57313 near Evesham The sole locomotive-hauled train of the whole of the Cheltenham Festival was a 1Z24 from London Paddington to Evesham. The punters were taken by coach from there to Toddington on the preserved GWR line and presumably had a steam-hauled run to Cheltenham Racecourse station. The locomotives on the main line special were 57313 leading at this point with 57601 on the back to help with the speedy reversal of the ECS at Evesham West Junction. The train was some 15 minutes late because of a late-running GWR train clogging up the single track from Wolvercote Junction. I was relying on there being no sun for this shot from the north side of the footbridge and despite the cloudy sky in the background it was a close-run thing with the cloud only cooperating with about 30 seconds to spare.
57601 near Evesham Long Marston was the original destination for the empty stock from the Gold Cup special to Evesham, 5Z25, but this was changed to Honeybourne Sidings where the coaches were to be cleaned and serviced. I imagine that the reason for this is the sheer amount of unserviceable brand-new stock stored there with the through lines being required for internal shunting movements. I walked the short distance to the next bridge south for my shot of the ECS, now running over 30 minutes late, and again wanted the sun to be in, although a decent shot from the south side of the bridge is possible in sunshine.
In January 2008 Cotswold Rail/Advenza Freight ha just acquired 2 class 57s formerly owned by Freightliner and one of them, 57005, made the first appearance for the class at Long Marston on Monday 21 January 2008. I was unable to cover this working and in any event the weather was absolutely filthy, so when I was told about a repeat working the following day, I was pleased that I was able to go and take a few pictures. Here is the locomotive arriving at Long Marston as 0Z98 from Gloucester, complete with an "Advenza Freight" headboard.
It was good that the sun was shining for this train as a bit of decent light makes all the difference. The move was laid on in order to take a rake of TDAs to Bescot, and the rake of 15 tanks can be seen in road 2 of the exchange sidings. The Motorail Logistics crew had been on site for a while checking that all was well so that an on-time departure would be achieved. This was important today as another train, 47847 with a GNER buffet coach from Doncaster was scheduled to come in in the early afternoon.
The headboard was soon attached to the leading end of 57005 and the locomotive was coupled to the tanks. It was strange to hear the distinctive GM whine of a 57 standing here - the body is the same as the many 47s that have stood in the same spot, but the traditional Sulzer "thump" was missing. Both the locomotive and MR crews were making their final checks and the driver can be seen walking along the train ready to perform a brake test. The length of 6Z98 was just right with the class 57 nicely angled on the exit from the siding so that the sun could illuminate the bodyside and front. I like the long lens shot here as the compressed perspective shows well the hills surrounding Long Marston - the primary reason for an airfield and associated MOD facility being constructed here during World War II, as the hills helped to hide the site from marauding enemy aircraft.
The booked departure time for 6Z98 was 12.30 but it was a few minutes early when 57005's engine was wound up and the long train gently made its exit from the sidings and onto the Honeybourne branch. The sun had been fading for a few minutes behind some thickening cloud but it found a fortuitous clear patch just at the right time. I'm all too aware that a lot of my photographs show this spot and the previous views but there really is very little choice of location here and I find it satisfying to record the enormous variety of motive power, wagons and coaches that have been here since regular operations started in September 2006. Not many branch lines across the UK have seen such a diversity of workings, and I consider myself fortunate to live so close to Long Marston. Unfortunately, since Porterbrook took over the site the number and variety of trains have reduced dramatically being reduced to a handful of not very interesting stock moves. The first one or two were OK but after that...
Not long after joining the branch, 57005 stopped for a few moments and this gave me plenty of time to make the run to Honeybourne to try for a shot as 6Z98 came around the curve onto the East Loop. The sun had faded a little but the light still was perfectly reasonable as the impressive-looking ensemble came to a halt just short of the points of the spur giving access to the main Cotswold Line. It would be interesting to learn to what future use these tanks will be put. To an untutored eye they look in pretty good condition so it is to be hoped that they will be used again, and not sent for scrapping.
When a good working is standing in decent light it is difficult to resist taking loads of shots and today was no exception. I took about 20 exposures while 57005 was standing on the East Loop at Honeybourne and this slightly wider view with a 200mm lens took my fancy. The HST stop board had only just been erected and the Network Rail van with its crew was still in the car park at the adjacent station. HSTs have been working the Worcester and Hereford trains since the December timetable change and are gradually taking over these Paddington workings from the class 180 Adelante.
It wasn't many minutes before the second man left the cab of 57005 and walked to the cabin containing the instruments and telephone for contacting Evesham signalbox. Permission for 6Z98 to join the main line was obtained and the points were moved across to facilitate the move. Here is 57005 swinging across the spur at Honeybourne before stopping in the station to pick up the second man and then making its way to Evesham, Worcester and Bescot. This view has changed dramatically since the main line received double track and the arrangements for trains leaving Long Marston changed. I turned around as 57005 left Honeybourne after picking up the crew who had operated the ground frame and took this picture as went away towards Evesham. This scene is almost unrecognisable since the station was rebuilt.
57304 at Hatton DRS trains are few and far between on the Hatton line so when a 6Z10 from Eastleigh to Crewe Coal Sidings appeared in the schedules for Saturday 14 January 2023 I felt that a shot had to be taken. The train was conveying 4 PFA flats used to carry nuclear traffic, not the most exciting load and nothing like as good as the flask that ran north through Leamington Spa in April 2022, but still worth the short drive. The rain had eased in the few minutes since 68011 had gone by but the light was still grim and needed ISO 2000 to achieve a high enough shutter speed. Just for the record this is how the same locomotive looked at Whitacre Junction in 2006.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Long Marston. Two of the former EMR power cars, 43061 + 43075, were taken for scrapping at Newport from storage at Long Marston on Wednesday 27 October 2021. The light locomotive which ran from Derby was 57312 which, as it was able to couple directly to the power cars, did not need any barrier vehicles. The arrival of the 57 was at about 8.30 but the departure of 5Q76 wasn't due until around 11.30. There was a lot of activity around the rear wheelsets of the second PC and it soon became clear that there was a problem and that it would be late leaving. Here is the train just after things appeared to have sorted out and 57312 was about to be coupled onto its load.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Long Marston. Two of the former EMR power cars, 43061 + 43075, were taken for scrapping at Newport from storage at Long Marston on Wednesday 27 October 2021. The light locomotive which ran from Derby was 57312 which, as it was able to couple directly to the power cars, did not need any barrier vehicles. The arrival of the 57 was at about 8.30 but the departure of 5Q76 wasn't due until around 11.30. There was a lot of activity around the rear wheelsets of the second PC and it soon became clear that there was a problem and that it would be late leaving. Here is the train just after things appeared to have sorted out and 57312 was about to be coupled onto its load.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs leaving Long Marston. Even after 57312 had been coupled to 43061 + 43075 there was more attention given to the rear power car and when 5Q76 eventually moved onto the branch towards Honeybourne it was 46 minutes late.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Honeybourne. A clear shot at Honeybourne of the Long Marston branch is disappearing quite rapidly while unchecked growth of lineside bushes continues. This is apparent in this image taken on 27 October 2021 of 57312 with 5Q76 to Newport Sims approaching the back of the station. The train was still about 45 minutes late and it would have to wait a few more minutes for both up and down GWR to clear their respective sections. The nose of the down train can just about be made out in the right background. It was clear from a quick look at the power cars cabs that much of the equipment in them had been stripped out, presumably for re-use at some point in the past, so there was no chance of them being put back into service.
57312 + 2 EMR PCs at Honeybourne station. A small gathering of photographers was ready on the bridge at Honeybourne station as 58612 with two ex-EMR power cars drew to a halt at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction. It would be able to proceed once a down train, just about to enter the station, had arrived at Evesham and an up train, about 10 minutes away, was in the station here. These are, I think, the first HST power cars to be scrapped other than those severely damaged in collisions.
57312 with HST stock at Honeybourne. The third train of the week taking stock for storage from Burton-on-Trent to Long Marston ran on Friday 2 July 2021. This time it was a 5Q94 with ROG's 57312 and power cars 43075, 43073, 43045, Mk3 coaches 42109 and 41165 with power car 43060 bringing up the rear. I go to Honeybourne far too often but there is nowhere better to take views of both ends of a train and with the EMR/Colas 43060 power car on the back this is exactly what I wanted. The power cars used on test trains such as this at Stratford-upon-Avon from 3 November 2020 when 43060 was leading with 43050 on the back. Today's train ran on time and is seen here about to pass under the Buckle Street road bridge.
57312 with HST stock at Honeybourne. For me the most interesting vehicle in 5Q94 was the ex-EMR 43060 with Colas branding which was used for a short while on Network Rail test trains but is now clearly redundant. At this time of the day, around 13.45, the sun is reasonably favourable for both ends of a train although it is clearly a bit too high in the sky for decent photography. Still, such a colourful combination was not to be missed especially when the sun was in a big cloudless patch at the time. I couldn't resist a final wider angle shot of the colourful train as it stood at the staff hut while the driver collected the single line token for the Long Marston branch.
There was a ROG light engine showed as running from Leicester LIP to Long Marston on the morning of 3 March 2020 but given that the weather was dark and bit drizzly I had just about decided not to bother with it. At almost the last moment I changed my mind and went over, arriving just as 57301, on hire from DRS to ROG, arrived at the gates. It was only a couple of minutes until the shunter brought 319337 around the circuit and parked it in road number 1 of the exchange sidings. I had been expecting a class 350 but assume that the 319 was to stage at Northampton before going on to Wolverton for conversion into a bi-mode vehicle.
The mechanical coupling of 57301 was soon accomplished but there was a lot of huffing and puffing from both the locomotive and the stock at Long Marston on 3 March 2020 as attempts were made to connect the brakes and the electrical supply. This went on for a while and with 230002 making several journeys between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham I made my way to Honeybourne hopefully for a shot or two of that along with 57301 with 319337 appraoching the station.
Friday 21 February 2020 saw 57312 take 2 barrier coaches from Leicester to Long Marston prior to a set of former GWR being taken for scrap to Sims at Newport, South Wales. As expected the train running as 5V94 was a bit early arriving at the gates into the site where the ground crew were ready to open up having brought the coaches into the exchange sidings. Here is the short formation arriving in dull weather with a strong wind making things feel distinctly chilly.
As soon as 5V94 came to a stand on 21 February 2020 the resident shunter coupled onto the barrier coaches and without a tug-of-war with 57312 took one of them forward while the train engine took the other along the exchange sidings in order to couple it to the other end of the HST stock. It seems criminal that what many regard as some of the best stock ever to run in this country is being disposed of when there is clearly a stock shortage in areas of Britain in which it could be used.
Within a few minutes 57612 had finished at the far end of the 6 HST coaches and had run round and been coupled to the train, now with the headcode 5Q76. It seemed likely that an early departure from Long Marston was on the cards so I decided to go straight to Honeybourne to take a shot as it approached the station via the back side of the platforms.
I didn't have to wait too long in the increasingly cold wind at Honeybourne on 21 February 2020 before 57312 with 5Q76 appeared on its way to the staff hut where the single line token would be deposited. While waiting I had a very interesting conversation with a local gentleman whose father-in-law had been on the signalmen at Honeybourne and who worked all the boxes (5 at one time, later reduced in number to 4) prior to the extreme rationalisation that the junctions here suffered in the 1960s and 70s. The light was even worse than it had been at Long Marston and I had to bump up the ISO to 800 to ensure a high enough shutter speed to get a sharp image as the train went towards Honeybourne North Junction under a green signal on its way to Worcester for a run-round before going off to Newport.
Until 31 October 2019 I hadn't bothered to go out for any of the shrink-wrapped class 397 EMU delivery moves from Portbury Docks to Crewe. On this occasion a pair of class class 20s, 20007 + 20205 had been sent to Bristol to be attached to the rear of the train to act as Lickey bankers to ensure the 57305, the train locomotive, didn't stall on the 1/37 climb towards Birmingham. The most interesting vehicles in the consist were arguably the former Gatwick Express GLVs 68501 and 68504 from Arlington Fleet Services acting as translator vehicles for the MkI barrier coaches. The train, 5Q32, is seen here over one hour late through the mist just after crossing the Warwickshire Avon at Eckington Bridge.
Oops... Not a great choice of location for 5M58 from Eastleigh to Central Rivers Depot on which 57305 took a CrossCounty Voyager for, presumably, repair following a failure. I had pulled a leg muscle earlier in the week and didn't fancy the walk to Hatton North Junction but had underestimated the potential for shadows at Hatton station. It's a shame the sun was in a clear patch of sky on this occaion, 19 October 2019.
The rain which had ben falling when 70010 passed Hatton Station Junction stopped and sun began to come out of the clouds. A Chiltern Railways class 168 went by and then 57305 with 4 barrier coaches, running as 5O86 from Leicester to Eastleigh, came along a few minutes late. I had changed from a 50mm lens to an 85mm in order to give the short train a bit more impact. The sun was a bit too straight to light the barriers' bogies properly but there are few alternative locations on this line which are worth considering given the unchecked vegetation which, disgracefully, Network Rail has allowed to flourish all along this route.
On Friday and Saturday 5 and 6 July 2019 the Northern Belle train made separate visits to Stratford-upon-Avon from Carnforth and Wakefield respectively. Both runs went via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction and Friday's was under cloudless skies and with none of the local photo-stops being of any use at all just after noon I stayed at home; it's a shame it didn't use the North Warwickshire Line where at least a couple of locations would have been usuable. On Saturday 6th the skies were cloudy and just to have a record shot I made the short walk to the GWR station, taking my Canon G10 which although small and light shoots in RAW format and has a proper zooming optical viewfinder. Just before 1Z63, topped and tailed by 57316 + 37314, arrived some drizzle started to fall and I think that a raindrop on the lens caused the slight fuzziness evident towards the back of the train.
The third of this year's "Stratford Flyer" trains run by the WCRC reached the terminus on 22 May 2019. This time it was 1Z61, the 08.00 from Scarborough, with 57314 with 57316 providing the power which was sceduled to arrive into Stratford's platform 1 at 13.49. As expected it was a couple of minutes early having a good run along the North Warwickshire Line from Whitlocks End to Bearley despite having to pause for few minutes at both locations to allow local traffic to precede it. The weather was warm and bright and as the arrival time was a bit early for optimum lighting conditions had the sun been fully out some light cloud was welcome. The station is in the throes of some quite major improvement works which along with the dreadful and over bearing sight of the new high-density housing scheme on the former cattle market site dominating the scene, the visitors' first impressions of their destination were not favourable. At least the station improvements are positive and will greatly benefit passengers when complete. The other development is likely in time to make the area a no-go area after dark...
A schedule appeared on RTT showing that a Leicester to Long Marston light engine move followed by a class 5 train to Eastleigh would run on Wednesday 8 May 2019. I had mostly decided not to bother because I thought that it would just be an ROG class 37 with a single coach or two but after returning home from town I saw from a friend's message that it was to be 57305 and 47813 topping and tailing a class 117 DMU. That's more like it, I thought and even though I was cutting it fine to say the least grabbed a camera bag and headed out. As the departure time from Long Marston was 12.15 and it was already 11.55 I went straight to Honeybourne via 3 sets of temporary traffic lights (all on red) and a clutch of slow moving vehicles. I was convinced that I would have missed it but after arriving on the road bridge saw that 5Q86 was sitting at the staff hut rather than at the signal in the station as is more usual. This was lucky for me as a half-decent shot, despite the foul weather, would be on the cards. It wasn't long before the branch signal was cleared and 57303 led the train towards the main line and off to Worcester for a reversal. As far as I can recall there were 2 class 117 sets in Long Marston; the first having been used at an open day in 2007 and the other, the former RHTT set which arrived in 2015. I am told by, and thanks to, John Beale for telling me that the unit pictured here is probably on its way to the Wareham Railway and has been in Long Marston for work including locking doors prior to being used on that line. That would explain the signs of work on the bodysides. The unit's brakes were not operational and a through pipe between the locomotives was in use; on the side not visible here. Here is another view as 48713 tails the train towards Honeybourne North Junction.
Trains of MkV stock for the new TransPennine Express trains have been running on an occasional basis for a while but because of engineering work around Filton on 15 November 2018 5Q32 ran via Didcot, Oxford, Leamington Spa and Hatton. Previous sets of stock have suffered damage because of Network Rail's failure to keep vegetation clear of the line on the Portbury branch so this set looked as if it had been shrink-wrapped to protect the paintwork. ROG used a de-branded 57305 to provide the power and this image shows the colourful ensemble passing Hatton North Junction with some very decent Autumnal colours in the background. I was tempted into taking another shot as the DVT passed by, showing the plastic wrapping to some advantage. Class 57 was common enough here on Freightliner services but somewhat rarer on other trains. Here is 57301 in October 2006 on a Virgin rescue mission.
Another of the WCRC charters to Stratford-upon-Avon ran on 4 October 2018, this time originating as 1Z50 from Scarborough. The arrival time at Stratford was 13.51 and as the day which had started with cloudy skies had become clear and sunny I walked down to the station for an image or two. Running a few minutes in front of the charter was 172334 with 2D44 from Stourbridge Junction to Stratford via Dorridge and Hatton North Junction and diverted into platform 2 to allow 1Z50 to use P1. The sun was still a bit straight at this time but as virtually all recent charters here have run in cloud it was good to see 57313 (on at least its 5th visit here) and the uniform stock in strong sunlight. Out of sight at the back of the formation was 47746. The booked dparture time for the return, 1Z51, was 16.40 but as I type this at 16.55 it was still in the platform, albeit under a green signal...
After returning home from photographing 57313 arriving at Stratford-upon-Avon on 4 October 2018 I looked out for 1Z51's departure on a mapping system. The booked time, 16.40, came and went with no sign of movement until the green signal for platform 1 eventually was returned to red because of the imminent arrival of a class 172 from Stourbridge Junction. It was some 80 minutes later when the train finally left for Scarborough no doubt to the huge amusement of the passengers. On my way to my health club the following morning I happened to glance over the road bridge by the station and could see some WCRC maroon through the bushes and assumed, wrongly, that it was 47746 dumped there following some failure or other. I went for a walk to the station in the early afternoon and found that it was 57313 that had failed and been shunted a little way to the south of the platforms. This meant that platform had had to be closed to all traffic and all passengers for the busy Birmingham line trains had therefore to cross over to P2. At the time of writing I don't know what is wrong with 57313 but guess that a brake fault might have been found and that either a fitter will be sent by road or with a rescue locomotive in the near future.
The continuing saga of WCRC's 57313 at Stratford-upon-Avon finished on Saturday 6 October 2018 when 33207 was sent from Southall to collect and take it to Carnforth. The schedule for 0Z51 appeared during the previous evening and whilst I sort of hoped that a 33 would be diagrammed for the novelty value of a class 33 at Stratford it didn't seem all that likely. An early morning posting confirmed the allocation and despite the pouring rain and cold wind I walked to the station for a shot or two. There was early running between Oxford and Hatton and I thought that with some smart working it could arrive before the 09.03 Stourbridge Junction via Dorridge service needed the single track between Bearley and Hatton West junctions. It wasn't to be so I had a chilly wait in the basic shelter on platform 2 until a horn announced 33207's presence just around the corner. The light was dire but considering the minimal effort needed to be here it was worth the walk.
The failed 57313 was stabled just beyond the end of platform 1 and had necessitated the closure of the platform to all traffic. It wasn't long before 33207 had coupled up to the class 57 but there were 2 local trains to arrive and depart before it was due to leave. Once the 10.03 to Stourbridge Junction had gone 0Z51 was moved along platform 1 under a yellow signal where the driver kindly paused for a few seconds to allow me to take some shots with bracketed exposures before pulling away. This final image shows the pair of locomotives heading for the crossover onto the up main line.
Track relaying work on the Long Marston branch finished sometime during the night of 3/4 May 2018 and the first revenue-earning train ran on the morning of 4 May. A light engine was shown to be running from Crewe Gresty Bridge and after a bit of digging, not helped by the fact that the reporting number was changed from 0V70 to 0V94 near Wolverhampton, found that 57301 was the locomotive involved. This was the first DRS liveried, as opposed to the Pullman coloured, class 57 to go along here so I went over for a shot. There was no return train schedule showing at the time but the headcode suggested that a stock move, probably a class 319, was going to leave the site. Some delay was encountered along the Stourbridge Junction line but a little time was picked up and arrival was at 10.24 some 20 minutes late. As this was the first non-infrastructure move over the new track I took this image of it a few yards from the end of the branch. While 57301 stood in the sun with 319008 waiting to be collected another unit was being propelled to join the other but I wanted to get to my health club for a swim and I have previously witnessed how long it can take for 319s to be coupled and for the door locking mechanism to be made operational I stayed no longer. I later saw that 5Q70 left for Wolverton 70 minutes late at 12.22...
In perfect lighting conditions for the sludge-like colour scheme of WCRC diesel locomotives 57316 was photographed approaching its journey's end at Stratford-upon-Avon on 14 February 2018. I knew nothing about this train, 1Z97 from Chester-le-Street, until a couple of hours before its arrival time when a friend sent me a message to say that it was on the way. For those passengers who joined the train at Chester-le-Street they will have had, by the time they get home, 13 hours travelling for a 2 hour visit to Stratford; barelt time for a reasonable lunch. It sounds like purgatory to me...
The return from Stratford-upon-Avon to Chester-le-Street was 1Z98 with a scheduled departure time of 16.40. On at least its third visit to the terminus 57313 provided the motive power and is pictured here shortly after arrival with stablemate 57316 on the other end. The building work in the background is a large complex of what will be a gloomy development of apartments on the site of the old cattle market.
I had a message from a friend during the morning of Friday 29 December 2017 saying that 57303 + 37059 were working a 5Z63 from Laira to Crewe conveying 4 MkIII coaches which are to be used on Trans-Pennine services. I was a bit ambiguous about the train because it wasn't due to pass Abbotswood Junction until 15.35 by which time it was quite likely to be almost dark on a dull afternoon. I checked the BBC weather forecast for Pershore which suggested that the latter part of the afternoon would be sunny so I made up my mind to go over to Defford where the sun if out would be at least reasonable. There was a short layover booked at Gloucester but as 5Z63 was 4 or 5 minutes early after Bristol I felt that some time would be gained so made an early exit from home. Just as well because I had only about 3 minutes to wait on the roadbridge before a headlight appeared some 30 minutes early and luckily enough caught some sunshine just a short while before the light disappeared into thick cloud. I've no idea why it was considered necessary to use 2 locomotives on such a short train but I suppose that as most of the old DRS engines seem to barely turn a wheel these days it gave them a chance to warm up and charge their batteries.
Another class 350/2 was moved from Northampton to Long Marston on Saturday 18 November 2017. This time the motive power was 57305 hired-in by ROG presumably because of problems encountered by 37601 on the previous Sunday. The weather as dreadful with little light and a misty drizzle but as I had missed 57305's previous (and by all acounts sunny) visit through being on holiday I decided to waste a bit more petrol and go for an image or two. The train, 5V94, ran on time from Worcester and I didn't have to wait for long at Honeybourne before the locomotive in Northern Belle colours came onto the Long Marston branch towing 350237.
Long Marston is on my way home from Honeybourne and it's usually possible to beat a train between the two points. This was the case on 18 November 2017 and I had 3 or 4 minutes in hand before hearing 5V94 approaching one of the farm crossings on the branch. The light had further deteriorated and the drizzle was still falling all of which conspired to make a dull and slightly damp looking portrait as 57305 came towards the road bridge.
Here is a general view of Long Marston yard as 57305 stands coupled to another 350/2 prior to returning to Northampton EMD. I waited for a while to take a departure shot but it soon became clear that there was some difficulty being experienced because the crew was having to force open the unit's doors and I guess that the on-board sensors were not allowing the brakes to be blown off because of some issue with the safety interlocking. At the time of typing this, 16.35 on the same day, it seems that the train has not yet left Long Marston or at least not reached Evesham, the first timing point usually shown with an actual time on RTT after departure. In the few minutes before I left I noticed that some scaffolding was being built around the TEA tanks that had arrived behind 60065 in the dark a few days earlier. This would appear to be the preliminary work for a temporary structure inside which the cleaning and refurbishment will take place.
The only charters I bother to photograph these days, with few exceptions, are those that run either to or near to Stratford-upon-Avon. One of these took place on Saturday 6 May 2017 when "The Spirit of The Lakes" ran to the terminus from Bridlington with WCRC power in the form of 57316 topping and tailing 57313. The weather was dull in the extreme so I didn't go far for the inward journey, just a few miles to the attractive station at Wilmcote with its original GWR buildings and bridge albeit with the latter carrying a dirty pink colour scheme. Trains such as this, 1Z84, have quite slack timings and it was no surprise that it was 3 minutes early when it passed by.
The return of the charter from Bridlington carried the headcode 1Z85 and with 58313 leading was due to leave Stratford-upon-Avon at 15.52. About 40 minutes before departure time the sun came out and I almost changed my plan for a walk to Stratford Parkwat station because I really didn't want a shot with the sun on the wrong side as few things look worse and are taken only when there's no choice because of a last minute change in cloud cover. I would have had time for the trip to Hatton North Junction but the sky soon clouded over again leaving Parkway as my destination. The light was marginally better than earlier in the day when 57313 appeared on the curve but it was still dull although OK for a record shot. This was 57313's third visit to Stratford in the past year having arrived solo with a charter from Scarborough and in the company of 40145 on a separate occasion.
During the week before 40145's trip to Stratford-upon-Avon there were 3 alternative routes suggested for the return to Castleton; 1) to Leamington Spa for reversal with 57313 leading, 2) straight back via the North Warwickshire Line after a double run-round of the 2 locomotives and 3) as 1) but with a reversal at Warwick. Option 3) was selected which gave the chance for a relatively rare view of a locomotive hauled train leaving the Stratford branch at Hatton Station Junction. The leading locomotive, 57313, was making its second visit to the terminus in recent months following a trip from Scarborough on 16 August 2016. I don't often take going-away shots but couldn't resist this one as 40145 trailed the train through the Stratford Branch platform at Hatton on the way to Warwick.
An unadvertised charter operated by WCRC ran from Scarborough to Stratford-upon-Avon on 16 August 2016 with 57313, 6 mixed livery coaches and 57316 making up the consist. Although I knew that the sun would be a bit too straight at Stratford station at the arrival time of just before 13.00 the uninspiring colour scheme of the locomotives led me to save some petrol and just make the walk there for an arrival photograph. The train was booked to arrive into platform 2 which it did about 5 minutes early. The return to Scarborough was to run to Birmingham along the North Warwickshire but on a sunny day around 16.00 even half-decent locations are few and far between so I shan't bother.
Charlbury station, on the southern section of the North Cotswold Line, became busier than usual on Tuesday 31 May 2016 with 2 locomotive-hauled charter trains, of the "better" variety scheduled to drop off passengers there. The first was a 1Z71 12.32 from London Victoria formed of the Northern Belle stock with 57305 + 57312 which earlier had run ECS from Crewe. The line has limited spare paths so once the passengers had been dropped off the ECS, 5Z71, left within a few minutes to return to Crewe via Evesham, Worcester and Kidderminster. The weather was dark with the threat of rain but with, as far as I know, the DRS class 57/3s not likely to have a long future I thought that a shot of an example in Northern Belle livery would be worth a trip. I picked a shot possible only from the north side of line where it passes what appear to be some decrepit pigeon lofts by Mutton Bridge in Blackminster, close to the site of Littleton and Badsey station, just to the south of Evesham. There was no 3G signal for my 'phone but the barriers protecting the road in the background give one a few minutes warning of an approaching train. The second locomotive, 57312 which had led from Crewe to Victoria, was on the back adding at this point about three carriages worth of dead weight. The second train, the full VSOE with class 67s was running about an hour later but the weather was getting worse with rain just beginning to fall so I went home.
A charter from Hooton to Oxford ran on Saturday 11 April 2015. This was routed over the North Cotswold Line and was originally to have been operated by WCRC until their operating licence was suspended following some unsafe practice by the crew of a steam charter. DRS stepped up and provided 57301 and 57310 for 1Z57 and the train is shown at the site of Fladbury station running 1 minute late in some cloud which had appeared some 30 seconds earlier! The leading locomotive looks a little different these days in comparison to 2006 when I photographed it at Hatton North Junction. The southern single track of the NCL has been in the news this week when it was announced that no funding would be made available for redoubling of the track. This has a knock-on effect on efforts to re-open the Stratford-upon-Avon to Honeybourne line which would rely on an Oxford to Stratford and return service to be viable. Without the southern end of the NCL having double track there are insufficient paths available for a regular hourly train. In fact, a look at the timetable indicates that there is currently just one path, either north or southbound, in each off-peak two-hourly period which is clearly of little use for extra traffic especially given the unreliabilty of the existing FGW services.
I believe that it is quite unusual for a DRS class 57 to be used on the Northern Belle so when I saw that 57307 would be leading 1Z16 from Worcester Shrub Hill to Swindon a trip out had to be made. My chosen location was the road bridge at Defford where, fortunately, some vegetation clearance had just been done by a public spirited photographer who must, of course, remain nameless. The train was a few minutes late leaving Worcester but was routed in front of a later-running CrossCountry Voyager. The sun hung on nicely for this leg of the journey, unlike the section led by 47841 some 45 minutes earlier. I don't know if the statement on the side of has any effect; the theft of railway cables seems as rife as ever it has been but a one-off vinyl coat is always good to capture.
On 3 April 2014 the fourth day of GBRf's contract to run 6M40, the Westbury to Stud Farm empty ballast wagons, the usual class 66 was replaced with Network Rail's 57310. Whether this was due to a locomotive failure or simply GBRf hiring some of the 57s I don't know but I do know that I hadn't seen a yellow 57 before and that a trip out was worth the small effort. The weather was dreadful with drizzly rain adding to the atmospheric pollution and Saharan dust which was restricting visiblity quite badly. I knew that the train would be routed along Hatton Down Goods Loop because the late start had been partly made up for by the time 6M40 had reached Oxford and that a short stay in the loop would 1) allow a Chiltern Railways train to pass and 2) put the freight back on time. The other advantage of it using the loop was that it would be travelling at little more than walking pace; quite handy in the poor lighting conditions.
Once 6M40 with 57310 in charge had passed the 3 arch bridge towards the top of Hatton Bank on 3 April 2014 I went straight to Hatton station for another shot as the train came out of the Down Goods Loop. I had thought about going to tall bridge at Shrewley but thought that the atmosphere was too murky for a decent shot. Here is 57310, complete with a plastic bag to protect the Dellner coupler, crawling through the down platform still with about half of the train to come over the pointwork just beyond the station. By this time the 30 or so minutes time deficit had been made up and 6M40 was just about running in its scheduled path.
A rare locomotive-hauled charter ran up the North Cotswold Line on Saturday 23 November 2013 and as 1) the sky was clear at home and 2) I hadn't touched my camera for 3 weeks I thought a trip out to be in order. I had a shot in mind at Fladbury where some good Autumnal colours were likely but within a few miles from home the sensor on my car pinged and flashed a warning that the temperature had dropped to 3 degrees celsius and within a few yards I was in thick fog. This continued all the way to Evesham making most scenic shots out of the question. In murky conditions a location with a solid background is the best bet so I went to Evesham station and arrived on the down platform just as 1Z68, the 07.11 from Scarborough to Oxford came under the roadbridge some 9 minutes early. I just had time to get organised and take this image with 57313 topping and tailing 57314 and a nice mix of maroon and chocolate and cream stock. The composition of the photograph suffered somewhat because of the rush to retrieve my camera from its rucksac and the need to crop the picture slightly to correct the vertical alignment. As one who doesn't keep up-to-date with who is operating which locomotives, I was surprised to see WCRC's 57313 in a blue colour scheme and assume that this is a recent acquisition and that there hasn't been time for it to be defaced with their dreary corporate maroon.
The locomotive, 66426, used on the "Tesco Express" from DIRFT to Wentloog failed on Friday 25 October 2013. The following day DRS sent 57302 light engine from Crewe to rescue the empty train and failed locomotive and the whole lot ran as 4Z36, the 13.00 from Wentloog to DIRFT, routed via Chepstow, Ashchurch, Worcester and Kidderminster before working its way around Birmingham to the destination. This was too good an oddity to miss despite the dull weather so I drove over to the roadbridge at Defford which I knew would give a reasonably wide view of both locomotives and most of the train. After a slightly early start from Wentloog 4Z36 was a couple of minutes late when it passed the autumnal asparagus field at Defford with 57302 putting up a good show of exhaust as it ran north towards Abbotswood Junction. The only other occasion when this train was not in the hands of a class 66 was on 17 September 2013 when 37259 + 37607 were used when DRS had a temporary motive power shortage.
Stock movements of FGW's HSTs from Old Oak Common to Crewe and eventually Kilmarnock usually run along the West Coast Main Line but on Monday 23 September 2013 such a train was, because of a lineside fire, diverted via Oxford and Hatton. The train, 5Z57, consisted of a full HST set topped and tailed with translator coaches all hauled by FGW's 57605 Totnes Castle. I don't know if this was the first 57/6 to use the line through Hatton but do know that I hadn't seen one on the route before so went, on this very dull day, to Hatton station to record it in a recognisable location from the north side of the track. It was running a few minutes early and through following a Chiltern Railways class 168 was accelerating quite hard up the final yards of Hatton Bank, making quite a racket in the process.
A private charter, 1Z71, ran from Saltburn to Torquay on Friday 5 July 2013. For some reason it was routed via Tyseley, Hatton, Oxford, Didcot and Swindon rather than the expected Gloucester line so after photographing 66118 at Long Marston I had a steady drive to Hatton, arriving about twenty minutes before the train was due. The sky was virtually clear of cloud so a well-lit shot was almost guaranteed although at 13.30 at this time of year the sun is too high for good photography. A sign of the late Spring this year is the flowering elderflower bush which 57601 is about to pass; this being about six weeks behind the normal schedule for the specie. Another class 57, 57313 in a blue colour scheme was on the back of the train and this would have welcome on the front to relieve the monotony of WCRC's drab livery.
An unadvertised charter from Carnforth to Oxford was scheduled to run up the North Cotswold Line on Saturday 16 March 2013 with WCRC's 57601 + 47786 topping and tailing a short rake of six Pullman coaches. The weather earlier in the morning, when I went to Hatton to photograph 31233 on a test train to Tyseley was absolutely dreadful with pouring rain and very little daylight. By the time came to make a decision about going over to the Cotswold Line for 1Z86 I could see that it was becoming a bit brighter towards the south-west so headed off to Blackminster, just south of Evesham. When I arrived, about fifteen minutes before the train was due, the sky was completely cloudy but a few breaks soon began to appear. Just as the barriers protecting the road crossing were dropped and the up line signal flicked to green a small patch of blue sky appeared and this coincided with the train coming into view in the distance. Against all the odds the sun stayed out for just long enough to get a well-lit shot; the only time that the WCRC livery looks remotely attractive.
The railtour that ran from Stratford-upon-Avon to Carlisle on 7 July 2012 with 20309 + 20308 returned, after a locomotive change at Crewe, behind 57002. The stock stabled overnight in platform 2 of the terminus and at just before 09.00 on Sunday morning I wandered down for a look fully expecting the locomotive to be on the north end of the stock and beyond the platform end. I was surprised therefore to find that just the opposite was the case and that there was just room from the south end of platform one for a record shot showing the first time that a DRS class 57 had visited Stratford. Later in the day, 5Z22's departure time of 12.59 must have caused one or two operating difficulties as the steam-hauled Shakespeare Express from Birmingham was due to arrive and this would have needed a clear platform to allow its locomotive to run round the stock. I wasn't able to get out later to see what happened but assume that some fiddling about was required to sort things out. The Shakespeare Express did, I understand, run along the North Warwickshire Line via Henley-in Arden but whether this was as scheduled or because of a problem at Stratford station causing late running I do not know.
An early morning message on 28 July 2011 annnounced that a former Rail Express Systems class 47 was to be taken to Carnforth from Long Marston for a new spell of work with WCRC. I don't often bother with light engine moves but I think that 57601 was to make the first appearance of a WCRC locomotive on the branch although not the first for a class 57. Another attraction was that blue 47237 was accompanying 57601 which, on the return, would offer the chance of three differently coloured locomotives, albeit without a train, at the same time. I arrived at Long Marston just as the gates were opened and within a few minutes 0Z46 came into view and stopped in order to take instructions before going further.
The two locomotives forming 0Z46 were separated and 47237 ran into road 2 at Long Marston while 57601, which had arrived dead in tow, was started. Once running, 57601 went into road 1 and was coupled to 47746 ready to pull it forward onto the branch so that 47237 was able to join the ensemble. I didn't see any through brake piping attached so assume that 47746 did not have operational brakes and thus needed the additional brake force from the class 47 to allow for safe movement.
Everything ran remarkably smoothly and 47237 was soon coupled to 47746, the whole forming 0Z47 to Carnforth. The RES paintwork on 47746 was rather tatty after several years in the Warwickshire weather and I imagine that a lot of work will be needed before it returns to the network. It will probably be painted into the dreary WCRC livery but wouldn't it nice if it were to be refurbished and painted into a version of the RES colours?
The departure time from Long Marston for 0Z47 was just before 13.00 but it was some forty minutes before this that 57601 led the other two locomotives onto the branch to Honeybourne. There are almost no worthwhile photographic locations on the branch especially if one wants to show more than the leading locomotive but this spot looking over a gate on the Broad Marston road at least allows for a reasonable view as long as a bit of vegetation over the wheels isn't too much of a problem for the viewer. Both active locomotives were under power with a driver in 47237, presumably to use the brakes as and when necessary. A broadside view of 47746 gives another chance to see the state of its bodywork.
One of the irregular trains conveying naval nuclear material from Keyham, near Plymouth to Carlisle ran on Thursday 21 October 2010. The working, 6X50, was hauled by DRS's 57010 and consisted of two large nuclear flasks and two escort coaches and is here seen passing a colourful field of asparagus at Defford just after it had passed over the River Avon at Eckington. It was lucky for the small gathering on the roadbridge here that the train came by in sunshine as there was a lot of cloud around but a little bit of late running did the trick and both 6X50 and the attractive Worcestershire countryside around Bredon Hill were nicely illuminated.
Some unusual motive power was provided for 6M67, the 13.02 Bridgwater to Crewe nuclear flask train on 16 March 2010. The normal power is a pair or DRS class 37s, or sometimes class 20s or more rarely, a combination of the two and in recent times a couple of their 66s. I don't recall class 57s being used on flasks in this area before so decided to hang around the Abbotswood area for a shot. This train is booked to run to Crewe via Worcester and Kidderminster but has been known to go up the Old Road so it seemed sensible to place myself somewhere south of Abbotswood Junction to be sure of getting my photograph. Here then are 57009 + 57008 heading north at quite a speed considering that they had been held in Eckington Loop to allow an Arriva Cross Country HST to pass. The speed seemed a likely indicator that 6M67 wouldn't be turning left a few hundred yards north at Abbotsood Junction and I later heard that it was indeed sent main line. One of my earlier shots of 57009, this time double-heading with 57004 was taken at Hatton in 2006.
A land cruise, operated by Green Express, ran from Huddersfield to Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford on Saturday 11 April 2009. I can just about raise enough enthusiasm for a railtour to my home town so took a walk along the towpath of the Stratford-upon-Avon canal to a boarded crossing just on the south side of Bearley Junction to get a photograph of 57601 topping the train with 47854 on the rear. The semaphores in this location are due for replacement in the near future when the North Warwickshire Line is resignalled so I was more than happy to get a locomotive hauled train here. The tour, 1Z73, was spot on time as it pulled away from Bearley Junction after waiting a few minutes for the preceding class 150 on a Stourbridge to Stratford service to clear the section.
The departure of 1Z74 from Stratford-upon-Avon when it headed for Oxford was scheduled for 14.10 which had given the passengers plenty of time for some lunch and a look around the town. The train was headed by 47854 and is here seen at Songar Crossing on the single track between Bearley and Hatton West Junctions. There are very few worthwhile locations along this section of line, especially if the sun is out, so I was quite content to drive for no more than 5 minutes from home to obtain a record shot. I don't usually take "going-away" pictures but did take this one of 57601 as it tailed the train through the newly blossoming blackthorn bushes along the line because class 57s are not exactly commonplace hereabouts.
A rare outing for one of DRS' under-utilised class 57s took place on 12 March 2009 when 57010 took a rake of 6 vehicles as 5Z58 from Crewe to Eastleigh. This news was originally that a pair of class 20s was to haul this ECS move, but I wasn't too disappointed when the 57 was allocated as this was my first sight of one of the company's examples of the class. I had really expected the train to run via Coventry to Leamington Spa and on to its destination but was much happier when it was routed on the GWR line through Solihill and Hatton. The group of seven photographers on the footbridge at Bentley Heath was wondering with some apprehension if the train would arrive before the cloud, and as here seen, it did; but it was a bit too close for comfort...
Here is 57601 shortly after leaving Worcester with the 2nd of the shuttles to Cheltenham Races on 16 March 2007. As can be seen from the sky, there was quite a bit of cloud building up and threatening to spoil the fun, but for once things ran well and every shot I took was well lit.
Another Race special was the return of 57601 + 47826 running as 2Z66 from Cheltenhan to Worcester on 13 March 2007. This wasn't for the best part of an hour which gave me plenty of time to move a couple of miles in the Worcester direction to an occupation bridge near Norton Barracks. 57601 is here seen heading 2Z66 under the M5 and towards its destination. This bridge is locally known as "Dog Bridge" because of the normally incessant yapping of a couple of mutts in the garden of a nearby house. However, today all was silent...
Following on from some photographs of the Cheltenham Race specials earlier in the week, I decided to have another go at them on Friday 16 Match 2007. The locomotives on the Birmingham (New Street) to Cheltenham shuttles were in the reverse order so I did no more than go to the same locations as previously so that a direct comparison could be made. Additionally, I was only really interested in seeing the trains on the section between Worcester and Abbotswood Junction, where, apart from a few steel trains to and from Round Oak, locomotives are less common than on the main Cheltenham line. Here is 57601, just about spot on time, passing the lower quadrant bracket signal at Norton Junction with 1T66.
The Saturdays only 4O02 11.14 Lawley Street to Southampton freightliner was, at the date of this photograph, booked for double-headed locomotives, presumably to enable one to reach Southampton after an unbalanced working. It was quite often a 57+66 combination, but on 12 August 2006, 2 class 57s were provided. As there are not many of this sub-class left in traffic I went to Hatton to record 57009 with 57004 DITL passing the station bridge pretty much on time at 12.14.
I was at Long Marston when I received a phone call saying that Virgin Voyager 221105 had failed with brake problems at Fenny Compton whilst working 1O12 to Bournemouth on 10 October 2006. By an enormous piece of good fortune 57301 was in the area on a traction training exercise for Saltley crews prepraring for such an eventuality. The Voyager limped to Banbury where the train was cancelled and rescheduled as 5D12 13.00 to Central Rivers. In the meantime I drove over to Hatton North Junction for this rather large working instead of going for a shot of 47714 at Norton Junction, as I had planned. Here is 5D12, which has just left Hatton down goods loop after being recessed to allow a Chiltern unit to pass.
It strikes me as odd that Freightliner's class 57s have recently become a bit of a hit with enthusiasts. People have short memories. When they were first introduced they were derided as class 47 "bodysnatchers" and largely ignored. Now that the end of their working life with the company is in sight, they have become the latest target of the the "must get a shot at all costs" photographers. On Thursday 5 April, it was a bit of surprise when 57011 turned up on 4M55 from Southampton to Crewe. Here it is on the ascent of Hatton Bank running just a few minutes late in some lovely spring sunshine with fewer containers than is normal on the service, which usually runs very well loaded.
The first, and as it happened, the last of the scheduled freights I went to Hatton North Junction to see on 11 April 2007 was 4M55 in the hands of 57004. This was some 90 minutes late when it passed me and it was later reported that there was a major signalling problem in the area. I stood there for nearly 3 hours and only one Chiltern Trains unit went north - just in front of 4M55. I gave up on the others I had been hoping to photograph at 4pm and came home.
During the morning of 4 September 2007 I was thinking about getting ready to drive to Hatton North Junction to photograph Pandora the Bubble on a Derby to Eastleigh when an email arrived on my Black Berry saying that 57004 was coming north on 4M55 from Southampton to Lawley Street. I arrived at the bridge at North Junction at 11.45 to give myself a few minutes to decide from where to take my shot to discover that a lot of vegetation, which some of us like to use as a prop in our pictures, had been hacked down by those waiting for kettle 6233 to come from the Stratford-upon-Avon line on the previous Sunday. This being so I decided to use the footbridge rather than the field and here is 57004 breasting the summit of Hatton Bank at 12.13 with a decent load of containers in tow.
Friday 14 September 2007 saw the running of 2 private charters with exotic motive power through "my patch". The first was 1Z57, the 09.55 Kensington Olympia to Chester, via Oxford, Leamington Spa, Coventry, Nuneaton and Crewe, which employed Virgin's 57315 and 57316 topping-and-tailing the antediluvian, but attractive, Queen of Scots coaching stock. I was told that this was a jolly for some of Virgin Trains' senior management, hence the very unusual use of class 57/3 motive power. The light was dreadful but I fancied a shot because it was just so unusual so went to a bridge just south of Leamington Spa where the rather odd-looking ensemble appeared a few minutes early at 12.25.
A new freight flow of scrap metal operated by Advenza has just started running from Stockton to Cardiff Tidal Sidings. The preferred motive power is one of the company's class 57s and on 11 March 2008 the lucky locomotive was 57005. 6Z75 is here seen passing the site of Defford station, near Pershore in Worcestershire, in a patch of sun that came from nowhere in an otherwise stormy sky. The wagons are KEAs and in a previous life this one still with a Trans Manche Link roundel was used to transport Channel Tunnel lining segments around Kent. Much as I like the Advenza 57s, they don't sound quite as good as the pairs of 33s used on the tunnel traffic which loaded to over 2000 tonnes!
There were 2 Advenza Freight moves booked during the morning of 4 March 2008. The first should have been a 6Z45 09.10 Gloucester to Long Marston conveying a couple of derelict class 37s owned by the HNRC. In the event 6Z71, the 10.05 Gloucester to Stockton, headed by ex-works 57006 came first. The train was 12 large bogie wagons. The general feeling amongst the photographers who witnessed this move was that a load of scrap may be picked up at Stockton and brought south, in connection with Advenza's new flow from Cornwall South Wales. A light aircraft can just be made out in the right background and this is about to land at Staverton Airfield.