footbridge to include as much natural colour from the local flora to complement the bright livery of 37219 while it's still clean and therefore a bit of a novelty. It's very unlikely that I would have gone out had a DRS locomotive been on the train. Some quite early running had been knocked out of 3Z06 in the Oxford area and it was just 3 minutes ahead of schedule at this point. With such a light load there wasn't much warning of the train's approach and the first intimation that it was coming was a yellow nose poking around the corner in the background; so not a lot of noise on this occasion. Here is an earlier view from Long Marston of 37219 in the current colour scheme before its main line certification.
There were 3 poentially interesting trains in my area on Wednesday 22 July 2013 but the first was a WCRC 47 leading a St. Helens to Oxford charter which I discounted on the grounds of it being a dreadful locomotive livery in dull conditions. The second wasn't much better, being 47818 propelling an inspection saloon up Hatton Bank but the third was COLAS Rail's 37175 hauling a test train south along the North Cotswold Line which had a little more attraction given that the these locomotives have only recently started work on these trains instead of DRS examples. A similar train ran along the GWR Leamington Spa to Birmingham during the previous week but the timings weren't convenient for me. Here is 3Q13 drawing to a stop at Honeybourne station a couple of minutes early in preparation for a change of the on-board crew. The taxi delivering the 2 men arrived a few minutes later than the train but now that pathing isn't much of an issue on this line it wasn't a problem.
During the drive to Honeybourne there was a torrential shower out of which I passed when approaching the village. I had almost turned around in Long Marston because it was so dark but carried on more in hope than expectation. While the crew change mentioned above was taking place the sky began to clear a little and just as the brakes were blown off on 37175 a little weak sun came through. Now running about 5 minutes late the driver made a spirited departure even managing to set off a car alarm in the adjacent station car park. I had wanted to get this image in a station environment to give some background and was glad I came here rather than Evesham which was my initial idea as the sky over in that direction was still dark and threatening. The locomotive was a little cleaner on this occasion than it was when last I saw it at Hatton on an RHTT working in October 2014.
A test train, 1Q07, from Alexandra Dock Junction to Derby RTC ran on Saturday 9 May 2015 and on its way reversed at Bromsgrove, went down to Worcester and thence Long Marston before retracing its steps and going home. The train managed to lose the best part of an hour somewhere around Severn Tunnel Junction but after missing out a trip along the Westerleigh branch was a few minutes early through Evesham. I arrived at Long Marston in time to hear 37611 and 37612 sandwiching the 4 vehicles rolling down the branch before arriving at the gate amidst some fresh green foliage. This wan't 37611's first visit to the area; on 22 September 2008 it worked a slightly more interesting load out of Long Marston where I photographed it standing by the branch stop board in the days before the North Cotswold Line was redoubled.
The ADJ to Derby test train was scheduled to stand at the gate at Long Marston for about 35 minutes on 9 May 2015 but I thought that there was little chance of that happening so went around the corner to a farm occupation crossing. Within 5 minutes the horn on 37612 was blown and 1Q07 soon came into sight as the train headed back towards Honeybourne. There would have been plenty of time for a drive to the road bridge there but I suspected that the train would be held to time and with the possibility that it might stay at the staff hut where the single line token is kept for around 30 minutes decided to go home.
Blackthorn at Blackminster... Wednesday 15 April was the second sunny day in a row so I decided to go to the North Cotswold Line for a shot of 1Q15, a 09.05 test train from Derby to Derby via Oxford. I knew from a previous shot here, albeit 5 years ago that the blossom would be out so thought that this would an ideal location to show a train in a seasonal location. Departure from Derby was delayed by the thick end of a hour but RTT proved itself invaluable once again and allowed me to arrive at Mutton Bridge about 10 minutes before the barriers protecting the road in Blackminster village were dropped to allow 37610 topping 4 vehicles and 37606 to pass. This spot is near the site of Littleton and Badsey station but typically of the GWR the station name doesn't reflect the actual location. The station was in the middle of Blackminster village with the Littletons (North, Middle and South) being a mile or so to the north and Badsey an approximately equal distance to the south.
There were 2 trains potentially of interest running on the North Cotswold Line on 25 March 2015. The first was a 3Q15 test train from Derby to Kings Norton via Oxford which was scheduled to pass Evesham at 12.52 and as it was a bright and sunny morning at home I drove over to Evesham for a shot of it passing the signalbox. My smartphone had lost its signal when I parked near the bridge but as it was some 22 minutes before the booked time I wasn't too bothered and slowly wandered up the road. Just as I arrived I saw the yellow formation coming around the bend from Evesham West Junction after, apparently, having a had a fast run from Norton Junction. The sun had gone behind some very thick cloud and the overall effect was of an exceptionally dull and misty scene.
A test train was shown as running on Wednesday 7 January 2105 from Tyseley L.M.D. to Tyseley L.M.D. via various bits of the West Midlands and Warwickshire. The first leg was from Tyseley to Hatton North and West Junctions which, other than steam specials on Summer Sundays, sees no locomotive-hauled traffic although a regular London Midland service to Stratford-upon-Avon via Solihull has run this way for the past 12 months. I went to the footbridge at Hatton North to get a shot in each direction but found when I arrived at around 09.00 that the train wasn't showing any signs of movement on RTT although other services were reporting. After a chilly wait in the wind the points allowing access to the Stratford branch were shifted and as it was too early for the first passenger service using the curve concluded that it had to be 1Q05 running in the region of 15 minutes late. A yellow nose soon appeared under the road bridge at Shrewley and 37602 leading its 3 coaches and 37259 crossed over the 2 sets of points and onto the branch.
The Tyseley to Tyseley test train, 1Q05, was booked to reverse at Hatton West Junction before heading back towards Solihull and then on to Kidderminster and Round Oak. Still running about 15 minutes late and not reporting on RTT here is 37259 coming around the curve from the Stratford-upon-Avon branch with the recently risen sun giving a bit of illumination to the otherwise quite dark scene. The late running caused the first Stratford-bound train on this route some delay and the class 172 unit can be seen waiting at the signal in the background in this view as 1Q05 accelerated through Shrewley cutting. I had planned to go out later in the day for a shot at Henley-in-Arden but without the benefit of RTT reports and with no sightings posted on email groups I decided that the scope for early running as too great to make it worth the effort given the poor weather conditions. While going to my car parked in Shrewley I noticed this house with and elderly bicycle fixed to the wall. I wonder why?..
In March 2005 37401 was around Bescot and saw at least 2 days' use on the Birch Coppice car parts vans. On 17 March I went over to Whitacre Heath and took the just one shot as the train, 6G42, returned from Birch Coppice. The light was poor but this was a chance to take a shot of the locomotive which had previously been painted into the Royal Scotsman colour scheme and saw use on the eponymous train in the Highlands.
A few days after the taking the image of 37401 shown above, 37401 was again out on 6G36 and 6G42 and as I had a little more time went for a bit of a chase. This first shot on 21 March 2005 was taken at Kingsbury Junction as the train came around the bend from Lea Marston, having travelled over the fast lines from Water Orton. The light was again poor but it is always better to get a shot or two of a one-off colour scheme in case something happens to the locomotive or it moves away from the area.
It was no problem to make the short drive to a roadside spot neat the village of Piccadilly where a small clear patch on the Birch Coppice branch allowed a side view of 6G36 whith its brightly painted first wagon. I haven't been to this location since i took this shot in March 2005 but it isn't hard to imagine that the line will no longer be visible.
After a short break in Birch Coppice terminal while the empty vans were exchanged for loaded 37401 soon headed back towards Bescot where I pictured it passing Wood End as the sky began to clear a little allowing just a tarce of a shadow to appear. It is irritating that I managed to chop of the chimneys of the lineside houses but I was going through a temporary stage where I dogmatically used only a 50mm prime lens. This shortsightedness didn't last long and I soon bought a good quality f2.8 Nikon 35-70mm lens and benefitted from the vastly increased flexibility.
My final shot of 37401 with the Birch Coppice to Bescot car parts train, 6G42, was at Whitacre Heath on the slow lines from Kingsbury Junction to Water Orton. The light was still improving and the early mist had virtually vanished but the sun was still partly veiled by high cloud. I seem to remember that a shot at Whitacre Junction would have been possible as 6G42 stood at a red signal for some time, but for some reason I stayed where I was - possibly because I sat in my car and had a sandwich!
I have been keeping an eye on the Swindon to Kings Norton RHTT train, 3S33, operated with a pair of COLAS Rail class 37s since it first operated early in October. On most occasions it has left Swindon about 2 hours early and it would thus have been difficult, to say the least, to obtain a reasonable photograph. On Tueday 28 October 2014, a clear and sunny morning, RTT showed that it had left Swindon close to right time and would be unlikely to make up too much before being within range of my home. I had a brisk drive to Stoke Pound Lane and arrived at 08.15, just 2 minutes before RTT suggested it would arrive. This was slightly optimistic as 3S33 had been turned into Eckington loop to allow both a class 170 and a CrossCountry voyager to pass. Those few minutes made all the difference and allowed the hitherto perfect light to deteriorate as a large bank of cloud moved across the sun. I should like to think that another chance for a well-lit shot will present itself but given the time of day and the time of year, who knows?
The pair of COLAS Rail class 37s, 37219 + 37175 have been working an overnight Kings Norton - Worcester - Oxford - Worcester - Swindon diagram and only the final part of the last section of the diagram has been even remotely possible to photograph. In fact though, the train has usually been given a very early path from Swindon to Kings Norton which has made it more than a bit tricky. On Tuesday 21 October 2014 some early messages indicated that the pair might do the 08.49 Kings Norton to Kings Norton via Birmingham New Street, Stourbridge Junction, Worcester and reverse and then Leamington Spa and back via Solihull because an MPV was unavailable. This inevitably meant a late start because the early morning run from Swindon ran close to time and so, after recharging the RHTT tanks and possibly refuelling the locomotives the train, 3S03, left the depot 111 minutes late. Some time was made up on the way to and from Worcester and by missing out some booked track between Soho North Junction and New Street it was some 40 minutes down as it joined the GWR towards Leamington Spa. This caused me to make a quick change of plan and drive to Hatton instead of Dorridge where I arrived with about 10 minutes to spare and into some rapidly clearing skies. The shadows on the up line are becoming a little intrusive but not bad enough at the moment to spoil the picture.
The Kings Norton to Kings Norton via Leamington Spa RHTT, 3S03, is booked to reverse at Leamington and after running south through Hatton on 21 October 2014 came back north some 37 minutes later. The leading locomotive, 37175 is already filthy by dint of being close to the spraying heads and I imagine that this will get worse over the coming weeks so that the attractive colour scheme will be invisible through the grime. Some kind soul has trimmed back the vegetation on the edge of the field which made this wide shot available after a few months of the view being largely obscured. The sky remained clear to the south and west which, for what is almost certainly a one-off use of the locomotive-hauled pair on this diagram, was highly unusual and very welcome. It's been a long time since anything other than MPVs have been used on RHTTs and weedkillers around here but here is a 1986 photograph of 47013 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon with a weedkilling train about to enter the long-gone Down Goods Loop. The shorter signal on the bracket was very rarely lowered and added greatly to the shot's interest.
It has been well known for a while that COLAS Rail class 37s are to operate some RHTT services in the West Midlands during the 2014 leaf fall season. On 3 October 37219 + 37175 ran a test working from Kings Norton to Bristol which operated on a VST plan and nearly went under the radar. Pathing proved difficult and a lot of time was lost during the southbound run so much so that the run was curtailed at Bristol Parkway rather than Temple Meads. I was keen to get a picture while the locomotives were clean but at what location? The obvious place would have been somewhere between Defford and Abbotswood Junction but as it seemed that the train would reverse at Bristol Parkway there was a chance that I would not have had the required 35 minutes to drive there from home. In the event I went to the road bridge at Stoke Pound Lane hoping that 1) it would be back on time and 2) the sun wouldn't be fully out as it would be in a difficult plave for photography. As luck had it, the train became later and later and was 98 minutes behind schedule when it appeared following a section behind the Berkeley C.E.G.B. to Crewe nuclear flask service. The light was dreadful and I wish that I had risked a trip to Defford... Still, there should be plenty of opportunities for more shots in the coming weeks.
While 2 varieties of OTP were leaving and waiting to leave Long Marston on 20 June 2014 some serious shunting and train assembly was taking place. COLAS Rail's newly repainted 60087 was making up its train of OTP, unfortunately not in a photographable location, prior to departure for Bescot. The class 60 hauled the train around the loop from the event site with equally shiny 37219 on the rear before being uncoupled and running to the end of the exchange sidings in order to collect the track machine left behind by 70810. As this manoeuvre was taking place 37219 propelled the heavy train into the siding and making a great deal of noise in the process.
When the train, shortly to become 6Z66 to Bescot, was safely in No 1 road 37219 was uncoupled and reversed onto another siding so that 60087 was able to draw forward and place the COLAS track machines on the front of the consist. When this was done the class 60 pulled forward again to allow 37219 to move onto the train before 60087 finally completed 6Z66 as train locomotive. I left at this point because I didn't want yet more repetitious images and needed to allow driving time on a busy Friday to get to a different location on the main North Cotswold Line.
A lot of traffic to and from Long Marston was showing for the week commencing 15 June 2014 towards the end of which a major event for the rail industry took place. On Monday 16 June several trains were due to arrive including a 1Z20 from Derby RTC which turned out to be 37608 with 2 vehicles including test coach Mentor. This train was run on behalf of DBS and I had hoped that a class 67 would be used as 37s have been along the branch on many occasions but a 67 has visited just once. Here is 1Z20 just after joining the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne and heading towards the Staff Hut when the single line token was collected. This was actually the second train of the day as DR 98008, a Windhoff Twin CabMaster with GSM-R equipment had come from Rugby about 30 minutes earlier. Oddly, this was running as 1Z19, and in the absence of any emailed reports none of us standing at Honeybourne had any idea what was coming.
A train scheduled to have passed Honeybourne before 1Z20 was missing, having not left Bescot at its booked time of 09.10 so I decided to head off home once 37608 had gone. The road bridge at Long Marston is on the way so I stopped off with a few minutes to spare to take this view of 1Z20 as it rolled along the lasr few yards of the branch. The whole consist seemed to form part of the rail event as it was not booked to leave until the following Friday morning. Just before I left the bridge a message arrived saying the 7Z66 had left Bescot 192 minutes late with 70804 in charge. As I had missed the first class 70 to come along this line through being on holiday I made up my mind to return later for a couple of record shots.
There were three southbound trains due to pass Hatton within a few minutes of each other on Tuesday 30 April 2013 and as there was a goodly amount of clear blue sky in Stratford-upon-Avon I made the short trip across. The first train was a 2Z02 inspection saloon running from Derby to Crewe via Oxford, Coventry, Nuneaton and so on and with it being a very short train I went for a tight shot from the down platform. The locomotive, 37405, was quite clean and shiny which almost made up for the lack of light caused by the rapid build-up of some heavy cloud as I drove here from home.
A train I wasn't expecting to see at Hatton on 26 January 2013 was 3Q63 from Didcot to Derby RTC led by 31105 and tailed by 97304. It left Didcot about three hours late and a friend was kind enough to let me know when it left and with only about forty minutes to wait after photographing 70009 I stayed on the road bridge. I don't like going-away shots but as I hadn't taken any footware suitable for off-road use didn't feel inclined to walk to any of the other Hatton locations and had to make do with was available. The train became audible for a little while before it passed the station and here it is with 97304 bringing up the rear of the short formation.
Until, I think, 1994 there was a Gulf oil terminal on the Birmingham to Wolverhampton main line just about equidistant between the stations at Sandwell & Dudley and Dudley Port. Several trailoads of oil each week were received at the Albion depot with the majority at the time with which I was familiar with the area coming from Waterstone refinery in South Wales. On Saturday 1 August 1992 a special working ran which left Albion at 13.00 and after being routed via Bescot, Sutton Park and Camp Hill went down the Cheltenham line and thence on to Wales through Chepstow. I went to the road bridge just south of Abbotswood Junction for a shot of 6Z28 and here is the result. I think from looking at the exhaust haze from 37504 + 37241 that the train had been routed through the Down Goods Loop at Abbotswood and I certainly have three negatives taken that afternoon with the freight being the third. Strangely, I also colour have transparencies of the other two workings, a class 158 DMU and an HST but not of 6Z28. I can't remember why this happened but suspect that the cable release operating my Olympus OM1 on the frame holding both cameras was playing up; not unusual at the time. 645
This train was one of those marvellous one-off opportunities that appear all too infrequently. I received a text message from a contact in South Wales during the afternoon of 19 August 2002 saying that a pair of tractors was heading for Didcot with 1350 tonnes of Welbeck Colliery's finest. An MGR to Didcot from Nottinghamshire was rare enough at this time but with 37s at the front...! I passed the "gen" on to some local contacts who promised to keep me updated and waited for news. Strangely, the train, running as 6Z88 ran via Leicester and Nuneaton rather than Burton thus catching a few out. The weather was dull in the extreme so I decided that video was the best bet and Whitnash the location to take advantage of the steep climb south of Leamington Spa. I heard 37695+37707 leave Leamington at 19.28 after a signal stop and took this shot 4 minutes later. The noise was tremendous and the video sequence is one of my all time favourites. I had to take the black & white rather earlier than I would have liked because a shutter speed of only 1/250 was available so the shot has had to be cropped slightly. Had the 2013 range of digital SLR cameras been available in 2002 this shot would have been an absolute doddle at ISO 800 and an extremely good image wouold have been captured. 645
This is a train upon which I had no intention of using my Saturday evening until a signalman friend telephoned to say that GWR Hall 4936 had developed problems whilst returning from Didcot on its first public run from Tyseley and required assistance. Much to the disgust of most of the photographers waiting for the train on 17 June 2000, some of whom refused to believe that the Hall had failed, and to my delight, 37668 was provided. The train is seen here alongside an uncharacteristically quiet M40 near Rowington in a nice bit of evening sun.645
A rare non-passenger working for a Sunday on the Hatton line took place on 23 December 2012 when WCRC's 37676 took a crane and its associated vehicles from Hinksey Yard, Oxford to Doncaster. I imagine that this working, 6Z47, was meant to be a DBS job but that the company were unable to find any crew to work, an unfortunately all too common situation at the moment. After photographing a couple of Chiltern workings there was over an hour to wait before 6Z47 was due to arrive and, with the light dropping into the rubbish side of bad, I nearly returned home to the warm. After the arrival of another enthusiast and the inevitable chatting I hung around knowing that the train was running well to time as far as Leamington Spa. It was a nuisance that problems with diverted Virgin Voyagers on the Coventry branch caused it to be held for ages at Leamington. By the time it came up the last few yards of Hatton Bank the light had just about gone and with WCRC's dreadful colour scheme adding to the general gloominess of the scene I would probably have been better off going home earlier.
The daily train from Daventry International Railfreight Terminal, which is nowhere near Daventry, to Wentloog in South Wales has been exclusively hauled by one or other of DRS's class 66s since its launch on 28 February 2012. For some reason on 17 September 2012 DRS decided to use a couple of class 37s from their vast train set of under-used locomotives and so allocated 37259 + 37607. The chance of photographing a new class on this train was too good to miss so I went over to Ashchurch for a shot of 4V38 in an unmistakeable location. I didn't want a picture from the footbridge just north of the station as I had taken one of 66434 there earlier in the year so went for the roadbridge on the south side. Far from unusually, the train was running late; nearly one hour on this occasion and was following FGW's 158961 forming one of the infrequent trains to stop at Ashchurch station. The freight was clearly checked by adverse signals which must, judging by the racket that the locomotives were making as they passed me, have cleared as the train approached. It was a shame that it was running so late because the sun was becoming maybe a little too head on by 11.20 although I suppose that one shouldn't complain too much as unusual workings like this normally happen in the dark...
Following last week's train from Didcot to Long Marston which ran on the third time it had been scheduled, something similar took place on Tuesday 24 July 2012. A 6Z21 from Long Marston to Crewe finally ran after a couple of previous goes with an early arrival of the locomotive, 37261, ready for a 09.00 departure. The train was booked to run from Worcester via Droitwich, Bromsgrove and the Lickey incline and the fact that a single locomotive was sent made me think that a short train was probably in the offing. After dropping my wife at the office I went straight over to Long Marston, arriving just before 37261 came along the branch from Honeybourne running about twenty minutes early. There was nothing in the exchange sidings but the Motorail Logistics crew and locomotive soon arrived and they shunted a single TIA china clay slurry tank into place. With an early path being used the sun was never going to be on the nose, not that I'm particularly bothered, but the chance of one or two photographs in nice morning light had made the trip worthwhile. The first picture was taken at 08.40 as 6Z21 left the site and moved onto the branch. I wasn't going to try for another shot but the train sat on the other side of the road bridge while I packed away my camera so I headed off around the corner.
The booked departure for 6Z21 was 09.00 and I heard 37261's horn blow as it moved away just a few moments after that time. I had plonked myself just around the corner on a public crossing and although I'm not generally all that fond of very short trains they can look OK, as I think this one does, in the right spot. If a long train had been involved I had planned to drive to somewhere around Bromsgrove for another picture but to be quite honest I'm not all that interested in these trains once they have left either the Long Marston branch or the North Cotswold Line so as soon as 37261, now with a familiar headboard, had passed I headed off home.
One of the roughly half-yearly test trains ran along the North Warwickshire Line on Monday 16 July 2012. It was scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon twice so passed Henley-in-Arden four times as it was not, as is sometimes the case, booked to run to Hatton along the single line from Bearley Junction. The weather was absolutely foul with heavy driving rain being the order of the day and having already spent forty five minutes in a swimming pool my first priority was to keep dry so I went to Henley station in order to take advantage of the platform canopy and covered footbridge. The first inward run, led by 37612, coincided with the heaviest rain and the shot was barely worth the battery power expended. By the time of the return the rain had eased a little and I was a bit happier with this photograph as 1Q14, with 37606 now leading, passed the attractive infrastructure. In such poor conditions I always think that station shots are a far better bet than a featureless countryside scene, especially with a very short train. In wet conditions light reflecting from the platforms can give the picture quite a lift.
The rain had stopped by the time that 1Q14 made its second visit to Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 July 2012. The train, again led by 37612, was just on time at 13.27 when it rolled into platform 2 of the terminus, the 13.26 London Midland service to Stourbridge Junction having just departed from platform 1. The leading locomotive stopped right alongside the footbridge to give the crew a shorter walk to cross the line for the café and lavatory facilities. This meant that a head on shot of 37606 before it left to Tyseley wasn't possible as the locomotive was beyond the platform barriers so I had to make do with this view of the back of the train.
An inspection saloon made one of its infrequent visits to the North Warwickshire Line and Stratford-upon-Avon during the morning of 2 July 2012. As is often the case, the saloon led on the outward journey from Derby and so was on the front when 2Z02 came through Wilmcote station, being propelled by 37419, in exceptionally poor light and heavy rain. I do like to photograph unusual movements on my local lines but do wonder giewvn the conditions if this one was really worth even the minimum amount of effort it took to drive the couple of miles from home.
The inspection saloon running from Derby to Coventry on 2 July 2012 spent about ten minutes at Stratford-upon-Avon before reversing and heading for Leamington Spa and Oxford for another reversal. The light was even worse and the rain heavier than it was for the outward leg and this shot really was not worth taking...
A couple of the Network Rail class 97s did some work on the Cambrian line overnight on the 25th/26th April 2012 and one of them, 97302, was later scheduled to take some rail carriers from Bescot to Eastleigh. The train, 6O25, ran on a VSTP and left Bescot in the region of seventy mintes late and was booked to run via Dorridge and Hatton. It seemed likely that it would follow the 12.55 Chiltern Trains working from Birmingham Moor Street and this is just what happened. I wasn't inclined to travel too far and as I hadn't photographed a class 97 at Hatton just went, once again, to the road bridge at Hatton station. The light was perfect in the few minutes before I heard 6O25 coming but a thin piece of cloud passed across the sun as 97302 became audible. Luckily, this cleared with about thirty seconds to spare and the train came around the curve in perfect light with an impressively dark sky in the background. I should add that this sky has not been enhanced in any way, either in the RAW convertor or in Photoshop.
Following on from last Saturday's Cruise Saver with 47841, another was booked to run on Thursday 26 April 2012. Multiple locomotive problems, too numerous to mention here, caused DRS class 37s, 37601 + 37409 to be added to 1Z74 at Derby, which it left about four hours late, no doubt to the consternation and considerable frustration of the passengers looking forward to their cruise. I wasn't going to bother with this photograph but my wife told me to go out rather than have to put up with my indecision. When I left home it was pouring with rain so I abandoned my initial plan to go to Dorridge and went to Hatton, just for a poor light record shot. In the event 37601 + 37409 + 47841 found a clear patch of sky as they headed towards Leamington Spa. This isn't the best location at 16.30 but it's as good as most places this side of Banbury.
DRS class 37s continue to operate many of Network Rail's test trains and this one, 1Q13 from Derby to Old Oak Common via the Coalville Line, Derby, Washwood Heath, Solihull and Leamington Spa on 5 March 2012 was no exception. The train, headed by 37610, left Derby for the second time some twenty minutes early but by the time it had reached the Water Orton area was back on schedule. Despite this, it managed to pass Bentley Heath, near Dorridge, some ten minutes early and contrived to arrived in some light cloud which was a tad annoying after I had waited on the footbridge in mostly unbroken sunshine. The train had been booked to spend a short time time in the up loop just to the south of the footbridge but through early running was given a clear road and carried straight on towards Leamington Spa.
The morning of Saturday 11 February 2012 saw a test train run from Old Oak Common to Derby RTC after working around the London area. The train, 1Q13, left Old Oak about 30 minutes early and after looking at the schedule I guessed that a planned layover at Oxford of about thirty minutes probably wouldn't take place so took myself off to Hatton cutting, arriving about 90 minutes before the booked time. For once, my hunch turned out to be correct and here is 37604 leading the Network Rail test train through the remnants of some snow that had fallen during the previous few days.
A test train powered by Network Rail's rather grubby 97301 visited Stratford-upon-Avon during the late evening on 14 December 2011. The train, 1Q13 from Old Oak Common to Derby had run via Banbury, High Wycombe, Banbury, Leamington Spa, Tyseley, Birmingham Moor Street and Henley-in Arden before arriving at Stratford just before 22.30, a little over ten minutes late. It was booked into platform 2 rather than the usual arrival platform, No. 1, and arrived with the DBSO leading so that 97301 was on the northern end for the return to Birmingham. This helped with the composition of the photograph as a train in platform 2 is easier to cope with because platform 1, from where the picture was taken, is longer than 2 so that there would have been a bit more room had the locomotive been on the south end. The lighting here is much brighter than it used to be: I used to reckon that an exposure of 15 seconds @f5.6 using 100 ASA film was about right. This picture, again with the caemra set on ISO 100, was taken with the shutter open for five seconds and with the lens set at f6.3.
A railtour utilising WCRC motive power ran from the South-West to the North of the country and back on Saturday 5 November 2011. The stock, instead of running empty, was used on the following day to give enthusiasts a chance to sample some class 37 traction from Exeter St. Davids to Preston. The interesting bit for me was that it was routed over the North Cotswold Line from Oxford to Worcester and gave a chance for a rare shot of a locomotive-hauled train over the section of the line that has recently been redoubled. I went to a location just east of Honeybourne as I didn't think that I really wanted yet another shot at Lower Moor on the other side of Evesham, and anyway that part of the line is still single track and does see a reasonable number of locomotives running to and from Long Marston. It was one of those afternoons when the sun was in and out and so it was a bit of a lottery as to whether a decently lit shot was on the cards. The train, 1Z27, was headed by 37676 + 37685 with 57001 dead in tow at the rear of the consist and was running about seven minutes early from Moreton-in-Marsh. This meant that the jackpot prize of a full sun shot eluded me, although maybe the photograph here just about represents five plus the bonus ball!
One of the Saturday trains that I tried to photograph in 1995 was the empty china clay tanks from Bescot to St. Blazey. Running with the headcode 6V70 it worked south at a convenient time and was in the right place for good light for much of the route. On 28 October 1995 I went to a footbridge at Stonehouse, Gloucestershire and obtained this shot of 37671 + 37670 opening up after a signal check for the level crossing in the background. Not long after this date the train went over to class 60 haulage which of course meant much ill feeling from enthusiasts at the time. How things change...
Network Rail test trains seem to have been all around my area in recent times and one was scheduled to visit Stratford-upon-Avon twice during the evening of 10 August 2011. The first visit, running from Tyseley to Birmingham Moor Street and via the North Warwickshire Line to Stratford, was due to arrive at 20.42 and was a couple of minutes before this that 1Q13, with 37601 + 37604, rolled into platform 1. The train, conducting a radio survey, was due to stand here for ten minutes before going to Hatton West and North Junctions, Dorridge for a reversal and then back to Hatton and Stratford before going back to the Birmingham area via Henley-in-Arden. Evening locomotive hauled trains at Stratford are quite rare so I found and dusted off my tripod and set up on platform 2. It wasn't really all that dark and this shot was taken using an exposure of 4 seconds at f14 on ISO 100. The trees in the car park look fuzzy and this is the result of a strong wind blowing, the same wind that blew 37601's exhaust smoke over the rear half of the locomotive and the first coach of the train, giving a slightly murky appearance to the picture.
A test train, 1Q13 from Tyseley, has been running around the West Midlands for a few days with a schedule seemingly made up as it went along. On Friday 5 August 2011 it was apparently to make a couple of trips between Worcester and Hereford but on returning home during the late morning I found a couple of text messages saying that it had gone up the North Cotswold Line to Oxford with a return a few hours later, exactly as it had earlier in the week. As the time was 11.30 and 37038 + 37604 were due to leave Evesham for the south at 11.25 it was too late to doing anything about it but after lunch I decided to go to Evesham to take a final photograph of the semaphore signals on the up side of the station as they were due for removal over the coming weekend. This isn't a brilliant photographic spot and the centre-pivot signal is just a bit too close to the bridge for decent composition but in the circumstances the location and railway infrastructure took precedence over other considerations. Here then are 37038 + 37604 approaching Evesham some 25 minutes late, the lateness being due to the preceding FGW class 166 running behind schedule.
I wasn't exactly sure about the timings of 1Q13 but there were some passengers on Evesham station waiting for an up train so I made a very slow dash behind a caravan to the nearest easily accessible, Lower Moor, in the hope of another shot. In the event, even though the service train from Great Malvern was running about one hour late, 37038 + 37604 with their four Network Rail coaches did not make an immediate escape from Evesham but were held to their booked departure time which a friend had since told me was 14.30. About five minutes later, and in a very welcome patch of clear sky, they came into view and passed the two photographers waiting for them at speed and with a reasonable amount of exhaust smoke. I imagine that they were going back to Derby RTC but after a week with some actual routes different to those planned, who knows...
The North Cotswold Line between Worcester and Moreton-in-Marsh is to be closed for an extended period from 5 August 2011 while the final work associated with the redoubling project is completed. It was therefore a bit of a surprise to hear that a 1Q13 test train from Derby to Oxford and return was planned to run on Monday 2 August. There was some doubt about the train's running with reports of it being cancelled at Worcester Yard and then reinstated but running to a slightly different schedule involving a planned visit to Stourbridge Junction being dumped in favour of a route not involving the Old Hill line. The interesting part was always going to be the section between Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh which currently is still single track although with the new down line partlyin situ. I have been waiting for the opportunity to photograph a locomotive hauled train at this location near Mickleton ever since the new track was laid so as to show the transitional period; a down train running on what will soon be the up main. It would have been easy to go to any number of locations further west where the sun would have been on the front of the train but this was an occasion when the location took preference to anything else. Unusually for me though, I did take a going-away shot as 37059 trailed four Network Rail coaches and 37038 down Campden Bank towards Honeybourne.
The only train booked to use the curve between Hatton North and West Junctions is an early morning ECS from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon and although there are steam specials and the odd charter over there on occasions these usually run too late in the day for a properly lit shot from the eastern side of the line. On Monday 11 July 2011 a test train, 2Q88, from Tyseley to Derby via Solihull, Hatton, Birmingham, Stourbridge Junction, Round Oak, Snow Hill, Henley-in-Arden, Stratford-upon-Avon, Hatton, Stratford-upon-Avon, Henley-in-Arden, Washwood Heath and Burton-upon-Trent was scheduled to run. This should have been the NR sprinter but the unit was in Scotland so a DRS powered substitute was formed with 37610 + 37604 providing the power. The train is here seen at Hatton North having crossed from the up main line and about to take the curve to Hatton West Junction where reversal was due to take place. The train was about twelve minutes late at this point which from a photographic point of view was a piece of luck as some wispy cloud had taken the edge off the light at the booked time.
After a short delay during which the crew changed ends of their short train, 2Q88 then ran back along the spur between Hatton West and North Junctions to the signal protecting the junction onto the down main line. As soon as it was given the road 37604 + 37610 moved off giving me the chance to take a shot, albeit slightly backlit, from the lineside public footpath leading to the footbridge over the tracks. Once clear of the pointwork both locomotives were opened up and filled the still dark cutting through Shrewley with a dense cloud of exhaust smoke.
The clear skies so evident in my early morning shots of 2Q88 didn't last for the run along the North Warwickshire Line to Stratford-upon-Avon and although there were clear patches later in the day the light was generally quite disappointing, although being mid July the sun was anyway too high for decent pictures when the train returned to my part of the world at lunchtime. Here it is about to pass under Edstone Aqueduct, south of Henley-in-Arden, just as the sun was coming out from a patch of cloud and I suppose that the only decent things are the attractive sky and the fact that at least the leading locomotive was well lit.
After its first trip of the day to Stratford-upon-Avon 2Q88, now with 37604 leading, ran along the single line from Bearley Junction to Hatton for a reversal and another run to Stratford. This line isn't the best for taking photographs and I just settled for a head on shot with a long lens at one of the several occupation crossings to be found along there.
I have been taking photographs at this location adjacent to Hatton station for quite a few years now but cannot recall having had a shot of an up train obscured by one going north. That changed on 31 May 2011 when a Derby RTC to Oxford test train, 1Q12, ran south at lunchtime with 37604 and 37059 sandwiching a single Network Rail coach. The train was running a few minutes early and was crawling along towards a red aspect on the signal on the southern end of Hatton's up platform when a Freightliner class 66 hauling 4M28, the 09.28 Southampton to Ditton service, came north. A few seconds would have made all the difference but it wasn't to be and this was the result. I can't say that I was too bothered because, as the following couple of pictures show, there was ample opportunity for another shot or two.
As I mentioned above, 1Q12 led by 37604 and tailed by 37059 was stopped in Hatton station. This was because a Chiltern Railways service from Stratford-upon-Avon to Leamington Spa was due to join the main line and also because, I assume, 1Q12 was in track recording mode and would have been required to travel at low speed thus delaying the scheduled passenger train. My assumption is based on the fact that 1Q12 was allowed, and took, nearly ninety minutes between Water Orton and Hatton. The starting signal for the Stratford branch is showing a green aspect ready for the class 165 which had not arrived in the station. The rear locomotive appears to have been parked under a tree favoured by some of our larger bird species...
I don't often take multiple shots of a single train but when the sun is in just the perfect place it's hard not to to press the shutter a few times. This was my favourite of about six static shots although the temptation to remove the lamp posts appearing to grow out of 37604's roof was almost overwhelming. Still, this was the scene at the time and I don't think that they are too intrusive so they must remain where they are. Just after the Stratford train had crossed to the up main line, the signal holding up 1Q12's progress cleared to yellow and off it went to Oxford, just before 66053 came north with an unknown working, perhaps from Hinksey Yard to Bescot, consisting of a couple of rail carriers and a long load of low ballast wagons.
The second ECS move involving 37682 + 37409 took place on Thursday 10 March 2011. After working to Eastleigh on 8 March, the DRS pair returned north with a twelve coach rake of Northern Belle and Virgin Trains liveried stock. As I rarely photograph charters I decided to have a shot of this train which gave me a rare opportunity to take a picture of DRS locomotives on passenger stock. The train, 5Z47, was due to pass Hatton at around 13.15 and I arrived at Hatton North Junction where it was cloudy, drizzling and quite windy, in plenty of time in case some time might be gained by missing out a booked stop in Fenny Compton loop. As is often the case this stop didn't take place and the train came into sight some thirteen minutes early and in a lucky patch of bright sunshine. There were a couple of video cameramen taking footage of the train but there wasn't a great deal of noise from the locomotives; I suppose that somewhere just in excess of 400 tons isn't much of a load for two 37s in good condition. I recall hearing a single 37 take 1200 tons of freightliner up here a few years ago; that was much more entertaining!
An ECS move from Crewe to Eastleigh was down to run on 8 March 2011, scheduled to leave the former at around 07.45. By the time the stock had been shunted around and joined together it was almost two hours later before it actually left. This made a location for the picture difficult to some degree as the sun would have been a bit too head-on for my taste on the Coventry to Leamington Spa line and almost as bad just about anywhere south of Leamington until it turned left onto the GWR main line at Didcot. The obvious choice for me was the station at Leamington where the line swings onto an east-west axis meaning that the sun would be in what most would regard as the perfect place. I know that station locations are considered a little unfashionable by some photographers but when it means a well-lit picture as opposed to something less well-lit, I'm not fussy, especially when there is a chance of some exhaust smoke as the locomotives are opened up. I hadn't been there for many minutes when the signal for up main line flicked onto green and as nothing else was due, this had to be 5Z47 with 37682 + 37409 in charge of a colourful mish-mash of coaches. I was a bit concerned about having my shot obscured because the signal for the down main was also on green ready for 4M55, the Southampton to Lawley Street Freightliner but the ECS had been gone for several minutes before the 'liner appeared.
I don't often bother with test trains because all too often they are very short formations which never seem to fit too well into many locations. Now and again though, one comes along that has a decent set of coaches and when the running of these coincides with good light I will make the effort. Tuesday 8 March 2011 saw a 1Q12 11.33 Derby to Bristol Temple Meads running down the Birmingham to Gloucester line and with the sun being favourable almost anyhwere on that line I went to a crossing near Bredon where one gets a good view from the right side of the fence. Here is 37069 at speed leading four coaches and 37059 alongside Eckington loop, fortunately without a temporary resident to get in the way! Just in front of 1Q12 was the FGW passenger train from Great Malvern formed of hired-in 150257.
The first train of 2011 to Long Marston ran on Friday 14 January when 37607 took a not very inspiring rake of 4 intermodal flats from Crewe. Running as 4Z80, the train was due to arrive at Evesham at 11.15 so I thought that if the weather picked up a little after a very dull start then I would go for a quick photograph. When I left my health club after my daily swim the sky to the south-west looked quite clear so I went across in the hope that the cloud would stay away. It didn't, of course, and the light was dreadful as arrived on the roadbridge at 11.03 just as the scruffy and grimy locomotive's nose appeared coming over the river bridge just beyond the signalbox. It's a good job that there was a parking spot closer than my usual one or I wouldn't have made it. I am becoming increasingly unwilling to go out in poor light, especially for routine traffic when nothing worthwile can be achieved and when I already have a similar but better shot taken in decent light. Careful exposure and subtle work in Photoshop can produce an acceptable result with plenty of detail in the shadowed areas such as the train's bogies, but you can't beat sunny conditions for a good image.
I don't often take portait style pictures of locomotives but the atmospheric background of Manchester Victoria station on 27 February 1986 tempted me into this shot of 37122 waiting for its next job as banker. There is a stiff gradient to the east of the station, Miles Platting bank, and some of the heavier freights, and the odd passenger train with an ailing locomotive, needed a shove. It seemed that any available locomotive would perform this task as in my few visits I saw representatives of classes 25, 31, 37, 45, 47 and 56 standing in this spot. This class 37 had earlier passed through Exchange and Victoria stations with a train of refuse containers. In the background, a couple of ECS DMMUs including a Cravens class 105 are taking the left-curving line, presumably towards Newton Heath
Test trains from Derby RTC to Long Marston are running on a fairly regular basis at the moment and on 25 October 2010 there was a 1Q12 using 97304 + 97302 topping and tailing a single coach. Other than a couple of light engine moves this was the first using this class of locomotive and certainly the first to run in perfect Autumnal light. The train is here seen spot on time passing the site of Fladbury station on the single track section between Norton Junction and Evesham; the part of the line that is to remain single when most of it is redoubled over the coming months. Some recent cold weather has caused the trees around here to change colour and, as I had I hoped when setting out from home, there was a good selection of tints to be found here.
As it was such a nice day I made the trip from Stratford-upon-Avon to Worcestershire in my 1969 Morris Minor and even in this there was plenty of time to get from Fladbury to the Offenham road near Aldington before 1Q12 was released onto the single track from Evesham to Honeybourne. Amidst some more Autumnal colours 97304 + 97302 amble along and exit the deep cutting on the other side of the two bridges in the background where, I guess, shadows would have been cast across the track. I chose this location because 1) I knew that it would be clear of shadows where it counted and 2) because a short train would fit in reasonably well.
I decided to go home from Aldington via Badsey and Long Marston and even in my elderly Morris made it to the road bridge by the site entrance about five minutes before 1Q12 with 97304 + 97302 came into view on the branch from Honeybourne. They waited for a short while as a crew member took the single line token to the ground frame before the train ran into No.1 road before heading off around the internal system where it was due to remain until Wednesday 27 October.
A DRS move to Long Marston took place on Thursday 7 October 2010 when 37604 + 37603 took a short set of FEA flats there from Crewe, the vehicles having originally come from the sidings at Mantle Lane on the Coalville line. I was told about the train, 4Z80, first thing in the morning and on looking outside found the area around my home shrouded in thick fog. I had almost decided not to bother but, on an impulse, grabbed a camera and drove across in time for the 08.15 arrival. As I went through Welford-on-Avon the fog was thinning and on arrival at Long Marston it was virtually clear with the sun beginning to poke through. The local p-way gang told me that the train was late due to a FGW service having met some delay which meant that the sun would have a bit more chance to break through. In the meantime, the Sentinel shunter based at the site was shunting a full rake of ex-Fastline coal hoppers into road no. 1 alongside some stored stock giving off a lot of water vapour in the warmth and I began to wonder if this might be the consist for the return train, running to Carlisle Kingmoor.
It was quite a while before I heard a squeaky horn in the distance as 4Z80 moved away from Honeybourne but two DRS class 37s soon became audible in the still morning air. They soon came into sight and came slowly along the final stretch of the branch among a lot of red Hawthorn berries and fair amount of dappled shade. Still, an early arrival here is quite rare and the sun was plenty strong enough to give the sides of the locomotives some decent illumination. The train empty flats, certainly wasn't the most interesting to ride on rails but it did give the chance for a nice enough portrait as it stood awaiting permission to enter the site.
The booked departure time for the train, which was actually running as class 4, was 11.00 but it was about 25 minutes before this that the train moved it's long rake of ex-Fastline coal hoppers out of Long Marston and onto the branch to Honeybourne. It is really good to see a pair of DRS 37s on a proper length train. I can rarely be bothered with them, despite their supposed celebrity status, when they are pulling around nothing more taxing than one or two nuclear flasks. A full set of hoppers is so much more satisfying to see and photograph. This stock is to be used on a cement flow operated by DRS in the Manchester area
I was keen to obtain another picture of 37603 + 37604 with their full set of ex-Fastline hoppers and chose Lower Moor because it would be possible to see the whole train. I hadn't been there for a while and must say that the hydroponic greenhouses in the background don't really add a lot to the scene. The train was running about 20 minutes late by the time it came into sight, having had to wait for another delayed FGW train, this time a class 165 going to Worcester. The three of us standing at Lower Moor were lucky with the sun; a lot of cloud had built up and a thick chunk went over the sun only a few seconds after 4Z81 had passed. I had previously photographed this pair of locomotives on 7 May 2007 at Hatton when they worked a Southampton to York railtour while still in their EPS guise.
There was a Solihull to Plymouth stock move planned for Saturday 18 September 2010 to position coaching stock for something or other in that area. Quite sensibly, it was decided to sell tickets for the trip even though it was just a one-journey, with ticket validity being extended to timetabled trains for the return. West Coast Railway's 37685 was provided with the departure time set at 09.20. I had planned to go a bit further south than Hatton, probably to a bridge near Knightcote but the sky was quite cloudy and as I think that WCRC's locomotives need clear sun for a decent shot decided on just a quick trip to the nearest spot to my home. In the event, the sun cleared a large bank of cloud a couple of minutes before the train became audible, already running about three minutes early.
Four of the class 20s stored at Eastleigh were moved from there to Crewe on Friday 3 September 2010. The power for 0Z41 was provided by DRS's 37218 which had run light engine to Hampshire on the previous day and after an overnight rest left Eastleigh at around 11.40 and kept close to booked times for the run north. I quite like to get a picture of these odd locomotive moves as long as the light is good and as there seemed to be good odds for a sunny afternoon went up to Hatton North Junction where a reasonmably wide side view would be available. Here are 37218 with 20311, 20309, 20312 and 20310 just after reaching the summit of Hatton Bank. Unfortunately, the sun had just gone behind some light cloud which affected the back of the train and while I was fiddling about with my camera's settings, the autofocus went awry which accounts for the slightly unsharp rendering of the front of the class 37.
The morning of 13 July 2010 should have seen a 1Z15 09.00 Derby RTC to Long Marston working. In the event this transmogrified into nothing more exotic than a light engine run, presumably a road learner, involving Network Rail's 97301. I don't normally bother with light engine photographs as they can look a bit silly on the main line but thought that the first visit of the type to the branch from Honeybourne Junction wouldn't make too bad a shot standing outside the gates at Long Marston. As it happened, I needed to do a farm shop run and made the short diversion necessary to get this picture, taken just as the locomotive pulled away, having not gone into the site. The arrival was spot on time at 12.09, the bright colour scheme of the former 37100 standing out well in the very dull conditions. As usual for me, I waited until an example of a new livery or sub-class came conveniently close to home before going for a first shot - it usually happens sooner or later! With a bit of luck a loaded train involving one or two of the class 97s will turn up before too long. A less well preserved class 37, 37898 was parked nearby, waiting for its final journey to the scrapyard. I was later told by a local contact that 97301 later went into the Long Marston site and was stabled, probably to leave during the following day.
Some scenes from the final Harry Potter film were apparently shot at Kings Cross, London in the week commencing 23 May 2010 and the locomotive, GWR Hall 5972, and stock were taken by 37706 from Southall to Carnforth on Friday 28 May. I was surprised that only one other photographer was at Hatton North Junction for a picture as 5Z59 passed exactly on time, 14.44, just after a small piece of cloud had made its presence felt. I don't know anything about the current steam scene and wonder if 5972 will remain in its present colour scheme for the time being? I guess that it is quite a revenue earner with specials aimed at youngsters so I suppose that it may be a while before the proper green livery makes a return.
It's not very often that a train originating from Ipswich ends up at Stratford-upon-Avon but anything is possible with the inspection saloon Caroline and its usual companion 37423. Such was the case on 19 May 2010 when 2Z37 was booked to make an appearance during the mid-afternoon at the terminus. It has been a while since I photographed an inspection saloon here and here is an earlier shot taken in 1992 when 31405 appeared. It was a bright and sunny morning when the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance arrived nearby but by the time that 37423 was due in the area the light has collapsed meaning that my plans for a few shots around Warwickshire were scuppered. Instead, I just walked down to Stratford station for a couple of record photographs. Here is 2Z37 arriving in platform 1 at 15.35, some 15 minutes early on the schedule and here is a slightly closer view as it stands under the distinctly non-GWR coloured footbridge.
The booked departure time from Stratford-upon-Avon for 2Z37 was 16.18 but was about 18 minutes earlier than that when the platform end signal cleared to yellow and Caroline led the ensemble away from from the statiion and off to Birmingham and Derby via Wilmcote and Hatton North Junction. Note the security personnel and barriers on platform 1, deemed necessary to control the large number of presumably unruly students from the College of Further Education which is situated just across the road from the station. It's probably worth avoiding the 16.27 departure from here to Birmingham in term time...
Trains of scrap metal have recently started running on an ad hoc basis to various rarely served locations. One of these is Sheerness in Kent and on Thursday 15 April such a working ocurred when DRS class 37s, 37510 + 37667 took a such a train there from Tyne Dock, running via the East Coast Main Line . The return was scheduled for Saturday 17 April and was routed via the WCML, Coventry, Stechford, Aston, Bescot, Walsall, Sutton Park and then Water Orton and Burton-upon-Trent. I was interested in getting a photograph because it rare to see DRS 37s on anything other than very short trains of one or two nuclear flasks and because there isn't much freight along the Coventry to Birmingham line I went for a walk along some public footpaths near Balsall Common in search of a spot and found, unsurprisingly, that virtually everywhere was too overgrown or had new fences where previously there had been none. I knew that 6Z70 had run just about on time all the way from Kent and came upon this clear patch with about 30 minutes to wait. It was really nice to be in this area, near Birmingham International Airport without the constant drone of aircraft; there are usually at least three or four in view at any one time here, all flights having been grounded because of a volcanic eruption in Iceland spewing tons of ash and dust into European airspace with the associated hazard to jet engines. In between trains one could hear only birds singing on a perfectly lit Spring afternoon.
The first train to Long Marston to run in 2010 was booked for 2 February when a short set of 4 Mk3 coaches ran from Norwich. The arrival time at 5Z22's destination was 16.22 and with the sun, if there was any, not setting until 16.57 there was a chance of a shot somewhere on the Cotswold Line. Earlier in the day I had made my mind up that I wasn't going to bother until I was told that the coaches were in a livery that hadn't previously run over the line. When the rain stopped and a little brightness appeared at about 15.20 I thought it might be worth a go, so headed to just about the only location where the sun, if out, wouldn't be shining directly into the lens or be too low to reach the track in the many cuttings. The train left Evesham about 5 minutes late and is here seen behind 37194 having just passed under the Evesham bypass and catching the very last rays of light before a thick bank of heavy cloud just about turned the scene nocturnal. I'm no expert in such matters but the coaches look as if they may be unbranded Nat-Ex stock probably heading for storage.
This photograph is the result of my only visit to Wednesfield Road Goods Depot, by then part of Wolverhampton Steel Terminal. This was the Midland Railway's yard situated adjacent to the GWR Low Level passenger station and by this date, 9 January 1991, saw only one train on certain days of the week, plus occasional on-track movements with machines going to and from stabling. I saw a train here while travelling on the high level lines just before Christmas 1990 and thought that it would be good to get a picture from inside the depot. I therefore went back, found a gap in the fence and saw 37048 shunting some open steel wagons just before 09.00 on a very dark, misty and cold morning. The train was the 09.05 to Scunthorpe and it left spot on time, running via Heath Town, Portobello, Darlaston, Pleck and Ryecroft Junctions before joining the Sutton park and going north via Water Orton.
As I was walking down the lane adjacent to Wednesfield Road Goods Depot, the sun managed to break out the gloom and provide a small amout of illumination which lifted the scene quite a bit, and even managed to show that 37048 was in Railfreight Metals livery, which was not apparent in the black & white photograph. I quickly whipped out my Olympus OM1n, put on an 85mm lens and grabbed this shot as the train crawled around the tracks in the site towards Heath Lane Junction. Not a shot of best technical quality but it does give a good impression of the locality, with the high-rise blocks dominating the background and discarded cable drums from p-way work in the foreground. The former Midland Railway building looked, I thought, quite impressive in the rising sun and showed that architectural excellence was to be found in late 19th century buildings, unlike the current crop of steel framed and aluminium clad monstrosities we now suffer.
Staying in the Black Country but going back 3 days from the previous pictures, here is a view of 37512 shunting at Wednesbury prior to heading north with the Brierley Hill - Scunthorpe train. What a fantastic railway landscape, which is now obliterated for ever by a depot constructed for the Midland Metro. The line closed as a though route closed in 1993 with only the southern section from Stourbridge Junction to Round Oak retained for traffic. There are hopes that the northern end may one day be reconnected to the network giving a through route for freight.
The second of the special workings to pass Hatton on 3 November 2008 was 2Z10, running from Derby RTC to Southampton. It seems that even when a class 37 is used no-one takes any interest when it is propelling the train, judging by the total lack of emailed reports of its progress. In the event 2Z10 ran about 3 minutes early and I photographed it with 37423 and Caroline coasting down Hatton Bank at exactly 13.00 in some truly dreadful light.
A train of empty coaching stock ran from Carnforth to Poole on Friday 28 November 2008 in preparation for a railtour the following day. The locomotives were 37676 + 37248, the former being, I think, newly released to traffic in WCRC's house colours. I'm not entirely sure about this as I don't take a great deal of interest in what goes on in the field of preservation and the private ownership of older locomotives. I had to be in Leamington Spa over lunchtime so made a slight diversion to Old Milverton where I knew that the sun, if out, would be in the right place for a photograph. When I arrived, the sun was out but shadows from the hedge meany that a long lens would be needed. Three down trains and one up passed by, all except the up Voyager in cloud, or rather a bank of fog which had quickly built up. Luckily, this blew away just as the nose of 37676 came into view in the distance and it just held for long enough as 5Z47 came slowly along the switchback track towards an adverse signal on the other side of the bridge. I don't know what's happened to the front of 37676; it looks as if it has suffered a shunt at some point which hasn't been properly repaired...
Thursday 26 November 2009 produced one of those trains which somehow almost manage to sneak under the radar and run without much publicity. Early in the morning, DRS 37s 37688 + 37229 ran light engine to Gloucester to collect a really nice set of TEA tanks and JNA box wagons which were apparently destined either for Kingsbury or Long Marston. It eventually transpired that by lunchtime the train, 6Z40, was in excess of 3 hours late and sitting in the yard at Worcester Shrub Hill. This was the clue to its destination so I decided to have a pop at it, largely because of the novelty of seeing DRS 37s on a decent length train rather than one or two nuclear flasks. I went to Evesham as this is one of the few spots that I knew would be free of heavy shadows if the sun came out and the locations I really had in mind for a long train were in cuttings. Here is 6Z40 approaching Evesham station where the token exchange takes place, before a rapid run to Honeybourne to get onto the Long Marston branch before the following FGW service met any delay.
As Long Marston can be on my way home from Evesham, albeit by a slightly circuitous route, I went that way to see if another shot might be possible. A lot of slow traffic was encountered on one or two of the roads and as I went through Broad Marston I could see the train ahead of me on the branch. The road ahead was clear and I made it to the roadbridge adjacent to the site with, quite literally, 5 seconds to spare which may account for the slightly dodgy composition of this shot! If the sun hadn't been out a better result may have been obtained...The locomotives were booked to leave light engine as no load was due to be taken out.

As I mentioned in the caption to the photograph above, 37688 + 37229 left Long Marston light engine after working 6Z40 on 26 November 2009. They didn't go far and were stabled in the former Stratford Branch platform at Honeybourne station awaiting a driver to retrieve them, the driver of 6Z40 being out of hours because of the train's late running. I haven't seen anything on this piece of track since about 1992 when the Bescot to Honeybourne Tip trips were running so this picture is currently a bit of a rarity. When the Cotswold Line is doubled in 2010 I believe that trains to and from Long Marston will use a relayed version of the line upon which the 37s are standing and will join the main line a little to the south of the station. The shadows on the front of 37688 might not be quite so in evidence earlier in the day; this shot was taken at about 12.30 when the sun was quite well round. I would guess that taking the picture at about 10.00 might have produced a better result.
I was just returning home at about 07.40 on Wednesday 18 November 2009 after taking my wife to work and, as usual, glanced across Morrison's car park towards the railway station. I was somewhat surprised to see 37425 standing in platform 2 at the head of an engineering train, obviously after late-running work on the North Warwickshire Line. I live fairly close by, so quickly picked up my camera and tripod and went back to the station to see if a shot was available as locomotives of any description here are not that common. I had just set up with a guessed exposure of 1/5 sec at f11, my camera being on ISO 400 after a failed attempt for the RHTT on Sunday, when the brakes were blown off. This then is the only image I had a chance to take; not exactly what I would have liked but a record, albeit with the train just moving, presumably en-route to Bescot. My BlackBerry is out of commission again for yet another trackball repair so I didn't see any messages nor was I able to post out the information myself.
I had just reached my car after photographing 47805 + 47839 at Hatton when a friend further south telephoned to say that 37609 hauling 20304 + 20305 had just passed Leamington Spa in a northbound direction. If it had been just a single light engine I wouldn't have bothered with a picture, but the station at Hatton is quite good for a tight shot of a short train so I went back and just after getting onto the footbridge the train, from Eastleigh to Crewe Gresty Lane appeared. I don't really follow what is going on with the various locomotive fleets but the class 20s look as if they are freshly repainted into DRS' colours. Use the hyperlink for a closer shot of 20305 bringing up the rear of the train.
Test train workings south of Birmingham via Solihull and Hatton are relatively unusual so I thought that a picture of 1Z12, the 08.57 Derby to Bristol, would be worth having. When I left home at 09.55, the sky had cleared after early cloud and prospects were good for a sunny shot. By the time I had reached Hatton a thick blanket of cloud had covered the entire sky and when 37218 appeared coasting down the bank the light was pretty awful. I believe that a brand new radio coach is one of the four in the consist of 1Z12, but I have no idea which it is. I didn't actually look at the back of the train but I think that the trailing locomotive is 37602.
Test trains are relatively infrequent along the North Warwickshire Line between Tyseley and Stratford-upon-Avon compared with some more major lines, as indeed are locomotive hauled trains of any description and are thus worth going out for. On Friday 25 June 2009, DRS class 37s 37218 and 37607 topped and tailed a 1Q13 from Tyseley to Derby via Stratford, Birmingham Snow Hill, Blakedown, Stourbridge Junction, Round Oak and back again to Hatton North and West Junctions and thence on via Washwood Heath to Derby. The weather was vile during the first part morning with mist and drizzly rain being the main features until the real rain set in later. Here is 1Q13 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon spot on time, with 37218 leading, in dreadful light. It's lucky that the train was stopping here so that a shutter speed of 1/250 was enough to freeze the action. For a look at the scene here in 1990, click on this hyperlink for a picture, albeit in slightly better lighting conditions, from 28 March of that year. This is an afternoon photograph and if the sun is out in the morning there isn't much of a shot available, so maybe the poor weather for 1Q13 was an advantage.
1Q13 with 37607 and 37218 was booked to stand at Stratford-upon-Avon for the thick end of 30 minutes so after taking this shot of the train standing in a misty platform 1 at Stratford-upon-Avon I asked the driver if he thought that they might get away a bit early or have to wait for a right time departure. He told me that it would be as booked so I decided to make the 10 minute walk home to pick up my car and head off to Henley-in Arden on the North Warwickshire Line.
After the walk home from Stratford-upon-Avon station and a very slow drive to Henley-in-Arden behind an ancient (and empty) school bus seemingly incapable of more than 30mph I arrived at the station to find the signal for the down line "off" for a DMU to Stratford and "on" for the line to Birmingham. The DMU arrived within a couple of minutes and the driver and senior conductor asked me what was expected as they had seen several photographers further along the line. I am indebted to the driver of the Stratford-bound train for this photograph, as he pulled away from the station stop very slowly indeed so as not to block my view of 37607 leading 1Q13 into the platform, the signal having been cleared as the train approached it. In fact, the DMU was right by my shoulder as I pressed the shutter release! I like to take these rarities in totally recognisable locations and here is the view of Henley-in-Arden station as 1Q13 passed through. I'm not sure what has happened to the light on platform 2; it looks as if one side has been removed, possibly to save a little power...
The other part of 1Q13's run in which I was interested was when it ran from Hatton North to West Junctions, a piece of track used in the early morning by a Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon DMU and the summer Sunday steam train from Stratford to Snow Hill. Nothing else, other than very occasional charters, disturbs the rust so I was quite keen to get a photograph on the appropriate piece of line. Here is 37218 leading the short formation over the crossover from the up main line to the curve around to Hatton West Junction where the line from Hatton station to the Stratford branch is joined, thus forming a triangular junction. As can be clearly seen the wet weather earlier in the day coupled with the high temperature had conspired to form some quite misty conditions; hardly conducive to good photography but the unusual nature of the working made up for it to some extent. Here is another view of the train as 37607 trails 1Q13 around the curve.
In the set of timings that I had seen for 1Q13, the train looked as if it would just sit on the Hatton North to West curve for a few minutes and then simply reverse, going back the way that it had come. From my position on the footbridge I could hear that more movement than expected was taking place and sure enough, I soon heard a toot from the area of Hatton station and then the sound of class 37s accelerating towards me. What actually happened was that 1Q13 had run a short distance onto the Stratford branch, reversed, run up to the branch platform at Hatton station and then reversed again before joining the down main line via the spur just beyond the road bridge. The reversals around the triangle meant that 37218 was now leading again and here it is, with 37607 also under power on the rear, storming away towards Birmingham. I watched the train going away towards the tall bridge at Shrewley and the whole of the cutting was obscured by thick smoke from the locomotives. The Shakespeare Express will have to work hard to beat that...
Unlike many enthusiasts, I don't have an obsession with class 37 locomotives or indeed any particular class, but I do quite like the contrast between the yellow of Network Rail's test trains and the blue of DRS' fleet. By the time 1Z12, the 08.35 Derby RTC to Didcot via various places such as Bescot (twice) and Bushbury Junction, had reached me at Wootton Green on the Birmingham to Coventry line, the sun had been obscured by some quite thick cloud which looked to be set in for the afternoon. Even so, I was reasonably happy with this photograph of the train, topped and tailed by 37069 and 37609 respectively, which was given a lift by the clean yellow paintwork of the stock. In the background is a factory that processes chipped wood and the HGV trailer visible is being tipped up to empty its load of chips into the facility's hopper.
Test trains are not all that uncommon on the GWR line through Hatton, so much so that I don't very often bother with them. Now and again though, one comes along that is a bit out of the ordinary and is worth a trip out, even if the light isn't too good. Here is 1Z12, the vastly overpowered 09.59 Eastleigh to Derby climbing Hatton Bank just south of the cutting with 37609 and 37259 leading a lightweight train and 37605. All three locomotives were under power which seems a bit of a waste considering that a single engine would have been more than capable of hauling the short consist without any trouble. A short while earlier, 1J81, the 10.17 Marylebone to Wrexham had gone north past the last tiny patch of snow with 82303 leading 67015 running in the region of 30 minutes late.
Class 37/4 37423 was rostered to work a 2Z01 saloon from London Paddington to Bristol via the Cotswold Line on Tuesday 1 July 2008. I went across to Norton Junction near Worcester as I've always, since seeing a Collett 0-6-0 on the Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Line in the 1960s, had a soft spot for these managers' specials. This train was delayed by 9 minutes due to the preceding down HST being late and this delay meant that the sun had time to disappear behind some cloud as the signalman at Norton Junction exchanged the token protecting the single line from Evesham station. The signalbox was being painted on this day but the workmen removed their ladders and went either into or behind the signalbox when the high-ranking Network Rail officials' expensive day-out tranpsort appeared! Note the atractive display of flowers in containers by the side of the 'box - a real Great Western tradition being maintained by the current incumbents. Use this hyperlink to see another view of 2Z01 after the token exchange and this one to see the train receding towards Worcester and about to pass an up HST service train delayed by the passage of the special.
The schedule for 2Z01 London Paddington to Bristol via the Cotswold Line and Birmingham did not show any scope for reversal meaning that Caroline would be propelled by 37423 on the run south. It's probably heretical to say so, but I thought this was a much more interesting shot than the standard one with locomotive leading. Locomotives lead 99.9% of their trains and Caroline the Saloon is arguably a far more interesting vehicle than the 37 propelling it. I do wonder though if the driver thinks the same with various senior Network Rail bods, probably without a single hands-on railway experience between them, peering over his shoulder. Note how the two compartments of the saloon are well separated with the more luxurious accomodation no doubt barred to lesser mortals wearing high-visiblity vests!
Friday 25 July 2008 saw two trains running out of Long Marston but in the reverse order to that which I expected. I won't go through the tedious details involving a road accident (in which I was not involved), a road closure for flood prevention work and a congested town centre in Evesham, of why I ended up with nothing more than a standard and not very exciting shot of 37422 leaving Long Marston with a rake of KWA and IZA ferywagons, but it wasn't what I had planned. Anyway, here is the popular locomotive leaving the site en-route to Bescot and no doubt heading for a few more photographers along the way. This is a busy area over the weekend as the Global Gathering festival is held on the adjacent airfield - I look forward to hearing the music and seeing the laser displays from my home some 5 miles away...
I had a couple of spare hours between household and gardening duties on Wednesday 11 April 2007 and decided to pop over to Hatton North Junction. I anticipated seeing 4 freights, including 4M55 with 57004 in charge. I knew this was running late so arrived with a likely wait of about 30 minutes. I had already made up my mind to take my pictures from the footbridge rather than in the field and this proved to be a good choice. Within a couple of minutes of arriving I heard an old-fashioned squeaky horn and looked around to see 37406 coming under the Shrewley Road bridge. It was later reported that the train was the retimed 6O12 11.36 from Bescot to Didcot which was unable to run in its normal path because of the lack of a crew. The locomotive returned with 6M65 from Didcot but didn't apparently pass Hatton until 20.50, probably as a result of the signalling problems in the area.
A run over the Cotswold Line, to and from Oxford, was planned for the SERCO train on 16 August 2007. I had rather hoped for another appearance by the NMT HST but this was on duty elsewhere and 1Z14 ran with 37606 top-and-tailing the usual 5 vehicles. The day started off badly with 6V05 from Round Oak to Margam , booked for Loadhaul liveried 60007 turning up light engine at Norton Junction, near Worcester. There was also a lot of cloud about and when I moved a couple of miles up the road to an occupation bridge near Norton Barracks there was pretty much 100% cloud cover. Luckily, just as I heard the SERCO train leave Worcester a small patch of blue sky appeared which just lasted long enough for this picture to be taken under a threateningly dark sky.
1Z14 was oroginally booked to reverse in the sidings north of Oxford but actually ran south to to the down goods loop. The train, now in reverse formation from earlier in the day, made very good time from Evesham and managed to miss the patch of sun by no more than 30 seconds - one of those occasions when a further slight delay would have been good!
The regular trains from Bescot to Long Marston have become so regular that the former headcode, 6Z80, has now been replaced by a permanent code, 6V17. The first run with this reporting number took place on 2 April 2008 when 37422 took a rake of ferrrywagons to the storage and maintenance site. The weather was not good so I didn't make a lot of effort and went just to the site of Fladbury station where 6V17 is here pictured. The first signs of spring, in the form of plum blossom, is in evidence in the background and in the few minutes I was standing on the bridge I heard at least 6 different species of birds singing.
I wanted to go Long Marston to visit a fruit and vegetable stall before returning home so went the extra mile or so to the bridge over the former MOD facility. Despite having a slow journey behind a different sort of tractor and then a car whose driver was one of those who will not exceed 40mph in any circumstances, I arrived before the train, and indeed didn't hearing it rumbling along the branch for several minutes. The weather was even duller in Warwickshire than Worcestershire and here is 6V17 crawling up to the entrance of the yard having picked up a second crew member at Honeybourne. There was no traffic to be taken out and the locomotive left light engine within a very few minutes.
The NMT HST has again been the subject of substitution by locomotive-hauled stock in recent weeks. On Friday 7 September the diagram saw the usual run to the West Country followed by a trip into Paddington with the day ending with a return to Derby voa Oxford, Leamington Spa, Hatton and Birmingham. As I was already at Hatton it would have been churlish, given the beautiful light, to have missed the chance of a picture. Here are 37069 and 37606 running about 30 minutes late with the 5 coaches of the measurement train ambling around the curve from Hatton station just behind a Chiltern Trains' class 168 from Marylebone. I'm still waiting for my shot of the HST on this line...
I was just about to put my camera bag in my car with a view to going to Hatton North Junction on Monday 29 October when my phone rang with the news that 37605 was heading south from Derby with a couple of blue and grey coaches. The train, 5Z01 was going to Eastleigh and should be at Hatton at around 11.45 although it currently was about 30 minutes late. I arrived on the footbridge in plenty of time and watched 66578 run south with a delayed 4O54 Leeds to Southampton freightliner some 10 minutes before the distinctive nose of 37605 came into view at 11.49, having picked up some time from north of Birmingham. The train was formed of 2 translator vehicles, the second of which was ADB 975875. I took the shot of the TV as an afterthought otherwise it might have been better lit.
I was surprised to read an email on the morning of 10 December 2007 saying that 37605, 5 SERCO vehicles and 37612 were running as 2Q08 to Stratford-upon-Avon. In fact, they were coming twice which was just as well as I had missed the first run through not keeping a sufficiently close eye on my BlackBerry! The second trip was booked to arrive shortly after 10.30 so I made the short trip to Stratford-upon-Avon station to record the train, as these are the first DRS locos to have visited the town. On a sunny morning at Stratford there are very few options and none which involve the sun being in the right place for a properly lit photograph, so I had to make the best of a bad job and took this shot from the footbridge, albeit against the light. The sprinter substitute had started from Tyseley, run to Stratford via Henley-in-Arden, gone up the single track from Bearley Junction to Hatton where it reversed and came back to Stratford.
Here is 37612 waiting to leave Stratford-upon-Avon with the next leg of its trip, which included a run north along the North Warwickshire Line via Henley-in-Arden, a visit to Round Oak on the truncated Stourbridge Junction to Walsall line, and then another visit to Hatton via Dorridge and then back to Derby. The backlighting is impossible to avoid at this time of day and this makes the DRS livery a bit unclear, but at least the front end of the locomotive is instantly recognisable as DRS.
The platform-end signal had been showing a green aspect for several minutes, but the driver of 2Q08 waited until the booked time before easing his train along the platform and towards the points where it would join the up main line towards Bearley Junction and Henley-in-Arden.
This is the view turning around from the previous shot as 37605 tails 2Q08 off the pointwork and away from Stratford-upon-Avon. This is a rather untidy scene dominated by old track panels and the white fencing erected to halt the steam fans' love of trespass when the Shakespeare Express became a regular feature of summer Sundays. It's a great shame that this train didn't come to Stratford in the early afternoon as photography would have been a lot easier with the sun coming from the right direction!
Ashchurch MOD sees regular trains from Didcot, usually hauled by an EWS class 66, or very occasionally a 60. On Friday 1 February 2008, EWS were obviously short of power as they hired DRS's 37611 for the 6X36 working and here is the unprecendented sight of a DRS locomotive passing Ashchurch station with a single ferrywagons and eight flats loaded with personnel carriers. This wouldn't have been my first choice of location around Ashchurch but I had quite a slow journey from home and so had to drop in at the first possible spot so as not to risk missing it. There were closer places to which I could have gone, but thought it more interesting to record it at its destination.
Trains from the south to Ashchurch MOD have to run all the way to Worcester Yard for the locomotive to run-round the wagons before heading south again, running past the exchange sidings, reversing into the sidings and then along the branch. Here, 37611 is passing both the station at Ashchurch and the branch to the MOD depot. This track used to be the branch to Redditch which went on to Birmingham via Alvechurch and Barnt Green. The sun was pretty much straight down the track by this time but the scene was too rare not to be recorded.
It didn't take long for 37611 to leave the main line and propel its wagons along the Ashchurch branch. It is here seen doing this move, the first DRS locomotive to have been onto the branch, as far as I am aware. The sun had gone behind a cloud by this time, which helped the photograph no end and enabled me to get a wider angle from the west side of the adjacent roadbridge. There was no return traffic and the blue visitor was soon on its way back to Didcot working as a light engine.
I'm not a huge fan of railtours and tend not to go far for one. However a pair of EPS 37s, which one report I have read suggest may be be transferred to DRS and thus repainted, were rostered from Didcot for a Pathfinder tour from Southampton to York on Bank Holiday Monday, 7 May 2007 and as the weather was a bit on the dull side I was able to take a shot at Hatton North Junction. If had been sunny I should have had to have gone north of Birmingham as the sun between Leamington Spa and Birmingham would have been completely wrong. Here are 37603 + 37604 just about topping the 1/100 climb of Hatton Bank in quite misty and drizzly conditions. The load was increased by the weight of 47805 dead-in train at the rear - the locomotive that led the train from Southampton - and the extra weight was reflected in the speed of 1Z37, not to mention the exhaust noise of the tractors. Thankfully, a combination of the weather and the stock rostering put paid to simian behaviour by any of the participants.
A stock move from Bescot to Long Marston was planned for Tuesday 12 June 2007, but this was put back for a week and ran on 19 June. The motive power was 37410, which must arrived have very recently arrrived at Bescot as I had seen no reports on any email lists that it was there. The locomotive had no effect on my decision to photograph the train as I would have gone out regardless of whatever was on the front because of the booked consist which made the train look like a real old-fashioned pick-up freight. 6Z80 was booked to leave Worcester at 09.03 which is really about an hour early for the best of the light on the Cotswold Line as the sun is plumb on the front at that time. Fortunately, there was some high cloud around and this softened the light and avoided the harsh shadows that would otherwise have been present. I chose to go to Fladbury and the train is here seen passing the site of the long-closed station.
I wasn't sure whether I would make it to Long Marston before 6Z80 arrived because of roadworks around the village. In the event, I ignored the "Road Closed" signs as there was clearly nothing happening, and this, coupled with a late-running down passenger train, meant there was no problem. 37410 came into view on the branch at around 10.10 and arrived at the road bridge just one minute later. As far as I know, this is the first EWS red class 37 to have used the branch from Honeybourne for some years and is first of the 37/4 sub-class since 37418 did a Long Marston to Didcot on 15 October 2001. Apart from the colour of the locomotive, this could easily have been the trip freight from Worcester which ran here up until the early 1990s. Click on this hyperlink to have a closer look at the train's consist. I was slightly surprised to have been alone here for the arrival of 6Z80 and would have thought, given the popularity of 37s these days, even when doing a light engine trip, that one or two others would have been present. A few local friends did arrive shortly afterwards who had been a little further down the branch at a foot crossing. Thanks to Ron Kosys for the information about 37418 in 2001.
There wasn't a lot of time wasted getting 37410 uncoupled from the stock and it was soon making its way back along the branch to Honeybourne to await a path back to Worcester and thence Bescot. It's a shame there wasn't a trainload to come out on such a sunny morning, although the light would have made it a slightly difficult proposition on the branch and the main line at this time of day. The gate is already being shut by one of Motorail Logistics' staff who will return to the headquarters in the background on HNRC 0-6-0 No. 12082, which was stabled just out of sight.
In 1987 there were several Speedlink Coal Network (SCN) workings around the Birmingham area conveying household coal for domestic use. A regular flow was that from Washwood heath to Didcot and an example of this is here seen behind 37691 on the evening of 4 August of that year. I think this may have been an additional or late-running working as I don't recall seeing it on any other occasion. The location is the 3 arch bridge a few hundred yards south of Hatton station, which was quite a busy location at that time. This shot is still possible but undergrowth on the cutting sides has made it a tighter shot. This shot was taken on Kodachrome 64 and at the time, Kodak were having processing problems the result of which is the very poor quality especially evident in the sky. Shortly after this date I switched to the much superior (in my opinion) Fuji 100 in its various evolutions, a film with which I stuck until I started using digital equipment.
Not all of the Cotswold Line, from Worcester to Oxford, runs through verdant countryside. There are pockets of industry such as can be found at Chipping Campden and here is a SERCO train on 12 March 2007 passing some of the buildings associated with Campden Reseaarch Ltd. The train, running as 1Z14 09.56 Derby RTC to Oxford and Worcester was in the charge of 37608 and 37607 and was photographed shortly after passing the site of Chipping Campden station spot on time at 12.54. The station lay on a about a mile of level track at the summit of a 1/100 climb from Honeybourne and the start of a gentle descent to Oxford which covers around 30 miles. In steam days, the frequent freight trains on the then double track were usually banked from Honeybourne to Chipping Campden. Passengers trains didn't usually need assistance as the loadings were kept within the class limits for the various locomotives. GWR Castles were the largest express locomotives used on the line and those shedded at Worcester were renowned for their clean condition right to the end of steam. Hymeks replaced most of the steam by the mid-1960s, which in turn gave way to class 47s and latterly class 50s on the Paddington to Hereford runs. Locomotives were phased out in favour of HSTs and currently, most train are formed of class 180 Adelanti although Thames Turbos do appear from time to time.
In the summer timetable of 1989 there were several trains to and from Paignton booked for class 31/4 haulage. One of these was the Paignton to Liverpool and on 3 June of that year I was waiting near Stoke Works Junction, Bromsgrove to photograph this train. It was quite late and when it appeared the reason was apparent - the brakes on 31446 were stuck on and flames were coming from the trailing bogie. There was no way this would be allowed any near the Lickey incline so a quick trip round to Bromsgrove station was made. Sure enough, the train had been looped and   31424 + 31446 were in the process of being taken off - note the smoke and haze from the 2nd locomotive's rear bogie. The Lickey bankers, 37223 + 37242 were, of course, on site and they were soon tied onto the stock and took the train forward, to the delight of any bashers on board. The scene at Bromsgrove has dramatically changed in the intervening years; the oil depot has gone and a second platform has been built to avoid an awkward crossing movement for down local trains.
Here's a busy scene near Stenson Junction, north of Burton-upon-Trent, on 2 September 1994. 37098 is standing at the signal waiting to turn right onto the Castle Donnington line with its Bardon Hill to Healey Mills ballast train whilst 37886 powers south down the main line with 6V14, the MWFO Hull Saltend to Baglan Bay empty acetic acid tanks. Note the scrap wagons tagged onto the end of 6V14; these are probably heading to Cardiff. On the right is 58035 which has just left Willington power station with a rake of empty HAA hoppers.
Pathfinder Railtours ran a special train, The Bard 'n Birch, from Bristol to the Birch Coppice Branch, Stratford-upon-Avon and Quainton Road on 17 February 2007. The original idea was to have DRS 37s on this train, but in the event 37425 and 37411 were brought out of retirement and performed faultlessly after a trial run the previous night on a tank train from Westerleigh to Margam. It was a particularly dull and misty morning in Stratford, so I shelved my plans to chase around for three or four shots and settled on a five minute walk from my home to picture the train arriving at the station so as to have something solid in the background rather than just a bank of mist. The train was double-headed as far as Birch Coppice, but the locomotives were then split for the run to and from Stratford-upon-Avon to avoid the hassle of running round here, at Oxford and Princes Risborough. Here is 37425 leading the ensemble into Stratford, pictured from the Alcester Road bridge.
Passengers on the Bard 'n Birch were given an hour break at Stratford-upon-Avon and from what I could see made full use of a nearby fish and chip shop! After departure, 37411 led away form the town and is here seen leaving the Stratford branch at Hatton South Junction. There is evidence of re-signalling work on the trackside and this caused a 40-odd minute delay. The train was apparently too long and occupied two track circuits, meaning that the four sets of points had to operated and locked by a Network Rail man sent by van. If this is not a temporary problem whilst the work is ongoing, then Network Rail have made a bit of a silly mistake as locomotive-hauled trains to Stratford-upon-Avon are not all that unusual. This was as far as I went for the tour in view of the poor light. I have photographs of "real" trains on all the other lines visited and was happy to obtain no more than a few record shots on my local patch. I sort of dislike photographing popular railtours because of the number of bodies at the decent locations and the accompanying name dropping and general "bull".
After the delay mentioned above, the train now running as 1Z38 was given the road and 37411 moved it forward over the points onto the up main line. I took this picture only to have a record of a class 37 in the Stratford Branch platform at Hatton which, after all, is not an everyday occurrence. The station here is is rather messy, but that, to me, inceases the appeal of a photograph. When the area was manually signalled there was a box on the platform together with a canopy on each side for passengers' shelter and these made the framing of pictures more difficult than today. The challenge has simply changed over the years and when I look back over my pictures from the past 25 or so years it is interesting to see what impact the changes have had on how photographs can be taken. There were more photographers around Hatton station for this working than I have ever seen before. Passers-by would have assumed that a steam train was on the way...
6M67, the Bridgwater - Crewe nuclear flask train was running in the region of an hour early on 2 November 2007 when it came north past Defford in Worcestershire, passing Defford at 13.38 behind 37510 + 37194. I can't admit to getting fired up by these very short trains, despite the in-vogue motive power, but a bit of variety is OK on a sunny afternoon I suppose...
The perfect morning of 12 April 2003 saw 37698 + 37712 tackling the 1/37 climb from Bromsgrove up to Blackwell with Pathfinder's 1Z37 Reading to Knowsley, The Wizard Express. Whilst the Lickey is a great spot for video and audio entertainment in general, it is pretty poor for still photography, being almost featureless. This shot, taken from a public footpath near Vigo, exemplifies the lack of any interesting features. The video recording I took at the same time is a different matter with the two locomotives being worked at full power and being audible for long after they had gone out of shot.
The regular SERCO train was around again during the week of 12 October being scheduled on that day to run from Westbury to Eastleigh, but in the event this leg was cancelled and it ran back to Derby via Didcot, Oxford, Hatton and Birmingham. As I was on the scene I stayed out for the train, which is here seen at Hatton North Junction top-and-tailed by scruffy 37602 and slightly smarter 37611, not that the latter is visible.
37425 was around Didcot for several days in June 2003 and was predictably used to the fullest extent by the local crews. Its last working in the area was on 6M65, the Didcot to Carlisle service on 16 June, which the tractor worked as far as Bescot. The train was already on the way when I received the news so had to make do with the closest location to home, Hatton station. I should like to have taken the picture at Hatton North Junction but would not have had the time for the walk. With only a light load of two vans and some flats in tow, there wasn't a lot of noise, or indeed warning of the train's approach so this turned out to be very much a grab shot.
One of several freights no longer running on the line through Hatton is 6O72, the Wolverhampton to Hoo Junction empty steel train. By the date of this photograph, 23 May 2002, the motive power was usually a class 66, although occasionally a 60 and very rarely a 37. For it to be rostered a pair of tractors was most unusual so when 37109 + 37248 were reported on the overnight loaded run from Hoo it was uncertain whether they would stick to diagram and return south. Fortunately, the Bescot driver booked on the turn is an enthusiast and asked for the locomotives to stay on. Here is 6O72 passing Hatton West Junction with much horn blowing.
On 21 June 2002 celebrity 47, 47840 failed while on route to Bristol. Fortunately, DRS was running a road learning job at the time with 37606 and the blue tractor was requisitioned to rescue the errant Virgin loco. It is pictured here at Defford with the return 1S93 with the dead 47840 partially visible on the back on the train.
This photograph was taken from the westernmost end of the closed platform of Manchester Exchange station on 27 February 1986 and shows 37122 with some containers presumably from a refuse collection centre passing Deal Street signalbox. I always liked the industrial background to this area and tried to show it to best advantage on my visits here.
This picture was taken on 11 March 1993 and shows 37003 passing the station building at Moira, on the Coalville line. The train is the morning Bardon Hill to Doncaster ballast working. At Bardon Hill itself, the usual industrial shunter was out of use and 09104 had been hired-in to cover the shortage. Use   this hyperlink to see the 09 crossing the A50 road after collecting the empty hoppers from the exchange sidings, and   this one taken an hour or so later when they had been loaded and were on the way back to the main line.
In the middle 1980s, I used to visit Bescot quite frequently because of the variety of motive power then on offer. Class 37s were so common that a number of enthusiasts ignored them but I have always believed that one should take photographs of anything that moves, on the basis that nothing stays the same and at some not too distant future point it will have gone. Here is 37124 passing the station with a short steel train from the Walsall direction. I imagine that this was heading to Wolverhampton steel terminal; the circuitous routing being necessary because the junction with the main line is not accessible from the north. Note the plate above the drawhook; the lettering "HST" shows that this was one of the locomotives modified to make it suitable for hauling HSTs as and when necessary.
In the early 1990s class 37s found employment on a number of freightliner services between Crewe, Birmingham and Southampton. This picture shows 37185 + 37218 just north of Lapworth on 17 December 1992 with a very short Southampton to Crewe Basford Hall train. I was in the area and drove to a few bridges in the locality really just to have a look for any decent locations when this train appeared. At the time of day at which the picture was taken, just after midday, the sun was just a bit too straight into the lens for a good photograph, but at least the exhaust smoke shows up well...
The Longbridge to Cowley vans was one of the longest non-MGR trains to traverse the line between Birmingham and Oxford, regularly conveying load 23. The motive power was variable, seemingly being anything handy at Saltley at the right time, but I rarely saw a class 37 in charge. However, 37265 complete with Highland Terrier motif was used on 30 July 1985 and it is here seen accelerating out of "the dip" and towards Leamington Spa station. The heavy load made the locomotive work hard up the climb to Whitnash and I can still remember standing there listening to the racket as the train climbed the bank. One often reads today that 37s produce "top thrash" on the Mickey Mouse SERCO trains. Believe me, they don't when compared to a proper train!
Here is one of the re-engined class 37/9 locomotives, 37902, at Whitacre Junction on 13 May 1992. The first section of the train was a rake of scrap wagons from March heading for Margam in South Wales. The vans at the back of the train are more of a mystery and I suspect that these were added somewhere en-route. As always, I'd be pleased to here any additional informatiion via the "Contact" link on my index page. Added 16/02/2006. It is likely that these vans are empty VCAs returning from the Metal Box factory at Wisbech to the British Steel tinplate plant at Trostre, Llanelli. This traffic was the basis of one of the earliest Air-Braked Network freights, even before the start of Speedlink, and by the time the photo was taken was running as a dedicated 'Metals' sector train. Thanks for Brian Williams for this information. 645
In recent years the SERCO test train has made regular runs over the Cotswold Line between Worcester and Oxford. Today, 11 September 2006, it was powered by DRS class 37s, 37602 and 37605. Here is the return working from Oxford to Worcester passing the site of Wyre Halt in the village of Wyre Piddle, near Pershore. In the middle background are the villages of Lower Moor and Fladbury with the limestone escarpment of the Cotswold Hills being visible through the afternoon haze. The patchwork of fields is typical of the Vale of Evesham, with many market gardens and smallholdings being in evidence. There is also free fruit in abundance and I spent a pleasant hour picking blackberries from the hedgerows around Lower Moor. There were some brownie points from Mrs T. then......
The SERCO train, 1Z14, was booked to run from Derby to Oxford via Worcester and then back to Worcester on 27 November 2006. I haven't really taken the photograph of this train I wanted over the past couple of years so hoped that this run would be different. It was the train I wanted and didn't much care what the motive power was but it turned up, as usual, with DRS 37s, this time 37610 + 37607. Strangely for a class 37 job, I saw no postings until it reached Norton Junction, only about 10 minutes from where I was waiting, just north of Evesham station. The train appeared in the distance and absolutely crawled towards the signal box, just as a very large and dark bank of cloud was racing towards the sun. Luckily, it all worked out fine for once...
The arrangements for the single lines from Norton Junction to Evesham and from Evesham to Moreton in Marsh have recently been changed meaning that a token exchange at the signal box at Evesham is no longer necessary. The train therefore crawled along, still in sun, to get into the up platform at the station to await the passage of a northbound passenger service from Paddington. Here it is edging forward past some rather untidy clutter in the small yard.
Before the token arrangements were changed at Evesham, it was possible to take a long lens off the camera after a shot by the 'box and replace it with something wider to obtain a shot of the train passing the forlorn-looking signal gantry with its one remaining arm. Now that the train doesn't need to stop at the signal box there isn't time to do the lens swap, so I took both cameras armed with the appropriate lenses in order to get this final image. I can never decide which of the options I prefer so have uploaded all three, this third view showing the rapidly approaching dark sky somewhat better than those taken with a longer lens.
Class 37s 37669 + 37670 have been quite active in the weeks since reinstatement. Today, 4 April 2006, saw them on a longish run from Margam to Round Oak when they were diagrammed for 6M41. This train is booked at Abbotswood Junction at 16.45, making it a conveniently respectable time for an early departure from work. It is seen here approaching the junction at 16.54, having made up some time from being around 30 minutes late earlier in the afternoon. What a pity it couldn't have been just a couple of minutes later, when the sun would have been fully out...
37308 was repainted into BR blue and immediately becams something of celebrity. The loco is seen here at Whitacre Junction on 14 August 2003 with 4P15 Daventry to Hams Hall intermodal flat move. I was "round the corner" at Lea Marston when a call to one of assembled gallery announced this move. A mass exodus naturally took place and we all arrived in time to get this shot. 37308 was indentifiable not only by its paintwork, but by a loud whine which came presumably from one of the traction motors. 645
On 18 June 2005 a Pathfinder Railtours train ran from Sheffield to Pwllheli behind 37406. Actually, it should have run to Pwllheli but ended up in Blackpool for reasons far too tedious to list here. [A full description of the travails suffered by the punters on 1Z56 can be found by clicking this link and navigating via the Railtour Files to 18/6/2005  Six Bells Junction]. The multi-coloured train is here seen passing Kingsbury just a little late in poor light.
The Hallen Marsh (Bristol) to Immingham train of fertiliser vans was a regular Saturday morning runner until the early 1990s. The motive power was usually a class 47 by this time, 45s having been displaced a few years earlier, but on the frosty morning of 3 November 1990, 37359 was provided. The ensemble is seen here, just catching the low winter sun, passing the now-closed Rover factory at Longbridge in the West Midlands. The scene here has been transformed by the erection of overhead catenary used by the Redditch to Lichfield Cross City services.
This is a train that nearly escaped through the net. 37612+37606 were on a 4Z10 St.Phillips Marsh to Derby RTC. No advance postings appeared until my BlackBerry beeped at 12.35 to say that the train had just passed Aynho Junction. A bit of indecision followed, because of 1) the awful light and 2) not knowing what was the booked route from Leamington Spa. Guessing that it would be heading back to Derby meant that a quick drive to the nearest spot was in order, where it appeared at 13.14, right behind the Chiltern service to Stratford-upon-Avon. The light was even worse than at home but 400asa, 1/1000 at f2 produced a reasonable image after a bit of post processing. Thanks to the gen posters and those with access to certain computer systems for the requisite information.
This is 37515 passing Tutbury & Hatton on the Uttoxeter line on 13 April 1995 with an additional working from Tees to Etruria. The shot was taken using a 210mm lens in order to compress the perspective and bring the interesting background into clearer view. Since the closure of the steelworks at Etruria, freight on this line has become rather patchy, which is a shame because there are some lovely locations all the way from North Staffordshire Junction to Stoke-on-Trent. This picture is slightly cropped for impact and you may find that a left click will improve it if you are viewing on a small monitor. 645
37408+37411 at Croome Perry with a 6T95 09.30 Bescot - Newport ADJ train on Saturday 11 December 2004. The working was used to return the 2 ETH machines to South Wales for use on the Rhymney line. For once, the sun co-operated and the driver, somehow sensing that a video camera may have been waiting here for his train, gave the locos a handful of power as he came under the occupation bridge at the rear of the train. The sun had been in and out all morning and judging from reports on various mailing lists the 4 of us at Croome Perry were among very few who had the luck to photograph the train in this glorious winter light. 37411 is still in South Wales but has been repainted into a 1960s style green livery.
On 5 July 2001 the 4O27 Crewe Basford Hall to Southampton had 37051 in charge and the train is pictured here climbing towards Harbury tunnel between Leamington Spa and Fenny Compton. This was not an especially good location for railway photography given the amount of intruding undergrowth, but at this time of day, 13.34 there isn't a lot of choice if the sun is shining. The trailing load was in excess of 1200 tonnes and the ruling gradient 1/187 following a speed restriction through Leamington Spa station. The train was travelling at little over walking pace and the noise was enormous. Yes, I do have the video evidence this time! 645
The final shot in this short sequence of 37-hauled freightliners is this of 37038 assisting 37605 on 4O27 11.13 Crewe Basford Hall to Southampton on 15 September 2001. The location is Harbury Cutting, a location again chosen mostly for the chance to get the train on videotape. The still shot wasn't too bad, except for the leading locomotive just missing the sun.
The memorable Basingstoke Open Day, held on 26 September 1987, included a couple of local railtours using motive power rare for the area, at least on passenger trains. 37116 was used on several trips and this one is seen during the afternoon at Worting Junction while returning from Andover.645
This photograph was taken at the now-closed Charringtons oil depot at Brownhills in Staffordshire, which was situated on the remaining part of the Ryecroft Junction to Lichfield line. It was always a bit tricky to get well-lit photographs here as, by and large, the trains ran only in the winter months, arrived in the dark and usually left after 15.00. On 13 November 1997 37220+ 37158 were allocated to the train, 7L60, and are seen sitting in the last remaining patch of very weak sunlight in which the train crew were kind enough to place the train for me. On this occasion, the train was late leaving because there were 6 or 7 unlagged tanks in the consist which meant that the heavy oil had become less liquid meaning in turn that it took much longer for the steam heating mechanism at the depot to soften it sufficiently for it to be pumped out.
This shot was taken on the same day as the one above before the train crew arrived at Anglesea Sidings, Brownhills by van from Toton and while the sun was reasonably strong. 37220+37158 were stabled in a siding while the heavy oil from Thameshaven heated by the steam just visible, was unloaded in 2 separate roads. The depot staff at Brownhills were always most friendly and accomodating when I visited and were quite happy for me to wander around at will to take my photographs. The former through line from Ryecroft Junction, currently under investigation as a candidate for re-opening, is just visible between the bush and telegraph post on the extreme left of the picture.
This train was source of a certain amount of confusion on the morning of 18 March 2005. The word was out that 37427 was allocated to a Washwood Heath to Hinksey working conveying concrete sleepers but was running about 4 hours late - in fact so late it hadn't left. The booked route was via Coventry to Leamington Spa but with such a delayed departure I suspected a new schedule may have been concocted and that it would follow the normal route for this working - via Hatton. I duly arrived there at around 8.30am but by 9.20 was beginning to doubt my hunch and was about to pack up and bolt over to Tile Hill on the Coventry line. No sooner had this thought entered my head than I heard an unmistakeable noise in the distance as 37427, by now heading for Eastleigh after Hinksey, rounded the curve about a mile away at Hatton North. Yet again, the light wasn't up to much, but with so few 37s left.............
37706 is pictured here approaching Basingstoke station at 08.50 on the up slow line during the lovely morning of 28 September 1990. The train was certainly a Micheldever to Ripple Lane working and as nothing was shown in the WTT for this time of day I assume it was an overnight job running very late. I was waiting for the 09.20 Class 442 to Waterloo on my way to Kent - the shot in my Class 33 section of 33033+33063 between Bexley and Crayford was taken later on so the weather, for once, was perfect all day.
Enthusiasts in the Midlands were delighted when 37402 appeared at Bescot and worked some local trips. On 14 January 2005 it was allocated to a 6Z25 09.00 Bescot to Didcot job which, in the event, didn't leave the former until around 10.25. The late departure was an advantage as far the light was concerned and my shot shows it rolling down Hatton Bank at 12.08. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few photographers out for this working although I was alone at my location. To see Andy Williams' shot taken from the roadbridge immediately north of Hatton station, use this link.... Andy Williams' picture.
One of the most likely turns for a class 37 has until recently been the 6G36/6G42 Bescot to Birch Coppice and return. On 14 March 2003 37114 was provided and is seen here running off the Kingsbury Loop at Whitacre Junction rather late at 12.53. The scene here has changed since this photograph was taken. The trees on the extreme right have disappeared and more recently, pallisade fencing has been erected on the same side. The bridge has also been replaced meaning that steps are required for most shots, although it is possible to photograph something coming off the Nuneaton line without extra height.
In 1990 the Gulf Albion oil terminal, just off the Birmingham to Wolverhampton near Dudley Port, was still open and receiving regular trains from Waterstone refinery in West Wales always with pairs of 37s in charge. The returning empties ran via the Sutton Park freight line and 37220+37215 are pictured here passing the long-closed station at Sutton Coldfield on 13 July.
A Saturday morning Washwood Heath to Peak Forest was a popular working for enthusiasts around Birmingham in 1988 as it was virtually guaranteed to turn up with a pair of Buxton red-stripe 37/6s. Here, 37677+37684 thunder towards Water Orton on 24 September 1988. Compare the wagons on this train with those on the following shot of the same train taken earlier that year.
This is the shot mentioned above showing 37684 + 37676 on the Washwood Heath to Peak Forest stone empties just about catching the sun beyond Water Orton on the frosty morning of 6 February 1988.