This section shows some historical and current scenes in and around the former MOD depot at Long Marston in Warwickshire. It is situated at the end of a long siding from Honeybourne Junction and is accessible only from the north (Worcester) as the run-round loop at Honeybourne has recently been condemned as unserviceable. At the time of writing, October 2005, Long Marston has seen something of a resurgence as the present lessees, Modwen Developments, have made space available for the storage of rolling stock and, at the beginning of 2006, fairly regular trains are running. Photographs of some of the arrivals appear below. This section covers not only the depot itself, but includes images of trains heading to and from various events held there. It came as no surprise that the weather was very poor for almost all my visits here; hence the inclusion of many black & white pictures.

The Stratford and Broadway Railway Society lease part of the Long Marston site and on Sunday 23 October 2005 held an open day. Sadly, and after a lot work by the members refurbishing coaching stock, the planned rides around the depot's circuit were not available following the failure of the diesel shunter diagrammed for the task. Visitors therefore had to be content with examing some of the locomotives and stock on view. My ignorance of matters industrial is comprehensive and I should be pleased to learn details of the stock shown in the next few photographs via the Contact link on my index page. This picture shows a Baguley-Drewry 0-4-0 diesel with an short assortment of vans.
This is one of the former MOD locomotives on the site and may well be the same as that shown earlier ready to shunt a train brought in by 37235 in 1992.
Former Network South East DMU set L231 is seen just catching a few rays of sun.
I couldn't resist this shot showing part of the rake of JNAs brought in for storage a few days before the open day.
This picture shows half of the JNAs being stored on the site. The overgrown state of the sidings is all too apparent but this may be remedied. A local newspaper has recently carried an advertisement for a landscape gardener to work here. He or she will have their work cut out!
This is a general view of part of the site looking towards the main part of the depot.
One of the items of rolling stock on the site ostensibly for restoration is this character-filled NCV.
This diesel crane is one of the more colourful items I photographed on my wanderings around the site.
Another of the industrial locomotives present is No. 3, Jack, presumably used in the past at a Ford works. This locomotive has since left the site.
Another open day was held at Long Marston by the Stratford-on-Avon and Broadway Railway Society on Sunday 3 September 2006. For many, including me, the highlight was a ride around the former MOD railway system behind Harry Needle Railway Company's No. 29 0-6-0, which hauled 3 green liveried vehicles, including a refurbished MkI Restaurant Buffet car. The train is here seen on the 3rd trip of the day approaching the level crossing near the entrance to the site. The crew member was delivering a couple of road signs for use at the entrance in Station Road.
Here is an ex-MOD Sentinel standing in a headshunt near to the main loco sheds. It is in front of a rake of former Tiphook box wagons, the true size of which are only really apparent when one is at track level near to them. They are huge!
Another Sentinel, H021, this time in the attractive black colour scheme of Wabtec, is seen just outside the shed partly obscuring a Harry Needle 0-6-0 shunter.
This locomotive, Barclay 0-4-0 DM "Mulberry" 70047 has a lot of history. It is a WD 150HP shunter built by Andrew Barclay of Kilmarnock in 1942. It worked in France during 1944 during the Normandy campaign and went to 102 Transportation Stores Depot in Bayeux. Her wartime role was later recognised when she was named Mulberry after the floating harbour used to supply the Allied forces. She was returned to the UK in 1946 but went to the Middle East in 1952 where she served for 3 years. After working at various MOD sites she was stored unserviceable in 1991 before being returned to operational condition in 1993 at the Foxfield Railway. She arrived at Long Marston on 6 August 1996. I am indebted to the comprehensive stock list sold by the SBRS for this information.
Here is a Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0ST named "Met". She was built in 1909 and worked at the Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company at Acton and was transferred to Bow Generating Station where she worked between 1948 and 1950. Met was donated to the Industrial Steam Locomotive Preservation Group in 1967 and moved to K&ESR in 1968. She arrived here in November 2005 and is currently awaiting restoration.
This MkI SK really stood out in the September sunshine. It is a Metro Cammell Second Corridor of 1957 vintage, numbered 25231. It was acquired for spares, but following the plating over of its windows has been used as a stores vehicle.
There are now many stored former main line locomotives at Long Marston. Because the Open Day involved the running lines being used by a passenger train, it was, quite understandably, not possible to wander around the site at will to photograph these. However, DRS liveried 20902 was just about in a photographable position between rakes of ICI tankers and cartics and it would have been unreasonable not to have taken a shot given the late summer sun being in a co-operative mood.
The third open day of recent years was held at Long Marston on Saturday 9 June 2007. This time, it was a joint venture between the   Stratford on Avon and Broadway Railway Society and Motorail Logistics , the driving force behind rail operations at the site. One of the highlights of the day was the chance of rides around the inner circuit in the MOD's class 117 DMU, here seen leaving the newly constructed platform on the north side of the site. The unit has recently been used for wheel flange lubrication trials and demonstrations at Long Marston which I was priviliged to witness the previous day. The front coach still contained the equipment and video screens so was not available for passenger accomodation during the open day. Some of the video monitoring equipment can be seen on this coach - there were bogie mounted cameras enabling one to see the lubrication process in operation via a video link to screens aboard the train.
Motorail Logistics played a big part in the open day by posing many of the locomotives resident on the site for inspection and photography. Just about the most colourful was the AC Traction Group's 86401, Northampton Town, which had been placed close to the North Gate entrance to the site. Here it sits in some nice late morning sun partially hiding the Cotswold Line Promotion Group's stand, complete with Ford Anglia van. There were many stalls of local railway interest and I hope they all did well from the many visitors to the event.
A multi-coloured line up of stored class 86s was also on display, this time in the main yard. Here is 86251 heading the line of Virgin, Anglia and Intercity liveried examples of the class. These locomotives had been shunted into position over the 2 or 3 days prior to the open day, and proved to be a great attraction to visitors.
I was mildly surprised to see that the nameplates on 86228 were still in place, as those from other named locomotives had been removed. Here is Vulcan Heritage in the middle of the line-up glowing in the morning sun. The sun would have gone from this angle by lunchtime so the morning was the best time for pictures on this side of the site.
Another locomotive with her nameplates still attached is 47701, here seen in the company of 86226 and 20902. I had forgotten that this class 47 was in Long Marston so was pleased to get a photograph of her as I didn't see the arrival - I think she came in by road rather than in the consist of a rail stock move.
Two of the former FGW Motorail vans were on display loaded with cars borrowed from Jet Logistics, another large company leasing part of the Long Marston site. The cars were loaded into the vans at the purpose-built ramp in Long Marston left over from MOD days. It will be recalled that these vans were briefly used by FM Rail before their demise and maybe these trains will be resurrected in the not too distant future.
One of the more unlikely residents of Long Marston is 73138, which was giving cab rides along part of the internal system. In between runs she is here seen parked in the company of an industrial 0-6-0 locomotive named "Emma". In the background can be seen the well-known railway video photographer Stephen M.A.Phillips, a regular visitor to the area for the various stock moves.
I was keen to obtain more shots of the DMU and positioned myself in such a spot as to see her passing some of the other stock. The class 117 wasn't able to make complete circuits of the inner loop because 86401 had been parked adjacent to the road crossing on the same line. This was to ensure the safety of visitors by not having train movements across the road, which was available to pedestrians to reach the main yard and the part of the site occupied by the SBRS. Instead, the passenger trains ran to the coaling stage in the yard and reversed there, going back to the new platform.
I do find it more satisfying to photograph moving subjects rather than static exhibits and can think of few things more tedious than viewing endless images of dead locomotives snapped from ground level. Here then is another shot of the class 117 DMU, this time approaching the end of her journey and passing 73138 and Emma. The light had turned a little hazy by this time, just what one would expect on such a warm and humid day. I think that the green livery with a "speed whisker" was one of the finest carried by DMUs and it good to see that this example, which came from Minehead earlier in the year, carries this colour scheme. It was great to ride on the train and to have to open the window to get at the external door handle in order to alight from it. No such small pleasures on the overly safety conscious modern railway...
This line of shunters had been placed in a perfect position for photography alongside one of the internal roads by the main yard. In second position amongst the Sentinels is 12082, the locomotive now used for most internal operations now that HNRC No. 29 has gone to Flixborough. The little lad in the picture seemed to be transfixed by this locomotive, even to the extent of pausing his consumption of the ice-cream from the nearby Henley Ice Cream Company van!
Some serious railway business was going on during the open day, with members of the TA assisting MRL's own crew with an engine change in one of the resident Sentinels. This ex-Wabtec 0-4-0 was about to reverse into the shed to bring an MOD loco out into the open. I found the whole process fascinating and was sorry not to have had the time to stay longer and see the work completed. Unfortunately, domestic duties called and I had to leave not long after mid-day.
Here is the Sentinel, named "Suzie" in small letters, about to be coupled to the MOD locomotive. There are extensive workshops here, some with full-length inspection pits, so virtually any work necessary canb be carried out on site. Since the recent operations began here, I have developed quite a taste for industrial diesels particularly liking the exhaust note of many locomotives when being worked hard on a heavy load.
The 0-8-0 MOD Sentinel No. 610 was soon dragged out of the shed. I hope to have more details of the operation carried out soon and will update the captiions then.
This picture shows 35028 Clan Line arriving at Moreton in Marsh in October 1987 with a special train from Didcot. Main line steam was not as commonplace as it is today, which accounts for the phalanx of interested locals thronging the secene.The train is heading for Long Marston depot in connection with the celebrations there to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Royal Engineers. 35028 hauled the train as far as Honeybourne where 8F No. 8233 was attached to the rear for the run along the branch to the depot.
Once Clan Line, shown in the picture above, had arrived at Honeybourne, 8F 8233 was attached to the rear and hauled the train along the former Stratford-upon-Avon line to Long Marston. This line is particularly featureless with no overbridges until the entrance to the depot so this was about the best of a bad job. I remember struggling a bit with my camera on this day. I had just bought a Mamiya 645 1000S, but the shop from which I obtained it did not have a prism finder in stock at the time. I was therefore having to use the supplied waist-level finder, which was fine for composition using a tripod for static subjects, but trickier for moving subjects. Perhaps it is fortunate that nothing was remotely speedy this day!
After arrival at Long Marston the passengers were treated to a ride around the depot's main loop. The train is seen here about to enter the exchange sidings after its circuit of the camp.
One of the MOD's own locos, 0-6-0 ST No.98 was also in operation during the afternoon offering rides around the depot's system. The line to Honeybourne is seen disappearing under the new roadbridge, which had been installed just 2 years earlier in 1985.
This was not purely a steam day as one of the resident 0-4-0 diesel locos was used on a demonstration freight. The loading gauge is a reminder of the days when Long Marston despatched vast tonnages of freight for the MOD. It was last used in earnest during the Falklands conflict in the early 1980s when many trains ran over an extended period. Sadly, I did not have the foresight to have recorded any of these movements.
Moving forwards in time to 17 February 1992, this and the following 3 photographs show 37235 on a train heading for the MOD depot. Here, the train is approaching Evesham station after the single line token has been obtained from the signalbox in the background. This shot has seen considerable change in the intervening years, see this shot of   66027 in the same spot with a SERCO train on 1 April 2005.
As I mentioned above, there are limited photographic opportunities between Honeybourne and Long Marston but at least this one, near the site of the ballast tip, offers a clear view of the train.
After taking the shot above, I managed to arrive at the depot just in time to obtain this picture of 37235 about to enter the exchange sidings. There was clearly some return traffic and the wagons are seen on the 2nd road from the left. The trackbed of the former GWR main line to Stratford-upon-Avon can be seen on the left. There have been many suggestions over the years that this should be relaid to connect Stratford to the Cotswold line.
To facilitate shunting, one of the MOD locomotives was in use and is seen here in the headshunt at the north end of the depot ready for action. 37235 has been released from its train and will now go to the other end of the sidings to be attached to the return working.
The final shot in this sequence, taken in virtual darkness, shows 37235 leaving the MOD depot with its train and heading back towards Honeybourne and Worcester.
A more recent sequence of black & white pictures showing a Long Marston to Didcot train is here seen. This time it was a 6Z36 from Long Marston on 16 June 1998, for which I took an afternoon off work, using 37245. 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 this train was used to remove a long rake of wagons from the site. The light was, as usual, 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. In 2007, this trackwork is not fit for use and trains are supposed to stop before the junction, although this ruling has been ignored on at least one occasion...not that you'll find a photograph of it here!
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 energy in 1998 than I have in 2007 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 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 rapidly clearing. As it still early, just after 2pm, I decided to go to Croome Perry wood 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.
This photograph, taken on 1 May 1992 at Honeybourne Junction, does not have much technical merit, but does show a train on the former east loop. 20901+20904 have just brought the weedkilling train back from Long Marston and, when the main line is clear, will use the crossover in the foreground and then return south to Oxford. At this time the tip, just visible in the background, was still in use and saw trains of spoil from Bescot once or twice each week. The current view is largely unchanged except for the usual unchecked of lineside trees. To be fair, a much more unrestricted vista is available, but a reasonably long lens is needed. Here is a 2008 shot of a class 66 with a 73 standing in approximately the spot.
It wasn't long before the line was clear and the weedkilling train was allowed access to the main Cotswold Line. It is here seen crossing over the spur where, if I remember correctly, it reversed at headed south towards Moreton-in-Marsh and Oxford. This location is set to change during 2010 when the single track here is doubled and the arrangements to allow train onto the branch are revised with the track through the former branch platforms at the station being relaid with the connection to the main line placed at the south (east) end.
A railtour ran to Long Marston on 29 July 1995. "The Honey Monster" visited Kineton MOD in the morning before coming to Long Marston in the afternoon. The train ran with top-and-tail motive power, the locomotives being 47348, 33019 and 33057. Once again, a ride around the depot loop was arranged and 4F No. 7298 was used for this. The rakes of stock in the exchange sidings have recently arrived and will be stored in one of the many secure sidings elsewhere on site.
The train is seen here leaving the depot and joining the branch to Honeybourne where it will reverse once onto the Cotswold Line so that the Cromptons will lead towards Oxford.
The pair of class 33s on the rear of the train are the only Cromptons I have seen on the branch and despite the large number of enthusiasts on the bridge, I managed to squeeze in to get this shot. It had to be heavily cropped to remove an elbow! The exhaust from 47348 came be seen in the middle distance as it accelerates the train up the speed limit for the branch, 20mph.
There was plenty of time for the drive to a bridge near Chipping Campden to record the Cromptons leading the train south towards Oxford. This location is just beyond the end of the climb from Honeybourne and the locomotives are putting up a good show of exhaust with the heavy train, still including 47348 on the rear. Typically, after a day of unbroken sun, a large cloud obscured the sun just as the barriers protecting the road at the rear of the train dropped.
This picture shows 47281 arriving at Long Marston with a MOD train from Didcot on a very wet and dull 11 February 1997. Since the MOD depot closed there has been almost no traffic other than an occasional railtour. Proposals exist exist locally for a new industrial estate which would of necessity need to be rail-connected if HGV chaos were to be avoided on the very narrow lanes around here. A major problem with this plan would be a lack of paths on the largely singled Cotswold line to the junction with this branch at Honeybourne.
There have been very few passenger trains along here but here is a photograph of 60084 on the branch on 15 October 2000 with a tour run in connection with an open day at Worcester. The light was appallingly bad and I struggled even with TRI-X rated at 400asa. The train was run in top-and-tail mode with 66181 on the rear. The train, 1Z37 did not enter the Long Marston facility but ran only to the gates before reversing. Here is another view of 60084 as it recedes towards Honeybourne with the return. Class 60s are no longer allowed on the branch because of their weight; a visit some years later caused some trouble and a lot of work for the local permanent-way gang when the whole branch had to be checked.
I was standing at Croome Perry at lunchtime on 31 October 2001 when one of the other locals casually dropped into the conversation that 58030 was on its way to Long Marston with a couple of tanks of diesel fuel. This was apparently in connection with some TA exercises being held at the MOD camp. To the best of my knowledge, nothing had been along the branch for nearly 2 years, so I made the short trip in record time to see the short train appear in the distance. At that time of day, the sun was straight into the lens as the 58 approached the roadbridge, so this shot as the crew gained permission to enter the site was the best bet. The empty tanks were taken out some 4 or 5 days later, but I did not find out until after the event. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only class 58 to have used the branch from Honeybourne and the event is unlikely to be repeated.
The sun did co-operate when the light engine left the site having deposited its short train in the exchange sidings. This photograph shows some marked differences to the current scene at Long Marston, in both the flora and amount of stock on site.
The branch from Honeybourne to Long Marston has seen no traffic, other than an overnight run of a weedkilling MPV, for over 5 years. This trend was broken today, 16 September 2005 when 66531 took some ex-Virgin Mk3 coaches and DVTs to the former MOD site for secure storage. The train is seen here crawling towards the end of the OTO section which ends at the gate protecting the entry to the camp. The track from Honeybourne is in a parlous state but was approved for use on 15 September by Network Rail. The whole branch is laid on wooden sleepers, the majority of which, even from a cursory glance, are rotten. Needless to say, the sun didn't appear at the appropriate time, but the extreme rarity of the working, 5Z52 07.32 Crewe to Long Marston, made the short trip from Stratford-upon-Avon unavoidable for me.
This picture shows 66531 about to enter the exchange sidings at Long Marston on 16 September 2005 with it strain of stock and DVTs. This is the first Freightliner 66 to visit this branch although an EWS example topped and tailed a "mini-railtour" from Worcester some years ago.
Once the train to Long Marston had entered the exchange sidings, HNRC 12082 was hooked onto the back to take the stock into the secure area, and to release the 66. In earlier times, the loco would simply have used one of the other roads, but as the track is not in an especially good state these days, it was decided not to risk it.
This picture shows 12082 moving the stock out of the exchange sidings and about to head around the depot loop to the area selected for storage. The creaking of the track and sleepers had to be heard to be believed.
The sun finally appeared just as 66531 was ready to leave the exchange sidings at Long Marston. The driver very kindly brought his locomotive forward at low speed to allow the small gallery the chance for a well-lit shot of this very rare event.
Another train ran Long Marston on 14 October 2005. This time, 47830 brought in a rake of 26 JNA wagons, running as 6Z52, for storage. The train left Crewe over 30 minutes late, apparently after having to wait for a path. This seems strange as one would have thought that the train planners would have put the train into a valid path when setting up the schedule. As a result of this and other factors such as a severe speed restriction on the Sutton Park line and the signallers at Gloucester panel trying to send the train to Gloucester when it arrived at Stoke Works Junction instead of via Droitwich and Worcester, the lateness grew almost exponentially. It finally passed Evesham at 13.15 (booked 10.48) and arrived at its destination at 13.50. The weather? Dreadful.
Once the train had entered the depot, HNRC 12082 was hooked onto the back, 47830 was released and ran back along one of the parallel roads. This movement is seen here with an accompanying bevy of orange-breasted ballast peckers.
While I was waiting for the main line action, I was kept entertained by 12082 running up and down the internal system. It is seen here in a shot taken with my 70-200mm zoom at full stretch.
Also visible were the DVTs and MkIII stock brought in with the previous train. It is reported that considerable numbers of redundant vehicles are to be stored here, so the scenes recorded here today will soon become commonplace. Perhaps one of the future trains will run on time and in the sun...
Another train of stock for storage at Long Marston ran today, 14 December 2005. This time is was Virgin branded HST coaches and 1 power car hauled by Cotswold Rail's 47316, all running as 5Z21 from Gloucester Horton Road. The stock ran from Bicester COD to Gloucester on Tuesday 13 December. The silver locomotive was most welcome on such a dull day! The ensemble is seen here arriving at Long Marston at 11.02 - pretty much right time - quite unusual if some previous workings are used as a measure. It is noticeable just how faded the coaches' paintwork has become whilst in outside storage - they look almost pink. The stock details, courtesy of Freightmaster Interactive, are 17173+44091+42321+42320+40402+41169+41148+44088+42294+power car 43065.
Here is another shot of 47316, this time about to enter the site at Long Marston with the off-lease Virgin HST set, with power car 43025 immediately behind the locomotive. A train of white ICI tanks has appeared here since my last visit. These were unfit to travel by rail so were delivered by road. This is a bit of a shame as they would have made a most interesting photograph anywhere on the Cotswold line and on this branch. They are just about discernible in the background, above the 2 rakes of almost derelict coaching stock. Unfortunately, the light was so poor that very limited depth of field was available so the tanks are not at all clear so far in the distance.
Saturday 17 December saw another move of stored Virgin HST stock to Long Marston. This time, the motive power was 20905+20096 - another first for the recently revitalised branch, although the weedkilling 20s did work here in May 1992. Today's train originated from Bicester on Friday 16 December and was staged overnight at Gloucester from where it left at 08.52 as 5Z22 . My first shot was taken at Ashchurch where, as I thought, the rising sun would just be high enough for a decent shot.
After runnning-round at Worcester, 5Z22 headed up the Cotswold line to Honeybourne, where the branch to Long Marston was taken. The pair of newly repainted class 20s is seen here approaching the yard in dappled sunshine.
Once authority to enter the yard had been given, 20905+20096 whistled their somewhat faded and pink HST stock into the exchange sidings from where 12081 will later move them to the storage area.
The departure of 20096+20905 was slightly delayed while one of the operatives from the site fetched and fitted a point clip to the switch leading from the exchange sidings to the main line. This did not take long, and the locos are sen here leaving the site for the run back to Gloucester. Bearing in mind the poor state of the track and the branch being low on Network Rail's priority list, I wouldn't be surprised to see these lighter locomotives used on trains to this location more regularly. The shunting locomotive can just be made out as it approached the newly-arrived stock in the sidings.
Sunday 8 January saw an unexpected train into Long Marston. This time it was Cotswold Rail's 47316+47813 with a long rake of stock which ran as 5Z58 10.00 Tyseley to Long Marston, which arrived 39 minutes late at 12.50. The stock was a CR set including 2 buffet cars. The impressive ensemble is seen here arriving at its destination in typically dull and very cold weather. My thanks are due to a source wishing to remain anonymous for the original tip-off and to Roger Smith for the stock and working details.
The first vehicle in the rake is this 1st class buffet. It sems almost criminal that such high quality and newly refurbished stock is being stored when TOCs such as Virgin are using such totally inedequate stock as the Voyager.
Very little time was wasted in getting 47813+47316 on the move back to Gloucester. Here they are leaving the site with a fine display of clag for the camera.
Once the 47s had left the site for Gloucester, 12082 was tied onto the stock and made ready for the trip around the internal system. It is seen here across the field in a picture taken from the roadside.
Here is yet another train of stock going in for storage dated 14 January 2006. This time it is a solo 47813 with 2 Network Rail HST power cars - 43067+43154. The train was some 100 minutes late as it approached the storage site, which did give the opportunity for an interesting lighting effect as the cloud melted away, even though the colour of the 2 NR HST PCs wasn't too apparent. I can't help but wonder why NR are storing these power cars - I believe this leaves them with 3, which must question if the NMT has enough reliable power.
This is not a particularly inspiring photograph, but it does show the NR HST power cars about to enter the Long Marston site. The red Network Rail stickers have been removed from this side, but were still in place on the other.
Once 47813 had taken the power cars into the exchange sidings, one of the resident shunting locomotives was hooked onto them for the short trip to their final destination. The ensemble is seen here from the roadside at around 15.15 in a nice patch of winter sun. The Sentinel started her days at Oxfordshire Ironstone as "Jean" and was the last loco on the system having powered the demolition trains. From there she went to the mining arm of the giant Corby complex but due to her light weight seems to have seen comparatively little use being noted on PW trains as much as anything else. She then found her way back to Thomas Hill for overhaul following the closure of Sentinel, and then to the nearby Yorkshire Tar Distillers, before ending up here.
Just for good measure, here is a slightly closer shot of Jean, the red Sentinel and the power cars framed by a roadside tree. I'm not sure if the graffiti was applied to the coaches in the background while in storage here, but I imagine that security for the newly-arrived off-lease stock is much higher to avoid this happening.
The by-now anonymous, but distinctly red Sentinel moved the NR HST power cars towards the depot buildings at Long Marston and was photographed here about to pass the main line locomotive 47813, John Peel. The latter eventually worked back to the holding sidings at Gloucester Horton Road.
While I was waiting for the delayed 0Z43 from Derby I had a look at the recently arrived stock in the storage site at Long Marston. Here is a distant view of a Virgin HST with, in the background, some Midland and CR Mk III stock, the latter of which arrived last Sunday. The black sky over the depot was, luckily, passing away from the camera leaving some pleasant winter sunshine over me.
On 1 March 2006 there was a move of MkIII stock from Wembley to Long Marston, which was hauled by Cotswold Rail's 47714+47200. While driving over towards Evesham, where I planned to photograph it passing the signal box, the sky grew very dark so I turned off through Welford on Avon and went straight to Long Marston. Just before the train appeared the wind really started to blow and a blizzard materialised. Great. As the train neared the roadbridge the heavy cloud obscuring the sun blew over allowing some light to illuminate the train through the falling snow. I quite like the result; at least it's slightly different from the standard shot.
The snow shown in the picture above cleared just as quickly as it had arrived. Here are 47714+47200 in the exchange sidings at Long Marston with the rake of VT stock. The locomotives were soon detached and headed off light engine, presumably to Horton Road in Gloucester.
This week's stock move to Long Marston was formed of a rake of cartics moved last year from Bicester to Gloucester, Horton Road. The train ran on 9 March 2006 as 6M55 13.04 from Gloucester and was booked to arrive at its destination at 15.30. My plan was to do at least 4 photographs of the train but the weather at lunchtime was very poor so I decided not to bother. However, at 14.30 the sky looked as if it might clear. When I arrived at Long Marston a huge black cloud was depositing its load of rain on the hill in the background, but as the train hauled by 47813 came into view, right on time, the cloud blew away and the sun appeared.
The large black cloud mentioned above was sitting nicely over the hill behind the Long Marston complex when the train pulled into the exchange sidings, so a broadside shot of 47813 being uncoupled from the cartics seemed like a good idea.
Yet another stock move operated by Cotswold Rail ran on 11 March 2006. This time it was the first class 87 to enter the site for storage; 87029 was moved from Oxley by 47813, the short train running as 0Z87. It is seen here approaching the road bridge just before entering the depot. Unusually, the loco crew unlocked the gate to allow the train to enter the site, rather than the on-site staff.
This shot was the one for which I was aiming, showing 87029 behind Cotswold Rail's 47813, about to enter the Long Marston site for storage. This is not the first electric locomotive to arrive here, as several class 85s were sent here for scrapping at the adjacent Bird's scrapyard. There were also many EMU sets here for the same reason.
My first opportunity to photograph Cotswold Rail's HST power cars occurred today, Friday 17 March 2006. A 5Z03 stock move from Bicester (depart 11.15) to Long Marston took place and my plan was to take it passing Evesham signal box and then go home. The train was due to leave Worcester at 14.45 so I arrived at Evesham at 14.35 to find the train in the station, as a result of the late running of a down unit thus giving an earlier path. A rapid drive to Honeybourne resulted, where this image of 43070 leading 41115+40417+42159+42160+40416+40403+40433 and Hornby-liveried power car 43087 was obtained. It is hard to believe that Honeybourne Junction was once a vast and complex array of lines controlled by no fewer than 5 signalboxes.
This is now the only point-shifting frame on the whole of the Honeybourne site, compared to the hundreds of levers necessary when the complex was in full operation. 43070 waits for the points to be locked before proceeding onto the branch to Long Marston. It is probably just as well that the writing on the inside of the cabin's door is not readable on this shot - it is on the full-size image...
Once the road was set and locked, the train was able to proceed onto the branch to Long Marston. I especially wanted this view of the Hornby-liveried power car curving onto the branch, and was reasonably pleased with the result despite the poor light.
Here is the by-now obligatory shot of 5Z03 arriving at the road bridge at Long Marston, captured after a quick drive from Honeybourne. The chase isn't always successful, especially if agricultural vehicles impede progress.
Once the stock was safely into the exchange sidings, the power cars were removed ready to be re-coupled for the move back to Gloucester. Here is 43067 in the headshunt ready to run back onto the sister car. 12082 can already be seen in the distance moving the first coach towards the storage area.
Here are the two power cars back together. They will now run forward into the exchange sidings and thence over the points onto the branch back to Honeybourne for the return to Worcester and finally Gloucester.
Here is a Cotswold Rail hauled 0Z03 from Bicester COD to Long Marston passing Evesham's signal box on 30 March 2006. 47714 + 47813 were allocated to haul 87009, 87020 and 87034, the ensemble running via Oxford, Swindon, Kemble and Worcester, where the locos ran-round before heading south on the Cotswold line. The train was given a clear road through Evesham and did not need to stand time to cross a northbound passenger service. It is here seen putting up a good display of exhaust after the mandatory stop to exchange the token.
I couldn't resist a second shot as 0Z03 passed the signal. I was pleased to get a shot of 47714 in half-decent light as my previous attempt had been thwarted by a blizzard at Long Marston...
There haven't been too many class 87s in Evesham station, in fact just 4 at the time of writing, so I felt almost obliged to take this shot of them passing the platforms.
Another set of redundant stock ran to Long Marston on 4 May 2006. For a change, it was operated by EWS, came north from Old Oak Common, ran via Moreton in Marsh and consisted of 8 ex-FGW motorail vehicles. The original plan was to run 6Z87 to Worcester yard for the run-round, but there were rumours circulating that this might take place at Evesham. The timing was such that this was possible if both this train and the passenger services ran to schedule. I decided to go somewhere south of Evesham just in case, and picked upon the roadbridge at Honeybourne Junction. Here is 66229 with the train passing the junction for the Long Marston branch, to which it will later return. I'm not entirely sure why there is a portrait of Rolf Harris (or is it Osama Bin Laden?) on the hut containing the instruments for unlocking the ground frame.
A train to Long Marston wouldn't be complete without a shot from this roadbridge near the storage facility! 66229 is arriving about 60 minutes early on the booked time thanks to the run-round being accomplished at Evesham station rather than in Worcester yard. The personnel at the Long Marston site were unprepared for the early arrival and there was a delay of some minutes until they appeared from their cabin. Here's a close-up of one of the  motorail coaches. Incidentally, I hope none of the local photographers were still waiting at Lower Moor or Dog Bridge, thinking that the train was late...Click  here for a view of some local wildlife.
To the best of my knowledge this is the first EWS class 66 to have entered the yard at Long Marston. Here is 66229 just catching a glint of sun as it draws to a halt prior to uncoupling and return to Didcot.
On Wednesday 10 May 2006 a move of 4 off-lease 87s from Oxley to Long Marston was arranged. Things didn't work out quite to plan and the train was diverted to Gloucester. The following morning saw them make the second leg of their journey, leaving Gloucester 09.10. I had planned to photograph them near the site of Fladbury station between Pershore and Evesham,but on arrival at 10.15 received a message saying that they were already at Evesham. This must have meant that the planned run-round at Worcester had taken place elsewhere, possibly at Norton Junction. I drove to Long Marston more in hope than expectation, being frustrated by roadworks with a convoy vehicle leading traffic, tractors and village speed limits. When I arrived the train was sitting under the roadbridge so I just had time to obtain this shot of 47810 hauling 87025, 87021, 87030 and 87033 into the site for storage.
The second train into Long Marston on 11 May was 5Z86 from Oxley. This time the train consisted of 87027, which had been delivered from Norwich the previous day, together with 10 ex-VT MkIIIs and a Cotswold Rail buffet car all hauled by Cotswold Rail's 47813. The light was beautiful when the train arrived at 17.30 and the unusual double-header contrasted nicely with the verdant background.
Once the train had run into the exchange sidings at Long Marston, 47813 was detached to be replaced by this 0-4-0 shunter named James. The side panels of a DRS class 20 can just be glimpsed between the white ICI tankers, and a little further along, 37170 is partly visible.
Two ex-GNER HST power cars were deposited in the sidings at Evesham on Friday 12 May 2006 while en-route to Long Marston although for some reason or another I didn't see that happen. In 2018 this view is not possible as the siding is no longer in use and the recent extension to the up platform at Evesham station has removed the site of the original points. The power cars are seen here being passed by a northbound 180110 on Saturday 13 May 2006. A bird appears to have come to a messy end on the earlier run up to Paddington...
Making a change from off-lease locomotives and stock, here is 47810 on 13 May 2006 hauling a long rake of PIA car carriers past the signal box at Evesham after the token exchange. The ensemble is heading into Long Marston for storage. The train, 6Z66 10.48 from Gloucester New Yard had to stand in the station for a few minutes as a tamper was heading north along the then single track. Here is another view of the train alongside 2 ex-GNER power cars in the siding as the token exchange took place to give the train access to the next section.
Here is 6Z66 again, this time on the final approaches to Long Marston. The branch from Honeybourne has very few breaks in the hedges surrounding the line, but there is this small gap just south of the roadbridge from I usually take a picture. It is taken from the side of the road running to Mickleton. Some may object to the pylon and wires but I accept that these are part of the scene and can be used as a "prop".
I was working in my garden on the morning of 22 June when a message appeared on my BlackBerry to the effect that 66606 had just passed Evesham station en-route to Long Marston, no doubt to collect some stock. I was waiting for a parcel containing my new Nikon D200 camera body to be delivered so was twitching with impatience. Fortunately, UPS did their bit, my parcel arrived as did some more messages about the timing and destination of the train. It turned out to be 6Z71 11.29 Long Marston to Hitchin. As it was already 11.35 I decided to head for the nearest location with easy access, which is Lower Moor on the Cotswold line. The train consisting of 66606 and 18 of the JNAs stored at Long Marston passed me at 12.08. I like this shot as it shows the 1st 66/6 to use this line, and could almost be a "proper" freight service. Incidentally, this is being uploaded to my hosting server at 13.07, just within an hour of the picture being taken.
19 July 2006, the hottest day of the year. Now, I'm no fan of extreme temperatures, much preferring cooler weather, but on occasions there is no option but to go out, like a mad dog or an Englishman, in the mid-day sun. When I was told that 47714 was taking a goodly selection of stock to Long Marston I had the chance to get a shot I been thwarted on previously no less than 3 times, albeit this time with the sun far too high for a really good picture. Here is 47714 with 5Z91 from Gloucester leaving a haze of exhaust over Worcestershire and about to pass through the village of Fladbury, near Evesham with 4 MkIIIs sandwiching DVT 82134, 2 AWAs, 2 GHAs and HST power car 43157. It passed me at 12.13 and a later few minutes my car's thermometer was reading a temperature of 35.5 degrees Celsius. Was I glad to get the engine and climate control going.......
Cotswold Rail's HST stock was moved to Long Marston for storage on Monday 7 August 2006. The train is seen here at Fladbury, on the Cotwold line, crawling towards a temporary speed restriction. I believe that the stock has just come off-lease following the Heartland Rail excursion to Edinburgh on 5 August. The train came during the few minutes during the day when the sun is pretty much at a right angle to the subject meaning that both ends are well lit. This is one of the reasons that I have included this going-away shot. It also shows the Hornby-liveried power car and the attractive Vale of Evesham scenery on the approaches to the eponymous town. The TSR was across the underbridge in the centre of the train.
The Cotswold Rail HST shown above was booked to stand in Evesham station for the thick end of 30 minutes to allow a northbound passenger train to pass. This gave me plenty of time for a leisurely drive over to Lng Marston to record its arrival. Sadly, the sun didn't co-operate this time, although the HST would have been heavily back-lit at this time of day, about 14.45pm. The power cars later left the site with the CR buffet, the passenger accomodation remaining for secure storage. Use this hyperlink to see the Hornby liveried power car trailing the set into the site.
Another move of Porterbrook stock from Oxley to Long Marston was carried out on 21 August 2006. The motive power was Cotswold Rail's 47813 with 47828 dead in tow hauling 87023 and 87003 plus 11 MkIII coaches as 5Z87. It was running a little late and passed the boarded foot crossing at Lower Moor, near Pershore at 11.29. The weather was strange; the leading locomotive was just about in some sun, but the coaching stock was getting a good soaking as a blustery downpour arrived. I just had time to put my camera away before it was my turn to become wet. In the field to the left of the train are the remains of a long siding used in more enlightened times to convey fruit and vegetables from a nearby farm. The trackbed ran along the curve visible between the two sections of the field. Some infrastructure is still to be seen amongst the undergrowth. For more information on Bomfords branch please follow the hyperlink to a page on the fascinating MIAC website covering this area.
Two moves were planned for Long Marston on 5 September 2006. The first was a 5Z01 09.00 Gloucester to Long Marston conveying the Cotswold Rail buffet car and 2 ex-Virgin MkIII coaches. The train is here seen at Lower Moor near Pershore behind Cotswold Rails' 47810. The bridge upon which I am standing has this number painted on the brickwork. It is good to see that the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton lives on, in spirit at least.
47810 returned from Long Marston as 5Z02 12.00 to Laira and I photographed it at Honeybourne, just coming to a stand on the former East Loop. In former days, this piece of track would mostly have been used by local trains from Leamington Spa to Worcester via Stratford-upon-Avon. These would have run straight on at this point into the branch platforms. Some of these lines are still extant but have been condemned as being unfit for use. The crew member charged with operating the ground frame has ridden down "on the cushions" and he is just opening the door of the leading ex-Virgin MkIII.
The crew have now left the coach and the shunter, holding the token from Evesham signal box, will now walk to the ground frame and put the token into the machine so that the key to unlock the ground frame can be released. The train of Midland HST stock along with CR's buffet will now head for Laira depot in South Devon. The line in the right foreground is the main line from London Paddington to Worcester and Hereford.
The crew member has now obtained permission for the train to leave Honeybourne's East Loop, operated the ground frame and waved the train across the switchwork onto the main line. Once the points have been cleared he will replace the levers, lock the frame and extract the token, which will be returned to the 'box at Evesham in exchange for the token giving authority to enter the single track to Norton Junction. The token instrument can just be seen within the small hut. It is amazing to recall that the Honeybourne complex was operated by no fewer than 5 full size signal boxes, with hundreds of semaphore signals and their miles of wires and point rodding. There are several books in print with details of the operations here and I can recommend "Shakespeare's Railways" by John Boynton and "An Illustrated History of the Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham Railway" by Audie Baker. The latter includes many fascinating anecdotes from Honeybourne and Long Marston with plenty of illustrations showing how much has been lost in the area.
A Freightliner move from Crewe to Long Marston conveying coaches 12033 and 12142 along with DVT 82125 was arranged for 21 September 2006. The traction was originally quoted as being a class 47, but in the event, 66514 was provided. This didn't bother me at all as I have far more pictures of 47s on these runs than I have of 66s. Here is 5Z52 passing the site of Fladbury station on the Cotswold Line at 10.41 on a perfectly lit morning.
I'm not a great one for hurtling around the countryside chasing trains from one location to another, but decided to have an attempt at getting to Long Marston to picture 66514 taking 5Z52 into the site. There is never any guarantee that such a chase will be successful, given the number of farm vehicles on the roads in the Vale of Evesham and the speed limits through the villages on the way there. On this occasion I made it without any trouble, having some 10 minutes to wait before the train appeared at 11.19.
Next comes the obligatory shot of the stock running into the complex at Long Marston to await a shunt move into the secure area. It would be good to photograph a train leaving the site at this time of day, but this is unlikely given that this path would be required to bring a locomotive into the site. Taking into account the time that would be necessary to couple up and perform a brake test, it seems improbable that a departure time to coincide with an early path on the main line would be achieved.
No time was wasted in uncoupling 66514 from the stock and despatching the loco back to Honeybourne. There is a reasonable gap in passenger services on the Cotswold Line at this time of day and it seemed likely that 0Z52 would be able to make a much earlier run to Kingsland Road in Bristol than was scheduled. In fact though, this wasn't the case as 0Z52 was seen passing Evesham station at 14.38, which meant an extended lunch break on the East Loop at Honeybourne. The loco is here seen leaving Long Marston whilst, in the background, HNRC 0-6-0 has been attached to the train for the journey on the internal railway system.
A rake of TTA tanks ran from Warrington Arpley to Washwood Heath last week. The original destination was Long Marston where the tanks were destined for storage and this final part of the move actually took place today, 25 September as 6Z80 Washwood Heath to Long Marston. The train was booked to stand in Worcester Yard for around an hour but I had a hunch that an earlier path to Evesham at least would be found. With this in mind, I decided against a shot at Evesham where the sun, if shining, would be in the wrong place for the earlier path. I therefore went to Fladbury where the train appeared behind 66086 at 11.19, over 60 minutes early. This really was an extremely rare sight and I am not aware that a train of TTAs has worked over the Cotswold line previously. I am indebted to Geoff B.for the additional information that these tanks have recently been retired from the Seal Sands to Eggborough Power Station service, conveying fuel oil and are almost certainly a mixture of TTAs and TUAs.
I decided that I must have another shot of 6Z80 so went directly to Long Marston, where I had a longer than expected wait. I suspect that a northbound passenger train on the mostly single-track Cotswold Line was running late and that 6Z80 had to stand in Evesham for an extended period. 66086 eventually came into view at 12.23, just 13 minutes early on the original schedule. I was surprised to be alone for the arrival and can only assume that the normal but inexplicably shortsighted bigotry of the average enthusiast against EWS 66 hauled trains came into play. I was more than happy to record what is certainly the only train of TTAs to have traversed the line between Honeybourne and Long Marston especially behind only the 2nd EWS 66 to have entered Long Marston exchange sidings. To me, this is infinitely more interesting than top-and-tail 37s on a short SERCO train. For a close-up view of some of the TTAs, please click  here
There was a delay of some minutes at Long Marston while the on-site staff came to unlock the gate leading to the exchange sidings. The 66's engine was switched off during this hiatus and was restarted only when the gate was opened. The small plume of exhaust is here seen as this procedure is carried out. After a few seconds, the train was taken into the sidings ready for the 66 to be detached and the tanks left ready for movement into the storage area,
Mark III stock continues to accumulate at Long Marston and 4 more coaches arrived on 29 September, 3 from Oxley and 1 from Gloucester. The train is here seen approaching the end of the branch from Honeybourne in absolutely appalling light behind 47714 and 47810. The use of 47810 was slightly mysterious as it was dead in tow and after the coaches had been dropped in the exchange sidings, 47714 ran round its sister locomotive and led for the light engine trip back to Worcester and thence Gloucester. I wonder if another run-round was carried out in Worcester yard? For anyone interested in the technical details of the shot, it was taken at ISO 400 on a Nikon D200 using a Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens set at 180mm and f3.2 with a shutter speed of 1/250 second.
As any regular viewers of my website will know, I can't resist making the short trip from my home to Long Marston when a stock move is planned. On 10 October, 47714 was booked to take some HST vehicles to Laira, thus giving a chance to photograph a train leaving the former MOD site. My first shot shows Cotswold Rail's 47714 arriving as 5Z01 from Gloucester with 2 1st class MkIII coaches which were to be used as barriers for the outward move. The morning mist had just begun to clear properly by this time, 11.05am.
This was the only shot I managed in the sun at Long Marston on 10 October 2006 and shows 47714 waiting for the gate at the end of the OTO section to be opened by the local operations crew. The mistiness in the right background is actually smoke from fires lit by contractors to dispose of some hedges they had just grubbed up.
This shot wouldn't win any prizes for technical excellence, but even though it was taken at the maximum range of my 200mm lens and against the light, I quite like the effect of the exhaust and misty background. The loco is HNRC No. 29 0-6-0 taking the stock for today's 5Z02 to Laira around the inner circuit at Long Marston. The DVT was being used as a barrier vehicle as the loco would be unable to couple to the HST stock. I must stress that this shot was taken from a public road and did not involve doing anything I shouldn't have...
Once all the shunting had been carried out, 47714 was able to leave Long Marston with 5Z02 to Laira comprising the 2 MkIIIs brought in earlier as barriers, together with one Virgin and 5 MML HST coaches. It was good to be able a train coming out of the site for a change even though the sun didn't co-operate fully. The HNRC locomotive and DVT can be seen in the exchange sidings ready to return to base.
I do like to take photographs that somehow appear to be a bit unusual. Here is Cotswold Rail's 47810 in Virgin red livery with a short rake of TTA tanks approaching the site of Fladbury station on the Cotswold line on 12 October 2006. There are no prizes for guessing that the destination of the train is Long Marston where the TTas will be stored. Despite having taken many photographs along this stretch of line, I still get a bit of a buzz when the yellow locomotive nose appears under the bridge at Lower Moor.
This was one of those occasions when I only just made it to Long Marston before the train. By the time I had parked my car and taken my camera bag to the bridge, 47810 was just coming around the bend in the background with the 6 TTAs. In common with my comment above, I love seeing a train appearing in the distance here; it always makes me think what might have been had the line from Cheltenham to Stratford -upon-Avon not been closed in 1976. As usual, click on the hyperlink for a closer view of some of the TTAs.
47714 took a long rake of ferrywagons from Bescot to Long Marston on 23 October 2006. The train, running as 6Z84, left Bescot at 10.35 and is here seen about to pass Evesham station right on time at 13.02 with 47714 making its usual smoky start. It makes a change to see a decent length train of vans on the Cotswold Line instead of the usual off-lease coaching stock and DVTs. Click here to have a closer look at the data panel of one the vans. The reason for the IZAs being taken to Long Marston was for some welding work to be undertaken to enable them to be used on a different traffic flow. I believe the work was to adapt the anchorage points to allow for palletised goods to be carried.
Another set of IZAs were moved from Bescot to Long Marston on 24 October, again with 47714 providing the power. The train left Bescot around one hour early, but was looped at Bromsgrove with the Western Region not wishing to accept it before the booked time. I had already arrived at Fladbury when I was told this, so resigned myself to a long wait. Luckily, it's a pleasant enough spot with little traffic and the time passed quite quickly. Here is 47714 speeding along spot on the booked time with 6Z84, just catching a final patch of clear sunlight. The side to back lighting shows off the exhaust quite well and the uniform rake of vans lend themselves to the angle of the sun.
An in-and-out run to Long Marston took place on Monday 30 October 2006. 47828 took 2 coaching vehicles from Gloucester to Long Marston, where it is here seen arriving just a few minutes late on the scheduled time, and took out one of the rakes of IZAs taken there last week. Some new sleepers have been laid by the roadbridge, just visible in front of the locomotive. Maybe this is the start of the long-promised upgrade to the branch from Honeybourne, now that regular traffic uses the line.
I decided not to wait at Long Marston for 47828 to pick up the IZAs, which had just been shunted into position in the exchange sidings, but instead went straight to Honeybourne Junction. Here is 6Z02 with 47828 in charge having just arrived at the junction at 12.02. The crew member will go to the ground frame and ask permission from Evesham signalbox to release the train on the main line. This is the first train of freight vehicles I have photographed here and it made a change from the various rakes of passenger stock, which have the usual fare up until now.
The line between Evesham and Moreton-in-Marsh was obviously clear, as no time was wasted in getting 6Z02 on the move and across from the former East Loop and onto the main line. From here, the train ran to Bescot where these IZAs were due to be swapped for another rake of similar vehicles, due to be taken south to Gloucester. Incidentally, if anyone knows of a good photograph taken in this location when all the lines and infrastructure was still extant, I'd very interested to see it. Please use the "Contact" link on the index page to get in touch. See this map for a glimpse of the complex of lines that used to be Honeybourne's junction and loops.
I have included this uninspiring view of 47828 purely for the background. I was standing over the former island platform at Honeybourne station, which was situated between the main Worcester to Oxford line and the branch lines, used by stopping trains from Stratford-upon-Avon to Worcester, and Honeybourne to Cheltenham trains. The latter ran towards Stratford on the east loop before turning right onto the west loop to gain the Stratford to Cheltenham line. The spur going off sharply to the right was used by steam locomotives heading for the coaling stage, which was roughly in the position of the roof I have cloned into the encroaching undergrowth, and also to reach some wagons sidings a little further north. This spur also marked the northern extremity of the branch platforms. When the Bescot to Honeybourne Tip trains ran in the 1990s, the branch platform lines were used for the locomotives to run-round the wagons. Before the current tranche of trains began running to Long Marston in September 2005, the lines were inspected and found unfit for use. Any trains running from the south have therefore to run to Evesham or Worcester to reverse before getting onto the Long Marston branch.
I'm not quite sure what is going on with the movement of IZAs between Bescot and Long Marston at the moment, but another set of them ran from the former to the latter on 1 November 2006. I'm not complaining, especially in the perfect light in which 6Z48 ran. The train is shown approaching the foot crossing at Lower Moor, near Pershore running a bit late after a 30 minute late start from Gloucester and fairly rattling along, leaving a cloud of exhaust over Worcestershire. My original plan was to photograph the train from the bridge in the background, but shadows were intruding rather too much for a decent shot.
47813 clearly has as much of an affinity for the Cotswold as I. Here it is again on 2 November 2006, this time at Lower Moor with a 5Z02 12.00 Long Marston to Laira stock move consisting of 7 Project Rio MML HST coaches along with MkIII vehicles in FGW and VT colours being used as barriers. These 2 vehicles were taken into Long Marston last week and a picture of the that move appears in my Long Marston section. The train was running a few minutes late due to an up Adelante also being late and occupying the single track from Norton Junction to Evesham, and John Peel was working hard to make up time.
Here is 5Z02 again, this time on the main Gloucester line. The train ran north to Worcester Yard to allow the locomotive to run round before heading south where I photographed it some 25 minutes early at 13.52 passing through the site of Defford station. This is a pleasant location and has the added advantage of a decent northbound shot - far better in my opinion than the more popular viewpoint at Croome Perry, a couple of miles to the north.
The first move of a DRS locomotive to Long Marston took place on 7 November. 0Z65 09.27 Crewe to Long Marston with 37059 arrived at the site some 150 minutes late following delays all the way from the originating point. It is here seen just after arrival and awaiting the local ground crew to unlock the gate to allow access to the exchange sidings. I don't normally bother with light engine moves, but wanted to record this first arrival by DRS. In the poor lighting conditions, it was a pity that such a dirty locomotive was allocated - presumably straight from the RHTT programme. A nice clean example would have showed up better...
After such a late arrival it was inevitable that a knock-on effect would put back the departure time, originally scheduled for 14.40. In the event it was 16.22 before 5Z65 to Crewe and Carlisle actually left the exchange sidings. The rake of MkIII stock is to be used by DRS for charter work and will be repainted into their house colours. Here it is in virtual darkness slowly moving onto the OTO line en-route to Honeybourne. Click here to see the unadjusted image as taken. The exposure details for this image are a shutter speed of 1/125 second with an aperture of f3.2 on ISO 800, followed by a bit of work both in the raw convertor and Photoshop.
Another of the rakes of IZAs taken to Long Marston for interior work was returned to Bescot on 17 November. The allocated locomotive was Cotswold Rail's 47714, but this was failed en-route from Bristol Temple Meads with faulty wipers. 47828 was substituted from Gloucester and made an on-time at Long Marston, where it is seen at the head of the 10 cargowagons in the exchange sidings. This is really quite a busy location these days, as witnessed by the variety of stock visible - it looks almost like a 1990s scene. Strangely, the locomotive ran light engine up the branch towards Honeybourne and back before being attached to the vans.
The early promise of some good light for the departure soon evaporated and the sun disappeared behind thick cloud for the 12.00 departure. In fairness, I should say that the sun wasn't forecast and the interlude of brightness was a bonus. Here, 47828 is winding the set of 10 IZAs, running as 6Z03 to Bescot, out of Long Marston's exchange sidings and onto the single track towards Honeybourne. Many new sleepers have been laid over the last couple of weeks, which is a welcome development in the life of this branch, formerly the GWR main line from Wolverhampton and Birmingham to the West Country and South Wales.
FM Rail have the joined the other TOCs in moving stock to and from the Long Marston facility. I missed their first move through being on holiday but the second took place on 20 November 2006, a gloriously sunny day. The train was somehow delayed leaving Derby by nearly an hour and the lateness had increased to some 105 minutes by the time it reached Long Marston. I decided upon a shot on the branch line and went to a foot crossing between the village of Broad Marston and the Long Marston site itself. Here is 47145 with 8 ex-FGW motorail vehicles running as 4Z13 approaching the end of its journey.
Once the train had entered Long Marston, 47145 was unhooked and ran into an adjacent road while HNRC NO 29, a Hunslet 0-6-0 with a match wagon was attached to the Motorail vehicles. Here is the view from the road bridge overlooking the exchange sidings as the train is inspected and prepared for splitting.
The first four vehicles were removed from the train and hauled away around the outer circuit of the Long Marston internal system by No 29. A short rake of IZAs and some TEAs can be seen in the background; the IZAs should be returning to Bescot soon, as soon as some work has been done upon them.
As a result of the late inward running of 4Z13, the return, 3Z03 was also quite some time behind its 14.15 departure schedule. It arrived on the East Loop at Honeybourne at about 15.30, about 30 minutes too late to be in sunshine, the sun having dipped into some rapidly developing cloud cover by that time. It will be noted from this photograph showing 3Z03 standing on the East Loop while a northbound Adelante passes, that only 6 NVAs were conveyed on this run - 2 remain at Long Marston. Four were taken inside for unloading and 2 of these were then loaded for the outward run. It is said that these inward and outward runs should soon become a regular working with 2/3 trains per week from Mossend being timed to arrive at Long Marston at 09.30 for an anticipated departure time of around 12.30. Time alone will tell if FMR's reliability will sufficiently improve to allow this to happen...This picture was taken with a 70-200mm lens set at 135mm, with a shutter speed in the failed light of 1/125 second and an aperture of f4.5. The camera was supported on a monopod for stability.
The 6 ex-FGW Motorail wagons taken from Long Marston on 20 November and which have been languishing at Hams Hall for the best part of a week were finally moved back to Long Marston on 29 November 2006. The train, the 3Z03 08.30 Hams Hall to Long Marston with 47145 finally left its starting point some 120 minutes late - hardly a surprise given FM Rail's recent performance. The locomotive is showing signs of its recent usage on Hams Hall to Mossend traffic, which clearly hasn't allowed any time for a run through the washing plant. My plan had been to photograph it at Broad Marston and then go around the corner to Long Marston to watch the shunting, but given the lateness had to change my plan. After killing time by visiting the fruit and vegetable stall in Long Marston village and the butcher in Welford on Avon, I reckoned the best bet for a well-lit shot would be the bridge just to the north of Evesham station. The lateness had increased to 160 minutes by the time 3Z03 left Worcester and it arrived at Evesham signal box at 13.05 in an outrageously lucky patch of sun, given the amount of cloud surrounding the area. The train went straight through Evesham station and onto the single line towards its destination.
Four class 86s were last week moved from Immingham to Bescot in preparation to be tripped into Long Marston for secure storage. The final leg of their journey took place in dreadful light on 30 November 2006, being hauled from Bescot by 60042. This is only the second class 60 to have traversed the former Stratford-upon-Avon line and the first to have entered the Long Marston complex. The train is here seen approaching the end of the branch, with 60042 hauling 86247, 86245, 86234 and 86260 towards their new home.
86260 is here seen tailing 3 sister locomotives and 60042 as it enters the exchange sidings at Long Marston. I was pleased that the former Anglia locomotives were on the rear of the train, but wish that the weather had been better. The HNRC Hunslet shunter is visible on the right of the main train and once the class 60 has been detached and left the site, will be hooked onto the front ready to take the 86s into the secure area.
Very little time was wasted in getting 60042 detached from the class 86s and within minutes of arrival it was leaving the site ready for the run back to Honeybourne and thence Bescot. Once the gate had been closed, the Hunslet shunter was taken to the front of the line of 86s, hooked onto 86247, and hauled them to the secure part of the site. I was later told by a kind source within the railway industry that the visit of 60042 caused a bit of a stir within Network Rail. The class is banned from using the branch, and once it had left, it was necessary for the line to be walked so that it could be checked for alignment, for 2 structures to be checked for integrity and for several culverts to be examined in case of damage or collapse. All was reported to be in order. This had made me doubly glad that I went across in such poor conditions as I bet another 60 won't set foot on the branch on the forseeable future, sunshine or no sunshine...
One of the smaller rail vehicles in use at Long Marston is this powered trolley. It appeared to have been used to take some p-way materials around the circuit to an area where some work was being carried out. It's an especially noisy vehicle, with what sounded to the untutored ear like an unsilenced engine similar to those used in small motorcycles. In the background is a rake of 100 tonne bogie tanks with an attendant lorry and crew. It was a bit too far away to see what was being done, but it looked as if cleaning of the insides of the tanks was in progress.
Three more class 86s were taken for storage from Bescot to Long Marston on 16 January 2007. The train of locomotives, running as 0Z86, was scheduled to start from Bescot at 06.30 and arrive at its destination at around 10.50, but it was some three hours late leaving. Fortunately, information was available and I had some progress updates which allowed me to waste little time hanging around. Here is 66100 with 86251 + 86231 + 86229 about to enter Evesham station at 12.18 in drizzling rain and very poor light. A filthy class 66 doesn't exactly lend much charm to the scene and neither does the white van parked by the fence, but the unusual nature of the working made it a worthwhile trip. The Railtrack-branded stoneblower visible behind the train had recently arrived in the siding by the signal box - I assume there is some engineering work in prospect soon. I photographed it mostly because I previously hadn't seen anything on that piece of track and wanted a record shot...
A northbound passenger train caused 0Z86 to be held in the up platform at Evesham for quite a few minutes before continuing its journey to Long Marston. This gave me time to go round to the roadbridge on the south side of Evesham station to take another shot. It was exceptionally dark looking down over the station but I thought a shot should be taken to the record the unusual sight of former WCML express locomotives on the OWW.
After taking the photograph shown above, there was still no sign of the passenger train occupying the single track from Moreton in Marsh so I went onto the platform at Evesham station to obtain another purely record shot of some ex-Virgin 86s on a line never likely to be electrified. The lower-quadrant centre pivot starter signal can just be seen through the roadbridge.
When I left Evesham my intention was to drive straight home for an only-slightly delayed lunch, but when I reached the turn for Welford on Avon and Long Marston decided to go and see if 66100 was going to take anything out of Long Marston. As I arrived, it was clear that that the gate into the complex was still shut and that the train was yet to enter. Once the Long Marston ground crew in HNRC No.29 had arrived and unlocked the gate, a small patch of sun appeared just as the train drew forward.
The class 66 was soon detached from the 3 86s and once it had run through the exchange sidings it left the site for to return light engine to Bescot. A rake of tanks it was booked to take out were apparently not quite ready to leave - this means another chance on another day. Just about visible in the background is 45112, due to work a railtour on 27 January 2007. HNRC No 29 soon ran along the 2nd road of the sidings and was hooked onto the 86s ready for their move into secure storage.
Some redundant stock was moved to Chaddesden, near Derby a couple of weeks ago and the 15 coaches involved were destined for Long Marston. The first move involved only 11 of the 15 because Network Rail incorrectly stated that 15 would be too long for Evesham loop. I was not able to record this move but when the 4 remaining coaches were moved on 23 January 2007 I was in a position to take the requisite photographs. The day was cold but sunny and the use of 47853 led a certain attraction to the prospect. Here is 5Z59 passing the signalbox at Evesham at 10.16 on the approaches to the station, where the token for the stretch of single track line to Honeybourne was taken from the instrument on the platform.
I set off in pursuit of 5Z59 as soon as it had passed the bridge at Evesham, not really expecting to reach Long Marston in time. As it happened, I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare just as the train appeared in the distance. The frosty sleepers of the branch stand out well in the sunshine as 47853 with 3 InterCity and 1 VST coach runs the final few yards towards the Long Marston facility. Click on the hyperlink to see the Virgin VST coach in the formation. The windows on the other side all had been smashed by vandals at some stage in their journey.
This is the view from the road bridge at Long Marston as 47853 waits for the shunting to be performed. It shows the four MkIII coaches brought in from Derby together with the rake of JXAs that had just been marshalled ready for departure. The yard looks remarkably like something from the 1970s with the assortment of rolling stock and the engine shed visible in the distance.
At the start of the day I didn't know if any stock was scheduled to leave Long Marston with 47853. It soon became apparent that some JXAs would be leaving when the resident shunter brought 4 of the big wagons around to the front of the exchange sidings. A little later, another 12 or so so were added to what was to become the rear of the train. Nothing is ever that straightforward though, and it looked as if one or two were found in the rake that were unfit to run. This prompted about 90 minutes of shunting activity, all of which took place in glorious sun. Just as the train of 10 JXAs was making ready to leave the sun was in and out of cloud and when it started away the only shot of the day in partial sun was taken as it left some 80 minutes late on the schedule. The train was stopped before finally leaving and some attention seemed to be given to the brake cocks at the rear of the 10th vehicle.
While the operation described above was taking place I had a quick drive to Honeybourne to see if a shot was on as the train, running as 6Z69 12.35 Long Marston to Chaddesden, arrived at the junction. I took about 15 shots as it stood on the branch while the crew obtained permission to join the main line and operated the ground frame - such is beauty of "free at point-of-use" digital photography! During the drive from Long Marston, the sky to the west had pretty much cleared and there seemed little prospect of the shot being ruined by cloud.
I wasn't able to decide whether I preferred this shot or the one above so have included both. The crew are making their way towards the ground frame where they will contact the signaller at Evesham in order to request permission to allow the train onto the single track to Evesham where a southbound passenger train will be crossed.
Here is a final shot of 47853 standing on the East Loop at Honeybourne collecting the rays of winter sunshine. The crew shown in the picture above have contacted Evesham signalbox and the points are about to shifted to allow the train onto the maon line.
The final shot of a most enjoyable session was taken at 14.20 as 47853 with its train of 10 JXAs finally leaves the Long Marston branch and gets on to the main line. Once the train had been locked onto the line, the crew re-joined the locomotive and it headed off towards Evesham with an excellent display of exhaust.
Another seven JXAs were taken from Long Marston to Derby on 24 January 2006 again being hauled by 47853, this time on its final run for the company formerly known as FM Rail. It is here seen passing the village of Lower Moor in rather poorer light than yesterday's run. The sky was clear when I left home, the cloud appearing only as I approached Evesham.
Cotswold Rail's newly acquired class 31s, 31452 + 31128 made their second trip to Long Marston on Monday 29 January 2007. The first trip was on the previous Friday, but I knew about it too late to get to the line. Here are the pair sandwiching Virgin-liveried MkIII 12077 as they approach the road bridge by the entrance to the former MOD site at 14.40 on an exceptionally dull and misty afternoon. The black livery of former owner of the locomotives isn't exactly the greatest in poor light; maybe Cotswold Rail will soon have them repainted into their house colours - this will show up better in the dark.
Once the train had been allowed into Long Marston the rear class 31, 31128 Charybdis, was uncoupled whilst 31452 took the coach forward and then propelled onto the loop line ready to be taken to the secure area. Meanwhile, HNRC 12082 was on its way round to the main yard to collect 6 IZAs which were to be coupled to the others visible in the exchange sidings and taken to Bescot. This move was scheduled to leave Long Marston at 16.05 as it was getting colder and darker I decided not to wait...
I wasn't expecting much activity on Wednesday 31 January 2007, but after returning from my daily swim found a message on my BlackBerry saying that 45112 was working a 4Z47 Chaddesden to Long Marston train conveying more KAA wagons - these are those that were obtained by Blue Circle cement with a SRA grant to carry lorry cement tanks on a piggyback basis, and which were used for only the initially contracted number of trains from Westbury to Southampton before being stored at Aberthaw. The tanks also bought with the grant can of course be seen all around Wiltshire on the backs of lorries. Nothing dodgy there then. Anyway, here is 45112 approaching Long Marston with the flats. The sun came out about half an hour before the train and made life a little difficult, meaning that the lens had to shielded with not only the large "tulip" shade, but by hand as well.
The train was originally scheduled to arrive at Long Marston at around 10.45 but in the event didn't leave Worcester until around midday. I went originally to Evesham before knowing the change of times, but whilst there the sun disappeared completely. Plan B was to go straight to Long Marston where the sun was fine for a 10.45 arrival. Then came the news that there was a long delay. I came home for a drink and went back later, arriving there at about 12.15. Various messages were sent detailing the train's progress and it arrived at the gate at 13.15 and is here seen going into the complex. I like the idea of the operational headcode panels - wouldn't it be good to have the correct headcode displayed?
The Long Marston shunter, 12088, was soon hooked onto the flats and took them off the exchange sidings in to allow the Peak to exit the site. Here is 45112 following the train down the sidings prior to leaving. The KAAs visible on the right of 45112 came in here on a previous occasion. The set that arrived today was later coupled to these and went off for storage.
Here is the obligatory shot taken as 45112 slowly exits the Long Marston complex. I was sort of surprised to see a Peak here bearing in mind the weight of these locomotives. Class 60s are barred from the branch but there doesn't appear to have been a problem today. Maybe the additional axles bring the loading within allowed limits.
Once the Peak had gone off towards Honeybourne followed by most of the gallery, 12082 propelled the KAAs onto the short rake already there. As mentioned above, the two sets of KAAs were coupled together, and here is that operation in progress. The whole train was still sitting in the exchange when I left but I imagine that it was taken around the circuit before too long.
A rake of TEA bogie tanks were moved from Gloucester to Long Marston on 20 February 2007. 6B19, the 12.02 from Gloucester was booked for Cotswold Rail's 47703 and despite the gloomy skies I decided to go and get a shot of it as I'm sure that this into silver is an early candidate for repainting from its current Fragonset livery. The locomotive, still carrying the name Hermes which presumably is advertising silk ties, is here seen with the 12 TEAs passing Evesham signal box under clear signals. Click on the hyperlink for a closer look at one of the  tanks as it passed by.
An EWS light engine move to Long Marston was shown as working on the morning of 23 February 2007, the locomotive being timed to arrive at the site at 10.55 and leaving with a train as 6Z80 to Bescot at 13.45. At about 10.19 I read a message on my BlackBerry saying that the locomotive had passed Evesham at 09.42! I grabbed my camera bag and drove over to Long Marston where, as I reached the overbridge by the branch at 10.39, 66092 was heading down the single track towards Honeybourne with a rake of IZA ferrywagons. I decided to have a go at beating it to Honeybourne Tip and made it with about 30 seconds to spare. Here is 6Z80 on the "main" line passing the sidings previously used to access the ballast tip. This tip was last used in the 1990s when a couple of trains ran from Bescot each week, usually with Class 31 or 37 motive power.
Honeybourne station and its road overbridge are about a 5 minute drive from the tip and as I arrived at 10.55 the train was sitting on the branch awaiting the road onto the main Oxford to Worcester line. A crew member is about to ring Evesham signalbox to ask for the ground frame to be released so the points can be switched. In the event, it appeared that there was no available path, the door of the box was shut and the second man from 66092 walked back to the by now shut-down locomotive.
Although the sun was still shining a very stormy looking sky was blowing in from the south and after taking this shot of 6Z80 sitting on the branch I received a telephone call saying that the train would not leave Honeybourne until 12.15. As this was some 55 minutes away, I decided not to hang about and left for home. This was the correct decision, for as I drove through Honeybourne village the heavens opened and I remembered that I had left home without a coat...
There was a Cotswold Rail in-and-out trip to Long Marston on 28 February 2007 with, on the way in, 31128 and 47703 topping and tailing 3 Porterbrook liveried barrier wagons, the train being sent to collect 3 MkIII HST vehicles. 47703 looks to be smoking quite badly considering that it's just ticking over. The inward trip fitted in quite well with lunch at a nearby restaurant with only a few minutes wait in the very blustery wind before 5Z19 came into view on the branch. The light was dull in the extreme but I thknk it's worth getting the former FMRail locomotives in their old house colours, as they are sure to be repainted before too long. I wasn't able to wait for the outward trip, but looking at how the light deteriorated in the interim 90 minutes, not too much was lost. Note the pile of old sleepers on the left of the train and the considerable number of new ones now in place.
A rake of PGA wagons used on the Wool to Neasden sand train was taken for storage at Long Marston on 2 March 2007. Most unusually, the train ran north along the Cotswold Line via Moreton in Marsh instead of going via Swindon, Gloucester and Worcester to approach Long Marston from the north. To facilitate this, the train ran in top-and-tail formation so that reversal could take place at Honeybourne, where a run-round is not possible due to the poor state of the track in the former branch platforms. 6Z49 was booked to pass Moreton in Marsh at 16.03 so I decided to go to a location just north of there near the Cotswold town on Chipping Campden on the section very rarely used by locomotives and here is 66527 leading with 66507 bringing up the rear approaching the site of the long-gone station. To see another shot taken here in 1993, this time of 33116 propeliing an 8-TC set heading from Worcester to Waterloo, click on  this hyperlink. I'm sorry, but I failed to organise the hot air balloons for the Long Marston move!
As the quickest way home from Chipping Campden is via Long Marston, it would have rude not to have dropped in the see the train arrive with 66507 now in charge after the reversal at Honeybourne. I'll put my hands up here and admit that I completely miscalculated the exposure needed to counter the harsh backlighting and this accounts for the poor quality of this image, which needed quite a bit of post-processing work to get even to this stage. The train ran into the exchange sidings where the wagons were deposited. The locomotives were stabled overnight at Long Marston, presumably due to the crew's hours being limited and ran back to Bristol Kingsland Road the following day. I was surprised at how little interest from enthusiasts this rare working over the southern part of the Cotswold Line generated. I understand that there was just photographer at Charlbury - a most attractive location - see   Martin Loader's photograph here, I was alone at Chipping Campden, there were 2 at Honeybourne and just three of us witnessed the arrival at Long Marston. I can only surmise that the average enthusiast doesn't regard anything with class 66 power worth a look, even on the most unusual route. Still, I shouldn't complain. The peace and quiet of the Cotswolds is pleasant without too much company...
It has been quite widely known that a rake of MkIII stock has been inside Long Marston for complete refurbishment and painting into BR blue & grey livery. It's first public run was made on 8 March 2007 as an ECS move to Crewe behind 47805 + 47812. 5Z47 was originally booked to leave Long Marston at 14.14, this was retimed to 12.25 but due to various circumstances the train didn't make it away from Honeybourne until 15.47. I had put all my eggs into one basket and went straight from home to Lower Moor on the Cotswold Line where, with an on-time departure, the light would have been perfect. The chickens came home to roost when it became clear that the train wasn't going to get away from Honeybourne much before 16.00. This being so, I decided a shot at Honeybourne would be the best chance of at least a bit of light. In retrospect, the right move would have been to have gone there first, as it stood on the East Loop for ages. Still, with the way the light was fading, I'm not too unhappy with the result. The shot I took a few minutes later without the speed restriction sign being quite so obtrusive wasn't sharp; the price one pays for shoooting at 1/125 at f4 on a 200mm lens....
Having checked another image I took from a slightly less wide angle from the one above, I thought that this shot showed the track layour and overall ambience of Honeybourne a little better. I don't think it's 100% sharp but without excessive post-processing which would have wrecked it altogether by over-sharpening, it's about as good as it gets. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to get photographs of the stock on charters over the coming years, probably with a wide variety of locomotives.
I've included this final image because I do like to have some human interest in my pictures on occasions. The crew, whose high visibility jackets still carry the name of FM Rail, have obtained permission to allow 5Z47 off the Long Marston branch, set the points and waved the train forward onto the main line to Evesham and Worcester. Note the token instrument visible in the hut - the only remains of a signalling system at Honeybourne which comprised of 5 signal boxes controlling hundreds of points and semaphore arms.
Tuesday, 27 March started with thick fog over Warwickshire and Worcestershire, thus scuppering my railway-related plans for the day. I went for a couple of hours walking in the late morning and returned home to find a message on my BlackBerry saying that 31452 + 31128 were on the way from Gloucester New Yard to Long Marston with 10 JIAs and 1 TEA for storage. I had plenty of time for the short drive over and arrived to find the fog just beginning to lift. About 10 minutes before the train was due the sun finally managed to break through the fog, this giving some interesting, not to mention challenging, lighting conditions. As it happened, 6Z19 led by 31452 was about 25 minutes late arriving and this allowed the sun to move round far to give a touch of illumination on the side of the train as it approached the bridge adjacent to the yard.
After a short delay while the train crew were briefed on the move into the exchange sidings, 6Z19 pulled forward allowing the chance to photograph the single TEA tailed by 31128. The fog had lifted from the immediate site at Long Marston, but the background looking towards Rumer Hill, just outside the village, was still well shrouded.
As soon as the train had come to a standstill in the exchange sidings, 31452 was uncoupled and ran forward to gain entrance to the second road so that it could run onto the front of 31128 before returning to Gloucester. The longer lens I used for this view really makes the peripheral mist stand out, separating the yard from the background.
I was walking around Stratford-upon-Avon during the morning of Friday 30 March 2007, when my telephone rang and I was told by someone in the know that a class 66 was at Evesham station, in fact it had just been shunted into the up siding to allow a passenger train to pass. This could really mean only one thing; that it was en-route to Long Marston to pick up some wagons. There was no rush as it was likely that the path used would be the one around mid-day so I finished my shopping before walking home, picking up my camera and driving to Long Marston. The gate into the site was open for rail traffic and sure enough, after about a 10 minute wait, 66179 ran into the exchange sidings, coupled onto a rake of 20 mostly green JNA boxes, and at 11.45 moved out onto the branch to Honeybourne. The 2nd box in the rake was at least one quarter full of water, which sloshed around like a small swimming pool with a wave machine working! This week has seen a lot of misty weather, and today was no exception; quite decent light levels, but no sun and a lot of background murkiness.
After photographing 66179 leaving Long Marston I decided to have another shot at Honeybourne Junction. Once again there was no rush as the train stopped on the branch shortly after leaving the site, presumably so that the Long Marston ground crew could attach the tail light, thus saving the locomotive crew a long walk. The train arrived at Honeybourne at 12.15 but it was clear that there would be a delay as the 10.52 Adelante from Paddington calls at the station at 12.32, meaning that the single line from Moreton-in-Marsh to Evesham is occupied. Here is 180111 approaching the station with 66179 and the JNAs visible on the branch. The crew member at the ground frame will have to wait for the Adelante to leave Evesham about 12 minutes after leaving here, before he will be able to extract a token from the machine in the hut which will unlock the ground frame and allow him to operate the point levers.
Here is another view of 180111, this time leaving Honeybourne station for Worcester. The scale of the site here can be well seen here, with the currently unused island platform prominent to the right of the train. It is possible that the line will be doubled in the forseeable future, in which case the island will be again used by up trains. The rusted lines on the extreme right were once those used by trains to and from Stratford-upon-Avon, and also by locomotives needing to use the coaling stage or those depositing wagons in the associated sidings.
Once the passenger train seen above had reached Evesham, the ground frame was released to allow 66179 and its train of JNAs across onto the main line. The sight of an EWS locomotive with wagons mostly in Freightliner colours is slightly incongruous; it is this sort of combination that makes this sort of shot worthwhile for me, despite the poor light. I later found out that the train was a 6Z49 to Healey Mills, the JNAs probably being destined for a new flow commencing the following week.
A DRS 66 locomotive made the first run for its sub-class over the Cotswold Line to Long Marston on 10 April 2007. The move, 0Z66 from Crewe, was run by Victa Rail and was to pick up the rake of KAA flats visible on road 1 of the exchange sidings at Long Marston , previously used on Blue Circle cement trains around Wiltshire. 66419 is here seen waiting for the gate to be opened to allow it into the site. A new fence and gate is under construction, but it looks as if these won't completely ruin the shot.
Here is the first DRS 66 to enter Long Marston exchange sidings having just been attached to the rake of KAA flats which it will take to Chaddesden Sidings at Derby. Some of the recently arrived JGA hoppers can ben seen in the background; these came in on 30 March 2007 topped and tailed by Cotswold Rail's 31452 and 31128. The Long Marston ground crew had gone back to their HQ by this time, the 3 men visible being those who came in on the locomotive.
Once the KAAs had been coupled to 66419 and all the requisite checks had been made, 6Z66 was able to leave Long Marston's exchange sidings and join the branch to Honeybourne. The signs of Spring are well developed here, with plenty of blackthorn blossom in evidence. There will be a good crop of sloes here in the Autumn which, along with some sugar and a bottle of gin, will make some excellent Christmas cheer! The train stopped when on the branch and the other 3 crew members presumably had to walk along the length of it to rejoin the locomotive.
The branch between Long Marston and Honeybourne has an overall speed limit of 20mph together with a couple of slower sections where the line crosses roads. This gave me plenty of time to drive down towards Honeybourne and obtain this shot as the line swings around to the south before running roughly parallel with the Oxford to Worcester line just prior to it arriving at the end of the former East Loop. These flats will be used on a Purfleet to Grangemouth service carrying swap-bodies brought in by sea.
A First Great Western Adelante ran south into Honeybourne station before 66419 arrived at the East Loop so there was obviously going to be some delay before 6Z66 would be released onto the main line. Here is one of the several shots I took while the train was static. The great beauty of digital photography is that one can take as many shots as one likes with varying exposures and later pick the better images to keep, without having to pay for the film and processing of transparencies, half of which may well end up in the bin.
There was a bit of delay whilst a couple of passenger trains went south and north respectively, and this allowed the sky to clear a little thus giving a decent bit of sun which lasted just, but only just, long enough for this shot. Under a lovely cloudy sky, 66419 crosses over from the East Loop to the main line at Honeybourne with 6Z66 to Derby. For a closer look at one of the 12 KAAs in the consist, please click on this hyperlink.
A rake of 11 Virgin liveried MkIII stock moved from Wilton to Derby on Wednesday 25 April 2007, although the original destination was Gloucester. This, together with the fact that 47818 was the motive power, set the alarm bells ringing for a Long Marston run. This happened the following day, with the exit from Derby being timed for around 09.00. The train was booked to stand in Worcester Yard from 11.48 to 14.05 but I thought that this was unlikely to happen in practice. I decided to have a first crack at 5B19 somewhere on the Birmingham to Stoke Works Junction section of line and arrived at Stoke Prior at 11.00. 47818 came slowly into view just 6 minutes later and here is the train crawling towards an adverse signal protecting the junction to the single track round to Droitwich and Worcester. A route indicator was illuminated as the train approached to show that the road was set for the branch. The bird just visible in the right background is a Common Buzzard, a specie frequently seen all over the western part of the Midlands, even appearing over my own garden in Stratford-upon-Avon on occasions.
I was convinced that 5B19 would not sit in Worcester Yard as booked so made my way as quickly as possible to Evesham. I had been in position on the road bridge between the station and signalbox for only a couple of minutes when I received a 'phone call saying that because of a late running down passenger train 47818 was on its way from Worcester. It's nice when these hunches come off and the result was a picture with the sun on the front, which would not have been the case some 150 minutes later...
It seemed likely that 5B19 would have quite a wait at Evesham until the late-running down Adelante had cleared the single track from Moreton-in-Marsh. This meant that there was plenty of time for a leisurely trip to Long Marston itself to photograph the arrival of 47818. This was the locomotive's 3rd visit, but the weather was so awful on the first that even I didn't bother to go over. Yes, it was that bad! The 2nd trip involved the locomotive taking in 87017 and 87011 on 10 April 2006 but I must have had a pressing engagement elsewhere to have missed that. Here is the train of MkIIIs approaching the site on the branch from Honeybourne in rather harsh backlighting. A lot of work has recently been carried out on the track here, even to the extent of attending to the fishplates. The dark appearance of two of these can be seen just in front of 47818.
Here is the customary view of the train entering Long Marston; my first since the new fence and gate have been completed. Fortunately, these are not too obtrusive and at least are green, unlike the vast majority of pallisade fencing found around the railway system. There was no traffic to come out of the site today so 47818, as soon as it was uncoupled from the stock, ran out light diesel, presumably to Gloucester.
I knew nothing about this train until 47810 was reported as hauling 2 barrier wagons through Evesham station at 09.45 on the morning of 30 April 2007. A little digging revealed that the working was a 5Z38 12.35 Long Marston to Derby and Loughborough conveying 2 HST restaurant cars and Virgin power car number 43103. However, the power car was refused for carriage because of a faulty drawbar and a side door that would not close. Here is the shorter than expected formation, comprising 47810 with vehicles 6336, 40425, 40417 and 6338, passing Lower Moor on the Cotswold Line at 13.07. The recalcitrant power car was left in the exchange sidings at Long Marston, presumably to receive attention before another attempt is made to move it to Brush at Loughborough.
This train was known about in advance, although the headcode for the inward light engine move, 0Z66, made me think it would produce one of the DRS class 66s on hire to Victa rather than the Oxford Blue 47839. I knew that the train was to comprise the short rake of KAA flats remaining at Long Marston so I tried to use a location that would emphasise the locomotive but still show the KAAs reasonably well. 6Z66 is here at seen at 14.17 passing the public footpath crossing the line near the site of the long-gone Broad Marston Halt, just a short trip down the branch from the Long Marston facility. The first set of flats which left Long Marston on 10 April are already in use by Victa on their Purfleet to Grangemouth service, so I assume that those that left today will soon also be in use.
The weather over last couple of days, writing on 3 May 2007, has been characterised by a cold cloudy start to the day with warm sun breaking through around lunchtime. Had the sun co-operated from the start of the day I would have gone to one of 2 or 3 locations where a sunny shot at around 10.30 would have been just the ticket for this train, 6Z80 Bescot to Long Marston. In the event it was fully cloudy so I made just the quick trip to Long Marston to record 66150 arriving with a set of 18 TDA tanks wagons. The train arrived a little late at 11.14 to find the gate into the site firmly locked with no sign of any ground crew to let it in. It transpired that EWS had not told Motorail Logistics, the site operators, that a train was coming! I telephoned a contact in the site who arranged for the gate to be unlocked. There was nothing to be taken out and the locomotive was soon uncoupled and made its way back along the branch to Honeybourne to gain the booked path back to Worcester and thence Bescot. There is evidence in this photograph of some weedkilling activity. This happened about a month ago, but was sadly done in the middle of the night. I would have loved the chance to have photographed an MPV down here!
The day after the photographs above were taken, I took this picture of HNRC No.12082 shunting the TDAs. The move was from No. 1 road to No. 3 and this has just about filled all the available space in the main yard. Looking around the site, every space seems to be taken up and if more stock is to be stored here, I think that some extensive movements will have to take place. Roads 1 and 2 have to be kept clear for arrivals and departures, both being necessary so that a main line locomotive can be released from the stock. The 2 Tiphook TIAs are more clearly seen in this view than on yesterday's shot; there is another at the other end of the rake.
Here is another view of the recently arrived TDAs and TIAs which rather better shows the amount of stock stored in the yard at Long Marston. It should be remembered that there is a huge area not visible from this viewpoint, with approximately 25km of running line and sidings available, so I can't imagine that there is going to be a capacity problem here once a bit of shunting and general sorting out has been done. It is to be hoped that at least some of the many bogie tanks stored here will see more use.
Following the open day at Long Marston on Saturday 9 June 2007, normal business was resumed by the following Tuesday, 12 June. The train involved was 6Z80 05:50 TO Bescot Down Side to Long Marston which consisted of 12 IWA and 5 KVA ferrywagons. I had planned to photograph this at Honeybourne and on receiving a telephone call from a friend saying that 6Z80 had left Worcester Yard at 09.03 I headed out. My route took me past the site at Long Marston but on reaching the road to Pebworth and Honeybourne I found it closed for resurfacing work. There would probably not have been time to use an alternative route so I just turned around and went to the roadbridge at the end of the branch, where, after a short wait, saw 66021 with its long train approaching. Amazingly for such a dull day, the clouds parted as the train reached me and a touch of sun appeared. According to signs on the roads around Long Marston, there will be several weeks of disruption due to road works so this shot may not be available in the short term. Click  here and  here for a closer view of a couple of the ferrywagons.
Whilst 66021 was being uncoupled from 6Z80, HNRC 12082 was busy propelling the 2 former FGW Motorail wagons used in the display at the Long Marston open day away from the yard and back round to the secure area. This part of the site is rather overgrown and this shot was just about the best I could do from a public area. 12082 is the locomotive mostly used since the departure of HNRC No.29 for Flixborough a few weeks ago.
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.
I went to the occupation bridge near Norton Barracks just outside Worcester on 29 June 2007 to photograph the long-awaited move of 4 class 87s from Wembley to Worcester. The saga of this movement has been going on for a couple of weeks with several moves planned to get the former WCML locomotives into the Midlands ready for a move into storage at Long Marston. The first leg of the move, to Oxley, took place during the late evening of 28 June with the next stage to Worcester happening the following afternoon. To have a closer look at the 87s please use the following hyperlinks. Here are 87007 and 87008 in unbranded Cotswold Rail livery, followed by 87006 with the former Virgin locomotive 87026 bringing up the rear of the ensemble. The 87s are due to be tripped to Long Marston during the next week.
Another set of ferrywagons was due for movement from Bescot to Long Marston on 5 July 2007. I had already planned to get a shot of the train at Honeybourne as the weather forecast was reasonable for part of the morning, at least. Just before I left home, I had a message saying that 37410 was working 6Z80; this is always a possibility when one of the 37s is spare at Bescot - a nice quick out and back turn. The forecast wasn't entirely accurate and the light was quite poor when I arrived at my destination. Still, the train was reported as being pretty much on time leaving Worcester and the passenger trains were on time so I wouldn't have long to wait. I heard the train in the distance and it soon appeared on the bend beyond Honeybourne station, where the island platform has recently seen a considerable amount of work to clear vegetation. Here is 37410 coming to a halt prior to the EWS ground crew, who arrived by road, operating the ground frame to allow the train onto the Long Marston branch.
Even though the light was poor I wanted to go to Long Marston itself to see if 47828 was still there following its trip there from Worcester on the preceding Tuesday, during the course of which there was, very sadly, a fatality on the track near the site of Littleton and Badsey station, just on the west side of Honeybourne. Here is 6Z80 approaching the roadbridge at the end of the branch with the 16 ferrywagons forming the train. The weather was closing in a bit more by then and some rainy-looking mist was beginning to appear over the hill in the background. While waiting for 37410 to come in, I photographed this local resident using the tracks.
Here is 37410 after it had been uncoupled from the ferrywagons and run down No. 2 road in Long Marston exchange sidings to regain the branch to Honeybourne. Cotswold Rail's 47828 was still in situ, presumably waiting for a CR driver to become available to take it, and anything booked to leave the site, to Gloucester.
There is far more to railways than just main line locomotives and stock; indeed some of the smaller hardware is of greater interest on occasions. Just before leaving Long Marston I couldn't resist taking this photograph of an 0-6-0 locomotive coupled to a short rake of ex-BR Palvans. These had been parked in a siding close to the shed at the end of the main yard during the recent open day. Note the line of MkIII stock in the background, including examples in Virgin and First liveries. Thanks to Mike Hollick for the vans' ID.
There was a choice of trains to go for on Monday 9 July 2007. 37405 was shown as working 6G36 and 6G42 from Bescot to Birch Coppice and back and 66710 was taking a set of Megafret flats from Derby to Long Marston. Goodness knows how many times 37s have been to Birch Coppice but this was the first GBRf 66 to go down the Long Marston branch. The train was also good, being 14 of the large flats which came from Thameshaven last week. Additionally, the headcode for the return was 5Z47 so it looked as if some coaching stock would be leaving the site and I thought that this would look attractive behind a Bluebird. The main problem when trains to Long Marston use an early path from Worcester is finding a location where the lighting is OK. The Cotswold main line is no good and the branch itself has only one bridge although there are a few ground level possibilities; not good when the load is flats. So the road bridge it had to be and here is 4Z47 arriving at Long Marston in a large clear patch of sun.
I always like to be able to show the train in these moves rather than just the locomotive so here is a shot of 4Z47 entering the site. The flats came from Thameshaven last week, with a sojourn at Swindon following the failure of Victa Railfreight's sole locomotive, 47832. They went to Derby via Oxford the following day with a hired-in GBRf locomotive but that move ran in such bad weather I really couldn't be bothered.
The first clue that something interesting was going on came when the resident class 11 shunter poked its nose around the buildings adjacent to the yard with 3 MkIII coaches in tow. When they came a little closer it was apparent that they had recently been outshopped in BR blue & grey, presumably as additions to the existing Cargo-D rake already in use. There isn't a lot of scope for photographs here so this is about as good as it gets; some undergrowth clearance would be good...
The exchange sidings at Long Marston are currently pretty full, so 66710 had to uncouple from the flats and then along No 2 road before stabling on the branch so that 12082 could propel the coaches onto the same road. Once the shunter had uncoupled and run clear 66710 was able to go onto the coaches and prepare for departure.
There was a bit of a delay while a brake test was carried out and everything was thoroughly checked over before the train, now running as 5Z47, was ready to go. The booked departure time was 12.35 but everything was ready by 11.42 and here is 66710 leaving Long Marston in gloriously clear light just a couple of minutes later. The third vehicle in the consist is a MkIII sleeper; maybe this will be used the on-train crew when long runs are made with the Cargo-D stock - much better than trying to snatch a nap in the normal seats.
After getting such a nicely-lit shot of 66710 leaving Long Marston, I wasn't going to bother with more, but at the last moment decided to make a run for the former CCE tip at Honeybourne. On arriving there I struggled to find a clear space in the undergrowth such has been the amount of growth since my last visit. I knew that the train couldn't be far away so settled for this shot, only to be thwarted by the edge of a large cloud just catching the sun at wrong moment. Still, the picture does show a train on the former East Loop of the Honeybourne complex of lines and the track which led to the tip is clearly visible in the right foreground.
The booked departure time from Honeybourne for 4Z47 was 12.47 so I thought that there would be plenty of time for a few shots as 66710 and the MkIIIs stood on the East Loop. While I was setting up this shot from the station platform under the road bridge, a crew member walked down to the ground frame and called the signaller at Evesham. As the time was 12.12 I didn't think there would be path available as a northbound Adelante was due shortly. However, the ground frame was released just after I pressed the shutter and the road was put across to allow 66710 to join the main line.
I scrambled up the steep bank between the station car park and the road and made it just in time to get this picture of 5Z47 crossing from the East Loop to the main Cotswold Line. Sadly, the train is too short for the the coaches to be visible, but I'm happy enough to have a shot of the first GBRf 66 to make this move. As soon as the road was put back and the crew member had joined the train the ensemble went west towards Evesham en-route to Crewe, its final destination.
This train was shown as comprising of 15 ferrywagons and given the poor light on 12 July 2007 I wasn't going to bother with it. However, when a message appeared saying that 66083 had passed Evesham at 09.24 with 7 ex-Virgin MkII coaches in tow I decided to have a shot as I couldn't remember seeing the combination of an EWS class 66 with coaching stock on the Long Marston branch. Here is the train arriving at its destination at 09.50, about 5 minutes after I had arrived. A female roe deer had crossed the line, using the public footpath here, just in front of the train and the driver of the 66 can be seen watching her go away. I wasn't quick enough to get a picture of the deer; they don't exactly hang about when leaping fences!
The JNA box wagons used until recently on Freightliner Heavy Haul's service between Beeston and Cardiff were moved to Long Marston for storage on 14 August 2007. Here is the train headed by 66560, 6Z49, the 05.13 from Cardiff Tidal Sidings arriving at Long Marston in a spell of heavy rain which makes the picture look rather noisy, despite having been taken at ISO 200. Many of the wagons still contained significant quantities of scrap metal left from the last run of the train to Cardiff. I wanted to take this picture from the other side of the bridge but a Network Rail van with its crew involved in the routine 6-monthly inspection of the adjacent foot crossing was parked in just the wrong spot.
Here is 6Z49 heading into the exchange sidings with 66556 bringing up the rear of the consist. On the right of the picture is a rake of ex-Yeoman JNAs which I think were to be taken out later in the day by an EWS class 66 from Bescot. The Freightliner train was booked to arrive at Long Marston at 09.30 but actually arrived at 09.44, no doubt thanks to late running by FGW on the Cotswold Line. The EWS train was due to arrive at 10.06 and this was never going to happen. There simply would not have been time to shunt the stock that arrived behind 66560, get the main line locomotives out of the way and position the stock for the EWS working ready for the arrival of the 2nd inward working. I didn't wait to see what happened, as once the FLHH 66s went of light engine towards Honeybourne, the weather deteriorated even further and I came home. There would clearly have been quite a bit of shunting to do given that only 2 roads are available, but I was getting wet and cold. It later transpired that 6Z80 from Bescot was retimed and arrived at Long Marston at around 15.00. I was unable to see this working through household duties...
While waiting at Norton Junction earlier in the day I had noticed a plum tree laden with ripe fruit in the hedge close to the signal box so went back to collect a few. I had just left the car when I received a text message from a friend at Evesham saying that 66153 had just left the station hauling a single TDA from Long Marston. After a few minutes the signaller left his box, shouted up to me saying that it was coming and prepared himself for the token exchange. One doesn't see much of this these days so I was pleased to get a picture of the exact moment when it changed hands.
The first appearance at Long Marston of a First Group class 66 in so-called Barbie livery took place on 28 August 2007 when 66727 ran in light engine. I was alerted by a friend who ws photographing at Abbotswood Junctiion and who saw the locomotive heading towards Evesham pass over the Birmingham to Gloucester line. I made the short trip over to Long Marston and arrived about 10 minutes before 66727 came into view on the branch from Honeybourne. Autumn is approaching; the field adjacent to the line has already been ploughed and is now receiving the attentions of a cultivator, and red hawthorn berries are making an appearance.
There was a short rake of 5 JNAs waiting in the exchange sidings for 66727 to take to Chaddesden Sidings at Derby, 4 of them in VTG and one in Yeoman livery. The locomotive was soon attached to the boxes and the train then sat and waited for its departure time. The weather never became better than poor as can be seen by the misty background to this shot.
The time was 11.41 when the brakes were blown off, the horn sounded and 6Z33 moved away from Long Marston yard's exchange sidings and onto the former GWR Stratford-upon-Avon to Cheltenham main line. The second man is carefully watching the bogies of the JBAs as they go over the pointwork before rejoining the train for the 2 and a bit mile journey to Honeybourne Junction. The driver had told me, with a grin, that the booked departure time was 12.35...
6Z33 and I arrived at arrived at Honeybourne just about the same time - exactly 12.00. The journey by road is considerably longer than that by rail passing, as it does, through 3 villages and a lot of sharp bends, followed by a walk from the station car park! All the same, it is generally possible to arrive in time to see the procedure involved in gaining permission to join the main Cotswold Line. Today was no exception, and here is the secondman walking towards the hut containing the token instrument for the branch. The light had lifted a little and there was just the beginnings of a shadow becoming visible as the the train stood on the former East Loop of the Honeybourne complex of lines.
It didn't take many minutes for the token to be wielded and the road set for 66727 to leave the Long Marston branch and join the main line towards Evesham and Worcester. Here is the train swinging across the pointwork with some Rosebay Willowherb, Epilobium Angustifolium prominent in the foreground. I had half a mind to make a dash for Fladbury or Lower Moor for another shot but the way that the train Honeybourne station at 12.18 made me think that the driver was a main with a mission and that I would struggle to make it in time. I think I was right; 6Z33 was reported as being past Norton Junction at 12.40...
The rake of autics that has been in store at Long Marston for nearly 2 years has finally been removed for scrapping. The car carriers left behind Cotswold Rail's 47813 and ran as 6Z21 Long Marston to York Holgate Sidings with a booked departure time of 11.50. I received a call at 10.35 saying that the train was on its way to Honeybourne and hoped for this early running to continue. Unfortunately, someone decided that the train should remain on the East Loop at Honeybourne until the correct time despite there being a perfectly valid path to Worcester. Here is 6Z21 at 12.25 on the line between Honeybourne and Evesham just before power was shut off for the slight down gradient to Evesham station. The treadles visible in front of the leading bogie of 47813 operate the automatic half barrier crossing at Clayfield, the crossing adjacent to the site of Littleton and Badsey station being operated under CCTV from Evesham signalbox.
Cotswold Rail's 47810 took 2 DVTs, 82134 +82128, from Gloucester to Long Marston on 5 September 2007. The train, running as 5Z82, was reported as over 40 minutes late on the northbound run to Worcester where the locomotive was booked to run-round the stock, but was just 3 minutes late leaving there, thanks to an extended layover being curtailed by the late running. Here is the train rounding the curve at Lower Moor, just east of Pershore, just about spot on time at 12.10. in a patch of sun that appeared from absolutely nowhere as soon as the train became audible in the distance and disappeared just as quickly...
I was just settling down in my office on 19 September 2007 to get to grips with the post-processing of some pictures from the previous day when my BlackBerry delivered a message saying that 66727 was en-route from Derby to Long Marston, due to arrive at 10.05. A light engine move like this usually means that there will be a loaded train out, so I left home home at 09.45 for the 12 minute trip. 0Z66 arrived just a couple of minutes late by which time I had established that a long rake of VTG liveried JNAs was in road 2 of the exchange sidings ready to be taken to Toton. The locomotive was soon coupled up and the crew started on their procedure to check the couplings and brake connections. The sun was in and out so I took a couple of shots while the train sat in the sidings hoping that the train, 6Z66, would leave before its booked departure time of 12.35.
66727 whirred into action just 4 minutes before its booked time and just managed to miss the sun. Two minutes either way would have been better! Still, 22 JNAs make for an interesting shot here despite the lack of light and the train is here seen gently negotiating the exit from the exchange sidings. The second man, just visible, had to wait for the rear wagon to clear the points being resetting the road and walking the length of the train and getting in the cab of 66727.
I arrived at Honeybourne some 5 minutes before 6Z66 and just as a Worcester-bound Adelante was approaching the station stop. 66727 came round the curve on the East Loop and here it is with its JNAs just drawing to a halt prior to joining the main Cotswold Line. The light had deteriorated to the point of near darkness by now as can be seen from the brightness of the main headlight on the locomotive.
By the time permission had been obtained for 6Z66 to cross over to the main line at Honeybourne the transition from daylight to darkness was pretty much complete. Still, a lengthy freight here hasn't been the most common of sights, most of the moves having been much shorter so I felt almost obliged to take a record shot, with the rear of the train disappearing into the background undergrowth.
The former MOD site at Long Marston has not been receiving or despatching trains for a couple of weeks following a derailment in the exchange sidings. Network Rail found everything to be in order over the weekend of 13/14 October 2007 and the first train ran on Monday 15th when 47828 went in light engine and collected a long rake of PGAs which it took to Appleford, near Didcot. 6Z50, the 15.30 from Long Marston, is here seen at Lower Moor running some 45 minutes late after a late departure and having to wait for an up passenger train to clear the single track from Norton Junction to Evesham. When the Cotswold Line is re-doubled, hopefully in the not too distant future, freight along here may be seen more frequently, as it would be a valuable diversionary route.
First GBRf's 66725 has recently been named "Sunderland" and in recent days has been used to move stock around the network. On 18 October 2007 its duties took it from Bristol Temple Meads to Long Marston with 2 Virgin coaches and and DVT for storage. The train, 5Z44, was booked to arrive at Evesham at 12.19 after a run-round at Worcester, where some early running was knocked out of it by the need to wait for its path onto the single track Cotswold Line from Norton Junction. The train stood in the station for nearly 30 minutes which gave ample time for a wander around to the other end for a photo of it standing in the platform where a lot of shadows from the adjacent trees cause a few photographic problems at this time of the year.
Another chapter in the life of the PGA hoppers trialled by FM Rail for coal traffic was closed on 30 October 2007 when 30 of them were taken to Long Marston for storage. The remaining 28 will go at a later date, probably 31 October, as the exchange sidings at Long Marston would not be able take the full rake at one time. The train, running as 6Z45, the 11.08 from Gloucester was hauled by Cotswold Rail's 47828 and is here seen passing the site of Fladbury station, between Pershore and Evesham. I thought that there would be some Autumnal colours here but wasn't quite prepared for the sheer intensity of the hues on display. I must add that the colours have not been enhanced in any way during the post-processing of the image.
Another train of rolling stock for storage at Long Marston ran on 1 November 2007, consisting of a set of IKA Megafret flats previously used by Victa Westlink Rail on their ill-fated intermodal services. This time it came from Foundry Lane, carried the headcode 4V66 and was hauled by 66726. I saw no reports of it's progress further south than Crewe but went to Evesham for a shot as the location is identifiable and OK with or without the sun. The latter was the case and the train of flats came into view some 20 minutes early at 12.14 and ran into the station where it would have to had waited until a late-running down passenger train arrived from the south. Given the slightly uninspiring nature of the train's consist I didn't bother a second shot at or near Long Marston but instead went home for an early lunch.
The remaining 28 PGAs previously used by FM Rail were taken from Gloucester to Long Marston on 5 November 2007. The locomotive originally allocated to the job was Cotswold Rail's 47375 but this had transmogrified into 47703 by the time it reached its destination. The weather had cleared from fog into high cloud with the sun poking through when 6Z45 came into view at Long Marston a few minutes early on the booked schedule but the whole scene was still pretty murky with the limited amount of illumination coming straight into the lens.
An outward move, 6Z50, was showing as running on 5 November 2007 and the short train is shown leaving Long Marston for Gloucester some 2 hours early at 13.35. The 2 wagons being taken out had been placed on the line leading from the exchange sidings to the site's main loop for collection which avoided the need for any shunting moves. The light was right on the front of 47703 but on such a dull day any light was more than welcome.
While waiting for 47703 to arrive at Long Marston on 5 November 2007 I noticed that a Pendolino power car and some sheeted-over trailers were stored in one of the sidings adjacent to the wood. I had packed my 200mm lens and took this shot of the vehicles, presumably those involved in the Grayrigg incident earlier in the year, from the road bridge at the Honeybourne end of the exchange sidings.
Two MML HST buffet vehicles, 40723 + 40732, were taken from Neville Hill (Leeds) to Bescot on 13 November 2007. The following day they were taken, sandwiched between 2 barrier vehicles, to Long Marston by 66103. 6Z80 is here seen passing under clear lower quadrant semaphores at Evesham. The train had to wait in the station for a northbound Adelante to clear the single track section from Moreton in Marsh before proceeding to Honeybourne where it gained the branch to Long Marston. It is to be hoped that these coaches will soon be back in use as it would be a criminal waste of a first-rate resource for them to be stored out-of-use for too long.
One of the most unusual moves to Long Marston took place on 19 November 2007. 33103 took long-withdrawn 56021 and 56011 with some barrier wagons, 5 coaches to provide brake force and 2 Megafret flats from Chaddesden to Long Marston as 6V33. The 56s, flats and coaches, apart from the intercity example and 4 ex-Wessex trains, had been taken from storage at Mantle Lane, Coalville the previous week. The locomotives were in a deplorable state after vandalism at Coalville, including graffiti and missing windows, looking barely fit to travel by rail. Here is the odd-looking consist passing Evesham signalbox about 30 minutes late.
Sod's Law operated as 6V33 arrived at Long Marston on 19 November 2007; the sun came out at exactly the wrong time and given the time of day shone straight down the line and into my lens. The only saving grace was that it was just high enough in the sky not to in the picture so avoiding a lot more lens flare than would otherwise have been the case. I thought it worthwhile to include this image in view of the exceptionally rare nature of the event.
On arriving at Long Marston to get another shot of 33103 with 6V33, I hoped that the sun would be behind clouds as at that time of day it shines directly down the line and into the camera lens for a train arriving from Honeybourne. Needless to say the sun came out just at the wrong time, hence the dodgy nature of my shot from the roadbridge shown above. Here is a closer-up view of the two 56s as they wait to gain entrance into Long Marston headed by 33101. To the best of my knowledge these are the first 56s to have used the branch from Honeybourne as the other example in the site came in by road. Class 33s aren't exactly commonplace either but have worked here on a railtour and on a few occasions in the 1960s on excursion traffic to Stratford-upon-Avon.
33103 was detached from the train and ran round the stock along No.2 road. In the meantime, 12082 took the 2 Megafret flats out of the way while the 56s and blue and grey stock were detached from the Intercity and Wessex-liveried stock. These 5 coaches were included in the train to provide brake force as the 56s and barriers were almost certainly incapable of providing any themselves. 33103 was then attached to the 5 coaches ready for the return trip.
While all the shunting was going on this rainbow appeared over the woods at the north side of the Long Marston site. So, there is no pot of gold at the end of a rainbow after all; just a Virgin Trains MkIII coach...
In the hope that the sun would stay out long enough to illuminate 33103 and its stock on the East Loop at Honeybourne, I made the 5 minute journey across country to the station. Unfortunately, dark clouds rolled in before the train arrived and the light dipped to almost impossibly poor levels. Just as I took this shot in the last vestiges of daylight, the heavens opened and I scurried away to the shelter of my car in the adjacent station car park. Just a couple of minutes passed before 33103 drew into the platform, picked up the men who had operated the ground frame, before heading off towards Evesham and Worcester. The dots visible over the hill in the background are not caused by dirt on my camera's sensor but are actually a flock of fieldfares, a member of the thrush family which comes to Great Britain from Scandinavia for the Autumn and Winter.
The former Fragonset class 33, 33103 was used for another move to Long Marston on Monday 26 November 2007. This time it ran as 6V86 from Oxley and conveyed the Anglia-liveried 86223 along with 7 MkII coaches. The weather during the morning was dreadful and I went to the roadbridge at Long Marston, the nearest point to my home. The train was a few minutes because of some late running by a down FGW service from Paddington and in the event this delay was a good thing. At 13.05 in November, the sun here is very low and straight down the track. At that precise moment, the booked arrival time, the misty sky cleared for a couple of minutes and the sun came out. This is what happened last week when 33103 brought in a couple of scrap class 56s and I missed out on the shot because of the impossible lighting conditions. This time though, the clouds soon closed in and a shot, albeit a bit dull, was achieved.
I was surprised to see that 86223 still carried its "Norwich Union" nameplates; I would have thought that these potentially valuable items would have been long removed and perhaps bought, or given to Aviva, the group owning the eponymous insurance company. Here is 33103 hauling the electric locomotive plus one Virgin, 2 Intercity and 4 Wessex liveried coaches into the exchange sidings.
I had hoped that some of the coaches were to be taken out of Long Marston, as had happened last week, but this was not to be. 33103 was soon uncoupled from 6V86 and made off light engine back to presumably, Derby. I think this is the only class 33/1 to have been here hence the inclusion of this picture. I cannot recall another "Bagpipe" having visited the branch although 33116 has worked a railtour on the Cotswold main line.
On Tuesday 18 December 2007, Cotswold Rail used their newly-acquired 47237 to move 4 class 31s from Meldon Quarry to Gloucester with 7 InterCity MkII coaches to provide brake force. The following day, they were moved to Long Marston for storage, being booked to leave at 10.05 and running as 5Z85. I had planned to go to Badgeworth, just south of Cheltenham for a first shot, but there was a lot of cloud and mist so saved a few litres of petrol by going to Defford. Just before the train was due, the sun partially came out and made the hitherto straightfowardly dull lighting conditions a little more challenging with the illumination coming straight down the line and into my lens. Anyway, here is 47237 with 31439, 31301, 31423 and 31437 in tow along with the 7 coaches on the way to Worcester Yard where a run-round and remarshalling of the train was necessary to ensure that the unbraked 31s were behind the train engine.
47237 with 5Z85 had been reported as leaving Worcester Yard some 20 minutes early, which was a bit of a relief as there always scope for Mr Cockup to pay a visit when a run-round and remarshalling is necessary. Better still, the sun was nicely out of some misty clouds as the impressive-looking ensemble passed the signalbox. I chose this location in order to get a decent view of the train, as opposed to just the leading locomotive, even though I have taken rather a lot of shots here in recent times. A lot of alternative locations on the Cotswold Line are shadowed at this time of year and whilst there are some clear ground level shots, I felt that a higher viewpoint would enable a better view of the 31s, particularly as the train would be moving only very slowly at this point. The most notable of the 31s, from its generally disgraceful state, was 31301 on which the through brake pipe can clearly be seen. This looked a little different from the previous time I had photographed it while working an engineering train at Wilmcote in the company of 25287 in October 1984.
I don't normally bother with light engine moves but on 2 January 2008, 73201 was due to be transferred from Wimbledon Park in London to Long Marston, where it is to be stored. I don't think there are many photographs of 73s on either the Cotswold Line or the former GWR line from Honeybourne to Stratford-upon-Avon so I decided to have a quick trip out for a record shot. The weather during the morning was dreadful, with very low cloud and cold drizzly rain, which didn't bode well. The train, 0Z47, reached Worcester early but was fortunately held until right time before leaving the yard there and this gave the chance of slightly better weather. I was going to go straight to Long Marston but the sky looked slightly clearer further west so I carried on to Evesham to find the place in total cloud. Just as the train appeared in the distance, some 5 minutes early, a small hole broke in the cloud and this stayed open as 66726 and 73201 passed the signalbox giving the unprecedented sight of a South West Trains liveried locomotive in the area,
0Z47 was booked to stand in Evesham station for the thick end of 30 minutes so I had a steady drive over to Long Marston expecting a wait in the cold. However, it turned out that the stop was long enough only to use the token exchange equipment in the broom cupboard on the platform. This meant that my wait was only about 5 minutes before the 66 and its odd companion came into view. I didn't bother with the shot approaching the bridge as the sun was straight into the lens, but went instead for the more interesting view of 73201 waiting to be taken into the exchange sidings. There was just time to change my standard lens for a long telephoto to obtain this picture as the 73 ran into the siding.
A pair of the HNRC class 20s saw some activity on Tuesday 8 January 2008 when 20905 + 20901 took 4 Arriva-liveried coaches from Crewe to Long Marston. The train was booked to run on either the 7th or 8th and the weather forecast for the latter was for heavy rain in the Midlands. This fortunately didn't materialise, although a 40 minute late start from Crewe threatened to put a dampener on the proceedings because of the few available paths along the Cotswold Line from Norton Junction to Honeybourne. In the event 5Z90 was diverted from its booked route via Walsall and Sutton Park and ran via the much quicker and shorter route through Bescot to New Street and thence back on route at Kings Norton. This allowed for its original path from Worcester and it did, in fact, manage to run a few minutes early. In view of the amount of cloud I decided to go to Honeybourne where a decently wide shot can be had to show off the contrast between the locomotives and stock and here is 5Z90 arriving in the platform much to the bemusement of the solitary passenger waiting for his train south!
It doesn't usually take long to drive from Honeybourne to Long Marston and I arrived in plenty of time to set myself up for my usual arrival shot. I'm sort of surprised that this shot is sharp because the wind was blowing an absolute gale into my face at this exposed location and it took some effort to hold the camera steady. The light grey livery of the 20s is a distinct advantage on a dull day as it shows up much better than EWS maroon or the dark green of some class 47s. It was good to see something different appear in the distance and then to hear the whistling as 5Z90 came into earshot.
The sun briefly appeared just as the gate to the site at Long Marston was opened and the train moved into the exchange sidings. Very little time was wasted in uncoupling the locomotives from the Arriva stock and 20901 + 20905 soon came back onto the branch and made a lovely sound as they accelerated away light engine towards Honeybourne, Evesham and Bristol Temple Meads.
Four KXA awagons were due to be taken to Long Marston during the week commencing 31 December 2007. The train, from Crewe, ran very late and through the combination of a lack of paths on the Cotswold Line and darkness, which was considered unsafe at the unlit Long Marston facility, the wagons were stabled in the up refuge siding adjacent to Evesham signalbox. On 9 January 2008, 66406 was sent from Crewe to take the KXAs to Long Marston and to collect another rake which were to go to Carlisle. Here is the locomotive arriving ay Evesham just about on time at 12.45 with the driver being given instructions by the signaller. The plan was to run forward into the platform and then reverse into the sidings, couple up the wagons and then go to Long Marston, departing at 13.55.
The first part of the exercise ran smoothly with 66406 running into the platform and the signaller setting the road for the siding. Unfortunately, he seemed to have difficulty in pulling off the ground signal and eventually, with an up passenger train waiting at the outer home signal the locomotive ran forward beyond the starter and then reversed into the down platform to allow the Adelante to come into the station. 0Z73 then went beyond the signal box and onto the single track towards Worcester before reversing yet again and going into the platform. This time, a Network Rail man clamped and scotched the points and after a bit of manual labour, the ground signal cleared. Here is 66406 leaving the main line and entering the siding. By this time, the weather had deteriorated and rain had just started to fall with a sudden increase in the strength of the wind.
It didn't take long to couple 66406 to the KXAs but there did appear to be some problem with the brake connections as various hi-visibility jacketed men were walking up and down the down the train while the locomotive's compressor could clearly be heard working away. The sun made a brief appearance and I took the opportunity to take this shot, albeit not one with which I am especially happy, but it is very rare to see anything but on-track plant using this piece of line. The few of us watching proceedings from the nearby road thought that we might get the shot of 4Z73 departing in some decent light, but it seemed that both the locomotive and Network Rail crews were due a break and most of them went into the signalbox for a well-earned brew-up. In the meantime, their path to Long Marston had gone and an up HST came and went....
The break became quite extended and I was beginning to wonder if the crew had found a problem with the train. However, all was well, and after some record shots had been taken by the crew, they joined the locomotive and moved away towards the station. Here is 66406 and 4Z73 scoring some rare track in the last remnants of brightness. None of these could be repeated as the siding was taken out of use when the North Cotswold Line was redoubled and and late in 2018 work to extend the up platform in Evesham station. This removed the site of the crossover. I have always thought that a refuge siding here, at the start/end of the single line section from Norton Junction, would be useful in case of failure or delay but it seems for now at least that the chance has gone.
I had originally thought that the train consisted of flats similar to those used by Freightliner but was surprised to see the size and scale of these double-bogied vehicles. Click on this hyperlink for a closer look at the first vehicle in the train. It was no surprise to learn that the return working of another set of wagons from Long Marston, 4Z37 to Carlisle ran late and was observed by a friend on the 15.51 ex-Paddington just coming to a halt at Honeybourne Junction at 17.50. The delay increased mightily and the train passed Worcester Depot at 22.50 observed by another friend working there. There had been a crew change - to a blond lady driver who had come in a taxi from Crewe! Thanks to David Guy and Steve Widdowson for the additional information from Honeybourne and Worcester.
One of the few remaining EWS class 37s was moved down from Scotland to Bescot during the night of 14 January 2008. It did a trip to Washwood Heath on the 15th and on the 16th ran to Long Marston and back. The outward trip, 6Z80, conveyed around 25 ferrywagons and is here seen covering the countryside with smoke in weak sun passing the site of the station at Fladbury, near Pershore. The train had been running in excess of 20 minutes late but managed to keep its path on the Cotswold Line through having a stop booked for 28 minutes at Worcester, which saved the day.
I wasn't too bothered about charging over to Long Marston for 6Z80's arrival so had a gentle drive across with a view to getting the return trip, 6Z81. However, there was plenty of time and I waited for some 10 minutes before the train appeared in the distance, coming along the branch from Honeybourne. The lighting here at around mid-day is a little harsh when the sun is out but it is possible to obtain a reasonable, if slightly impressionistic, image. I must thank Tom Homer for shielding my lens from the sun with his hand as this cut down the amount of lens flare I was suffering.
Once the long rake of ferrywagons had been placed in the exchange sidings 37417 pulled forward and picked up a long rake of flates which had been stabled on the loop in front of the engine sheds in the background. The last ferrywagon was fouling the road so the Motorail Logistics crew detached it from the rake and pulled it forward into the headshunt. I hadn't seen their locomotive, named Rachael, in use before; I think it is one of the 3 shunters that were in use at the Longbridge car factory in happier times. 37417 is here seen threading its way out of the sidings prior to leaving, as 6Z81, for Bescot.
The train moved slowly away from the sidings and out onto the branch. As it was a long train, it sat a long way down the line while the final checks were made. The sun was getting a little straight by now, but given the lack of sunlight so far this year one shouldn't complain too much. The trackbed of the line to Stratford-upon-Avon is gradually disappearing under vegetation. There are still airy-fairy plans for this line to be reopened and much as I would love to see this happen, I'm not going to hold my breath...
I had plenty of time to move around the corner to the foot crossing near Broad Marston where the sun was in a much better position. I had to wait for around 20 minutes before I heard 37417 start 6Z81 moving towards Honeybourne. Ground level shots are not my favourite but this one, framed with the buds of an ash tree, isn't too bad and does give a feel of this very rural branch. This location is near to the site of a halt built by the GWR which was closed in the 1930s and replaced with a slightly larger structure a few hundred yards closer to Honeybourne. The latter, Pebworth Halt, closed in the 1960s.
The final couple of shots were taken at Honeybourne itself. This picture shows 37417 with 6Z81 standing on the East Loop while waiting for a path to Evesham and Worcester. A down Adelante had gone west a few minutes earlier and there wasn't long to wait before this reached Evesham and a crew member left the locomotive in order to operate the ground frame.
Permission to proceed was soon obtained from Evesham signalbox and 37417 drew slowly forward across the connecting spur from the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne. It was gratifying that the sun stayed out for the whole session and that any shadows from adjacent vegetation weren't too intrusive. I hope that the sun stayed out for those photographers I know to have been waiting further down the line on the other side of Evesham.
37417 made its 3rd trip of the week to Long Marston on Friday 18 January 2007. The rather decrepit and uncared for locomotive took yet another rake of ferrywagons for storage at the former MOD site and is here seen passing the signalbox at Evesham. It doesn't look too unlike one of the MOD trips that used to run from Worcester up until the 1990s so I fancied a shot here despite the poor weather. This was the sort of session I like in that I arrived on the bridge at 12.28, saw the signals drop at 12.31 and took the photograph at 12.35. No hanging about for ages in a strong wind wondering if it was going to make it this far. Use the hyperlink for another shot of 6Z80 as it passes the inner home signal. By the following day, 37417 had migrated north and was working on the regular train to Anglesey, so my Friday shots at Evesham may have been the final chance to see an EWS 37 here for a while. I'm not a fanatical fan of the class but do enjoy hearing a locomotive working and it's hard to beat the sound of an English Electric power unit at full chat...
Cotswold Rail have recently 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 2007. 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 is here 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.
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.
I mentioned above that 47847 was taking a train from Doncaster to Long Marston during the afternoon of 22 January 2008 and after leaving Honeybourne I headed home via a rather circuitous route to see this working. The light totally caved in whilst I was driving around the lanes of Worcestershire so just made for the nearest location, Evesham signalbox, or at least the roadbridge just to the west of it. I had only a short wait before the signals were pulled off and 5Z47 came into view. A MkIII HST buffet, 40811, was being taken for storage and it is here seen sandwiched between a couple of barriers in simply dreadful light. I don't think I would have bothered to come out especially for this, as the locomotive isn't in its most attractive state and the dull light doesn't really show off the fine GNER livery to the best advantage.
There should have been a train to Long Marston from Derby Engineers Sidings on Tuesday 29 January 2008, but this was cancelled during the morning. Instead, 31454 was sent light diesel from Gloucester as 0Z67 to pick up something and take it back to Gloucester. I went across to the Long Marston site to see a rake of 7 InterCity MkII coaches waiting in the exchange sidings and thought that a nice picture of a complete IC train was going to be a distinct possiblity. Here is 31454 just after arrival awaiting instructions and permission to enter the sidings.
As far as I am aware, 31454 is the first InterCity liveried locomotive to have entered the yard at Long Marston under its own power, and it's always nice to get a record of something new on one's favourite patch. The booked departure time was 14.55 but the train, now running as 5Z68, started to move along the exchange sidings at just after 13.30. Here it is, complete with the 7 MkIIs, as it heads towards the "One Train Only" branch to Honeybourne, running alongside some of the recently arrived ferrywagons which came in a couple of weeks ago.
I just had time to switch lenses from my long telephoto to something a little shorter before 31454 joined the branch. The sun had been shining a short while before 5Z68 moved but dipped behind a thick layer of grey cloud just at the wrong time. Still, the uniform appearance of the locomotive and coaches is aesthetically pleasing and a sight not seen for some time.
My usual move after Long Marston is the quick dash to Honeybourne to photograph the train arriving at the end of the former East Loop. Today though, I had planned on going somewhere for a change, but found the entrance gated and locked. In the event, things turned out quite well because 5Z68's driver brought his train forward beyond the spur to the main line to give his colleague a shorter walk to the ground frame where the telephone and block instruments are kept. This is an unusual move and I wonder if it was to save time because there was only available a limited amount of time to get through the single track section to the passing loop at Evesham station. Whatever the reason, it was good to record the move; it is strange how these little things can make a difference to the session.
I couldn't resist including this shot showing 31454 chucking out some black exhaust as it propelled the stock back towards the point giving access to spur across to the main line. The driver's colleague has just obtained clearance to put the token into the ground frame, which will be released by Evesham signalbox, and within a few seconds operated the levers and signalled 5Z68 to come forward.
Here is my final shot of the day as 31454 brings its 7 MkIIs across the spur and joins the main line to Evesham, before heading off to Worcester for a run-round and going back to Gloucester. It would be an understatemment to say that the train made a spirited departure from Honeybourne - I haven't a 31 make such a racket for years - and it was audible for ages as it went away. I believe that the coaches are destined for Meldon Quarry and will be taken there tomorrow, 30 January 2008.
The 3 final operational class 87s were taken away from their spiritual home, Wembley Depot, on Tuesday 29 January 2008. They were due to be taken to Long Marston for storage but an after-dark arrival was scheduled so I felt confident that the move would be curtailed, probably by stabling the locomotives in Worcester Yard. This happened and the final stage of their journey was completed on Thursday 31 January when GBRf's 47805 came up from Bristol to do the honours. The day started with abyssmal weather, torrential rain and gale-force winds, but by 12.00 the rain had stopped and a little brightness appeared. I make no apology for going to Evesham to photograph the move as this was quite simply the best place to get reasonably wide views of the 87s, especially as the sun made a very welcome appearance. Here is 47805 passing the signalbox with 87028, 87002 , and 87022 in tow.
It wasn't long before 47805 arrived at Long Marston and took the 87s into the exchange sidings. Looking very like a Guard of Honour, the crew keep a vigilant eye on the locomotives as they go across the pointwork into road 2.
This picture was taken just before 47805 was uncoupled from the 87s and whilst the crews were out of sight behind the line-up. Another class 87 is just visible at the extreme right of the shot, it was obviously brought around to greet the new arrivals...
The last view of 47805 and the 3 87s was taken just as the former joined the OTO section to Honeybourne and the gate was shut and locked behind it. I had expected to get another shot, assuming that the industrial locomotive would simply be hooked onto 87022 and then take them off around the internal loop to the secure area. In the event, the Motorail Logistics crew boarded their steed, went along No.1 road and disappeared, leaving the 87s catching the last rays of afternoon sun.
I was fortunate in that several local friends were keeping me updated with status reports of this Gloucester to Long Marston train on 4 March 2008. 6Z45 should have run yesterday but one of the class 37s due for movement, 37704, was found to have had seized brakes. The same problem was still extant the following day but this time the recalcitrant locomotive was shunted out of the consist leaving just 37898 and four JKA wagons to be moved. I suppose the train was in the region of 90 minutes late when it passed Badgeworth, but this wasn't too much of a problem as far as a path on the Cotswold Line was concerned as there was quite a long layover scheduled in Worcester Yard. The class 37 has been stored outside both at Bristol and Gloucester and this is clearly evident in the sorry state of the former Transrail locomotive.
While driving along the M5 after leaving Badgeworth I realised that I should be easily able to reach Evesham just in time for a second shot of 47237 and 37989. I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare and was quite lucky in that the sun managed to avoid some dense cloud just as 6Z45 came into view. Click on this hyperlink for the closer look at the dreadful state of 37898. There appears to be a good growth of algae on the nose of the tractor, a good sign that there was some rain while the locomotive was stored outside.
I wasn't planning to do anything on the railway front on Wednesday 12 March 2008, but when a message came through saying that 66713 was running light engine to Long Marston, I decided, mostly out of curiosity, to pop over and see what was being taken out. When I arrived, there was no sign of the 66, despite it having left Worcester around 45 minutes early, but there was a permanent way gang working on the branch. I thought for a moment that a tree had been blown across the line during the strong overnight winds but the locomotive, running as 0Z46, soon came into view and entered the yard, as here seen.
Standing on road 2 of the exchange sidings at Long Marston was a rake of 6 MkII coaches, 5 in Anglia colours and the final one in Virgin red and white. 66713 ran straight onto the stock and coupled on. It seemed to me that there were some problems with obtaining a brake as there was much to-ing and fro-ing of the crew and occasional loud hissing noise from 66713. All was eventually ready and the crew settled down in the cab and awaited departure time.
The train, now running as 5Z46, started moving onto the OTO line to Honeybourne at 12.40, just as the sun was beginning to come out of some dense cloud. Fortunately, there was just about enough light for a decent picture with some shadow to be seen.
I made the short drive to Honeybourne in the hope that the sun would come out enough to obtain one or two pictures while 5Z46 was standing on the East Loop while both up and down HSTs used the single track. In fact the sun stayed out pretty much all the time and I took an inordinate number of repetitive shots from slightly different angles. This one is my favourite, taken as the second HST, en-route to Worcester, slowly approached the station.
Once the HST shown above had left Honeybourne station, 2 crew members left 66713 and made their way to the ground frame in readiness for operating the system to allow 5Z46 onto the main line once given permission to proceed the Evesham signalbox. I took a further shot of the train standing on the East Loop so as to show the colour contrast between the locomotive and its stock. For a slightly tighter view of the train click here. There was a very strong wind blowing and it was difficult to hold my camera and its long lens steady enough, so I was glad to have taken my monopod up to the bridge with me. These are great pieces of kit as not only do they greatly help in keeping a camera steady but also take the weight of a heavy camera and long lens combination off one's shoulders.
Whilst I was waiting for 5Z46 to be given the right of way onto the Cotswold Line at Honeybourne, I had a play with a bit of differential focusing using a high shutter speed and a small aperture. It's a shame that the blossom on the tree wasn't more advanced but I was still quite pleased with the result. Maybe it will be possible to try again with blossom in a few weeks if a suitable train comes out of Long Marston...
After standing for so long in the sun at Honeybourne, I felt slightly cheated when the sun didn't completely illuminate the stock when 66713 and 5Z46 moved across the spur from the East Loop onto the main line. The stock in the picture was heading for Eastleigh via a run-round at Worcester and then by sea to New Zealand where the coach bodies are to be used. The stock was in a terrible state some with boarded-over windows and with evidence of a fire in the Virgin-liveried example, which incidentally, was half-full of rubbish!
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 Cotswold 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.
Another set of the new JPA cement wagons owned by LaFarge were moved to Long Marston on 26 March 2008. These has been languishing in Worcester Yard for a couple weeks following a very late start from Bescot and subsequent cancellation of the train. The train, jeaded by 66084, is here seen approaching the end of its journey and visible on the back are an acid tank, an Imerys china clay tank and 8 KEA box wagons. Click on this link for a closer look at one of the JPAs.
The train in Long Marston exchange sidings, 6Z80 from Worcester Yard, was quite long and the crew didn't draw forward quite enough to allow 66084 to leave No.2 road. The Mototrail Logistics crew uncoupled the KEAs and older tanls from the JPAs and drew the section of the train forward onto the loop so that 0Z81 could safely exit the yard and return to Bescot. The shunting locomotive appears to have received a recent coat of undercoat and no numbers were visible, so it remains unidentified for the time bieng.
A set of 8 Freightliner Heavy Haul HXA hoppers were taken from Midland Road, Leeds to Long Marston on 1 April 2008. The hoppers are to receive some remedial work and are here seen rounding the curve at Stoke Prior some 2 hours late behind 47828 but in an especially lucky patch of sun. The P-Way workers visible in the background arrived while I was at Stoke Prior and I had had visions of my pictures being full of orange jackets but the man in charge told me they would be far enough away not to be a nuisance!
47828 and its train of HXAs was due to arrive at Evesham at 15.21, but knowing the vicissitudes of the Cotswold Line I decided on a quick drive over there from Stoke Prior in case an earlier path might be found from Worcester. My hunch paid off and here is 6Z76 passing the signal box at Evesham at 14.53 having followed a Paddington-bound HST from Worcester. There had been time for the crew to switch headboards from the usual "Advenza Freight" as shown on the picture above, to this one! The rear bracket on the locomotive carried a different one again, "The Marauder". The colourful van in the yard adjacent to the line had just pulled up as the train came, in an otherwise, for once, empty space.
There was plenty of time for a gentle stroll around to the roadbridge at the eastern end of Evesham station for a shot of 6Z76 standing in the platform. The shadows from the trees aren't too intrusive at this time of year when the foliage hasn't appeared and it was worth the wait for the sun to appear to record the unusual sight of FLHH hoppers in the GWR environs. The train didn't have to wait for long and the crew soon collected the token for the section to Honeybourne from the broom cupboard on the platform and headed off to Long Marston. The locomotive returned light engine to Gloucester and was later that evening noted at Reading West Yard.
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.
On Friday 18 April 2008 I had a quick trip to to Long Marston to see what 66710, previously reported as going there light engine, was up to. I arrived at the same time as the locomotive and within a few minutes one of the resident industrial locomotives, Rachael, came into view with 6 FLHH hoppers which have been receiving attention. I believe Rachael was one of the 3 locomotives from the now-closed Longbridge motor works in in Birmingham and has found a new lease of life here.
The FLHH hoppers were soon propelled in the the second road of Long Marston's exchange sidings and once uncoupled from Rachael were ready for 66710 to leave the main line" and join them. The booked departure time was some 90 minutes hence at this point and I felt disinclined to hang around in the cold easterly wind so went home.
Another set of six FLHH hoppers for in-warranty rectification work were taken from Hunslet, near Leeds to Long Marston on 6 May 2008. This time the locomotive was 66723 and 4Z73 is seen about to pass over the boarded foot crossing at Lower Moor, near Pershore. Despite the clear sky behind the train, quite a lot of cloud had built up near the sun and a large piece obscured the sun only a few seconds after the train had passed me. The secondman in the cab of 66723 seems to be amused by something - my large floppy hat maybe?!
I saw a message on the morning of 20 May 2008 saying that 66709 was working a 4Z87 Hunslet to Long Marston and after a quick check, realised that I didn't have a decent shot of this locomotive taken on digital equipment. I didn't want to travel too far as my day-to-day car was having the climate control re-gassed so would have to go in my 1969 Morris Minor - not a problem as it's as least as reliable as any more modern car, but the seats aren't all that comfortable for long journeys! With that in mind I went to Evesham, just for a change, and arrived to see an a FGW Adelante, 180104, sitting in the down platform. An HST soon arrived heading east so I knew that 4Z87 wasn't going to be too far away. The sky was uniformly cloudy with just a few small breaks but my luck at this location held yet again and the sun came through as 66709 appeared on the curve behind the signal box. I think this is 66709's first visit to the Cotswold Line and to Long Marston but there was no way I was going to beat the train to the latter in Albert the Morris so headed home.
A Open Day was held at Long Marston on Saturday 7 June 2008 and for the first time in recent years, a railtour from Euston was organised to take passengers directly into the site. I didn't go to the Open Day as I don't have much interest in photographing endless lines of static stock, especially when I have photographed pretty much all of them in much more interesting circumstances when en-route to the site. I also have little interest in railtours but didn't want to miss the chance to record the first passenger train on the branch from Honeybourne since 15 October 2000, so here is a filthy 66182 topping 1Z58 as it slowly approaches the end of its journey. The light here is not favourable at this time of day, especially when the sun is shining on some parts of the scene and not others. Still, I was happy to get a record shot...
The train from Euston to the Long Marston Open Day was tailed by 66081, seen here as 1Z58 cautiously crawls along No 1 road watched by a bevy of photographers and staff ensuring nothing amiss happens to the train on the ancient trackwork.
The new GBRf initiative, a sort of modern pick-up goods serving long Marston runs every Tuesday and Friday and is currently conveying FLHH hoppers receiving new bogies. I have covered some of the runs and knowing that only a single hopper was forming 4Z87 from Hunslet on 10 June 2008 wasn't going to bother until I remembered that a GBRf locomotive, 66722 had been left at Long Marston over the weekend in order to make an appearance at the Open Day. With the prospect of a double-header in mind I had a trip over to find the Metronet livieried locomotive at the head of 4 hoppers in the exchange sidings, to which was added a further four a few minutes after my arrival. The train locomotive for 4Z87 was 66724 which is here pictured after a slightly early arrival waiting for the gate to be opened.
It wasn't long before 66724 ran into No.2 road and the single hopper shunted off by the resident class 08. This allowed 4Z89 to be formed and after a long period of checking brake connections and couplings the train moved gingerly towards the exit road, where it sat for some time. So long in fact that as the sun was becoming too straight for a decent shot and with about 45 minutes until the booked departure time I decided to leave Long Mraston and make the short journey to Honeybourne.
I expected to have quite a wait on the side of the roadbridge at Honeybourne before 4Z89 came into view, but it was only about 10 minutes before I heard a horn on the branch and 66724 appeared. Somewhat unusually, the train stopped on the curve in the distance with only the leading locomotive visible but after a few minutes normality reasserted itself and it ran towards the ground frame. The countryside has lost its fresh green appearance and nearly all the Spring blossom has disappeared, with the exception of the Elderberry bushes.
There was about 30 minutes before the booked departure time and with no sign of movement from the cab of 66724 it looked as if 4Z89 would wait for the booked time. I spent a few minutes taking a few shots from different angles as this was the first time double-headed 66s in different liveries had appeared here. With plenty of time in hand I then decided to make a move to the other side of Evesham to take full advantage of the sunshine.
The nearest decent location without a long walk, for which I might not have had time, is Lower Moor and I arrived there to find a small gallery in situ. I hadn't really thought that the train could have gone but a bit of reassurance is always nice! It was around 15 minutes before a horn announced that 4Z89 was coming and here it is running at a good speed through the attractive countryside between Evesham and Pershore on the way back to Leeds.
Long Marston has seen some odd-looking trains in recent years but this must take the biscuit for the oddest. 666722+66724 arrived from Leeds with a single FLHH hopper on Friday 13 June 2008 but the return working, 4Z89 to Crewe was the real focus of interest. 87002 Royal Sovereign was due to be taken out prior to a loaded test run next week but I wasn't really expecting to see such a mixed train being formed up in the exchange sidings. Here is 66722 with 87002, a Cargo-D Mk3, and 3 FLHH hoppers all tailed by 67724 leaving the site at about 16.00, nearly 2 hours late following a delayed arrival. Following a period of fine weather it was perhaps inevitable that this interesting move was made in appallingly bad light under leaden skies and with a fine drizzle falling.
I didn't hang about once 4Z89 was on the move and arrived at Honeybourne with just a few seconds to set up my long lens and fix the camera onto a monopod. There was only a short delay before the crew member seen here made his way towards the ground frame to obtain permission to set the points so that his train could join the main line. The light was worse here than at Long Marston and a real contrast to the beautifully sunny conditions I enjoyed here earlier in the week.
There was obviously no passenger train due in either direction as the road was soon set for 66722 and its ensemble to leave Honeybourne East Loop and join the Cotswold Line to head for Evesham, Worcester and Crewe. Here is 4Z89 with 87002 clearly visible through the murky weather standing in the platform at Honeybourne, the fresh paint reflecting the vegetation on the currently disused island platform. Later in the journey, 66722 was sent from Worcester Yard to rescue 60093 which had failed on 6V07, the Round Oak to Margam empty steel train. The Metronet locomotive dragged 6V07 to Worcester Yard before rejoinng its own train and heading north to Crewe.
Tuesday 17 June 2008 started off dry, warm and sunny and I quite fancied another crack at getting a decent photograph of 66709 during its second run on the Cotswold Line, while on its way to Long Marston with the 10 HXA hoppers forming 4Z87 from Leeds (Hunslet). I used the opportunity to give my 1969 Morris Minor an outing and decided that a run around the Worcestershire countryside wouold be just the job. I arrived at Lower Moor just a couple of minutes before an up HST went past at 11.54 so guessed that it would only be a matter of some minutes before 66709 put in an appearance. Sure enough, after about 18 minutes I heard a two-tone horn and then the train appeared around the curve behind the houses. It was good to get a proper length train again as the very short consists that turn up on occasions on these runs aren't nearly so photogenic.
A rake of 7 HXA hoppers was moved from Leeds (Hunslet) to Long Marston for rectification work on Monday 7 July 2008. Instead of the usual class 66 from the GBRf stable, Advenza freight provided the motive power for 4Z88 in the form of 47237, their first run down the Cotswold Line for some time. The weather wasn't especially good but I decided to make the 15 mile journey to Evesham with the intention of taking my photograph from the station footbridge. I met the Videotrack photographer, Stephen Phillips on the platform and we stood there for some time in warm sunshine. Just as we had the tip that the train was approaching, the sun went in but as 47237 came into view the shadow began to creep forward and cleared the platform with about 5 seconds to spare. A wicked-looking thunderstorm was rapidly coming towards us and this gave the sky in the background a bit of character.
The up starting signal at Evesham was already in the "off" position but there was time for a quick jog to the roadbridge on the east side of the station to obtain another shot of 47237 on 4Z88 to Long Marston. Note that three pieces of black tape were placed on the windscreen surround between the time between the taking of the two pictures here. What's that all about then? Just a few moments after the pulled away to Long Marston the thunderstorm visible in the background broke over the station and a monsoon-like torrent of rain fell; fortuntately just after I had returned to my car.
Some of the JPA cement wagons that went for storage on 19 March 2008 were removed and taken to Earles Sidings on Tuesday 22 July 2008. 66718 was the GBRf locomotive allocated to the job and it was reported as arriving from Hams Hall at Evesham at around 09.30, some 65 minutes early. I went to Long Marston to find the resident Hunslet 0-4-0 bringing the wagons into road no.1 of the exchange sidings ready for the 66 to be attached. There was clearly no path southwards onto the single track of the Cotswold Line as 66718 didn't reach its destination until 10.53. It was soon put onto the JPAs in the siding and the usual checks took place.
Before too long, and slightly ahead of the booked departure time, 66718 drew 6Z91 cautiously out of Long Marston's exchange sidings and onto the branch to Honeybourne. It was apparent that the wagons have weathered since their arrival; hardly surprising considering the largely inclement conditions we have so far enjoyed this summer. One of the wagons had been detached from the back of the consist and I wonder if there had been a problem with the brake valve as there had been a lot of activity around the back of the train, accompanied by much hissing as brakes were blown off.
The remaining 22 JPA cement wagons were scheduled for removal from Long Marston on Wednesday 23 July 2008. The details, timings and locomotive were identical to the move on the previous day, even to the early running of thelight locomotive! The main differences on the day were that the JPAs were placed in road No.2 of the exchange sidings and that the sun shone - both better for photography. Here is 66718 in the sidings while brake tests are carried out, the train standing in sun but with a rather misty background evident.
The brake and other checks went smoothly and 66718 with 6Z91 to Earles Sidings pulled out of the exchange sidings at Long Marston some 45 minutes early in a nice patch of sun; despite the favourable forecast there was actually quite a lot of cloud in the area. The locomotive is named "Gwyneth Dunwoody", the late Member of Parliament for Crewe and Nantwich, whose death earlier this year forced a bi-election the result of which was a loss of a formerly safe labour seat to the Conservative candidate.
Once 6Z91 had cleared the sidings I made my usual move down to Honeybourne Junction and arrived just as a down HST was leaving for Worcester. 66718 came into view on the East Loop a couple of minutes later, but with an up passenger due as soon as the previous one had reached Evesham, it wasn't going to move for at least 20 minutes. The uniform rake of tanks look smart behind the clean locomotive but it's a pity the very high sun at this of year is not conducive to good photography. There really is little point in taking pictures in July and August between the hours of about 10.00 and 15.00, but if the target train runs in that window, what can one do? The up HST soon came and went and as soon as it had reached Moreton-in Marsh the road was set for 6Z91 to leave the East Loop and cross over the spur and join the Cotswold Line towards Evesham, Worcester and then on to Earles Sidings via Birmingham and Derby.
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...
The first move from Long Marston for some 6 weeks took place on Tuesday 2 September when COLAS Rail's 47727 was sent there to collect 3 class 87s. These were to go to Crewe for electrical testing before export to Bulgaria. The light engine stabled overnight at Worcester before travelling to Long Marston in the early afternoon, making the first visit here for a class 47 with the brightly coloured livery, where it is here seen shortly after arrival. The 87s, 87022, 87028 and 87010 can be seen in the exchange sidings and for a closer look at them click on this hyperlink.
The gate allowing access into the site was soon opened and 47727 ran into No.2 road in the exchange sidings where it was couple to the 87s. Even though the sun made a brief appearance there was a lot of mist and murk around which don't do much to enhance the scene. There been a torrential downpour about 20 minutes earlier and as soon as the sun appeared it caused the water vapour to rise from the surrounding fields and spoil the overall effect.
Within a very few minutes 0Z48 to Crewe was on the move and is here seen joining the One Train Only line towards Honeybourne. The sun had gone in by this time which was perhaps fortunate in that it would have been on the "wrong" side at this time of day, but the misty atmosphere still manages to give the picture a rather unsatisfactory appearance.
In the hope that the sun would reappear I made the short journey to Honeybourne, being frustrated on the way by a school bus, the driver of which was lost in the narrow lanes around Pebworth and Broad Marston. This meant that 0Z48 was just coming into view as I arrived on the road bridge adjacent to Honeybourne. Rain was just beginning to fall and this developed into another heavy shower. This picture was taken as the train began to move onto the spur between the East Loop with rain still falling and with vegetation and mist doing their best to obscure the scene. Within 5 or 6 minutes and while the train was standing in an unphotographable position in the platform, the sun popped into a patch of clear blue sky which have been more than welcome a few minutes earlier. Still, I always think that it's important to record these moves whatever the weather; there may not be a repeat and if there is, then one may have the chance to improve on the previous pictures.
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.
One of GBRF's class 66 in Metronet livery, 66722, ran light engine, as 0Z89, from Wembley to Long Marston on Wednesday 24 September 2008 in order to collect the former SWT class 73, 73201 and return it to London. It has been reported that the locomotive has been bought and is likely to be painted into a grey livery. The 66 is here seen at Long Marston as the resident Hunslet shunter was about to be uncoupled from the 73. It was a largely cloudy day but I struck lucky with patches of sun coming at the right times for my photographs.
The light engine had arrived at Long Marston just about on time and had the best part of an hour to couple up to the 73 and a ferrywagon, presumably added to increase the brake force available. Departure time was booked to be 12.15 but the short ensemble moved away a couple of minutes early which, for me, was a piece of luck as the small clear patch letting the sun shine onto the scene was rapidly closing up, as can be seen in the background. The outward move was originally given the headcode 0Z90, but with the addition of the ferrywagon this was changed to 6Z14. It's amazing what a difference a single van makes to the look of the consist. From being just a couple of light engines it is transformed into a proper train.
The driver in charge of 6Z14 wasn't hanging around and even with a somewhat lively drive to Honeybourne I arrived on the bridge just as 66722 was coming to a halt on the East Loop. While the shunter made his way to the box containing the token instrument the sun just poked through some cloud for long enough to obtain this static shot of the rather odd-looking train.
For once, it seemed that all trains in the Worcestershire were running on time and the points at Honeybourne were soon put across to allow 6Z14 to join the main Cotswold Line. There is a surprising similarity between the liveries of the 66 and 73 and here is, for me at least, probably a final view of the former Royal Train engine in the bright colours of its former operator, South Western Trains. The train ran into the platform at Honeybourne station where it waited for the shunter to pass over the token to the driver before heading off by road. This scene will hopefully change in the not too distant future if, and it seems likely, that this pasrt of the Cotswold Line receives double track again.
Nine Mk2 coaches have been painted into blue & grey by Cargo-D. They were booked to be hauled to Crewe by COLAS Rail's 47727 on 25 September 2008 and the light engine for this move is here seen shortly after arrival at Long Marston, bathed in a patch of bright sunlight. I include this picture only because it is my first shot of a COLAS locomotive taken in anything approaching decent light. While I was waiting for the stock to be shunted into place in the exchange sidings I saw this tractor ablaze in a field adjacent to the line. Strangely, the farmer, who was in attendance, did not call the Fire Brigade and it was allowed to burn itself out. The pick-up truck wasn't as close to the fire as it appears from this photograph; the foreshortening effect of a long lens makes it seem in the danger zone, but in fact was quite a way away.
I watched the superbly finished stock being shunted into place and decided that a wider shot than is available at Long Marston would show it off to the best advantage. There aren't all that many location on the Cotswold Line that don't give a largely head-on view unless a fairly long walk is made. Whilst not having a problem with walking a mile or two, I didn't know how much time I would have so opted for the safe bet at Lower Moor. My recent luck with the sun deserted me on this occasion as 47727 with 5Z47 came into few about 45 minutes late of the booked schedule. It would be good to see a COLAS Rail 47 on passenger stock more often, their bright colours seem to make a good match with the carriages...
Two EWS trains, 6V17, were booked to run from Bescot to Long Marston during the week commencing 28 September 2008. The first ran on 30 September and consisted of a 66 with some IZA vans for storage. The weather was dreadful in the area so I stayed at home. The floowing day, 1 October 2008 saw a similar train running but with the reportedly stored 37401 providing the power. The weather was a lot better than the previous day and I set off to drive to Evesham in bright sunshine but soon passed through a very heavy shower. On arrival on the bridge by the signalbox the sun was still out and remained so as the signals were pulled off. My luck in this location ran out as the train came past the 'box - the sun was obscured for no more than 10 seconds, just long enough for the locomotive and part of the train to pass by. I really dislike this sort of lighting when the sun is out in the background and would much prefer either all cloud or all sun, but it was still just about worth taking the shot, I suppose.
There was no traffic to come out of Long Marston and 37410 was soon back on to the branch to Honeybourne. The driver stopped the locomotive adjacent to the bridge and called up that this was 37401's last trip under its own power. Time will tell, but this sort of thing is quite often heard when locomotives are stored and it possible that the current situation is a "paper exercise".
My primary reason for being out on Friday 3 October 2008 was to try to get a photograph of COLAS Rail's 47727 in sun. The locomotive had, in the morning, taken 8 Virgin liveried Mk2 coaches from Oxley to Long Marston as 5Z47 and was due to bring out 4 Freightliner HXA coal hoppers and deliver them to Stoke Gifford, near Bristol. 47727 had so far managed to evade good light whenever I have been around, not least at Fladbury on the Cotswold Line earlier in the day, and again at Lower Moor a couople of hours later. I was pleased,to say the least, when the sun showed no sign of going in a bit later after the brightly coloured class 47 had run round 6Z47 at Worcester and returnd south, being pictured passing the site of Defford station.
Five TDA tank wagons were taken from Bescot to Long Marston on Tuesday 28 October 2008. The allocated locomotive was 66097 and the train, 6V17, is here seen approaching the end of its journey spot on time at 13.05 amidst some Autumnal colours on either side of the branch from Honeybourne. The Motorail Logistics crew arrived to open the gate in a rail vehicle I hadn't previously seen, which appears to be painted in colours similar to those of Porterbrook, the owner of many of the locomotives stored at Long Marston. A return to Bescot, 6M17, was booked to run and five Virgin liveried DVTs were taken out. I didn't stay to see this move as the light deteriorated and it poured with rain. In the event, 6M17 was some 90 minutes late at Evesham so I think that I made the correct decision.
A long rake of PGA hoppers has been languishing at Bescot for a few weeks awaiting movement to Long Marston. On Tuesday 11 November 2008 that move finally took place as 6V17, the 09.30 from Bescot. The train left some 75 minutes late but had picked up about 20 minutes by the time it reached Worcester, where it is booked to sit for a while, awaiting a path behind a Paddington bound HST. Unfortunately, the HST was running late too, so 66160 with 6V17 didn't leave Worcester Yard until 13.13, just about the time it should have been arriving at Long Marston. For once, the late running was an advantage as the very heavy cloud around Evesham was breaking up nicely by 13.35 when I heard the locomotive's horn as it approached the distant signal for Evesham station. The sun broke through nicely as the train came slowly around the curve by the signalbox and drew to a halt in the station, to await the passage of a northbound HST. The rusty appearance of the PGAs blended in well, I thought, with the remaining Autumnal colours of the trees in the background.
There was some more Long Marston activity on Friday 14 November 2008, this time including a couple of "firsts". Two class 56s were scheduled to run from the Nene Valley Railway, near Peterborough, to Worcester and then on to Long Marston in order to pick up a long rake of covered steel vans, soon to be used on a new flow of steel coil from Immingham to Swindon, for use by Honda Motors. The trains are to be operated by COLAS who will be using 56311 and 56312, the latter in a striking new livery. Everything went exactly to plan (except the weather!) and here is 0Z56 passing the signalbox at Evesham a few minutes early. These are the first 56s I have photographed under their own power on the Cotswold Line, although I imagine one or two may have appeared on engineering trains or a charter over the years.
I do know that no class 56 locomotive has been along the Honeybourne to Long Marston branch, other than those derelict examples stored within the site. I was therefore keen to obtain this shot of 56312 and 56311 arriving so didn't hang about at Evesham. I arrived with a good 5 minutes to spare so it wasn't long before the unprecedented sight of a pair of the heavyweight engines appeared in the distance. The gates were already open and here is the pair about to run into the exchange sidings, where their load can be seen waiting in road No.2.
In the relatively short time that 6Z56 was standing in the exchange sidings at Long Marston, there was just one very brief patch of sunlight. The almost spotlight effect shows off the wagons forming the train as well as the variety of other stock stored in the yard, including the PGAs that arrived earlier in the week. I don't think that I've ever seen quite so many high visiblity jackets surrounding a train here - no doubt a function of the new operator visiting here. Shortly after I took this shot, 56311 was started up and the smoke effect had to be seen to be believed. I was, unfortunately, in the process of changing lenses at the time so wasn't able to record the eruption...
The smooth running of the operation continued and a slightly early departure was made, once all the requisite checks of the vehicles and brakes had taken place. It was good to hear the sound of a class 56 working as the train was slowly moved onto the start of the One Train Only branch to Honeybourne. I can't imagine that this will happen again in the near future so was more than happy to have witnessed it, despite the poor weather and lighting conditions.
Once 6Z56 had left Long Marston I made a bee-line for Hoenybourne as there was no way that I wanted to miss a shot of a new class for the line standing on the former East Loop. The light reached a nadir during the drive over and didn't improve whilst the train was standing which was a great pity because of the attractive Autumnal colours on the trees all around here. It was still running early at this point and it seemed as if a path to Evesham was going to be available so I took just a few shots before heading off for another attempt on the main Cotswold Line.
I received a text message from a friend whilst jogging back to my car saying that the down FGW train had gone but that the up was still north of Evesham, meaning that 56311 and 56312 would have to wait there until it arrived at the station. This gave plenty of time to get to the nearest decent location, Lower Moor, between Evesham and Pershore. There was already a small gallery of photographers in situ and the news was that the up HST had already gone. There wasn't long to wait before the rounded front end of 56311 appeared under the bridge at Fladbury. The light had picked up a little but I chose to use a standard f1.8 50mm lens to make the most of it as this piece of glass always performs well in low light conditions. This is a sight that I shall remember for a long time, especially as I can't foresee a repeat performance.
A GBRf move out of Long Marston was planned for Wednesday 3 December. This looked as if it might be quite interesting as it was running as 5Z90 and going to the PRDC at Wembley. The light engine, from Bristol, was due to arrive at 11.10 so I arrived a few minutes before that time to find the gates into the site open. In the event 66731 was a few minutes late, no doubt due to late running by First Great Western on the main Cotswold line. Unusually, as soon as the locomotive was inside the secure area, the gates were closed. This set alarm bells ringing and when I heard the driver on his telephone saying that, "The wagons aren't ready" I took it to me that the 12.15 departure time wasn't likely to be achieved. In fact, it was some 2 hours later and after a change of headcode to 6Z90 that the diminutive shunting locomotive propelled 6 KVA ferrywagons into road No.2 ready for 66731 to move onto them. The departure time had been put back a couple hours to 14.14. As the sun, which had shown no signs of disappearing all day, would be completely wrong for a departure shot at that time, I drove down to Honeybourne, via some still icy lanes.
For reasons unknown, 66731 with 6Z90 was further delayed leaving Long Marston and by the time it reached Honeybourne the sun was very low and the track heavily shadowed. That notwithstanding, there was enough of a clear patch on the former East Loop to allow a reasonable photograph to be taken against a very Autumnal looking Cotswold backdrop. An up HST passed and within a couple of minutes the driver of 6Z90 left his locomotive and walked towards the groundframe. As soon as the HST had reached Moreton-in-Marsh, the frame was released and 66731 pulled its train forward on the main line and off towards Worcester. I don't know why ferrywagons are needed at the PRDC, I had assumed that some NPCCS for Christmas mail usa was to be taken there, but maybe another day...
Three more class 87 locomotives were booked to be taken from Long Marston to Crewe on 10 December 2008. The motive power for the move was 66723 which is here seen about to be allowed into Long Marston after a slightly late arrival from Bristol. The three freshly painted 87s, 87006, 87003 and 87034, can be seen in the exchange sidings having just been deposited there by the shunting locomotive also in shot.
The booked time for the departure of 0Z90 was 12.15, but after the delay in bringing the 87s to the exchange sidings it was some 15 minutes after this time that 66723 moved towards the branch to Honeybourne. The sun had just come out of a bank of cloud as the train started its journey to Crewe, after a morning much cloudier than had been forecast. The eventual destination of the trio is Bulgaria, as it was for the others of the class to leave here. As soon as I had taken this shot I went to Honeybourne with the intention of taking a shot from the station platform, framed by the roadbridge, but there light was quite poor so I didn't bother and headed straight off to another location as the sky looked much clearer towards the North-West.
Lower Moor, between Evesham and Pershore, is really just about the only location that is both relatively quick and easy to get to when chasing a train and is guaranteed to be free of shadows in the early afternoon in December. I arrived there to find about 6 cards already in situ and with, I guessed, about 10 minutes to wait before 66723 with 87006, 87003 & 87034 came into view. My guess was about right and the colourful ensemble soon came into sight. I don't normally go for a very wide shot such as this, but have been waiting for quite some time for a short train in perfect light to run along here at the right time of day so as to show the attractive Vale of Evesham scenery off to its best advantage.
Some 10 days ago, a train of JUA iron ore tipplers and a couple of TEA tanks were moved from Cardiff Tidal Sidings to Gloucester with the intention of onward movement to Long Marston. The final leg of the journey happened on Monday 15 December with Advenza Freight's 47375 being allocated to the train, 6Z06, the 11.15 from Gloucester. Here is the unusual looking consist on the approaches to Evesham station and here is a closer view of one of the TEAs and a JUA. The latter were formerly used on the trains coveying imported iron ore from Port Talbot to Llanwern, in happier times when South Wales still had a thriving metals industry. The light didn't get better than dreadful all day, which I why I chose locations where the train would be moving very slowly so that a reasonable record of the interesting consist would be possible without using sky-high ISO settings on my camera.
There was plenty of time for a leisurely drive from Evesham to Long Marston via some pleasant villages to see 6Z06 arriving. I can't imagine that any iron ore tipplers of this type have previously been along this stretch of line, although an earlier incarnation of them certainly would have been seen here in the days when thousands of tons of ore was sent from the quarries around Banbury to South Wales. Some of these ran via the SMJ using the Old Town curve in Stratford, but others did run via the GWR line throughout. The JUAs in today's run have clearly been standing outside for some time judging by the quantity of water, weeds and general rubbish in them, as illustrated here . When the train stopped prior to entering the Long Marston site, the water in this wagon gave the impression of a mini-tsunami as it surged to and fro. Tacked onto the end of the train was this KIA, apparently from a set of the type used on Cardiff Rod Mill to Ripple Lane traffic.
In the few minutes that I was waiting for 47375 to arrive at Long Marston there were several hoots from the shed area of the sight and I assumed that these were from one of the shunting locomotives moving some stock around. There was a 5Z50 16.00 Long Marston to Gloucester booked, although the departure time seemed a little late, given that movements do not usually happen here in the dark. In the event. 47375 was uncoupled from 6Z06, ran a short way around the curve in the background and soon reappeared with 4 Virgin-liveried Mk3 coaches. Within a couple of minutes, the train ran the length of the exchange sidings and, at 14.29, moved onto the branch towards Honeybourne. The light had deteriorated even further so I didn't bother going any further to have another shot after taking this one as it pulled away.
A little snow fell during the early hours of Monday 5 January 2009 which coincided with the running of a 6Z47 from Wembley to Long Marston. The object of the exercise was to return the 6 KWA ferrywagons that had been taken out before Christmas to act as a backup for extra mail services, although to what use 60mph vehicles would be put on the WCML was never established. Here is 66731 arriving at Long Marston about 30 minutes late at 09.44. In a way it was a pity that the sun didn't come out of some fast-moving cloud, but the line would have been quite heavily shadowed by the adjacent bushes at this time of day. I have not before photographed here with snow lying on the ground; the nearest was a couple of years ago when 47714 + 47200 arrived in a short-lived blizzard.
Some of the messages about this working on 9 January 2009 suggested that 47746 with some brake force vehicles was to leave Long Marston. Nothing of the sort happened and once the driver of 66731 had returned to his locomotive from the control tower OZ48 left the site in a nice patch of sun, which complemented the small amount of snow remaining on the ground. While gazing around, I noticed that what look remarkably like overhead electrification masts have been erected. Also visible is one of the rakes of PNA wagosn recently sent for storage by Network Rail.
Network Rail has been sending a lot of PNA wagons to Long Marston for storage in recent weeks. The fourth rake was sent there on 6 January 2009, the train running as 6V17 from Bescot and hauled by 66177. It is here seen at Lower Moor foot crossing running right on time, having left Norton Junction as soon as the preceding HST had left the single line section at Evesham. The train was reported as leaving Bescot around 60 minutes late, but this is quite normal as 6V17 is booked to sit in Worcester Yard for nearly an hour and, as long as paths are available between Bescot and Worcester I'm sure the driver would prefer to stay in a warm office at Bescot rather than hang around at Worcester. This isn't my favourite view for this train but spots clear of shadows are few and far between in the winter and I wanted a stretch of track where the full length of the train, 43 vehicles, would be clearly in view. Use this hyperlink for a closer view of PNA 3643 as it passed by.
A move of Mk2 stock from Oxley to Long Marston was arranged for Friday 16 January 2009. One can never be sure if these trains will run as planned and in any case I was ambivalent about the working as it was due to convey just two vehicles. However, it seemed churlish not to take advantage of the information and updates so kindly provided so I went over to Long Marston to se what was what. Here is Advenza's 47375 approaching the gate with the FGW liveried coaches, running as 5Z60. The sun at this time of day, 13.40, is pretty much straight into the lens and with it being so low makes the obtaining of a decent image virtually impossible. Fortunately, there was plenty of cloud around and a good-sized patch obscured the sun at just the right moment.
When I drove past the yard at Long Marston on the way to the bridge, I saw two Virgin liveried coaches on the curve just beyond the exchange sidings and assumed that these would form 5Z61, the 16.00 departure to Doncaster Wabtec. I thought it most unlikely that the train would wait until 4pm and as soon as I could see that 47375 was coupled to the stock I made my way around the corner to the foot crossing near Broad Marston. There wasn't long to wait before a heard the locomotive's horn and it soon appeared coming around the curve towards me at 14.18. The train came to a stand just before the crossing to ensure the safety of any pedestrians and then moved away towards Honeybourne and Evesham. For another view of 5Z61 with the stock better visible, click on this hyperlink. The train arrived at Evesham some 28 minutes early and departed from there at the booked time, 16.28.
One of the class 86 locomotives taken to Long Marston some time ago has been refurbished and modified for use on the Hungarian rail network. The former 86248 was taken from Long Marston to Crewe for live testing on 3 February 2009 as 0Z90 with haulage provided by 66725. The colourful ensemble is here seen leaving the site about 30 minutes early at 12.44 in a luck patch of bright sun, but sadly, not in the snow that I hoped would still be lying around in some quantity following heavy falls during the previous day. Use the following hyperlink for a closer look at the class 86 as it was taken on the branch to Honeybourne.
I really hadn't intended to go to Lower Moor for a second shot of 66725 with 86248 on their way to Crewe but the train was running early and the location I had in mind involved invloved a walk of around 3/4 mile. The last thing I wanted to see was the train passing by before I was in place so went for the more secure option. As it happened, 0Z90 left Evesham just 4 minutes early and I would have had plenty of time for the walk, but I don't think that the extraordinarily lucky spotlight of sun would have happened a couple of miles to the east.
A train of Freightliner's FRA flats was due to be moved for storage from Crewe to Long Marston on 4 February 2009. This was a move taken on by Advenza Freight and one of their locomotives, 47810, was rostered for the job. I knew that it was running a little early before Worcester and thought that this might continue, as long as the FGW passenger were on time. As I was running a little late I chose to go to the nearest location to my home and ended up at Evesham. Unfortunately, the road leading to the bridge I had in mind was closed to traffic and I had to park and walk the few hundred yards around the corner, and only a few seconds after my arrival, 6Z17 appeared in the distance. It came slowly past the signabox in some quite pleasant half-strength sun and rolled to a halt in the station. A train of flats isn't the most photogenic load, but it does give the chance to see the signalbox, which is likely to be closed and demolished when the partial double-tracking work takes place on this line.
47810 and 6Z17 were booked to sit in Evesham station for a few minutes to allow a down passenger service from London Paddington to clear the single track. This gave me a few minutes to walk to the other side of the station and take a shot or two from the roadbridge there. Some of the trees have been cleared from here but the sun is still low enough for shadows to be a slight problem. On the right of the train the new ramp for use by disabled passengers can be seen, this having been opened since my last visit here. The class 180 Adelante, 180104, has just arrived and this allowed the crew of 47810 to go the broom cupboard on the platform, extract a token for the section of single line which in turn allows the signalman to clear the up starter. The train departed within a few seconds to Long Marston where the flats were deposited, 47810 returning to Gloucester light engine.
Three trains of stock for storage ran from Bescot to Long Marston during the week commencing 15 February 2009. The first two were composed entirely of covered steel wagons but I saw neither because the light was so poor during the week that it would have been a waste of petrol to have gone out. The final train of the week ran on Friday 20 February and I intended, as the light was good, to photograph it somewhere along the line from Norton Junction to Evesham. Unfortunately, a commitment in the late morning meant that I would have missed it so went straight to Long Marston to photograph it there. The sun, of course, failed to co-operate by going behind a cloud and the shot of 66189 with 6V17 was slightly too heavily backlit for a decent image to be obtained. This photograph shows the return working, 6M17, shortly before departure in the somewhat congested-looking exchange sidings where examples of many withdrawn locomotives can be seen. The stock of 6M17 can be seen by using this hyperlink. The stock that formed 6V17 is the rake of bogie tanks and covered steel wagons in road No.1, to the left of 6M17.
The sky to the south-west looked as if it might clear so I drove over to Honeybourne in the hope of getting a sunny shot of 6M17 with its nicely mixed load en-route to Bescot. Sure enough, the sun came out of a bank of cloud at just the right time a few minutes after the train arrived on the East Loop. There were both up and down passenger trains due within the next 40 minutes meaning that no path to Evesham and Worcester would be available for the thick end of an hour so I didn't wait around in the chilly wind but went home, just as the sun was obscured once again.
Another set of KIA covered steel carrying wagons was taken for storage from Bescot to Long Marston on Tuesday 24 February 2009. Despite my comments last week about not bothering with these trains in poor light, I decided to go out for 6V17 because I hadn't photographed a train of this type in the area. With the demolition of Evesham signalbox scheduled for the near future when parts of the Cotswold Line receive double track, and the fact that Long Marston is reaching full capacity as a result of the recession I thought that I might at well have a shot while it still is possible. Although I have taken far too many pictures in this location I still want my shots to have an identifiable background rather than on a piece of bland countryside with nothing to identify its whereabouts. Here then is 66145 running about 10 minutes early about to enter Evesham station and here is another from the roadbridge at the other end of the station taken while the train was waiting for 180104 to leave the single track from Moreton-in-Marsh with a service from London Paddington.
A very short train of two TEA tank wagons left Long Marston for Derby on 25 February 2009. I wasn't intending to photograph this move but decided that it might be worth having a shot of 6Z89 headed by 66715 in the newly cleared cutting on the approaches to Evesham station in case nothing else runs this way for a while. The 2 tanks were labelled "Barrier Wagon" so I presume that this is use to which they will be put if they go back into service. The light was dreadful when the train arrived but I started to walk around to the road bridge at the other end of Evesham station for another shot as the train pulled out of the platform. Unfortunately though, before I had gone very far the token had been exchanged and 6Z89 pulled out and off towards Worcester, some 15 minutes early.
The relocation of three withdrawn class 37s from Barrow Hill to Long Marston took place on Friday 19 March 2009 with 20901 + 20905 providing the power. I was a bit ambivalent about photographing this move because it wasn't the sort of thing I am particularly bothered about, but the combination of perfect light and the recollection that I didn't have a shot of any class 20s at Evesham spurred me into action. It is quite likely that a repeat here won't be possible bearing in mind the imminent demise of the signalbox and associated semaphores, hence yet another trip to this well-used location. It's also a good spot to get a clear view of the consist of the train, which comprised 37412 , 37672 and de-branded 37029 with 4 PFA flats to provide brake force. The rather colourless ensemble, 6Z37, is here seen passing the lower quadrant inner home signal at Evesham running in the region of one hour late after losing some time both north and south of Birmingham and consequently missing its path onto the single track Cotswold Line. There was just time for a brisk walk and short jog around the corner to the other end of Evesham station for another shot as 6Z37 pulled away with a good dose of whistle and English Electric exhaust noise.
I was sitting at home at around 17.00 on Friday 10 April 2009 when my telephone rang and a friend who had been walking his dog near the new Trinity Mead housing estate on the south side of Stratford-upon-Avon told me that there was an Alleley's low-loader with an class 87 on board sitting, failed, on the estate's peripheral road. As it was Good Friday there was very little traffic and I arrived within a few minutes to see 87031 on the trailer with a crew working on the tractor unit of the rig. The light was dreadful and it was raining but a rarity such as this cried out to be photographed. I was later told that 87031 had been stored at Tyseley but was en-route to Long Marston. Once the tractor unit had been repaired it certainly headed in the direction of Long Marston. Here is another view of the locomotive just before it moved away.
After a fairly quiet time along the Long Marston branch, there was a bit of activity on Thursday 14 May 2009. COLAS Rail's 47727 ran light engine to Crewe to collect 86233 and after arrival at Long Marston was scheduled to pick up 87033, 87029, 87020 and 86250 all of which are destined for export following renovation work and repainting into their new liveries. While waiting for 0Z86 to arrive I took this shot of the well-packed yard including 37029 sitting in front of 20901 + 20905 together with the electric locomotives ready for transport. The weather was dreadful with low cloud and mist lying in the valley in which the former MOD facility is located, but my home is only about a 10 minute drive away so it wasn't too far to come for a few photographs.
I had seen reports of early running of 47727 and 86233, and it wasn't long before the colourful duo appeared in the distance and rolled slowly towards the roadbridge before stopping outside the gate, which was just being opened. There is a very good crop of hawthorn blossom this Spring, plenty of which is visible in this view of 86233 as it waits to be hauled into its new home.
The booked departure time of 0Z87 from Long Marston to Worcester was 15.40 but it was some 70 minutes before that when 47727 left the exchange sidings and headed towards Honeybourne, where it had to sit awaiting a path to Evesham and Worcester until the booked time. Immediately behind 47727 was 87033 with its 2 classmates with the Floyd liveried 86250 bringing up the rear. The train was going only as far as Worcester on this occasion with onward movement to Crewe where electrical testing will take place being due another day.
There is an open weekend at Long Marston on 6 & 7 June 2009 and in connecton with this a train of locomotives ran from Eastleigh on Thursday 4 June. This was led by the very smart 47580 from Tyseley and conveyed 73006, 50026 and 50135, formerly 50035. The latter has, somewhat bizzarely, been repainted into Loadhaul livery as worn in the early days of privatisation by classes 37, 56 and 60 despite the fact that class members, in their latter years at least, didn't do a lot of freight work other than working some infrastructure trains in the South West. It is fair to say though that the locomotive is privately owned and that the owner has an absolute right to paint his machine however he chooses and I must say that the finish on 50135 is of an extremely high standard. The train, 0V47, is here seen shortly after leaving Norton Junction while heading to Worcester to run-round before heading west along the Cotswold Line towards Long Marston. I was keen to get a shot of 50135 for the record and those taken today are quite likely to be my only pictures of it as I don't really care for open days or preserved lines where its appearances will be made.
As soon as the 15.11 Hereford to Paddington HST has cleared Norton Junction, 0V47 with 47580 leading was released from Worcester Yard. Following the run round, Loadhaul liveried 50135 was immediately behind the 47 with 73006 bringing up the rear. Norton Junction's up distant signal can be seen just in front of 47580 and is showing a yellow aspect meaning that 0V47 will have to wait at the home signal until the preceding HST has reached Evesham station on the single tracked Cotswold Line. It is a hangover from GWR days that the Cotswold Line was the primary route which meant that the distant signal would be "off" for train using that line rather than going to the Midland Line via Abbotswood Junction.
As 0V47 had to wait at Norton Junction for something like 10 minutes, I should have had plenty of time for a fast drive to Long Marston to record the colourful ensemble's arrival. Unfortunately, I had put my prescription sunglasses, required for driving, somewhere safe while standing on the bridge at Norton Junction. It took me quite a while to find them and therefore arrived at Long Marston slightly too late to get the picture I wanted. The train was just moving into the exchange sidings as I reached the bridge to the unmistakeable sound of a class 50 ticking over. I think that 50026 and 50135 may be the first of the class to have travelled over the branch from Honeybourne to Long Marston although it is just possible that one may have reached here on an MOD trip. As I was driving towards Long Marston village the sun was highlighting 0V47 standing in the yard as would have been rude not to have stopped and take a quick shot of 47580 + 50135 over the hedge, even though the view was far from clear.
A train of six DVTs was moved from Wembley to Bescot during the second week of June 2009 and then, on 15 June, onward to Long Marston. The weather was dull in the extreme and I decided not to bother with it as I already had pictures of such moves in the area. In the early afternoon an email appeared on my BlackBerry suggesting that 6V17 was stuck at Evesham because of a problem with one of the DVTs. I eventually decided to go to Evesham and see what was going on and hopefully get a picture of the train in the infrequently used up sidings, adjacent to the signal box. Unfortunately, due to my inertia, the problem involving a hot axle box on the rear DVT had been solved and as I arrived the train was already in the station and moving away. This then, is the best I could do but as the lower quadrant signals are due for removal over the next few weeks was happy enough to get a picture of the starter in the "off" position.
The first visit to Long Marston of Advenza Freight's newly acquired 66841 took place on 29 June 2009 when it was booked to take 20901 + 20905, 56021 and 31423 along with some KXA and other flats to Derby, where the 66 was due to be detached with the class 20s taking the train forward to Stockton. There appeared to be some problem with the train, possibly obtaining a satisfactory brake, and 66841 was detached from the consist and left the site light engine towards Honeybourne. I went home at this point but on arrival I checked my BlackBerry for updates to found out that the problem had been solved and that 66841 was on its way back. Inertia took over and I decided to stay put rather than go out again.
The once regular Bescot to Long Marston trains have been a little thin on the ground recently but on 1 July 2009 6V17, the 10.16 from Bescot did run, conveying a very nice rake of open box wagons which, judging by the flotsam remaining in them, 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 before heading south on the single track to Honeybourne Junction where it will turn 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 and the sun was simply too high in the sky for a 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 a few weeks as the re-doubling of parts of the Cotswold Line progresses; and as the weeds on the track are swept away!. The signal box and associated semaphore signals will disappear, along with the other mechanical 'boxes along the route, with the exception of that at Norton Junction. The track will be 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 on 1 July 2009 altouugh it actually 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...
Several dates for Long Marston traffic have been allowed for during the preliminary work taking place for the Cotswold Line doubling. One of these dates was 11 August 2009 and 66728 ran light engine from Gloucester in order to pick up newly overhauled and painted 86701 and 86702. The GBRf locomotive is here seen just after arrival, 6 minutes early, at Long Marston while the Motorail Logistics staff were just arriving to open the gate. The two class 86s can just be glimpsed in the background in road 1 of the exchange sidings.
The booked departure time for 0Z87 from Long Marston to Crewe was just after 15.30, but with an arrival time for the light engine of 13.20 I could see no way that an early departure would not happen, particularly as that part of the Cotswold Line from Oxford to Evesham was under a possession and just an infrequent shuttle formed of a class 165 was running between Evesham and Worcester. Sure enough, at 13.40, the headlights on 66728 were switched on and the train moved out of the yard and onto the branch to Honeybourne. After testing, the 86s are to be a small fleet made available for charter work and will look splendid on the newly refurbished but unbranded Mk3 set owned and operated by Virgin Trains.
As soon as 66728 with 86701+86702 were on the branch towards Honeybourne from Long Marston, I headed straight to Evesham with the intention of getting a sunny shot as the train passed the semaphore signals on the east side of the station. I made it to the bridge with only a couple of minutes to spare, the train having taken very little time to negotiate the junction at Honeybourne. Use this link to a picture of the two smart 86s which are here seen just about to pass under the roadbridge adjacent to Evesham station.
When I arrived at Evesham to take the photograph shown above a shuttle to Worcester was just leaving so I reckoned that 0Z87 would have to wait by the signalbox for at least 15 minutes before the passenger train reached the end of the single line at Norton Junction. Although I had intended to go home after taking my shot at Evesham, it seemed silly not to make the short journey to Lower Moor to complete my set of pictures from there of electric locomotives being dragged along. I had only about about a 10 minute wait before the bright headlight of 66728 came into view and the unusual-looking consist came by, 110.5 miles from Paddington according to the milepost just in front of the class 66.
Despite that part of the North Cotswold Line between Evesham and Oxford being closed for preparatory work for next year's track doubling, certain dates were set aside for trains to Long Marston. Friday 14 August 2009 was one of those days and the 10.17 from Bescot to Long Marston, 6V17, ran on that day. The train, formed of at least three different types of flat wagons, is here seen as 66177 begins to accelerate away from a 10mph speed restriction which ended just beyond the footbridge in the background, the locomotive producing a column of exhaust smoke in the still air of Aldington cutting. The new track is clearly visible, having been laid and ballasted over the past couple of weeks; the existing track was too worn to have been of further use.
Another three class 87s destined for export to Bulgaria were taken to Crewe from Long Marston on Wednesday 16 September 2009. Unusually, COLAS Rail sent one of its class 56s, 56311, to do the job, the locomotive having been stabled overnight in the centre siding at Worcester Shrub Hill station. Here is the ensemble complete with 86401 still in Network SouthEast livery making an early departure from Long Marston as 0Z57. The other electric locomotives are 87013, 87014 and 87004, the latter still in BR rail blue albeit with the Bulgarian numbering system applied. For a closer look at the rear two locomotives please click on this hyperlink. The class 86 is not for export but presumably will be taken to Crewe either for storage or refurbishment to main line standard.
The light on 16 September was mostly very poor but with occasional and brief sunny spells. In the hope that one of the latter would coincide with 0Z57's departure from Honeybourne, I went home via this location just to the east of Evesham. A clear patch was approaching the sun as the barriers across the road in the background were being lowered but it arrived about two minutes too late and after 56311 and its load had passed. This is not really a typical North Cotswold Line location with the nearby scrapyard but I quite like to show the different viewpoints along the line, and in reality, I don't have much interest in photographing these workings once they have reached the busier lines north of Worcester. For another look at 87401 as the train receded towards Evesham, use this hyperlink.
The three class 87s that were taken from Long Marston to Crewe on 16 September did not pass the tests carried out on them and were therefore returned for further work on 7 October 2009. They were tripped to Worcester the previous day and I was tempted to go for a photograph of them but decided instead to trust the weather forecast and wait for a decently lit picture when the second stage of the move took place. The locomotive used to move 87004, 87013 and 87014 was 47839 and the bightly coloured ensemble is here seen leaving Evesham station a few minutes late, having had to wait for First Great Western's 166213 to clear the single track from Moreton-in Marsh.
I went home from Evesham via the back roads which took me past Long Marston and arrived with a few minutes to spare before 0Z57 arrived. Here is the train moving into the site where a recent arrival from the Harru Needle Railway Company is ready to move the three class 87s to the sheds where the remedial work will be carried prior to their export to Bulgaria. The class 57 was not due to leave for Honeybourne until much later, but did not hang about and wwent almost straight away; use the hyperlink for a photograph of it joining the branch and an earlier path to Worcester.
For the second time in recent weeks a class 31 hauled SERCO train has visited Long Marston. The first I didn't see because the weather was so bad that even the short journey from my home would have been a waste of time, but this one, on 29 October 2009 ran in much better conditions. InterCity liveried 31454 was in charge of the transit move of an HST coach from the New Measurement Train along with two other vehicles acting as translators and barriers. The ensemble ran as 1Z06 from Derby and was due to arrive at Long Marston at 11.50. I should have quite liked a shot of the working around Evesham but didn't leave my Health Club's swimming pool until 11.10 so went straight to Long Marston from where I heard a squeaky horn as 1Z06 arrived at Honeybourne. There wasn't, therefore, long to wait until it came into view and slowly approached the end of the branch in just a little soft sunlight. As the train was a few minutes early, the gate wasn't open although the Motorail Logistics crew was on the way in their Harry Needle Railway Company locomotive, and here is another look at 31454 and the first coach. Use this hyperlink to have a closer look at the NMT vehicle.
1Z06 hadn't been in the exchange sidings at Long Marston for more than a few minutes before 31454 was uncoupled from the stock and 01552 BH attached to the other end. Here is the unusual sight of a SERCO train being hauled by an industrial shunter. The journey was very short, probably no more than 50 yards, and the three yellow coaches were uncoupled once again and stabled alongside a rake of box wagons. I don't know the reason for this transit move but the return working has been scheduled for the afternoon of Friday 30 October, albeit a little too late for a photograph now that the clocks have gone back an hour; unless, as is sometimes the case, an earlier path is found. The crew from the class 31 left Long Marston and were driven off in a van by the same man that had operated the ground frame at Honeybourne to get the train onto the branch.
A rake of Mk2 coaching stock has been trying to escape from Long Marston for a couple of weeks but for various reasons apparently revolving around school holidays and unavailable locomotives, it didn't happen until 9 November 2009. The motive power on the day changed from 47812 to 31190, the green liveried locomotive running light diesel from Washwood Heath to collect the coaches. An early departure from Long Marston took place but the train, 5Z47 to Barrow Hill, had to stand time on the former East Loop at Honeybourne until both an up and a down train had passed and cleared the single line between Moreton in Marsh and Evesham. Here, 31190 and the six coaches stand on the loop from Long Marston in quite dark and misty conditions, the Cotswold Hills being virtually obscured by the murk.
As soon as the HST shown in the linked picture above had reached Evesham it was possible for a crew member from 31190 to insert the key in the ground frame at Honeybourne switch the points and call 5Z47 to come over the spur and onto the Cotswold Line spot on time at 13.25. The train was then to run via Evesham, Worcester, Droitwich Spa and the Lickey Incline to Birmingham and on to its destination at Barrow Hill. This shot will not be possible by this time next year when the Cotswold Line receives double track as trains from Long Marston will run on the tracks on the extreme left of this picture past the platforms at Honeybourne station and join the main line just south of the platforms.
Just as I was arriving at Long Marston on 9 November 2009 I took a telephone call saying that the three class 87s that had returned to Long Marston on 8 October were about to leave by road. As there was some time before the railway action was due to take place I drove round to a road junction just beyond the main gate of the storage depot. Within a few minutes I saw the low-loaders on the internal road system and thought that a quick couple of shots would ensue before I went back to record 31190's departure by rail. Unfortunately, there must have been some sort of problem and when I received a text message saying the the train was about to leave I left the roadside and went straight to Honeybourne. After the train had gone I went for another look at the main gate and found 87013, 87004 and 87014 on their respective lorries but with no signs of a departure imminent. I therefore took just this quick shot before going home. I understand that the 87s were taken to Hull for export by sea to Bulgaria. My thanks to Jack Boskett for the call about the class 87 move.
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.
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.
Five of the KIA steel carriers taken into Long Marston on 24 February 2009 were removed on 9 February 2010. The working involved CLOAS Rail's 47749 which ran light engine from Worcester arriving at Long Marston at about 11.45. The shot I had planned for the loaded return wasn't available so just went straight to Honeybourne to await the arrival of 6Z47 which happened just a few minutes early and just before a down HST was due. One of the crew from 47749 can be seen heading towards the ground frame ready to call Evesham box once the HST had cleared the section to obtain permission for his train to join the main line. The light never really went much above dreadful, but did pick up very slightly at one point so I took another shot of 6Z47 as it stood on the branch.
First Great Western's passenger trains were running approximately to time on 9 February 2010 so 47749 was able to leave the Long Marston branch just about on time. It is here seen crossing over to the main line before heading off to Worcester where it would run round the stock and go to Llanwern. There were several Network Rail gangs in the Honeybourne area, one of which ws examining the trackwork in the former branch platforms at the station and were probably assessing the work to be done when the next phase of the redoubling and alterations to the layout takes place later in the year. A second was greasing and adjusting the points mechanisms of the ground frame as a Paddington to Hereford HST approached.
A train of VTG JNA box wagons was taken from Long Marston to Peak Forest on Friday 12 March 2010 for use on the Dowlow to Ashburys circuit. The locomotive, 66201, ran light engine from Peterborough as 0V17, the headcode normally used for something from Bescot, arriving some time around 09.00. The booked departure time was 13.06 but when I arrived at Long Marston fresh from the swimming pool just before 11.00, the gates were locked and there was no sign of a train. After a run down to Honeybourne, I found 6M17 sitting on the branch awaiting a path to Evesham and Worcester. The heavy cloud parted just a little and allowed a weak sun to illuminate the scene for a few seconds before the murk closed in again and it started raining. It looked to me as if the former Stratford Branch sidings at Honeybourne have seen something run over them very recently; and indeed, the undergrowth on the line that used to run to the coaling stage appears to have been cut back a bit. That piece of track also looked quite shiny and I wonder what has been on it? I guess that it may have been some on-track plant as a locomotive move would probably have been reported. My thanks to Graham Lee for the correct identification of the train's consist.
A rake of twenty TDA tanks was taken from Bescot to Long Marston on Monday 29 March 2010 with COLAS Rail's 47739 providing the power. Running as 6Z47 the train ran pretty much to time all the way, arriving just a few minutes late at its destination where it is here pictured approaching the road bridge adjacent to the entrance to the site and passing a field liberally sprinkled with various bird-scaring devices to protect the crop. The light had picked up quite a bit since earlier in the morning, although a shower of rain was just starting to fall as I pressed the shutter release and the hills in the background were nearly obscured by low cloud. Good though it is to see a class 47 on a decent length freight, I wonder why the tanks could not have been moved from DBS operated Bescot Yard on the usual 6V17, rather than by COLAS, which presumably increased the cost by having to have a path set up especially for the job?
A third set of Fastline branded coal hoppers was moved from Chaddesden Yard, near Derby, on Thursday 8 April 2010. COLAS Rail's 66845, formerly DRS 66410, was used to move the stock, destined for storage, to Long Marston, their usual class 47s being occupied on a train of empty steel carriers from Washwood Heath to Boston. I was initially disappointed that one of the COLAS liveried 66s wasn't used as I am yet to photograph an example, but as these will hopefully be around for some time came to the conclusion that it was better to picture this locomotive in a transitional colour scheme which may not last for much longer. I hadn't seen any timings for 4Z47 but guessed that an arrival time of around 11.15 at Evesham wouldn't be far off the mark so after my daily visit to the swimming pool at my Health Club, went straight across there, only to find that my first choice of shot was no longer available, thanks to a very high and solid wooden fence having been erected. This meant that Briar Close, adjacent to the signal box was the next best bet and I arrived to find a couple of friends in attendance which at least meant that I hadn't missed the train. The new and not very attractive radio mast behind the box meant that a long lens shot was probably not the best idea so I took this shot incorporating the lower quadrant inner home signal.
After arriving at Evesham, 4Z47 was to wait there for the best part of 30 minutes in order to cross a down train to Worcester. This meant that there would be no difficulty in finding another location on the other side of the town for another photograph; after all it would have been silly to waste the glorious light. Not many enthusiasts were about, my two friends being about it and they are just visible on the bridge in the background of this shot taken from a road bridge on the Evesham to Offenham road. No doubt everyone else was on the main Gloucester to Birmingham line waiting, along with many others, for a double-headed steam special to Preston. I had been tempted to have a go at this but the thought of the inevitable crowds on such a nice day put me off the idea. I should also have quite liked to have had a shot of 67003 on the Didcot to Ashchurch train but didn't really have time without missing my swim. The train as pictured here nearly caught me out as I was expecting a distant signal on the other side of the bridge to be set to green before it came, but it wasn't. Luckily, 4Z47 with 66845 was moving quite slowly, maybe because of a problem with the barrier crossing at Clayfield Lane, a short distance to the east of here.
Long Marston can be on my way home from the Evesham area if I use the country roads via Honeybourne so I thought that I may as well drop in to get a final shot as 66845 arrived; after all it is in a new colour scheme for the branch... I didn't have too long to wait before before I heard a horn as it left Honeybourne and a few minutes later appeared in the distance. This is probably about the best lighting it is possible to achieve here as it is very unusual for anything to arrive here before the sun has moved quite a way round towards the south. I can never decided whether I prefer the shot taken here with a strong lens or something wider so I've included both. The gate into Long Marston was already open and little was time was wasted before the hoppers were running along the exchange sidings ready for storage in their new home. A train of JXA wagons was ready to leave at around 13.00, but some domestic matters precluded me from waiting for this train to leave.
Long Marston saw another visit of COLAS' class 56s, 56311 + 56312, on Friday 16 April 2010. On the previous day they had run light engine from Washwood Heath to Crewe, collected a class 86 and then gone to Worcester Yard where the train was stabled overnight. The morning trip from Honeybourne to Long Marston was slightly delayed because a track inspection gang was scheduled to visit the line, and the single line rules mean that if anyone is on the branch the token must go with them to ensure that no train can access it. Everything was resolved in favour of the train, 0Z86, and here it is arriving some 20 minutes late. While waiting on the bridge this beautiful Alvis came from the direction of Long Marston village. There was a short delay in opening the gates into the yard after 0Z86 arrived which gave the chance for a single shot of the three locomotives in a very brief spell of sun. The cloud covering most of the sky was a bit of a disappointment after the clear blue skies in the area until about 10.30...
The main interest on 16 April 2010 was 56311 + 56312 removing a rake of 20 TEA bogie tanks from Long Marston and taking them to Bescot. This train, 6Z56, was scheduled to leave at 13.10 and it was a few minutes before that time when the impressive looking ensemble pulled out of the exchange sidings and onto the branch. The light had picked up a little but the sky was still pretty much solid cloud but I suppose that it's good to have a record of such a relatively unusual working. After this shot I went straight off, as yet undecided where to go, but with a couple of bridges in mind where the sun, if it appeared, would be in the right place.
In the event, and with a rapidly clearing sky becoming evident as I drove west, I decided upon this bridge on the outskirts of Evesham. The cutting sides were cleared last year when the first stage of the North Cotswold Line enhancement took place, and I have been waiting for a suitable train in the right conditions. There was quite a lot of fluffy white clouds blowing around in the strong easterly wind, but with 6Z56 being a few minutes late leaving Honeybourne the sun made it into a large clear patch at just the right time. I do wish that there some "real" freight along this line; maybe when the double track eventually arrives there will the opportunity for diversions to use it if the Oxford to Leamington Spa corridor is under possession.
The week commencing 18 April 2010 saw two trains of redundant Fastline coal hoppers moved for storage from Chaddesden, near Derby, to Long Marston. The first, on Tuesday 20th, looked as if it might run through the area in which I was interested in cloud so I decided to wait until the following day for which the weather forecast was better. The train, 4Z47, hauled by COLAS Rail's 47739 arrived slightly early at Evesham and was also released a few minutes ahead of schedule which was lucky for me as a big patch of cloud, just visible in the background, was rapidly advancing on my position at Blackminster. I chose this spot deliberately knowing that the white blackthorn blossom would be in full flower thus giving the photograph a bit of identity.
A long set of JNA wagons was due to be removed from Long Marston on Monday 24 May 2010. I didn't know if the light engine move from Peterborough via Birmingham and Worcester had taken place but went for a look. The scheduled departure time from Long Marston was 14.10 but experience suggested that something earlier would be likely so I arrived at about 12.30 to find 66724 sitting in the left-hand road and to see the local shunter heading off around the inner loop, presumably to collect the wagons. In the meantime, I took this photograph of 20197 looking a bit forlorn. I have no interest in this sort of thing but thought that one or two viewers might like a look. It wasn't long before the shunter appeared in the distance with the JNAs which were soon deposited in No. 2 road so that 66724 was able to run forward into the headshunt before going onto the train to be coupled. The yellow crane visible was recently used to assist with some track repairs on the site, something that I should like to have recorded but found out too late.
At about 12.50 there was a flurry of activity with 'phone calls being made or received, the gates into the site being reopened and 66724's headlight being switched on. This suggested that Evesham signalbox had a path available and that the expected early departure would take place. Here then is 6E53 to Maltby, where the wagons will be used for a coal flow to Immingham, passing the Blackthorn blossom as the train heads onto the branch to Honeybourne.
I had planned to photograph 66724 with 6E53 at a location between Honeybourne and Aldington but when I arrived there was a somewhat unsightly group of white caravans in a small yard adjacent to the line so I moved a bit further west to this footbridge. A friend had told me that the preceding down FGW train was on time at Evesham station and that 6E53 wouldn't have to wait for more than a minute or two at Honeybourne before getting a clear run to Norton Junction where it would pass the next up passenger train. He was, of course, quite correct and I had been in position for no more than five minutes when the train appeared under the bridges in the background just as some fluffy clouds began to appear which gave the sky some character.
COLAS Rail's 47739 was booked to work a train of YXA and YFA "slinger" wagons from Doncaster to Long Marston on 16 June 2010. Not having seen a train for nearly three weeks due to being on holiday on Exmoor I felt that a shot or two was overdue. Here is 6Z47 shortly after leaving Evesham working slowly through Aldington Cutting and the accompanying elderflower blossom with the long rake of stock destined for storage. In retrospect, this was the wrong location for this train because about half of the wagons are out of view around the curve behind the footbridge, but not having any information on the length of the train meant that this had to do. For a look at some of the wagons further along the train click on this hyperlink.
After 47739 had taken the wagons shown above into Long Marston it was scheduled to take a short set of 10 large KEA box wagons to Doncaster. Running as 6Z48 the train is here seen having just crossed over the Littleton Road in Blackminster where the barriers, operated from Evesham signalbox, seemed to protecting the road for a good five minutes. This is close to the site of the Littleton and Badsey station, the buildings of which were on the other side of the road. The sun is a bit too high around lunchtime for good photography at this time of the year but when the paths along the currently single track are mostly on either side of midday there isn't much that one can do about it. I kept out the sun for a while by visiting a couple of local farm shops and buying the last of this season's asparagus and the first of the gooseberries. How the brownie points build up...
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.
The once regular trains from Bescot to Long Marston have recently become quite infrequent so when 6V17 was scheduled for Wednesday 4 August 2010 I thought that a trip across to Honeybourne would be in order. The scene here is due to change soon when double track is reinstated and I was keen to get a shot or two before the work commences. The train left Worcester Shrub Hill at 12.20 but was not due to leave Evesham until 13.19 where it would cross 1W29, the 11.21 London Paddington to Great Malvery service. The latter ran on time and is here seen arriving at Honeybourne led by power car 43177 amongst a great deal of recent undergrowth, some of which, I hope will be removed when the engineering work gets underway. There was a lot of cloud about which was just what I wanted for my shot of 66011 on 6V17, but the sun found a completely clear patch just as the train of ferrywagons came into the station. This picture of Honeybourne Station shows the currently empty trackbed against the island platform which will be used by down trains when the new track has been laid. I have been told that Long Marston traffic will use the former Stratford Branch tracks on the extreme right and this will open up some new possibilities, especially when the sun unexpectedly comes out.
A short rake of nine of the former Fastline Rail coal hoppers was removed to Gloucester from Eastleigh on the evening of Monday 9 August 2010. On the following morning they were taken by 66703 to Long Marston where the plan was to add another nine hoppers and then move the whole set to Doncaster yard. Here is the first part of the move at Blackminster shortly after 4C53 had left Evesham where a little brightness had just appeared after a dull and quite wet morning. The undergrowth has grown rapidly over the past couple of months and it looks as if some more clearance will be needed when the track redoubling finally comes to fruition towards the end of this year.
After taking the photograph shown above I headed across country to Long Marston and arrived four or five minutes before 66703 came into view in the distance. The light picked up quite a lot just as 4C53 came along the final few hundred yards of the branch and made for a pleasing enough picture, especially with the dark sky threatening some more rain. It is relatively unusual for this path, an 11.30ish arrival, to be used which is a shame because the light is a lot less favourable a couple of hours later in the usual arrival slot when the sun is virtually straight into the camera's lens.
Once the gate into the Long Marston site had been opened 66703 took its rake of IIA hoppers onto road 1 of the exchange sidings. One of the site shunters moved onto the stock in road 2 and propelled it around the corner in the distance so that 66703 was able to run round its train. While this was going on another shunter, in MOD colours, was moving 87031 around, the ensemble looking as if an exercise of some sort was underway. The last time that I saw 87031 it was on a broken-down low-loader on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon on 10 April 2009 whilst en-route to Long Marston. The weather on 10 August 2010 had begun to deteriorate with a chilly wind and rain so I decided not to wait for the second part of the day's events and headed for home.
It was just a couple of months ago that surplus Fastline branded coal hoppers were taken to Long Marston for storage. Such are the vagaries of the power station coal market that a set of 24 of these were taken from there to Doncaster on 6 September 2010, ready for use as the season for increased demad on electricity suppliers approaches. This time the ex-DRS locomotive 66403, now hired to GBRf, was used and it is here seen in a brief patch of sunlight a few minutes before departure time. The previous leaser's name on the sides of the locomotive was simply painted out as is clearly visible on this view taken as it arrived.
I had been hopeful that an early departure for 6E53 was on the cards but after coupling up to the hoppers and conducting a brake test the crew disappeared in the direction of Motorail Logistics' office, no doubt for a welcome cup of coffee! The short-lived patch of sun had gobe when 66403 pulled out of the exchange sidings with one of the longest trains to come out of here for quite some time. I believe that Medite liveried 66709 had originally been earmarked for this working but was apparently receiving maintenance at the time. Still, it's always good to catch a locomotive in what may be a short-lived transitional colour scheme.
It looked as if there was patch of clear sky to the south so I drove down to Honeybourne in the hope of a sunny shot as 66403 stood on the old Stratford branch, and there was a sunny spell as I walked onto the roadbridge this unfortunately coming to an end as the train came into view. I haven't seen many trains here the back ends of which are still on the curve adjacent to Honeybourne tip. There was quite a wait here as a FGW HST heading towards Worcester was delayed by nearly half an hour meaning that 6E53 had to sit here until the passenger train had cleared Evesham. The light remained poor but I did hang on to take a shot as the train came over the spur onto the currently single North Cotswold Line. This line is shortly to receive double track, along with station improvements and here at Honeybourne some track enhancements to ease the passage of trains to and from the Long Marston branch whether coming from the north or south.
Another proper-length train ran on the North Cotswold Line on Friday 10 September 2010, this time a rake of 42 TTA and TUA tankers going into storage at Long Marston. The train, 6V17 from Bescot, should have run on the preceding Wednesday, but for some reason which I suspect was late running returned to Bescot. All was well with the second attempt and here is 66120 about to enter Evesham station a few minutes early at 13.02 having a rapid run up the single track from Norton Junction. This wasn't my first choice of location but the light collapsed completely as I drove over from Stratford-upon-Avon and some quite heavy rain started to fall. This meant that I would have had to have used a stratospheric ISO setting to achieve a high enough shutter speed on the open line so made for somewhere I knew that the train would be barely moving. Luckily, the rain had stopped by the time that 6V17 came into view and there was the merest touch of brightness as it came past the signal box.
After 66120 with 6V17 from Bescot to Long Marston arrived at Evesham it would have to wait until a down passenger train cleared the section from Moreton-in-Marsh and entered the platform. This give me a few minutes to head for a bridge near Blackminster for another shot, and sure enough, as I arrived there a FGW HST was just going underneath. It wasn't too long before the barriers protecting the road crossing behind me were lowered and the long rake of four-wheel tanks came into view with 66120 working hard and making quite an exhaust. I'm glad that I didn't have to wait more than a few minutes as the sewage works just to the left of the line was making itself only too obviously present in the strong South-Westerly wind. The light had deteriorated and I debated whether or not to bother with this picture but as I was there...
I can go home from Blackminster using a variety of routes and chose a scenic option which would take me through Long Marston village via several villages, most of which are called Littleton with a directional prefix. I didn't really expect to get to Long Marston before the train as I wasn't going to burn rubber along the narrow lanes but there was no sign of 66120 when I did finally arrive. The Motorail Logistics ground crew were in their Sentinel shunter waiting to open the gate but it was another fifteen minutes or so before 6V17 appeared in the distance. It takes quite a while to get a long train onto the branch as once it is clear of the points from the main line the ground frame has to be locked and the branch token taken the length of the train to the locomotive. The weather hadn't improved on the way over and as soon as I had taken this view of the train straddling a public footpath across the line, went home.
A test train, 1Q11, was scheduled to run from Derby RTC to Long Marston on Monday 20 September 2010, with an arrival time of about 14.30. It left Derby about 200 minutes late, thus missing its path, and was given a new schedule timing it to pass Norton Junction, near Worcester just before 17.00. The chance of a late afternoon shot gives a few different photographic opportunities on the Long Marston branch so I went across, more in hope than expectation that it would actually run. It didn't. The following morning saw me having a drive around Warwickshire and Gloucestershire in my Morris Minor so I took my camera and found myself at Long Marston at about 11.30, a possible time for an arrival. There was no activity so I carried on with my toddle around the lanes, half of which were closed for resurfacing, before going home for lunch. A while later I had a text from a friend saying that 31285 had left Worcester Yard, where the train had spent the night, and was on the Cotswold Line so I thought that I may as well have another try. Just as I arrived, the resident shunter was on its way along the exchange sidings and I could hear something rumbling along the branch and here is 31285 with one coach and a DBSO arriving 24 hours late in a lucky piece of cloud, the sun being almost exactly straight down the line when out. Note all the lights and the camera mounted on the front.
I hadn't previously seen a DBSO on the Long Marston branch although think that one may previously have visited on a day of dreadful weather so here is 9701 tailing 1Q11 and 31285 awaiting permission to enter the site. When the train had entered the exchange sidings, the shunter pulled out of the headshunt and was attached to the DBSO before the crews, just about visible, went off towards the control tower. The scene on the previous day was quite similar when a Virgin liveried class 86 was being moved after an open day on Sunday.
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.
After a frustratingly slow journey to Honeybourne, mostly behind a bus which was impossible to overtake on the narrow roads, I arrived at Honeybourne to find, as I had hoped, 37604 + 37603 standing on the headshunt beyond the points of the spur to the main line. This makes for a much better photograph and does away with the need to use a long telephoto lens. The HST to Great Malvern had just departed so I took this shot along with a few others, including this more head on view, showing the track layour to better advantage, from the road bridge. This scene is set to change in the near future when the Cotswold Line is doubled and new arrangements for Long Marston traffic come effect.
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.
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.
Another test train ran from Derby RTC to Long Marston during the week commencing 24 October 2010, the return, 1Z15, being scheduled for Monday 1 November with a departure time of 13.44. Having seen the skies turn cloudy during the late morning I had just about decided not to bother but when the sun started to break through at about 1.30pm I changed my mind and made for a bridge near the village of Aldington with, I thought, about 15 minutes to wait. Within about 90 seconds the yellow end of 31465 with its 3 vehicles in tow came into view and is here seen passing the distant signal and the treadle operating the barriers at Clayfield Lane crossing, some distance to the east. I was fortunate that the sun was just coming out of some thin cloud which gave an almost spotlight appearance to the illumination. Much engineering work is ongoung around here in connection with the imminent redoubling of the line and several track workers are visible, returning to the small makeshift yard on the right of the track.
Monday 22 November 2010 saw a light engine move by GBRf's 66705 from Peterborough to Long Marston in order to take a rake of 9 JNA box wagons to Doncaster. I was told about the train first thing in the morning but it took for me to remember that 66705 was the class member that had had a Union Flag painted on the bodysides ready for its naming as "Silver Jubilee". This is one of the livery variations that I had in mind for a photograph but, as usual, I didn't intend to make any effort until it came within easy reach. The locomotive ran early as far as Evesham but then had to wait for its booked path over the single track to Honeybourne and thence to Long Marston. I thought that a very early departure was on the cards as the headlights on a slightly grubby 66705 were switched on for a while but the driver then switched them off again and headed off towards the control tower with the Motorail Logistics crew. I sat in my car for a while but got out for a quick look at 12.40, about 30 minutes before the booked time, to find the train just beginning to move and here is the shot of 6E53 taken in very dull conditions; so dull in fact that I didn't go any further. Still, I have a shot of this locomotive complete with flag and look forward to getting a better lit one at some point.
Another class 86 was scheduled to be taken from Long Marston to Crewe on Wednesday 24 November 2010. COLAS Rail were in charge of the move and 47727 ran light engine from Washwood Heath arriving just about on time at 11.45 a couple of minutes after I had heard the tell-tale horn as the locomotive approached one of the level crossings on the branch from Honeybourne. I hadn't intended to go over for this train unless one of COLAS' class 66s was used, none of which I had yet seen, but a message suggested that 47727 might be on its final mainline run before being restricted to shunting at Rugby Yard so I thought that the short trip would be worthwhile. Here is the class 47 standing at the gate a couple of minutes after the site shunter had brought the former 86218 around the line from the yard area in the background and deposited it in road 1 ready for departure.
The booked time for 0Z87 to leave Long Marston was around 13.30 but when I saw 47727 move straight onto the Floyd liveried class 86 at 11.50 thought that an early departure might be on the cards so went straight round to one of the footpaths crossing the line. Sure enough, within a few minutes I heard the horn as 0Z87 pulled away and then came into view around the curve. The class 86 will now be taken to Crewe for electrical testing before being exported for further use.
The third train of the week to go to or come from Long Marston ran on Friday 26 November 2010. This time it was a rake of KEA wagons from Doncaster running as 6C54 and due to arrive at Evesham at 11.12. I arrived on the bridge near the signalbox a couple of minutes before the train came into view in the distance, having left Norton Junction four minutes late but with that time made up by the time it reached here. The light was as good as it ever gets and showed off the attractive Metronet livery of the locomotive to some advantage. I quite fancied another shot of 6C54 and went straight off to Aldington where the sun was just, but only just, on the track. Unfortunately I missed it due mostly to some very slow traffic around the Tesco store in Evesham. Still, just one shot will be the norm when the North Cotswold Line is doubled to the east of Evesham as there will rarely, if ever, be a need to stop there once the token system for the currently single track is abolished.
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.
It had been known for a few days that there was to be a COLAS move from Long Marston to Eastleigh on Tuesday 8 February 2011 but what wasn't known, to me at least, that eight of the FGW Motorail vehicles, coded NVA, were forming the load. Because of a routine dental inspection I wasn't able to get across to the railway much before 11.30 and with a booked departure time from Long Marston of around 13.00 I thought that I wouldn't have much chance of seeing 5Z47 with 47727 there. I was right and my first view was a rather unsatisfactory one at Honeybourne, where the crew were taking in the warm February sunshine while waiting for a path on the single line to Evesham. In the event the train was held to right time and is here seen passing Lower Moor, between Evesham and Pershore, 14.43, just about spot on the booked time. I don't think that the light at this time of year can be beaten for quality especially when the atmosphere is as clear as it was on this day.
Once 47727 and 5Z47 had reached Worcester Yard on 8 February 2011 the locomotive was run-round the train of NVAs before it headed south to Eastleigh via Bristol Parkway, Bath Spa and Warminster. This routing gave the opportunity for a well lit shot somewhere on the line south of Abbotswood Junction and I make no apology for showing yet another photograph taken at Croome Perry where I knew that the light for a southbound train would be perfect and the line completely unshadowed. Here then is 5Z47 just after it had left the relative darkness of the wood where the attractive green and gold livery of the motorail coaches shows up to good effect behind the brightly coloured 47727, although the first two vehicles do appear to have gained a think coat of algae while in store at Long Marston. Here is an earlier view of the stock behind 47145 taken at Evesham in November 2006. It will be interesting to see to what use the NVAs will be out in the future. Just before 5Z47 appeared, a late running 6E41 from Westerleigh to Lindsey Oil Refinery with 60099 came north and I decided on this going away view in preference to the heavily shadowed conventional view from the other side of the bridge.
The Floyd class 86 that ws taken from Long Marston to Crewe last October was returned on 17 February 2011. My plan had been to photograph the arrival from a nearby public footpath but the sun unexpectedly made an appearance just at the wrong moment and with its positiion being right on top of and behind the train, the resulting image would have left a little to be desired. I therefore took this shot from the foot crossing as 47727 and the 86 waited at the gate. In contrast to today, the weather on the day that the locomotive originally left Long Marston was as close to perfect as one can hope for as this picture of it demonstrates.
There was a brief delay before the gate was opened so I had time to get back to the road bridge and take my usual picture as the train, 0Z86, stood at the end of the branch from Honeybourne while one the cats from Bridge Farm went on a hunting trip. It wasn't many minutes before the local ground crew arrived, opened the gate and gave the right-away for 47727 to enter the exchange sidings and be detached from 86218. It then ran to the crossover at the far end of the yard before coming back on the other road and going back onto the branch where driver John Price paused briefly to collect his crew mate who was in charge of the single line token protecting the line to Honeybourne. The class 47 then went light engine to Worcester Shrub Hill in readiness for its next job on the following morning.
A rake of VTG KEA box wagons should have left Long Marston for Beeston on Friday 18 February 2011 behind COLAS Rail's 47727 but problems with the stock caused the abandonment of the run. Another attempt, albeit operated by GBRf (but with a COLAS crew), took place on 23 February with the wagons this time being destined for Doncaster. Newly painted 66729 was diagrammed for the job and is here seen waiting to enter Long Marston to pick up the train which was being shunted on the other side of the site as I arrived. It wasn't long before the locomotive and stock were united as can be seen in this view taken in a very short-lived patch of weak sunshine. The wagons are to be used to convey coal from Maltby Colliery to Immingham where it is to be blended with coal from other sources before use.
The scheduled departure time for 6Z98 was 15.30 and it was a few minutes before this time when the train moved out of the exchange sidings and onto the branch towards Honeybourne. The secondman from the locomotive has to retrieve the single line staff from the ground frame at Long Marston once the train has cleared the pointwork at the end of the exchange sidings and, in this case, had quite a long walk back to the locomotive. This gave me time to drive around the corner and obtain this photograph as it rounded the bend towards Broad Marston and Honeybourne. The railings protecting the line are a bit intrusive but they are at least proper wooden staves rather than the horrible pallisade fencing which infects ever increasing amounts of the railway. The light was such that I didn't bother to go any further and so returned home.
A long rake of IZA ferrywagons has been hanging around at the so-called "Daventry" railfreight terminal waiting to be transferred to Long Marston for storage. They should have been moved a couple of weeks ago but the DRS class 37 sent to do the job failed en-route before reaching Rugby so the working was cancelled. Another more successful attempt took place on 28 February 2011 when a grubby 47712 ran light engine from Crewe to pick up the load. The weather was awful and if this hadn't been the first time that a DRS class 47 had run over the Cotwold Line and the Long Marston branch I wouldn't have bothered. Here is 6Z80 arriving at Evesham under a uniformly dull and grey sky, passing the semaphore signals which I today learned are going to be abolished and replaced with colour lights operated from a new panel in the signal box. This work will be done during the final stages of the line's redoubling and will, for me at least, be a sad event as I have always liked to see proper signals being lowered to allow the passage of a train.
It's not much of a diversion for me to head home from Evesham via Long Marston and I thought that I might have time for an intermediate shot from the overbridge on the Evesham to Offenham road. As I drove along the Evesham bypass the light deteriorated even further and some quite heavy rain began to fall, but as the signal on the up side of the bridge cleared to green as I approached the bridge I stopped off for a quick shot of 47712 and its load of ferrywagons. It wasn't really worth even the minimal effort involved but I suppose that it's possible that DRS won't send another of their class 47s this way again...
There was plenty of time for a gentle drive around the lanes towards Honeybourne and Long Marston before 6Z80 arrived at the latter and indeed, I caught a glimpse of it standing on the branch at the former as I passed underneath the line near the former ballast tip adjacent to the main North Cotswold Line. It was some ten minutes later that I saw 47712 appearing through the misty background on the approach to its destination, marking the first visit of the DRS class 47 to the branch. There was no return load so I was back in my car and on the way home before the final wagon had passed under the roadbridge.
This train from Didcot to Long Marston nearly escaped my attention on 14 March 2011. I don't always read all the locomotive allocation lists that are kindly posted and if it hadn't been for an intermediate sighting of 6B17 provided by a photographer on the Gloucester line I would have known nothing about it. I knew no times but it seemed likely that the usual lunchtime path from Worcester to Honeybourne would be used, when the train leaves Evesham at around 13.17. I needed to go to a local farm shop at some point during the early part of the week so made use of this excuse for a shot of 66136 and its short rake of tanks going for storage. I expected that once the down train heading for Great Malvern had reached Evesham, 6B17 would be released and the barriers protecting the road behind me would be lowered. Wrong again... The freight had obviously missed its path south so had to wait for the passenger service to reach Norton Junction before heading along the single line to Evesham and then on, after a token exchange, towards Honeybourne. This being the case, 66136 came into view just before 14.00 and passed this bridge at Blackminster a few moments later.
A short set of ten PGA wagons was taken from the Marcroft works at Stoke on Trent to Long Marston on 24 March 2011. The train, 6Z47, was worked by COLAS Rail and the locomotive allocated was 47749, the one of the company's fleet that I have photographed least often. The path used meant that the sun was beginning to move round towards the west and just about the most favourable place was on the approach to Evesham where 6Z47 was scheduled to appear at 13.09. There had been some slightly late running in the Birmingham area which might have meant the train having to wait at Worcester or Norton Junction until the next down passenger service, the 13.17 from Evesham to Great Malvern, had cleared the single track. In the event, the driver didn't hang around and 47749 came into view in plenty of time to avoid any delay to the class 165 unit going north. Here then is the short formation passing the inner home signal at Evesham, due for removal before too long, as it slowly approaches the station where the token will be exchanged for the run to Honeybourne and Long Marston.
There haven't been many DBS hauled trains to Long Marston in recent times and none this far in 2011 as far as I can recall. However, on 21 April 2011, 66185 took a rake of JNA and KEA boxes from Milford Sidings for storage there. The usual headcode, 6V17, and lunchtime path was used which gives an arrival at Evesham shortly after 13.00 and as I was already in the area having photographed the NMT I just went to Evesham station for a picture. This avoided the problem of a misty background caused by the current weather conditions and gave a nice identifiable background to the shot. The train, the focus of attention for the passengers on the down platform, is here seen pulling to a halt in the up platform where a brief pause was necessary until a Great Malvern had cleared the single line section from Moreton-in-Marsh. This pause was plenty long enough for me to wander up to the roadbridge for another picture taken as the driver of 6V17 took in a pleasant bit of sunshine. On the other side of the station the downside trackbed was in the process of being cleared ready for double track to be extended in the region of one mile further towards Worcester.
A rake of 18 ex Fastline IIA hoppers was taken from Long Marston to Doncaster on Thursday 28 April 2011. The train, hauled by GBRf's 66732 and with the headcode 4E53, is here pictured passing Blackminster crossing a few miles to the east of Evesham amidst a mass of Hawthorn blossom. The newly laid but still out-of-use down line is in place on either side of the road in the background and it is apparent that unless an awful lot of vegetation is cleared, and kept cleared, from the right had side of the tracks there won't be much of a photograph of a down train from here when the double track is operational.
A train operated by DRS was scheduled to run from Carlisle to Long Marston on Monday 20 June 2011. Running with the headcode 4Z20 and with the former Fastline Freight locomotive 66301 in charge, it consisted of a long rake of Fastline coal hoppers going for storage; quite possibly a set that was refurbished at Long Marston only fairly recently. I hadn't previously photographed a Fastline locomotive on either the Cotswold Line or Long Marston branch so went for a photograph or two as there may not be too many more chances as these class 66s will probably end up being repainted in DRS's own colour scheme. My first shot was at Evesham so as to have a picture in a thoroughly recognisable Cotswold LIne location and here is 4Z20 passing the signal box and the soon to be removed lower quadrant semaphores. The sky was clouding up quite rapidly and 66301 managed to arrive a little bit too early, or late when the sun was partially obscured.
After crossing a down passenger service at Evesham, 66301 with 4Z20 was soon on its way to Long Marston over the section of line that will soon be operating as double track. I thought that the sun might just appear at Blackminster before the train arrived and it nearly worked out. I don't really like "spotlight" illumination but if it is going to happen then I much prefer it this way round rather than with the locomotive being in cloud and the back of the train in sun! I'm sure that a lot of people thought that this working would be in the hands of a couple of DRS's older locomotives but someone within the company obviously saw the attraction of sending out a complete Fastline set.
As I hadn't previously photographed a Fastline liveried locomotive on the Long Marston branch I made my was home via the village, arriving about ten minutes before the train was due. The photograph here at midday is never going to be especially good particularly close to the longest day of year when the sun is far too high to obtain a decent image. Luckily, some cloud appeared at the right moment which reduced the contrast a little just as 4Z20 crawled up the last few yards of the branch towards the gate, alongside which some new pallisade fencing was being installed. This shouldn't too instrusive in a picture of something leaving the site, although the green painted fencing would be easier on the eye.
There was a return working from Long Marston to Worcester Yard on 20 June 2011 with a scheduled departure time of some time after 15.00. I had hoped for the usual earlier departure but it soon became clear that a fair amount of shunting around was going to be necessary. Here is the local shunter bringing the stock of 4Z20 forward from road no. 2 so that 66301 could be released ready to couple onto whatever was meant to be going out. I had no intention of hanging around for the thick end of two hours so went home before seeing what was really happening.
I arrived home after my daily swim on 4 July 2011 to find on my 'phone a message from a friend saying that 66713 was just about to arrive at Long Marston to pick up something which would go to Doncaster in the usual lunchtime departure slot, 13.11. I had plenty of time and went across to Long Marston where I arrived at about 12.45 to find 66713 coupled onto a long rake of Fastline branded coal hoppers. I was glad when it began to move some twenty minutes early because the air was absolutely alive with thunderbugs, aka Thrips or Thysanoptera, which were crawling all over me within moments of setting foot on the bridge. The sun just managed to poke out from the patchy cloud as the train, 6E53, pulled onto the branch to Honeybourne, although I think that the light is too harsh in the middle of the day at this time of the year for good photography.
It doesn't take long to drive from Long Marston to Honeybourne where I arrived about ten minutes before 66713 came into view around the curve towards the station. The train had to stand here for a while to allow a down class 165/166 to go towards Worcester so I was able to wait for the sun to strengthen abit before taking this shot. There is plenty of evidence here of the considerable amount of work being done to double this section of the North Cotswold Line and the new up line is gradually approaching the roadbridge across the line. This bridge is now a lot more comfortable and safe for photography as the County Council have introduced "single line working" across it controlled by traffic lights which does mean that there is a bit more room to stand without the danger of being squashed by one of the many HGVs using the road. The view towards Worcester shows the progress being made at Honeybourne station where the new up platform is rapidly taking shape. Use this hyperlink for the equivalent view in August 2010.
After photographing 66713 with 6E53 to Doncaster at Honeybourne I went a couple of miles further west to a bridge on the Offenham road where the line passes Aldington village. I had only a few minutes to wait before the bright headlight appeared and the train came rapidly towards me on the currently bi-directional single line. The new down line is in place along the whole section with the exception of the level crossing at Blackminster and I have been waiting for the chance to photograph something here before a major possession takes place in August 2011 after which trains to Worcester and beyond will use the new track. The view will be a lot tighter unless some quite radical and probably uneccessary (apart from a photographic viewpoint) tree clearance takes place. I thought about going for another shot to the west of Evesham but the high sun put me off so I went home via the nearby fruit farm where this season's fresh cherries are available. Brownie points time again...
The flexibility offered by the southermost part of the North Cotswold Line having received double track was demonstrated for the first time on Monday 19 July 2011. A transit move of eleven scrap carrying wagons was moved from Long Marston to Dagenham and the train, 6Z66 was routed from Honeybourne to Worcester for a run-round and then back up the Cotswold Line to Oxford via Moreton-in-Marsh, making it the first revenue earning freight along the line since, I think, 10 March 2007 when 66527 led a northbound train of PGA hoppers towards Honeybourne and Long Marston. The more recent move left Long Marston just over one hour early and had gone when I drove over the bridge across the line so I carried on to Honeybourne where the train was just drawing to a halt under a very moody sky.
There is a huge amount of civil engineering work in progress at Honeybourne station prior to the double tracking being completed by the third week of August 2011. With just one month to go, this picture shows a little of what is going on. In the background a three road exchange siding and run round loop is in the process of being installed. This will be of benefit for trains to and from Long Marston in that anything arriving from the south, much easier with double track virutally throughout, will be able to reverse clear of the main line and access the branch via the lines to the right of the island platform. The new arrangements shouod be better from a photographic point of view as a greater variety of pictures will be available.
As I mentioned above, 6Z66 from Long Marston to Dagenham Yard left just over one hour early. This was of no benefit as it still had to wait for the booked departure time from Honeybourne because of the still single track between Moreton-in-Marsh being occupied by scheduled FGW passenger trains. With this being the case I went home for lunch before turning out again at 15.30 and heading to a spot just outside Mickleton for a shot of 66547 climbing Campden bank. The reason for coming here was to obtain a rare picture of a revenue earning freight south of Honeybourne, but on a section of line still operating as single track. The new down line has been laid but as can be seen in my first photograph of 6Z66, stops short of Honeybourne station to allow for the considerable remodelling of the junction that will be necessary over the coming weeks. There was a certain amount of doubt about the pathing of 66547 and its train because of a late running down FGW service; the lateness having been caused by a woman leaving her children on the platform at Slough station and the concomitant faffing around necessary for her to retrieve them. Anyway, some good regulation by the signallers involved saw the freight leave Evesham not far off booked time and it is here seen climbing towards Chipping Campden tunnel through an increasingly dense patch of new vegetation. That bodes well for the leaf fall season then...
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.
The arrangements at Honeybourne for traffic heading to Long Marston were dramatically changed during the work to double the North Cotswold Line. A new Honeybourne West Junction has been constructed along with a new line running around the back of the reinstated island platform. The first train other than ballast workings to use the line was a 6Z36 from Didcot to Long Marston which ran on Friday 2 September 2011. Adding to the novelty was the fact that 67016 was the locomotive allocated to the train, the first of its type to set wheels on the Long Marston branch. There was no way that I was going to miss this double first and decided not to bother with the day's other working of interest, a pair or DRS 37s on the Cruise Saver passenger train from Glasgow to Southampton which was running on the Leamington Spa line. The Didcot to Long Marston train set out close to two hours late due to a problem with 67016 but all was well in the end and it arrived at Honeybourne at about 12.10 and is here seen working quite hard onto the branch with its very long train of a single tank wagon and ferrywagons which had run from Dollands Moor to Wembley and then Didcot earlier in the week. A lot of work was still in progress in the station area which accounts for the rather messy background. The line and partly completed platform in the foreground may one day form the terminus for trains arriving on the preserved line from Cheltenham and Toddington
Once 67016 with 6Z36 had joined the Long Marston branch the small gallery headed for the other end of the line and were in plenty of time to witness the train arriving. The light at 12.30 is dreadful for a shot of a train arriving here and if 67016 hadn't been the first of its class to run over the line I wouldn't have bothered with a photograph. The view towards the yard is better although the sun is really a little too straight at this time of day but once again the novelty value made a picture wothwhile as the train waited for a few minutes at the gate for the ground crew to arrive and let them in. Once in the yard 6Z36 more than filled the straight section of the line and 67016 disappeared around the curve in the background. The shunter was attached to the back of the consist and pulled the whole lot forward so that the main line locomotive was able to be uncoupled before the wagons were pushed back in order for the points to be clear for the 67 to rejoin the branch to Honeybourne. There was no return traffic and within a short time 67016, now running as 0A36, was on its way back to Didcot.
Another train of wagons for storage at Long Marston ran from Didcot on Wednesday 7 September 2011. This one wasn't quite as impressive as that which run the previous week when 67016 took in a very long train and neither was the weather quite so favourable. The train, 6Z36 again, was just two tank wagons hauled by 66108 and was sufficiently mundane to ensure that no-one else was at Honeybourne which meant that I was able to take this shot from the road bridge overlooking the station without a number of other photographers being in the picture. When I arrived, the points just beyond the red signal were set for the small yard in the background but within a few minutes they were switched back to allow a train to run along the Long Marston branch; a bit of a clue that 6Z36 wasn't far away. Once through the station, trains on the branch have to stop at a board, from where the driver must contact the Evesham signaller who will then release the single line token necessary to proceed and also to unlock the ground frame inside the Long Marston site.
After leaving Honeybourne and picking up the branch token, 66108 headed along the branch to its destination at Long Marston. I was on my home and stopped at the road bridge just outside Long Marston village to see if any traffic was in the yard for 66108 to take out. There was nothing in sight but 6Z36 was just appraoching the site so I took a single photograph as the train came up to the footpath across the line. I later heard that there was indded no return load and that 66108 went out light engine and ended up in Hinksey Yard although I don't know by route it reached Oxford. I can't see any reason why it shouldn't have run straight up the North Cotswold Line now that there is double track for most of the way and going via this route would have saved a lot of time.
Long Marston has been a little quiet of late although I did miss a DRS move whilst on holiday in mid-November, so when a friend told me that 66119 was on the way there light engine from Didcot on 24 November 2011 I thought that a quick drive across to see what was to come out would be worthwhile. The scheduled arrival time for 0A17 was 11.53 but when I arrived at about 11.35, 6Z17, the 12.53 to Didcot, was already ready for departure. It pulled onto the branch to Honeybourne almost exactly one hour early and just about managed to catch a little light as it did so. The Autumnal colours are showing quite nicely at the moment including a good crop of hawthorn berries which the local blackbirds and thrushes along with migrant fieldfares and redwings are feasting on, at least when a train isn't disturbing the peace. I'm not sure, but this may the the rake of ferrywagons although minus a tank wagon, that was brought here by 67016 at the beginning of September.
After leaving Long Marston and clearing the yard's pointwork, 66119 with 6Z17 had to wait for a few minutes while the branch token was collected from the groundframe and returned to the cab. It then made its way to Honeybourne where there was another short pause to allow the token to be returned to the box a couple of hundred yards before the road bridge. Once that had been done the train moved along the new trackwork which replaced the former spur across to the then single track of the North Cotswold Line. This was the first train that I had seen making a move in this direction so was happy enough to get a reasonable photograph even though the sun wasn't really making much effort to shine.
A long rake of TEA tank wagons was moved from Immingham to Long Marston on 30 November 2011. The train, 6Z57, was hauled by 66115 and was due to pass Evesham at 09.39. I arrived at Honeybourne just before 09.30 and within a couple of minutes it came into view as it left the main up line at Honeybourne West Junction and headed along the new trackwork forming the start of the Long Marston branch. Just before leaving home I had a feeling that shadows cast by the new station footbridge might cause a problem so picked up a long lens just in case. This was lucky as the nearest spot clear of shadow was by the new branch signal protecting the main line.
As soon as 66155 had passed Honeybourne station I headed off to Long Marston for an arrival shot. The new arrangements involving the branch token have speeded up proceedings and I arrived with no more than ten seconds to spare. It's not a great winter location for a shot of anything arriving but as the roadbridge here is on my way home from Honeybourne it seemed worth a single frame. I assume that the tanks, formerly used to carry bitumen, are going into Long Marston for storage.
A train into Long Marston was booked to run from Immingham on Wednesday 21 March 2012. I hadn't seen a train there so far this year because the weather for the few that have run was so poor that I didn't bother. I knew that the inward train, 6Z16, had only a single tank as the consist so didn't go for that but after an earlier than usual swim went across to see what the return load, running as 6M16 to Bescot might be. I arrived just as 66102 was moving along the exchange sidings where the tank from Immingham had been left and it was clear that nothing was coming out so I just took this picture for the record along with another of a self-propelled crane running around the internal system.
After visiting Ashchurch during the morning of 28 March 2012 I returned to Stratford-upon-Avon to have forty-five minutes in the swimming pool at my health club before returning south-west again, this time to Evesham. The target this time was Colas Rail's 66846 taking a long rake of redundant scrap wagons from Sheerness in Kent for storage at Long Marston. With such a long trip taking in the London area around the morning rush hour there is always the chance of something messing up the timings but on this occasion all went very close to schedule. I hadn't photographed anything other than an engineering train passing the signalbox here since the semaphore signals were abolished and part of the line re-doubled last year so thought this a good opportunity for a shot of, after missing a couple of previous opportunities, a Colas 66 on the North Cotswold Line. The train, 6Z69, was about ten minutes early when I pressed the shutter release at 13.41 and following the Spring time change the previous weekend the sun was still very much in the right place. This most certainly wouldn't have been the case anywhere on the Long Marston branch so I went straight home.
It's been a while since a class 86 left Long Marston to move abroad ready for work with Floyd, the new owner. The last move I photographed was powered by COLAS and took place on 24 November 2010 when 47727 took 86218 away. The late morning of 3 April 2012 saw WCRC's 47245 arrive at Long Marston and couple up to 86215 before moving out of the yard and onto the branch to Honeybourne before heading to Willesden via Evesham, Worcester, Birmingham and the West Coast Main Line which it joined at Nuneaton. It's a pity that the weather was so poor because 1) the livery of WCRC diesel locomotives looks awful unless there is full sun and 2) the blackthorn blossom would have much impressive in decent light.
The secondman on 47245 was back in the cab with the token for the branch before the gates into the yard were closed so I knew that it might be touch and go to obtain a second shot of 0Z86 at Honeybourne. In the event I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare just as the toen was being repaced in the cabinet a little way to the east of the station. As I had already taken a picture of the train with the class 47 leading I didn't see the point in doing another so went to the footbridge at Honeybourne station with the intention of picturing the short train moving away past the platforms under a clear signal before crossing over to the up main line a little further west, or north using Great Western parlance.
On 12 April 2012 a set of redundant steel carrying "hood" wagons was scheduled to be tripped from Washwood Heath to Long Marston for long term storage with COLAS Rail providing the power in the form of 47739. The train, 6Z47, left the originating point on time and was maybe five minutes early when it passed over Honeybourne North Junction and joined the Long Marston branch where I pictured it about to pass the end of the platforms. When I had arrived at Honeybourne some ten minutes earlier the light was perfect but this soon changed as an April shower passed over with 47739 passing me in a torrential downpour, all too visible in my photograph.
After taking the "atmospheric" picture of 6Z47 shown above I had a chat with a friend in the car park at Honeybourne station and intended to go straight home. In the event I saw 47739 about to cross the Pebworth Road and after waving to the driver heard the train's brakes being applied, presumably for it to slow before a farm crossing, so decided it would be possible to have another shot as it arrived at Long Marston. The shower I had suffered at Honeybourne was yet to arrive here, although visible in the background, and the light was much better as 47739 passed over the public footpath crossing the line.
The Motorail Logistics ground crew were just arriving to unlock the gate as 6Z47 drew to a halt a few minutes early at the end of the branch from Honeybourne. I couldn't resist this final shot of 47739 and the steel carriers as they sat in a short spell of sunshine with an impressively black sky in the background. I passed through the shower resulting from this cloud whilst driving home; it was as bad as it looks... There was no return traffic for 47739 and the locomotive returned light engine to Washwood Heath.
I received a couple of messages during the morning of 17 April 2012 saying that 66713 was on its way to Long Marston to collect some wagons forming a 6Z66 13.20 departure to Cardiff Tidal Sidings. The light engine arrived on site at 12.14 and was soon attached to the rake of JNA and JXA box wagons waiting in road 2 of the exchange sidings. After brake tests 6Z66 moved out onto the branch to Honeybourne some forty five minutes early and just managing to miss the best of the sunlight. As this was a long train I knew that there would be no need to rush off to Honeybourne for another photograph because the locomotive's second man would have to walk the length of the train once the last wagon was clear of the pointwork after collecting the single line token from the groundframe controlling entrance and egress from the sidings.
As I had predicted there was a wait of several minutes before 66713 with 6Z66 appeared in the distance at Honeybourne. The train stopped, as required, at the stop board on the branch before the signal adjacent to the up platform at Honeybourne station was cleared at 13.00 allowing it to move forward to cross the up main line and head off towards Evesham and Worcester before a run-round took place and it went back south via Norton and Abbotswood Junctions. It looks as if some remedial work has been carried out on the wagons including some plating and painting ready for a new lease of life on scrap metal trains of some description.
One of Riviera Rail's class 47s, 47812, saw some use on 6 June 2012 when it worked a 4V13 from Chaddesden Sidings at Derby to Long Marston. The locomotive, in an approximation of 1960s two-tone green livery, took a short rake of container flats for storage; not the the most interesting of consists but an opportunity for a photograph of the green locomotive on something other than a charter which would probably not tempt me out. The train is here seen just after passing over Honeybourne West Junction and passing around the back of the platforms before passing under a roadbridge and collecting the branch token from the cabinet a few hundred yards towards Long Marston. Despite a generally cloudy sky the sun managed to poke its face out at just the right moment.
As soon as 47812 had passed Honeybourne I set off for home via Long Marston, arriving in plenty of time for another shot as 4V13 arrived after a slow passage along the branch, accompanied by much horn blowing for the various occupation crossings along the line. The sun went in just as 47812 came around the curve in the distance and there was clearly a heavy shower falling over the hill in the background. After a short delay while the gates in Long Marston were opened the train went into the sidings to deposit its load giving a chance to photograph the other end of the locomotive, the one with a black headcode panel. There was no return load booked and I imagine that 47812 was soon on its way back to West Midlands.
A short rake of TTA tank wagons used for aviation fuel has been hanging around at Didcot for a while and after two cancelled trains they finally made their way to Long Marston on Wednesday 18 July 2012. The weather was terrible, just for a change, but I was playing the organ at a nearby village church and took my camera along in case I was able to get out in time. On arrival at Honeybourne a DBS crew were just making their way along the branch to the staff hut where the single line token is kept. This was a clue that 6Z56 wasn't far away and within two or three minutes 66058 appeared as it left the main line and joined the Long Marston branch. Rain was falling but the accompanying wetness gave the locomotive roof and the brightly coloured tanks a bit of a lift. Once the train had passed I legged it back to my car and headed for the road bridge at Long Marston, arriving at the same time as the train thanks to a strange looking farm vehicle, slightly wider than the Broad Marston road, causing a bit of a blockage. Still, I just managed a grab shot as it crawled along the final few yards of the branch. It was only when processing the RAW image that I noticed the extra headlight on 66058, showing it to be one of the Lickey bankers, the light being put there to help the driver buffer up to the back of the train being banked during the night.
A set of 24 Polish built oil tank wagons for eventual use by GBRf were taken from Wembley to Long Marston for their final checks before entering service on Friday 20 July 2012. The train, 6Z37, ran via Didcot, Swindon, Kemble and Gloucester before heading to Worcester for a run-round. The scheduled departure time from Worcester was 11.41 but due to a fatality on the GW main line at Hayes and Harlington causing problems for all services this was delayed by the thick end of three hours. I knew that the 6Z37, headed by 66003, would be at least an hour late and allowed for this but after standing on the bridge in the background of this photograph at Evesham for about forty minutes was told that further delay had been met. Being in need of some lunch by then I walked down to the station and had some sustenance from the excellent café on platform 1 and then sat around until I was told that the train had left Norton Junction. The sun had long gone by then and I couldn't be bothered to walk back to the bridge so settled for a shot as 66003 passed the platforms. The tanks carry a variety of messages extolling the virtues of railfreight, one of which is shown here.
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.
It's been quite a while since any class 87 locomotives have left Long Marston but an 0Z87 was planned for Tuesday 28 August 2012 when 87017 + 87026 were to be taken to Willesden prior to export to Bulgaria. The two electric locomotives had apparently been earmarked for use in the UK but no TOCs showed any interest so a home overseas beckoned. West Coast Railway Company's 47500 was in charge of the move, running light engine from Southall to Long Marston via Oxford and Moreton-in-Marsh; a route with much less potential for delay than the alternatives. Everything ran smoothly and 47500 arrived about at the booked time and after being coupled to 87017 + 87026, complete with nameplates, was on the move towards Honeybourne just a few minutes late. The sun was in a clear patch of sky all the time I was there which was welcome even though it is still too high for a decent photograph at this time, 13.00, at the end of August. It looks as if the weedkilling MPV has recently made a visit to the branch judging by the yellowing state of the lineside grass and weeds.
As soon as 0Z87 was on the branch from Long Marston to Honeybourne I headed off in the hope of getting another shot before the train joined the main North Cotswold Line to Evesham and Worcester before running to Birmingham, Whitacre Junction, Rugby and Northampton and finally Willesden. I arrived in the car park at Honeybourne station just as 47500 was drawing to a halt by the hut in which the single line staff for the branch is kept. I wasn't too bothered about having another front-end picture of 47500 in its drab WCRC livery so went straight to the footbridge ramp at the station ready for a receding shot of the two class 87s. There was no sign of any numbering other than the UK version so any Bulgarian numbers will presumably be applied when the locomotives reach their new home. The sun just about held on as the short train passed by under a clear signal and some more dead weeds which were in full flower when last I came here on 18 July 2012.
Early in the morning of 6 September 2012 I was told that a GBRf class 66 was to run light engine to Long Marston in order to collect a rake of oil tank wagons. These were then to be taken to Cardiff Tidal Sidings, after a couple of hours in Worcester Yard, ready for a run to Tonbridge Yard during the following morning. The departure time for the train, the headcode of which I forget, was 16.21 but as this would have put the train uncomfortably close to the busy evening period on the North Cotswold Line I guessed that an early departure might be possible. I had a message from a friend saying that 66716 was in the south-west of Birmingham at 12.53 so arrived at Long Marston at about 14.15 to see what was going on before moving on to a location where a picture would be possible in the middle of the afternoon. There was nothing happening and I sat in my car for quite a while, about ninety minutes, before hearing the Long Marston shunter move into position by the gate. On looking towards Honeybourne I saw 66716 approaching, but not light engine as I had supposed, but with a very long rake of TDA tanks. As the line speed around the cruve in the distance is 10mph I had plenty of time to use the public crossing over the line and to get into position in the adjacent field. The train was so long that a lot of it was hidden behind the trees when I pressed the shutter release and was, I guess, formed of close to thirty wagons.
As I mentioned above the train behind 66716 was very long. In fact it was so long that it had to be split before it all could be accomodated in the yard at Long Marston. This meant that I had to stand in the field by the foot crossing which was blocked by the TDA wagons until the first half was removed or find another route back to the road bridge. I chose the latter option and arrived to find 66716 just about to hook on to the second part of the train before drawing it into the exchange sidings. The resident shunter had already moved the first half, the right hand tanks in the foreground, out of the way and when the shunt by 66716 was completed propelled its set onto the others prior to taking them around the circuit for storage. Just before I left 66716 went light engine towards Honeybourne and ran as 0Z03 to Gloucester Yard. At the time fo writing I have no idea what happened to the move of tanks to Cardiff but hope that it will happen soon as I suspect that it will be the brand new set of blue tanks that were taken in for final checks on 20 July 2012.
As is sometimes the case on a sunny day there were several options involving decent trains to photograph. My original plan had been to go to the Stenson Junction to Sheet Stores line for a shot of a COLAS class 56 on the Boston steel but wrote this off when a class 47 was diagrammed. Then the regular Cruise Saver ECS from Crewe to Southampton was reported as being diverted from the Nuneaton to Coventry and Leamington Spa lines because of points damage caused during overnight engineering work near Coventry and finally 56312 was scheduled to run from Washwood Heath to Long Marston in order to collect some stock destined for Derby. The timing of the latter train better suited my plans so I went to Long Marston and no sooner had I arrived than I learned that the light engine was running late largely because it had gone via Stourbridge Junctiion and Kidderminster rather than the booked route via Bromsgrove. Anyway, it arrived and was hooked onto the train, two InterCity and one Virgin Mk 2 coaches as seen in the background here. I had planned on a shot from a foot crossing a little way down the branch so headed off for the short walk. I then received a message from a friend on the scene saying that 56312 had been uncoupled from the stock, presumably because of a brake defect and was going back light engine to Washwood Heath, as seen on the main picture. One would have thought that the coaches might have been certified fit to run beforehand so that the time and expense involved in setting up paths and making a crew available, there being three men aboard the locomotive, was not wasted.
Friday 26 October 2012 saw the movement of Europhoenix class 87s, 87017 + 87023, from Wembley to Long Marston. West Coast Rail were contracted to provide the motive power which meant that one of their class 47s in the drab maroon livery would be in charge but as the forecast was for clear sunny spells I thought that it wouldn't look too bad if a clean locomotive were to be allocated. Wrong on both counts. I arrived on the bridge near Aldington on the Evesham to Offenham Road to find it completely overcast and that a grubby 47786 was hauling the two 87s making for a much duller scene that that for whcih I had hoped. I was actually quite lucky to get the shot at all as a signal for the up line by the bridge flicked to green as I arrived and 0Z36 appeared just a minute or so later. The sides of the shallow cutting were completely cleared prior to this section of the North Cotswold Line being doubled but the usual unchecked growth is threatening to obscure the line once again in the near future.
It is quite a trek through country lanes from Aldington to Long Marston and I arrived at the latter at exactly the same time as 47786 with 87017 + 87023. This just gave me time for a shot of the trio moving slowly into the Motorail Logistics site where they were to run into road no. 1 where 86216 was waiting to be taken out. The class 47 was uncoupled from the 87s which were drawn forward by the resident shunter before the 86 was tied onto 47786 ready for departure as 0Z37 to Wembley.
The departure time for 0Z37 was 13.15 but it was at 12.03 that 47786 moved onto the branch to Honeybourne. There was just the tiniest break in the cloud cover as the driver prepared his train for the return journey but no sooner had I taken this picture than the sun was obscured again. This meant that I didn't bother going around the corner to a foot crossing for another shot but headed off home for an early lunch.
Tuesday 6 November 2012 was a cold, wet and miserable day and I had no plans for anything railway related. A friend told me that 66136 was at Long Marston with a 6M17 13.10 to Bescot and as I had to go to a nearby village at some point during the afternoon decided that it might be worth a look. On arrival at Long Marston at about 12.45 there was nothing in sight although the rails by the roadbridge looked suspiciously shiny. A quick drive to Honeybourne found 66136 with a very long rake of KEA wagons in tow standing at the signal protecting Honeybourne West Junction and with a green aspect on the up main line signal I knew that there would be time for a quick shot over the railings. The green light on the up main line was for 180102 which came into view a moment or two later whilst heading for London Paddington.
A train of stored coaching stock from Bletchley to Long Marston should have run on Thursday 13 December 2012 but problems were encountered when the locomotive, 31602, wouldn't start at Washwood Heath. In the event it ran later in the day but only as far as Gloucester. Coincidentally, a train of three chemical tankers was booked to run from Gloucester to Long Marston on the same day but this was also cancelled. I was interested to learn therefore that both sets of stock were amalgamated on Friday 14th and that the whole lot was booked to go to Long Marston around lunchtime. The weather had been dire with torrential rain but when I looked from my home towards the south-west at noon there was a small but definite improvement in the light. I went straight to Honeybourne station and was pleasantly surprised to find that the sky was clearing and the sun was just about poking through the cloud. In fact, just before 6Z78 came into view at Honeybourne North Junction there was enough of a shadow to make me move down the ramp of the footbridge because the shadow cast by the bridge was across the Long Marston branch. The train of DRS and Wrexham and Shropshire coaches tailed by the chemical tankers is here seen passing around the back of Honeybourne station's platforms as a class 180 Adelante heads off towards Evesham and Worcester.
During the week commencing 27 January 2013 at least three trains were scheduled for arrival or departure from Long Marston. These should have been operated by COLAS, DCR and DBS and predictably enough I suppose only the DBS train, 6Z16 from Imminghamm managed to run. I particularly tend to ignore predictions of DCR workings until the train comes into sight such is their track record. Anyway, 66046 with a very long rake of red VTG TEA tanks for storage was just about on time at Landor Street, Birmingham but managed to be nearly one hundred minutes late by the time it reached Worcester. There had been a layover of one hour scheduled for Worcester Yard so the actual deficit wasn't too bad by the time it became audible rolling along the Long Marston branch. The light here at just before 10am on a sunny morning isn't brilliant given the mottled shadows and the sun's angle but worth a shot given the length and colour of the train. Some class 460 EMU stock is visible from the road bridge at Long Marston. These EMUs are to be modified at Wabtec, Doncaster to make them compatible with the similar Class 458 units used by South Western trains; they will then be used to extend the 458s to five-car units. These vehicles will be taken to Wabtec as space there allows. What a shame that road transport was used to move this stock; it would have made for a most unusual shot on the North Cotswold Line. My thanks to Brian Williams and Steve Widdowson for the EMU information.
At least one set of VTG JSA steel carrying "hoods" has been scheduled for transfer from Llanwern to Long Marston for some time. A train finally ran on Monday 4 February 2013 when COLAS Rail's 47727 was sent light diesel from Washwood Heath to collect the wagons and bring them north. The move was delayed when a class 60 working the Immingham to Westerleigh oil tanks had problems south of Birmingham which meant that 47727 was around one hundred minutes late arriving at and then leaving Llanwern. There were a couple of quite lengthy layovers scheduled for 6Z36 and by missing these out it was only about forty five minutes behind time when it departed from Worcester Yard towards Evesham. The light had collapsed during the late morning so I wasn't inclined to make too much effort for a shot and went to the roadbridge just to west of Evesham station where 47727 with its lengthy train is seen hurrying past the signalbox. I was half tempted to go home via Long Marston for another photograph but the almost complete lack of light made that idea seem like a waste of time. Still, the light was better and the weather drier than it was for the last time that I went for a COLAS locomotive in this location.
A second, and I think final, rake of JSA steel wagons left Llanwern for Long Marston on Tuesday 5 January 2013. The departure from Llanwern was again delayed, this time by eighty minutes, and I suspect that this was intentional to avoid 47727 having to sit in Cheltenham High Street loop and Worcester yard for extended periods of time, all the while wasting fuel. By the time 6Z36 left Worcester it was several minutes early and when it passed me at Fladbury, between Pershore and Evesham, it was three minutes in advance of the schedule. The light was much better than for the previous run but the sun, which had been almost clear of clouds for a few minutes, did begin to fade as the train appeared under the bridge in the distance. The length of the set of wagons can be judged by anyone who knows the area as the back of the train is only just over the foot crossing in the background; a walk of several minutes by one of the public footpaths which run either side of the line here. I quite the elevated position here as it gives a glimpse of the Malvern Hills and some quite attractive colours in the nearby vegetation.
The third revenue earning train of the week used the Long Marston branch on Thursday 7 January 2013. DCR's 31190 in it's 1960's style green livery ran light diesel from Cardiff Riverside to collect a short set of flat wagons which it was booked to take to Marcroft Engineering at Stoke-on-Trent. The inward movement, 0Z31, was about 20 minutes early arriving just after noon and I hoped that the loaded train, 6Z31, would get away early as the booked time was 14.20; far longer than I wanted to hang about in the cold and rapidly deteriorating light. I drove around the corner from Long Marston and walked to one of the three foot crossings over the branch and had to wait only about fifteen minutes before I heard the train rattling down the line to my position on a stile which gave just a little extra height. Because of the unprotected crossings, although virtually never used by walkers, the train had to slow to a crawling place as it passed me. The early running, ninety-five minutes, didn't continue beyond Honeybourne where 6Z31 sat until its booked time before joining the North Cotswold Line to Evesham, Worcester and beyond. This was not 31190's first visit to the line; here it is with a more colourful train at the "old" Honeybourne in November 2009.
The first visit of a COLAS class 56 to Long Marston took place on Monday 18 February 2013 when 56302 hauled the third set of redundant JSA Hoods from Llanwern to be taken for storage. The train was some seventy-five minutes late leaving because the wagons were shown on the system as being "red-carded", or not fit to travel, but this was found to be an error and by missing out scheduled stops in a loop at Cheltenham and at Worcester Yard, 6Z36 was back on time by the time it approached Honeybourne North Junction. I was really interested only in obtaining some photographs on the Long Marston branch and this spot on the station footbridge is ideal at the time of day that the train was due. Some might find the rail workers visible in the mid-ground an irritant but I have no objection to high visibility suits when it involves people actually doing their jobs. The ones I don't like are those worn by enthusiasts trying to look official when they're not, more especially if on a bridge or in a field!
I knew that there would not be a worthwhile shot of 56302 arriving at Long Marston given that the sun would be straight down the line into my lens so didn't hurry across. After a leisurely drive I arrived to find that the long train had been split to facililate its handling, with 56302 being tucked away at the far end of the yard ready to be coupled onto the return load, some blue liveried IHA steel wagons. There should have been twenty six of these to go to Llanwern but only fifteen were ready so a shorter than expected load was prepared. The shot from the roadbridge into the yard at this time of day is compromised by the angle of the sun but worth a frame just for the record.
I had hoped that the booked departure time from Long Marston, 14.55, would be advanced a little so that I wouldn't have to hang around for too long and it was just on 14.45, after a quick drive back to Honeybourne, that 56302 with 6Z37 came around the curve in the background. After stopping at the hut to drop off the branch token the driver brought his train slowly towards the small gallery on the roadbridge resulting in far too many shots being taken! Still, who wouldn't, given the light and the decent train behind 56302? I don't usually take locomotive portraits but thought that this one was well worthwhile.
It was clear that 6Z37 would have a right-time departure from Honeybourne and as I couldn't be bothered to drive one of the North Cotswold Line's spots beyond Evesham and so going further away from home, I opted instead for a picture or ten from the platform end at Honeybourne as the train crew chatted to enthusiasts. It was a bit surprising that the sun managed to be out for virtually the whole period that 56302 was in photographable locations given that the amount of cloud floating around so now I won't necessarily feel the need to go out for another such working if the conditions aren't right.
An unusual looking movement from Bescot to Bescot via Hereford (twice) and Long Marston was booked for Sunday 7 April 2013. I initially had no idea what it might be but thought that it might be a route learning or refresher exercise. I was told in the morning that it was actually a weedkiller operated by a couple of MPVs and as the only other times these vehicles had previously visited the Long Marston branch was, as far as I know, under cover of darkness I decided to have a couple of shots to fill in the gaps in my photo collection. The train, 6Z10, formed of DR98909 + DR98959 ran a bit late as far as Honeybourne but had picked up some time by the time it reached the end of the branch as here shown. The light was a little tricky with some soft sun coming from directly behind the train but a picture felt worthwhile as it was the first time that I had seen MPVs here.
The weedkilling train from Bescot to Long Marston was booked to stand at the latter for thirty-five minutes but I wasn't at all surprised when the crew simply changed ends and went back towards Honeybourne within two or three minutes. I just had time to walk from the roadbridge to the public foot crossing before the lights came on and 6Z10 moved away on its way to Worcester, Malvern Wells and then back to Bescot. I have no problem at all with photographing MPVs as they are nothing like as common on the system as locomotive-hauled trains and often reach parts of the system where not much activity is seen. I always used to make a point of taking some images of MPVs when they ran to Stratford-upon-Avon with RHTTs but since the abolition of signal boxes along the North Warwickshire Line these have run in the dead of night.
Several long rakes of oil tanks have been taken for storage into Long Marston in recent times and another went in on Wednesday 10 April 2013. The train, 6Z16 from Immingham, consisted of TEA bogie tanks and was hauled by 66055 which is notable for being one of the Lickey Bankers, recognisable because of the additional headlight used at night for buffering to the back of the train to be assisted. The weather was a bit dull and misty but with the sun trying to break through I plumped for a location where it would be in the right place if it did come out. The other advantage of the public foot crossing on the Broad Marston road is that the whole of the very long train can be seen. The booked arrival time of 6Z16 was 10.13 but it was at 09.51 that it passed me after a good clear run from Worcester Shrub Hill from where it departed at 09.23. There was no return load and 66055 left Long Marston for Bescot the thick end of three hours early.
DCR's green class 56, 56303, worked from Yorkshire to Plymouth on 11 April 2013. The following day it returned north to York with a bit of a diversion to Long Marston to pick up a long rake of freightliner flats. The light engine had a good run and arrived early at the gate and was soon given permission to enter to pick up its train, seen here in the exchange sidings having just been brought by the HNRC shunter from wherever it was stored. The departure time was given as 16.27, some 150 minutes away as I took this picture but I had a feeling that it might be a tad earlier than that so headed off around the corner to a foot crossing.
It was actually a longer wait than I had anticipated and with the sun's angle likely to be getting a bit straight I decided to move to another crossing further round the bend. Although this is nothing like as good a shot as my first choice, when the sun did come out it did at least shine at a marginally better angle although it was still too head-on for a really satisfactory outcome. The driver had just opened up 56303 as 6Z56 accelerated away from a virtual stop over a farm occupation crossing and the sound took me back to the noise these locomotives made when climbing away from Leamington Spa with heavy coal trains heading for Didcot Power Station.
After the photograph on the Broad Marston road I had a quick drive to Honeybourne without really expecting to arrive in time. As I came up to the station car park I could see that there was no chance of making it to the road bridge so instead went straight to the footbridge where the crew had stopped their train just far enough towards the signal for a decent portrait. Against all the odds the sun made another very short-lived appearance which give me a few seconds to take this photograph. When leaving the station I noticed this sign. I do hope that FGW aren't anticipating that will provide any clients!
A COLAS Rail train was booked to run from Cardiff Canton sidings in South Wales to Long Marston on Tuesday 23 April 2013. The locomotive was 56105 which had been working on the regular timber traffic and I was quite keen to get a photograph of the train, 6Z56, on the Long Marston branch especially given that the weather first thing in the morning was perfect for photography and also because I hadn't taken a shot of the locomotive since 13 July 1990 when I took this poor shot of it passing the closed station in Sutton Park. My choice of location was a foot crossing on the Broad Marston road where the scene was little different from my last visit for 66055 a couple of weeks ago. Today's train ran close to time as far as Worcester Yard where 56105 ran-round its short train of timber carrying wagons. Some time was gained up the line to Honeybourne and 6Z56 was about fifteen minutes early when it passed the small group of photographers; a good job since a lot of cloud was building up and the sun was only seconds away from being blotted out as I squeezed the shutter release.
Upon my return from holiday on 11 June 2013 I checked Realtime Trains for any local activity and saw that there was a light engine scheduled to run from Immingham to Long Marston early the following morning. It turned out that the locomotive involved was 60019, the first of any class, as far as I was aware, in the newish "day-glo" colour scheme to visit the branch. The inward move ran nearly two hours early and when I arrived at around 10.30 60019 was coupled onto a very long rake of VTG tanks, including the new examples that were delivered here for storage some eleven months ago by 66003. The weather was quite dull but the the sun did appear for a few moments which did give the opportunity for one shot with some shadows visible. The length of the train , 6M19, can clearly be seen in this view with the rearmost tanks around the curve at the end of the exchange sidings.
I had hoped that an early departure from Long Marston to Immingham would occur but it was just about on the booked time, 12.34, that 60019 began to move away from the yard and onto the Honeybourne branch. Class 60s aren't commonplace here and today saw just the third ever visit. The first was when 60084 hauled a railtour from Worcester on a very wet and dark 15 October 2000, and the second was marked by arrival of 60042 in November 2006. At this time, the class was actually barred from using the branch but this restriction appears now to have been lifted as 60019 made a smoky departure with the empty, but still heavy train.
After the train had cleared the points at the exit of Long Marston yard there was quite a delay as the single token was collected from the ground frame and returned to the driver of 60019. This gave me the chance to head around the corner and onto a public footpath which crosses the line on the Pebworth road. Once again there was exhaust smoke, this time visible against the now even darker sky, as 6M17 accelerated away from a speed-restricted farm crossing. It's a shame that the sun didn't cooperate on this occasion but I can't pretend that I was too bothered; the shots being sufficiently unusual to make the weather conditions immaterial.
I saw from Reaaltime Trains that a locomotive was booked to run light diesel from Didcot to Long Marston during the morning of 20 June 2013. Whether there was a return load wasn't clear but as I was within about two miles of this bridge when it was due to arrive I went for a look. There was nothing in the exchange sidings and judging by the number of crew in the cab of 66084 I assume that it was a driver familiarisation, road learning or rail polishing trip. Within a few minutes of arrival it was on the way back to Didcot. The outward journey had been via Swindon, Kemble, Gloucester and Worcester but the return ran to Norton Junction and then crossed and went back through Moreton-in- Marsh.
One of the infrequent trains from Long Marston to Didcot ran on Friday 5 July 2013. I had sort of hoped that 67029, which has been at Didcot for a few days, would be sent to work this train but it went instead to COD Kineton on 6M21. Still, 66118 was the first of the class in the day-glo DBS livery to reach Long Marston although 60019 in the company's colours was here a few weeks ago. The bright colour, to my eyes, suits class 66 much better than the slab-sided class 60. The load of today's train was a modest three large oil tanks including a brightly coloured example bringing up the rear. Had the train been longer I would have gone down to Honeybourne for another picture but on this occasion went over to Hatton, via a drink break at home, to see 57601 at Hatton.
Yet another long train of empty oil tanks was taken for storage into Long Marston on Tuesday 9 July 2013. This time it was a 6Z16 02.27 from Humber Oil Refinery which ran early all the way until it reached the black hole that is the section of line between Castle Bromwich Junction and Landor Street at the latter of which a crew change was booked. The lateness continued and 6Z16, headed by 66172, lost its original path from Worcester Traffic Centre to Evesham West Junction and had to wait at the latter until 10.30, some forty minutes behind time. The slight advantage of this from a photographic point of view was that the sun had moved around to the south a bit further which distinctly helped with the angle of the light at Mutton Bridge, Blackminster. The blob visible in the sky to the right of the rear of the train isn't a mark on my camera's sensor but a police helicopter hovering above the Aldington area.
There isn't usually much of a problem in taking a second shot of a train going into Long Marston after a first one at Blackminster and such was the case on 9 July 2013. I arrived at a foot crossing on the Pebworth road of the branch from Honeybourne with a good five minutes to spare and as the light was good with little haze about decided on a picture taken with a long lens. Here is 66172 rolling slowly along the line with its long rake of 100 tonne bogie oil tanks heading for, hopefully, short term storage.
The evening of Monday 8 July 2013 offered the opportunity for an unusual shot of a train arriving at Long Marston which would be lit by the sun from the north side of the line. The working was a 5Z42 12.32 Ilford E.M.U.D. to Long Marston hauled by COLAS Rail's 47739 and consisting of three slightly faded Virin Trains liveried coaches all of which arrived at Worcester nearly one hour early but had to wait for its booked path south over the single track to Evesham West Junction because of the scheduled passenger services. There would have been plenty of suitable locations available on the line around Droitwich but I was more interested in taking my picture in a spot that is only usuable, when the sun is out, after 20.00 in the height of the summer. Here then is 47739 rolling slowly along the last few yards of the Honeybourne to Long Marston branch at 20.16 on a beautifully lit evening, the picture being taken from a public right of way just before the roadbridge adjacent to the Motorail Logistics site.
There was no return load at Long Marston for 47739 on 8 July 2013 and it was scheduled to run light engine to Washwood Heath. I took this second view of the train as the locomotive ran along road No.2 and past the three coaches it had just brought in from Ilford. Quite a variety of stock is visible in the background ranging from steel hoods, timber carrying wagons, container flats and many spare oil tanks. More tanks were due in the following day, clearly a sign of the current downturn in the amount of oil products being shifted around the country.
At the time of writing, 24 July 2013, a major railway industry event involving on-track plant is taking place at Long Marston. Several trains have taken stock onto the site but the one here seen was, as far as I know, the only one that was locomotive hauled. The whole run from Eastleigh via Westbury and Bristol was difficult for the operators to say the least. It should have run all the way to Long Marston on Monday 22 July with 47739 + 47749 in charge. After a late start from Eastleigh it managed, with quite a lot of spare time in the schedule, to make an on-time departure from Westbury. A relief driver was booked to take the train, 7Z56, on from there but was delayed by problems on the M5 so left about one hour late. The trials and tribulations continued and 47739 suffered a small engine fire which caused the train to be terminated in the loop at Bristol Parkway. COLAS Rail sent 56303 to effect a rescue and the whole ensemble was taken to Worcester Traffic Centre later the same night. A schedule appeared the following morning showing a 13.20 departure from Worcester to Long Marston so I set off for Honeybourne only to find that half the roads in the area were closed for the annual "let's wreck your car's paintwork with some quite unecessary road surface dressing with stone chippings although we won't bother to sort out all the pot holes" fiasco. This resulted in a twenty minute diversion although there wasn't a problem as 56303, 47749, and 47739 were still in the same place at Worcester Yard as they had been the previous night. After quite a while I decided that nothing was going to happen and went home via a slightly shorter diversion. Within fifteen of minutes arriving home an email arrived saying that 7Z56 had just left Worcester just over four hours late. Off I went again but this time couldn't be bothered with going any further than Long Marston even though the available angle wasn't really good enough to show the mixed and colourful bunch of OTP being dragged. On this quiet evening I heard 56303 leave Honeybourne and followed most of its progress along the branch until it came into view where the track runs along the Broad Marston road. The site of the event looked almost like a funfair from a distance, no doubt to be aided by the bright colours of some of the machinery on display such as this crane and these vehicles, the latter of which had arrived at Worcester from Fairwater Yard under their own power as 6U17 but had been tacked onto the back of this train to save a path.
The OTP event at Long Marston finished on Thursday 25 July 2013 and on the following morning the train I had photographed on Tuesday last returned to Westbury. The original departure time was just after 06.00 which would have been too early for me considering where the sun would have been at that time, but as there was no locomotive at Long Marston it seemed unlikely that anything would happen. A schedule then appeared bringing a light engine, 66850, in from Worcester Yard and once I had seen that this had passed Evesham I went over to hopefully photograph the departure. As I arrived I could hear a class 66 only a few yards away. It ran into the yard where the colourful train was ready for it and by 09.00 was preparing for departure. It moved onto the Honeybourne branch at 09.06 when this picture was taken. I didn't go any further along the branch as any more shots would have been almost straight into the sun. The booked departure time was 10.55 and 7Z56 was shown as leaving at the right time so I assume it festered somewhere around Honeybourne until then.
I saw from RealTimes Trains that a GBRf locomotive was booked to run from Doncaster to Long Marston on Monday 29 July 2013. As it turned out, a load of five JNA box wagons was found and which were conveyed either for maintenance or storage. The arrival time was 14.14 which if the sun is out is completely hopeless for an arrival shot at Long Marston and I hadn't given myself time to go to Honeybourne so hoped that some clould would help me out. In the event it was the worst possible scenario with the train in shadow but with bright sunshine from above and behind the train illuminating the background. I therefore waited for 66702 to take its train into the yard and for the HNRC shunter to prepare to couple onto the wagons before pulling them into the headshunt so that the mainline locomotive was able to cross over and join its train of smaller box wagons destined for Northfleet's Lafarge facility in Kent.
The train from Long Marston to Northfleet wasn't scheduled to leave until 16.05 but I hoped that the usual movement would apply. The sky towards Honeybourne looked fairly clear so I set off leaving plenty of time in case last week's roadworks were still causing long diversions between the two points. As it happened the roads were clear and I went straight to Honeybourne station and kept an eye on RTT while sitting in my car in the shadow of some trees. It was quite a long wait as 66702 with what I guess was 6Z81 didn't leave Long Marston until 15.48, just 17 minutes early. Just as it came into view on the branch 180104 entered the down platform at Honeybourne and stopped to pick up a few passengers. 66702 moved towards the road bridge under which it stopped for quite a while as several crew members went to and fro while a driver change took place. The signal soon cleared and the train ran straight past the platforms, across Honeybourne West Junction and off towards towards Worcester.
I wasn't expecting to go out for any photographs on Wednesday 31 July 2013 because 1) the weather forecast was dreadful and 2) I had a long-standing commitment over lunchtime. I knew that 20142 + 20189 were going light engine from Gloucester to Long Marston but without knowing any return times I had already decided that there wouldn't be enough time to record this unusual working. However, the schedule for 6Z21 to Doncaster appeared and it appeared to just give me time for at least one photograph at Long Marston and with a bit of luck and early running another couple along the branch to Honeybourne. On arrival on the roadbridge at Long Marston the distinctive whistling sound of the 20s was clearly audible and it soon became obvious that departure was imminent. The train moved out of the exchange sidings within a few moments and this colourful shot was taken as the five JNAs, the same as those taken in here by 66702 on 29 July, were taken onto the branch.
It was still eleven minutes before the scheduled departure time of 20142 + 20189 from Long Marston as I headed off to Honeybourne for another look at 6Z21. There wasn't much of a wait before the short train appeared and after a minute or so standing at the staff hut to replace the single line token moved towards the station where a red light protected the junction with the main line as a green aspect was showing for the down main. The light was still dreadful but who cares when such a rare locomotive combination is on the cards? The vegetation in the space between the branch and main lines has really grown up over the past few weeks but there was still enough of an angle for a reasonable shot.
The green signal for the down main line at Honeybourne that I mentioned above was for a train not stopping at the station which meant I had to have a quick run along the various ramps of the footbridge to try for a final shot of 6Z21. I just had time for this image as it began to move, grabbed by leaning over the fence, which fortunately is of reaonable height and not spiky, on the up platform. The weather hadn't been quite as bad as forecast as at least the threatened heavy rain didn't materialise and just as importantly, I made my lunch with at least seven minutes in hand!
Three Murco branded TDA bogie oil tanks have been sitting in a dead-end siding at Didcot for some time and trains have twice appeared in schedules to move them to Long Marston before baing cancelled. On Wednesday 28 August 2013 they finally made it and unusually ran via the North Cotswold Line throughout although too early in the morning to be worth a trip out somewhere south of Honeybourne where revenue-earning freights are exceptionally rare. The train, 6Z36, ran to Worcester TC where 66112 ran round the tanks before heading back to Honeybourne North Junction where it left the main line and joined the Long Marston branch. I was walking to a public crossing of the branch when I heard the locomotive's horn in the distance and made it to the stile at the edge of a field with only a minute or so to spare; 6Z36 with the TDAs by then being close to 20 minutes early. The schedule indicated that a return load, again via Moreton-in-Marsh, was on the cards and this would have the more interesting train but there was nothing in the yard at Long Marston and 66112 left straight away running back to Didcot light diesel on the booked route except with a reversal at Norton Junction rather than Worcester.
On Friday 13 September 2013 a light engine move was shown to run from Washwood Heath to Long Marston but this was cancelled before departure. It was replaced with a 6Z31 which was powered by DCR's 31190 + 31452 and turned out to be another Railvac move. I haven't seen much about 31452 recently so thought that a picture would be in order. The shot at Honeybourne was the obvious one for me and I arrived just as RTT showed the train passing Evesham about 25 minutes early. It arrived within a few minutes and is here seen on the Long Marston branch having left the North Cotswold Line at Honeybourne North Junction.
My plan for the afternoon also included a trip to Hatton but as the road there took me past Long Marston I stopped off for another picture of 6Z31. I nearly missed it as I was chatting to a couple of friends picking sloes just down the road but just reached the bridge in time for this view as the slightly mis-matched green pair arrived at the end of the branch from Honeybourne. The light was getting worse by the minute and some ominous looking clouds were building up in the Stratford direction. The train was due to continue to Eastleigh via Worcester, Gloucester, Bristol and Salisbury although at this moment there was nothing visible in the yard as 6Z31 rolled into the exchange sidings. I didn't have time to hang around but understand that something else was picked up here and went off with the Railvac also in the train's consist.
On Friday 20 September 2013 a DCR train conveying wagons for a new ballast flow was scheduled to run from Long Marston to Totton. The company's newly repainted 56312 was the locomotive used and it originally appeared that it was to run light engine from Washwood Heath to Long Marston. I wasn't too bothered about this part of the run so went for an early swim and made the journey from Stratford-upon-Avon arriving on the roadbridge at Long Marston just a couple of minutes before the train left, running close to 2 hours early. It turned out that 4 wagons had been conveyed from Washwood Heath with just a single one to be added here and here is the complete rake pulling away from the exchange sidings and onto the branch to Honeybourne. The locomotive is a dark grey colour but it reflects the colour of its surroundings which here make it appear a shade of green not unlike the GWR Middle Chrome green, sometimes called Brunswick Green. I'm sure that a better representation of the new colour would be seen on a sunny day but that will have to wait for another day.
Trains leaving Long Marston usually leave the site and then have to wait while the single branch token is collected from the ground frame and taken to the locomotive. On this occasion the train was short enough to allow it to be taken straight into the cab. This meant that there were several minutes fewer than normal to get to Honeybourne before the train. As I parked my car in the station car park I heard the train's brakes squealing a bit as it stopped by the staff hut where the token is replaced ready for the next train. This gave me just enough time to walk onto the road as 6Z56 trundled along the last few yards of the branch and take this shot on the rather overgrown trackbed. A class 180 Adelante had just run non-stop through Honeybourne on the down line meaning that there would be a few minutes delay before 56312 was given authority to proceed still nearly 2 hours early. The light had collapsed almost entirely by this time but I took a record shot as 6Z56 made a smoky departure towards Evesham and Worcester.
Two trains were scheduled to visit Long Marston on Tuesday 1 October 2013, the first being a move of oil tanks from Robeston Sidings in West Wales due to arrive at 09.17. In view of the dark morning and the short load, 2 TEAs - seen in the background of the shot of 56303, I didn't bother with it but waited until the second working. This gave me time for a swim and to walk home before deciding if the weather was bright enough to make the effort. The timings put into the system were never going to work as the locomotive from the first train was due to take out a load back to Robeston with a departure from Honeybourne, the end of the Long Marston branch, at 12.30 whilst the incoming locomotive for the second train, 56303, was due to arrive at the same point at midday! There was therefore quite a delay for 56303 which although 4 minutes early at Evesham was 57 late arriving at Long Marston giving just 3 minutes for the work in the yard to be done. In fact it was 62 minutes before the 6 PNA wagons, four loaded with ballast, were found, brought to the exchange sidings and coupled up to 56303 ready for departure. What little light there had been earlier had long disappeared so I made do with this image of 6Z56 starting its journey to Totton in Hampshire.
That'll be a long job!
The Ultrasonic Test Train started a week's tour on Monday 14 October 2013 by running from Derby to Alexandra Dock Junction via Long Marston. The locomotive was 31233 which led from Derby with DBS 9708 being on the other end of the formation ready for moves away from reversal points. Had the weather been decent I had had several shots and a bit of chasing around in mind but with leaden skies and frequent heavy showers the order of the day I just went to an occupation crossing on the Long Marston branch for a record shot of this relatively unusual train on this line. Running as 3Q22, the train left Derby around 50 minutes late but by avoiding the need to sit in various loops along the way was 5 minutes early when it passed me on one of the more overgrown parts of the track and going by an electricity supply pole gradually moving away from the vertical. Because of the need to run, when recording, at no more than 30mph some lines are covered at night hence the array of spotlights on the front of 31233 used when video cameras are in use.
After running to the end of the Long Marston branch on 14 October 2013 the crew of 3Q22 changed ends and headed back towards Honeybourne, Evesham and Worcester for another reversal before making their way to Alexandra Dock Junction. With DBS 9708 now leading the train ran cautiously over 3 occupation and foot crossings before 31233 was opened up to achieve line speed for the branch, 20mph. The better shots along here are for trains coming in this direction so maybe it would have been advantageous from a photographic point of view for 31233 to been leading for this leg but there haven't been many DBS-led trains along here so I was happy enough, given the conditions, for things to have been the way they were.
A light engine from Immingham, which changed overnight to Doncaster, was scheduled to go to Long Marston on Thursday 5 December 2013 where some oil tanks were to be collected and taken to Humber oil Refinery. The scheduled arrival time was 10.11 but as is often the case it was earlier than this when the locomotive went into the yard. When I arrived at 10.05 66200 was already on the tanks, headlights on and ready to move despite the booked departure not being scheduled until 12.34. Within a few minutes 6Z16 was on the move and moved onto the branch line to Honeybourne at 10.12. The tanks are blue TEAs similar to those that left here behind 60019 on 12 June 2013. There seem to have been a large number of these tanks in Long Marston and some brand new examples that arrived in 2012 had decals proclaiming the "green" energy efficiency of railfreight. The tanks leaving today seemed to have cleanish patches on the sides about where these decals had been situated but whether they had been removed or the cleaner paint had another cause I don't know.
There was plenty of time for a drive across to Honeybourne before 66200 appeared coming slowly down the Long Marston branch where the single line staff was replaced in the cabin. It soon moved away towards the station passing some attractive Autumnal colours which were rapidly disappearing as the extremely strong wind stripped most of the remaining leaves from the trees. The locomotive looks as if it may be have recently been on RHTT duties before being run through a washer if the state of its roof is a guide. The signal protecting the main was at red as 6Z16 ran into the platform allowing plenty of time for a final shot. The gentleman just visible in the waiting shelter was hoping to catch the 10.37 departure for London Paddington but at this point the train was some 15 minutes late. Thanks to RealTime Trains and in the absence of any tannoy announcements I was able to let him know that his train from Great Malvern had been cancelled due to some problem "at the depot". At that moment he was not a fan of FGW...
A light engine move from Cardiff Canton to Long Marston originally scheduled for Monday 17 February 2014 was cancelled but later ran as a VSTP on Thursday 20th. COLAS Rail sent 56113 which left South Wales over 2 hours late but managed to arrive at Long Marston only just over one hour in deficit after missing out a few lengthy stops en-route. I arrived a few minutes before the locomotive and saw that 2 sets of JSA steel "hoods" occupied the yards through roads. Once the gates had been opened the resident shunting locomotive, named John Boy, moved about half of the rake from No.2 road and coupled it to those in No.1 before propelling the whole whole back a few yards to allow 56113 to run in and couple up. There was a quite a delay as the wagon brakes were tested and given an examination, no doubt necessary because the JSAs had been here for the thick end of 12 months after being brought in as 3 separate trains, one of which is here seen at Fladbury on 5 February 2013. Once all the checks were complete, 56113 was opened up and began to move slowly towards the main line.
The length of the train, now running as 6Z56 and with load 35, can just about been seen through the exhaust smoke as it left Long Marston yard, as can some other JSAs. COLAS has recently begun to operate several flows of steel traffic and I assume that today's wagons will be used as traffic further increases. With any luck, the wagons left here will also be taken out and put back into service. The light remained dreadful all the while that 56113 was in the yard but it did look a lot brighter in the Honeybourne direction so it was time for a quick run in that direction.
There was plenty of time to drive to Honeybourne, park and walk to the road bridge adjacent to the station before I saw 6Z56 with 56113 in charge running along the branch from Long Marston. The train stopped at the staff hut to replace the single line token and as soon as this was done the signal allowing access from the branch to the main North Cotswold Line flicked to green. The sun was trying to come out but another 5 minutes delay would have given me a perfectly lit shot. It's a bit frustrating but I would much rather have this picture than none at all. I reckon that about 90% of rateable workings don't happen in "full sun" and I'd rather be out getting a record of interesting movements than waiting around for the unlikely combination of a decent train and clear skies.
A second set of JSA steel wagons were taken from Long Marston to Llanwern on Wednesday 26 February 2014. This time, 24 "hoods" were removed with COLAS's 47727 doing the honours. The inward light engine was close to 90 minutes when I saw although didn't photograph it when it went by Fladbury a few minutes in front of 67020 on a test train. Given that a bank of heavy cloud was rapidly moving in from the north-west I was in two minds whether to bother waiting at Lower Moor for the return but decided, after a text message saying that the time deficit was down to about 40 minutes when 6Z47 left Long Marston, to hang on. It wasn't too long before 47727 came into view just as the thickest cloud came overhead but fortunately just a couple of minutes before heavy rain began to fall.
A train operated by DC Rail was booked to take some coaching stock from Long Marston to Crewe on Wednesday 26 March 2014. The locomotive was 56312 which ran from Washwood Heath during the morning and arrived some 10 minutes early at Long Marston ready to collect the 4 coaches waiting for it in the exchange sidings. The sun was in and out during the time that 5Z56 sat there but when it started to move away in the region of 50 minutes early there was thick cloud cover; so much so that I won't bother showing the image I took at that time. There was a short delay before 56312 appeared coming down the branch at Honeybourne but this did at least give the sun time to have a good crack at coming out. The 4 coaches made quite an unusual sight with a class 56 in charge so I had a short walk round to the station for another shot or two.
The driver of 56312, which had shut down, was out of the cab as I walked along the up platform but soon went back inside and disappeared into the bowels of the locomotive. Some loud hammering noises were heard before the engine turned over and re-started giving out a plume of black smoke. There was, according to the driver, some problem with a sticking relay which needed a bit of help with a hammer whilst the starter was operated. All seemed well and the engine settled down to a steady tickover. The driver said that he would have to wait until the booked departure, some 40 minutes away, so I went off home but not before pausing on the footbridge's ramp for a final shot showing part of the stock.
One of the sets of steel wagons recently taken out of Long Marston for short-term work in South Wales was returned on Monday 31 March 2014. COLAS Rail's 56113 was used to haul 6Z30 from Llanwern with a passing time at Honeybourne scheduled to be just after midday. This suited me nicely as I had to be in the area at 13.00 to fulfil an organ playing commitment. Everything went to plan and it was close to the booked time that 56113 with its long train appeared as it came over Honeybourne North Junction. The light was never better than dreadful but at least the showery rain had stopped for the time being, at least.
Once 6Z30 had passed Honeybourne station there was a brief pause while the single line token for the Long Marston branch was collected from the hut a few hundred yards down the line. This gave plenty of time for the drive over the roadbridge over the entrance to Long Marston yard where I arrived just as 56113 came into view in the distance. The complete absence of sun allowed a shot from the north side of the line which in turn allowed the inclusion in the image of the first of the year's hawthorn blossom. There was no return load to Cardiff Canton and although I didn't wait to see 56113 leave later saw from RealTime Trains that it left 53 minutes early and made good time back to South Wales.
The second set of JSA hood wagons used for carrying steel products which COLAS Rail took out of Long Marston earlier in 2014 was returned on 14 April, presumably because a temporary contract had come to an end. The train headed by 56302 and running as 6Z30 left Llanwern 12 minutes early but had lost a few minutes by the time it arrived at Worcester Traffic Centre where the locomotive was due to run round. By the time it reached Lower Moor, near Pershore, it was 17 minutes late although had it come on time the sun would have been behind some thick cloud so no complaints from me. The vegetation in this location has grown a lot despite the best efforts of some gardening photographers; the worst growth being too far out of reach. This picture of 37401 was taken in March 2008 and the increase in undergrowth since then is only too evident.
A First Great Western power car, 43180, has been dumped in Worcester Shrub Hill's Long Siding for some weeks after, I think, a traction motor problem caused a seizure. Wheel skates were used to remove the car from its train awaiting a move to Laira for repair. The first part of the move finally took place on Thureday 22 May 2014 when WCRC's 33029 and a barrier wagon were sent from Southall to Worcester, via the North Cotswold Line, to collect the errant power car and take it to Long Marston where, presumably, it will be much easier for it to be transferred to a road vehicle for the final leg of its journey. The train from Worcester, 8Z21, was limited to 10mph on plain track and 5mph over points and crossings and therefore took quite a while to reach Honeybourne where it came into view about 15 minutes late at 17.42. There was a nasty-looking thunderstorm approaching the station when I arrived but it moved around to the south-west and some brightness was apparent when 33029 brought its short train onto the Long Marston branch. One of the wheel skates can just be made out in this linked image.
The time allowed for 33029 with 8Z21 to travel from Honeybourne to Long Marston wasn't much more than for any other train given the overall speed limit on the branch. I had time to drive round, park and walk over the public crossing to the field-side footpath before I heard the train coming round the curve from Broad Marston. The light wasn't nearly as bad as I had thought it would have been and a little patch of hazy sun appeared as the train ran into the only patch of track clear of vegetation. The locomotive and barrier coach left Long Marston for Southall a couple of hours later again running along the North Cotswold Line via Moreton in Marsh.
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.
After a quick lunch and checking on RTT for 7Z66's progress I headed back to Honeybourne to hopefully take my first photograph of a class 70 on the line. The light was dreadful but it was some consolation to be told that it is was still much better than on the afternoon of the first visit when 70810 took a long rake of loaded ballast wagons to Long Marston. Today's run, on 16 June 2014, saw 70804 dragging a number of on-track plant vehicles for exbition at the event. My knowledge of such vehicles is limited to say the least so I shall make no attempt of a description of them...
Once again I left Honeybourne as soon as the train had passed and went back to Long Marston to record its arrival. The light was no better than it had been at Honeybourne but a first shot is a first shot so worth taking. With luck a better may be possible on a future occasion. Once 7Z66 had gone into the exchange sidings 70804 propelled the train around the loop adjacent to the road. This is quite unusual as the resident shunter normally performs such a move but the undergrowth is so dense that any form of photograph of the event was impossible.
While 70804 was performing its shunting move I checked RTT and found that another train had appeared, this time coming from Washwood Heath Cemex(GBRf). Again, there was no clue to its identity but it seemed to worth a short wait to see what might turn up. I suppose that it shouldn't have been any surprise when another track machine, this time a COLAS Rail variety, appeared in the distance. At least the sun came out for this one making the orange livery stand out nicely against the predominantly green background. The machine ran into No2 siding alongside 70804 and made ready for its trip around the circuit and into the display area.
The train of ballast wagons to which I alluded above was due to be taken of Long Marston by 70804 and before the track machine went on its way to the exhibition on the other side of the site it pulled slowly out of the exchange sidings. The undergrowth has increased hugely over the warm Spring and early Summer so I settled for a head-on view as 6Z67 went off towards Honeybourne and Bescot. I didn't feel like yet another drive around the lanes towards Honeybourne so went home after a longer than expected day out.
COLAS Rail has had one of its class 60s, 60087, refurbished and painted into the house colours. The locomotive was moved from Crewe to Washwood Heath during the afternoon of 17 June 2014 and was then booked to go to Long Marston with 37219, also repainted, where it was to go through a naming ceremony. It is a very rare event when I specifically go out for a light engine move but did go over to a field-side footpath at Long Marston when I saw that 0Z61 had passed Norton Junction. The locomotives went by Evesham a few minutes late and clearly reached Honeybourne, there being no loops or sidings between the two places. As I arrived a COLAS 66 left Long Marston light engine on the way to Westbury TRaffic Centre and with luck I thought that 60087 would come the other way in around 30 minutes or so allowing for a token exchange or two and some faffing about. I left shortly after 19.00 just after this unidentified piece of OTP had come down from Honeybourne and later saw that 0Z61 finally made it at 20.52. Light engine moves? Waste of effort!
The rail event at Long Marston finished during the afternoon of Thursday 19 June 2014 and the rail-borne stock was moved out the following day. A train, operated by COLAS Rail, was due to leave at 06.40 but I thought this unlikely to happen and when I arrived nearly 3 hours later this was the scene from the road bridge. A train of OTP, running as 7Z66, was being assembled by the resident shunter and 70810 was running round ready to couple up for departure. The COLAS Track machine just visible at the back of the consist had to be uncoupled as it would have made the train too heavy for 70810 to take up the Lickey Incline without assistance so would be taken out in a later and arguably more interesting departure.
It wasn't long before 7Z66 was ready for departure on 20 June 2014 and 70810 drew its long train slowly out of the exchange sidings at Long Marston just as the sun begun to break out mof some cloud. There were several departures due during the day and because the branch to Honeybourne is a One Train Only single track a man in a van had to shuttle between Honeybourne Staff Hut and Long Marston to return the token so the ground frame at the latter could be unlocked to release the next train.
Once 70810 had left Long Marston and cleared the yard's points the single line token had to be removed from the ground frame and taken to the driver of 70810. This gave me time to drive around the corner to a footpath crossing the line for another shot. The Long Marston to Honeybourne branch isn't all that well off for photographic locations and few are sufficiently open to allow a decent view of the whole train. This location certainly falls into that category but does allow for a reasonable locomotive portrait of the still clean 70810. Because of the token exchange formalities I had plenty of time to go home before the next train so that I could I collect my smartphone, which I had forgotten earlier, and therefore see any email and RTT updates. What a change from the days when one plonked oneself by the lineside and waited for whatever turned up...
Much of the machinery on display at the Long Marston rail event was OTP of some description most of which left en-masse with locomotive haulage. One or two, however, worked under their own power such as this Plasser & Theurer macine which I pictured leaving the site at 11.58 on 20 June 2104 on the way to Retford. Some 50 minutes earlier a different specie of machine had left but I have no idea of its destination. Quite why these two machines could not have been coupled together and taken to Honeybourne as one thus saving a path and couple of road trips to collect the single line token is not clear but pragmatism isn't always to the fore in today's railway. A clue to the identity of the next train to leave the site can be seen in the exchange sidings where COLAS Rail liveried 60087 is recovering the track machines to which I referred earlier.
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.
Relatively few class 60s have traversed the North Cotswold Line and whilst I have photographs of 3 examples on the Long Marston branch I was yet to see one on the main line. With this in mind and wishing to be in a location suitable for a clear view of the long train on 20 June 2014 I decided to take my shot of 6Z66 at Lower Moor. The sky was clearing quite well when I saw from RTT that left Long Marston about 70 minutes late, shortly to be confirmed in a 'phone call from a friend on the branch. It wasn't too long before 60087 + 37219 came into view under the Fladbury road bridge and with the sun holding on nicely the multi-coloured 6Z66 went past the 3 photographers waiting with, unfortunately, another just coming along the road a few seconds too late. The COLAS livery suits both class 60 and 37 extremely well in my opinion and is a quantum improvement on the awful DBS colour scheme inflicted on their 60s. I didn't bother to wait for the final train of the day from Long Marston which was 37608 with a couple of Network Rail coaches returning to Derby RTC. The locomotive in question was a scruffy example and it would have been a bit of an anticlimax after seeing the immaculate COLAS Rail machines. Just for the record here are another two views of 60087, one at Barrow on Trent in July 1992 and the second at Hatton in March 1995.
Most of the trains from Didcot TC to Long Marston run via the rather convoluted route through Swindon, Kemble, Gloucester and Worcester but on Tuesday 29 July 2014 one ran on the shorter and more interesting route from Oxford along the North Cotswold Line. A scruffy class 66 with just 2 TEA tanks might not have been enough to tempt me out these days but the extreme rarity value of a revenue earning freight south of Honeybourne saw me drive to Thistley Hill coppice near the village of Mickleton. I had previously checked an online sun compass for the sun's position because I can't recall having photographed a northbound train in that area much before 15.30, but even so I was relying on luck to find the line free from shadows. The short train, headed by 66051, managed to turn a 13 minute time deficit at Moreton-in-Marsh into a 2 minute early arrival in front of my lens and although the light was well round to the south I was more than pleased to get this image in something of a freight desert. The track arrangements at Honeybourne don't allow for direct access from the down line into the sidings for a run-round so a journey to Worcester TC was necessary prior to a return to Honeybourne and the Long Marston branch. I did hang around for a shot as 66051 ran along the first few yards of the branch but the sun was too straight and too high by 11.00; I much prefer the earlier attempt.
After about 3 months with no activity Long Marston saw 2 train within a few days at the end of October and beginning of November 2014. The first, a DCR move, encountered problems with the points at Honeybourne North Junction which resulted in the locomotive, 56303, being sent back to Worcester for another try later in the day by which time it was dark. The second train was a DBS working on 4 November which saw 66156 being sent light engine from Bescot to collect a long train of VTG bogie oil tanks. After a beautifully clear and sunny start to the day the weather soon collapsed with dark skies, low temperatures and heavy rain being prevalent as both 66156 and I made a simultaneous arrival at Long Marston. The booked departure time for 6M17 to Bescot was just before 1pm but it actually left at 11.30 - just as well as I wasn't going to hang about for long in that weather. I didn't bother with the run to Honeybourne for another shot but I later saw from RTT that the train sat there until its scheduled time, 13.07.
A rake of TTA wagons was taken from Grangemouth to Long Marston on Wednesday 26 March 2015 with COLAS providing the traction in the form of 56113. The train, 6M65, left its originating point some 20 minutes late and this proved to set a precedent for the rest of the trip. To make things slightly more awkward the feed to RTT went down and no movement after Stafford was shown. One or two people posted updates to email groups and someone with access to a Network Rail system gave me further information so it wasn't too hard to work out that 6M95 was likely to pass Evesham around 17.00. The geography of the North Cotswold Line is such that afternoon photographs on a sunny day are out of the question and the later a train becomes the worse it gets. The only real options are around Droitwich and on the final yards of the branch from Honeybourne and I chose the latter using the view from a footpath adjacent to the line. This type of fuel tank seems to be coming to the end of its life with most examples now being taken out of service. These particular tanks were used for aviation spirit supplying Prestwick airport and this example complete with an old style Petroleum Sector decal was part way along the rake of 28. There was a lengthy wait for the 4 photographers waiting to go back across the line to the road before the train was allowed into the Long Marston complex and thus cleared the crossing.
Once 56113 had taken the green TTA tanks into Long Marston one of the resident shunting locomotives was hooked onto the end and took them out of the exchange area to allow 56113 to couple onto the 5 or 6 bogie tanks which it was due to take to Lindsey Oil Refinery. Shortly after taking this image the sun dipped into cloud so it was time to leave but I understand that the train left 100 minutes late at 18.40. The last train I photographed here was in November 2014 although I think that a test train went along the branch in the middle of March 2015. Much of the internal trackwork has seen considerable work over the past months and this accounts for the lack of traffic.
A rare Saturday morning train to and from Long Marston ran on 28 March 2015 when DCR's 31190 took a single large box wagon from Washwood Heath to the site before picking up 86235 and 3 coaches which were scheduled to go to Leicester and East Leake respectively. I arrived just after the inward working had reached the gate where it waited for a few minutes before being waved into the exchange sidings. It can be seen that the former No 1 road has been covered over with tarmac, presumably to make it easier and safer for crews to carry out inspections of stock leaving the site. The Long Marston shunter removed the box wagon and 31190 was coupled onto the stock before the train, running as 6Z32, was moved onto the branch to Honeybourne at which point the wagon was propelled back so that 31190 and its train could reverse a short way and recouple it to the consist.
Given the unpleasant weather conditions on 28 March 2015 I originally had no intention of going anywhere for a second shot but then thought that a drive over to Honeybourne would be worthwhile so as to take a wider view of the train with its interesting and unusual load. It wasn't long before 31190 poked its nose around the bend in the background, stopped at the token cabin to replace the single line staff, and then ran forward into the branch road at Honeybourne station. As 6Z32 approached the road bridge a clearish patch of sky came from nowhere and I was lucky enough to take this image in decent light witha nice dark sky before the sun was obscured again within a few seconds.
The sunny weather of recent days continued during the morning of 22 April 2015 so with a 6Z57 train from Llanwern to Long Marston on the cards I went over to a foot crossing on the branch from Honeybourne for a photograph. The allocated locomotive was 66152 and the train a long rake of JSA steel hoods going back into storage after another period of use. Here is 6Z57 coming towards the end of the branch in some nice morning light against a backdrop of blackthorn blossom just beginning to fade. The repainting of class 66s from EWS maroon into the day-glo colour scheme of DBS seems to have stalled recently with relatively few examples having been so treated.
There was another "first" for me, at least, on the Honeybourne to Long Marston branch on Monday 27 April 2015 when FGW's 166213 ran there as 5Z11 from Reading Traincare Depot. I didn't know about about the first of these trains but it appears that it ran on or about 9 April 2015. The purpose of the visit is for modifications to be made to some on-train equipment including the air-conditioning. All of the company's class 166s are to be modified so this will be a common enough sight over the coming weeks. I do like to get anything new or unusual on the branch so made the short trip from home to record 166213 arriving a few minutes early and shortly after a patch of cloud had receded from the sun.
As soon as 166213 arrived at Long Marston the waiting ground crew opened the gates and gave instructions to the train crew before allowing the unit to move into the sole remaining road directly accessible from the branch. I don't know if the former No 1 road has been removed for good or will be relaid in the future but the lack of it must lead to some loss of flexibility. There was no return train and the train crew returned to Reading by taxi.
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.
A bit of an odd one on Wednesday 17 June 2015. A light engine, 66544, was shown as running from Southampton to Honeybourne Sidings from where it was apparently to pick up something and then go to Ipswich. As only OTP uses the sidings in the normal course of events the feeling was that a failed tamper of similar was to be rescued, but by Freightliner and to Ipswich? I arrived at Honeybourne and asked the Network Rail man in a van if it had arrived. He said that it had and was en-route to Long Marston to collect some tank wagons. That's more like it! Off then to Long Marston to find 66544 standing at the gate, the first Freightliner locomotive here for nearly 4 years. The tanks for the load out were some of the green TTAs that had arrived behind 56113 on 25 March this year; at the time I had thought that their last journey had been made and that the scrapyard was their final destination.
The usual procedure here is for the locomotive to be coupled to the wagons, brake tests and so on to be carried out before an early departure for Honeybourne is made. There was, of course, no departure time for Long Marston shown, but the time from Honeybourne Sidings was 12.06. This came and went with little activity except for the single line token being taken from the ground frame and removed from the site. This coincided with a message from a friend saying that 31601 was on its way here to collect 86246 which was going to Wembley to donate some spare parts. That would explain the token being taken away but a while later it came back, was replaced in the frame with the crew rejoining their locomotive and making ready to leave. This coincided with several fresh messages saying that 31601 has gone to Bristol to collect a failed class 56 meaning that 6L31 was free to leave. The No.1 road has been reinstated since my last visit here on 27 April 2015 so a return to full functionality is imminent.
No more time was lost and 66544 with the TTA tank wagons came onto the branch and moved away towards Honeybourne. The usual stop was made for the single line token to be collected and returned to the cab before finally leaving. It was a shame in a way that 31601 hadn't made it here because a shot of the 2 trains sitting side by side in the sidings would have been interesting. A freightliner locomotive with green tanks isn't the greatest colour combination here at this time of the year given the amount of foliage around the gate; this is where COLAS score more heavily...
I wasted no time either and went straight over to Honeybourne arriving just as 66544 with 6L31 was pulling away from the staff hut where the single line token is kept. There is a lot of green here too but at the least the main North Cotswold Line gives a little contrast and the sun did try to make an appearance although rather feebly. The signal for the down main line was on green and I knew that there would be another shot available as the train stood at the end of the branch.
The driver said that he was expecting a 13.35 departure from Honeybourne where a picture, although a bit weedy this year, and that he didn't know at this time if he would be routed back along via Moreton-in-Marsh or via Gloucester, Kemble and Swindon, the choice being dictated by pathing south of Charlbury. In the event the North Cotswold Line was the choice but with nearly 2 hours to wait I didn't see it although the line south of Honeybourne is the most attractive for photographs given the paucity of locomotive-hauled trains here. In the event 6L31 did run as planned via Moreton in Marsh although with a 2 hour wait I'd long gone. A few weeks later some intersting information about the purpose of 6L31's run to Ipswitch came to me courtesy on John Day. It appears that Freighliner had been receiving their locomotive fuel supplies from Fawley via a DBS trip to Ipswich. When this ceased Freightliner obtained their fuel from Lindsey refinery, using 8 TEA bogie tanks which they hired. As they had a financial interest in the green TTAs these were taken out of storage at Long Marston and arrived ready for the traffic. For a while both types of tanks were used as seen in this image taken at Reedham Market on 30 June 2015 as 66534 passes through with 6E53, the 08.50 Ipswich SS to Lindsey. My thanks to John Day for the information on the TTAs new use and for the use of his image.
During a glance through one or two RTT pages I noticed that a Tyseley to Long Marston train was booked to run on Thuirsday 25 June 2015. My initial feeling was that it seemed likely to be some form of OTP movement as no return schedule was shown but a couple of postings from the Stourbridge line said that it was a 2 car DMMU, presumably one of the Chiltern Railways sets used for RHTT work. I couldn't recall having taken a picture of a diesel mechanical unit on the branch so went off for a shot or two. I had a quick look at RTT from a layby in Long Marston village and decided that I probably hadn't left enough time to get across to Honeybourne and be sure of a photograph as class 117 960301 joined the branch so just waited on the roadbridge at the site's rail entrance. The train soon apppeared in the background and its arrival unfortunately coincided with the only completely clear patch of sky; just what one doesn't want at just after 14.00 in June. I would never normally take a picture with the sun overhead and on the wrong side but here, for a one-off of a new class for the branch, I compromised...
The gate into Long Marston had already been opened so there only a brief pause before 960301 was allowed into the site where it now appears that No.1 road is back in use. I understand that the new owners of the unit are to move it by road to Radstock, a preserved line in Somerset. Long Marston is a much easier location at which to load railway vehicles onto a low-loader than many main line depots hence its run down here. If you don't look too closely today's views might very roughly resemble the scene when DMMUs were used on this line when it was still open to Stratford-upon-Avon. The chances of the line being re-opened in the foreseeable future took another turn for the worse today when the Government announced that projects expected to take place soon, such as Midland Line and Trans-Pennine electrification, are to be "paused". It hardly seems likely that a marginal scheme such H2S (Honeybourne to Stratford) will be high on the agenda given such major funding problems.
A COLAS Rail light engine movement from Washwood Heath to Long Marston was scheduled for Wednesday 29 July 2015 but with the poor weather and that I didn't really want another poor-light image of a class 56 I made up my mind not to go out. In the event the 09.05 departure came and went with no sign of anything happening and the run, along with the loaded train to Grangemouth were cancelled. During the early afternoon a new schedule appeared with something running to Long Marston from Rugby DED and a message from a friend advised that 70809 was on its way. I waited until RTT showed 0Z96 to have passed Norton Junction before going over and arrived a few minutes before the locomotive rolled down the branch from Honeybourne. It was soon attached to the 7 TDAs and I waited in the hope that the sun would appear in the mostly cloudy sky after the locomotive's lights had been switched from red to white. It took a while but the sun did appear just as the train started to move.
As usual I went over to Honeybourne in the expectation that 70809 with 6S96 would appear withn a few minutes. The weather had deteriorated duirng the short drive and I was under thick cloud as I waited on the road bridge. I've no idea what went on at Long Marston to cause a delay of around 30 minutes but presume that a brake problem was found on one or more of the tank wagons. For once the delay was favourable and the sun was fully out as the train came round the curve alongside the North Cotswold main line. There was, with lots of cloud blowing around, no guarantee that the sun would stay out so I put on my longest lens and took this shot just as 70809 stopped at the hut in which the single line token is kept.
It took a minute or two for the token routine to be be carried out and the sun was obscured as 6S96 began to move. Luckily though, it came out again as the signal allowing access to the main line flicked to green and the train approached the bridge. The dark sky dominated the scene and I compromised the composition of this image a little to show this to the best advantage.
The modifications to FGW's class 166 units continue to be carried out at Long Marston with the trains usually running on Tuesdays and Fridays. On 4 August 2015 I took my Morris Minor out for a run and found myself at Honeybourne some 20 minutes before the time that 5Z11 from Oxford Carriage Sidings was due. Just as I was reversing into one of the few remaining parking bays 166204 ran slowly past the down platform. I had no idea that any of these units had been painted into a green livery. I walked up to the ramp on the footbridge adjacent to the Long Marston branch and within a minute or two 5Z11 came up the branch just as the sun cleared some cloud. It was unfortunately at least an hour too early for a well-lit shot here as the sun was not round far enough to illuminate the side of the train properly. I went straight to Long Marston but it was a frustratingly slow journey because of traffic lights in Honeybourne village and a delay while someone reversed out of his drive onto the road in a dangerous location on a blind bend. Because of this I arrived too late for a sunny arrival shot and just as 166204 moved into the sidings the sun went in.
The scheduled departure time for 5Z12 to Reading Traincare Depot is 12.00 but it was about 45 earlier than this that 166203 pulled out of Long Marston on 4 August 2015. The sun had shone for several minutes as 166203 stood in the exchange sidings but disappeared behind thick cloud as soon as it began to move.
During the afternoon of 13 August 2015 I noticed from RTT that a train was running from Ipswich to Honeybourne Sidings. My immediate thought was that 1) it would probably be a few of the TTA tanks taken to Ipswich from Long Marston on 17 June 2015 and 2) that it would run to Long Marston not just to Honeybourne. I was wrong on the first count as the train, 6V34, consisted of 4 IKA intermodal flats but it did run to Long Marston where the wagons are to be, presumably, stored. The weather was foul in Stratford-upon-Avon with leaden skies and pouring rain and I had almost decided not to bother with this one but the rain did stop just when the train was due to leave Worcester TC after a run-round. The other factor in favour of going out was that the locomotive was 66414 in the new(ish) Powerhaul livery, certainly the first in this colour scheme to have run along the Long Marston branch. I wanted a recognisable background on such a dull day so opted for a shot from the road bridge overlooking Honeybourne station where I arrived just as 2 men walked to the Staff Hut ready to obtain the single line token. A minute or two later 66414 came around the curve from Honeybourne North Junction and joined the branch.
I had parked near the road in the car park at Honeybourne and made a quick exit with a view to beating 66414 with 6V34 to Long Marston. I did so with no more than 2 minutes to spare and took this image as the train crawled along the final few yards of the branch with, in the background, the heavy cloud which had provided the morning's rain visible over the nearby hills and as a pheasant narrowly avoided being squashed. There was a short delay until a van drove along the trackway just to the right of the sidings as, on this occasion, the diesel shunting locomotive was not being used. As far as I knew no load was due to be taken out and the locomotive was scheduled to run light to Southampton before working 4V26 later in the day. There was certainly nothing visible that looked ready to leave Long Marston and with the newly-arrived FGW class 165 DMU standing in No.2 road there was clearly no way for 66414 to run-round in the usual way. This probably meant some delay would be encountered while the IKAs were propelled out of the way so I left for home and a slightly late lunch.
A long train of green TEA oil tanks was taken from Grangemouth in Scotland to Long Marston on 6 October 2015. This should have happened during the previous week but I assume that the tanks weren't ready for movement as a light locomotive ran in the path of the booked working but with a destination of Bescot, presumably so that it was able to complete its diagram. The second attempt ran close to time throughout the night but 6Z65 encountered delay after problems caused by the Lindsey to Westerleigh tanks having had a SPAD incident at Shrub Hill. This made it about 50 minutes late arriving at Long Marston which for me was good because I wouldn't have been there just after 08.00. The weather was clear and sunny during the drive from Stratford-upon-Avon until I came to Rumer Hill between Welford on Avon and Long Marston when a large bank of low cloud and fog was visible in the direction of the rail site. Some of the murk cleared just before 66060 came along the branch from Honeybourne and a little patchy sun lit some of the Autumnal colours alongside the line. There was no return load and 66060 ran light engine to Bescot.
Wednesday 11 November 2015 initially had the potential to be a bit of a red-letter day with the news that 50007 and 50017 were scheduled to work a 3Q13 Derby to Kings Norton test train via the North Cotswold Line. In the event things changed and the less than inspiring duo of 37602 and 37604 were allocated instead. This held no interest for me so I just had an brief and earlier trip to Long Marston to take a couple of images of some MPV powered vehicles leaving the site after spending just over one week there. The departure time for 6Y54 was 09.30 and it a few minutes after this time that the COLAS Rail branded van delivered the driver carrying the single line token to the sidings. The token was put into the ground frame to allow the points to be switched for the branch to Honeybourne and within a few seconds the train departed for Crewe. The sun, which had been out for quite a while, managed to be behind some thick cloud and this really dampened the Autumnal colours in the undergrowth.
It's been a while since anything moved into or from Long Marston so when on 16 December 2015 I saw from RTT that a light engine was scheduled to run there from Southampton and then take a train to Ipswich I thought that I would go over for a look. 66572 ran close to right time for most of the journey but did make up a bit of time on the final few miles, arriving at Long Marston's gate about 15 minutes early. There were 2 TDA tanks and 4 Freightliner flats waiting in the exchange sidings and the locomotive was soon coupled up before a brake test preceded its move out onto the Honeybourne branch.
Despite there being a lot of cloud around, behind the camera at least, the sun managed to stay out as 66572 with 6L31 joined the Honeybourne branch at Long Marston before heading to Ipswich. This shot is becoming increasingly difficult given the amount of undergrowth in the nearby hedges. The front end of the locomotive appears to have some rusty patches cut out and plated over; something that seems to be all too common on the class. Some of the stock previously stored in the sidings here has been moved and I think that this might be because of the need to run some newly converted "D" Stock around the circuit as tests take place.
I didn't think that it would be long before 6L31 appeared at Honeybourne so went straight across to take another shot of what is now a unusual train; a mixed freight. Despite having to park in a nearby lane because the station car park was overflowing with commuter's vehicles there was still 3 or 4 minutes before 66572 came into view in the distance. It was unfortunate that the sun found some cloud cover in the few minutes it took for the single line token to be returned to the cupboard but a couple of frames were still exposed to record a wider view than is possible at Long Marston.
Whilst on the road bridge at Long Marston on 16 December 2015 some sort of diesel powered unit was running around in the distance, too far away to allow any sort of identification. After visiting Honeybourne I went back past the yard at Long Marston just as a 2 car unit was running slowly along the exchange sidings. I did a quick turn around in a convenient gateway and went back for a closer look. The vehicles turned out to be some sort of tram-like contraption with Turkish wording on the bodysides. I have zero interest in European railways and despite visiting Paris and Rouen on quite a regular basis have never pointed a camera at any French trains. On this occasion though, it would have been rude not to have taken a few shots as whatever it is stood in the sun on No 1 road before going away to the right and around the inner loop towards the main working area of the complex.
The first train of 2016 to Long Marston ran on Wednesday 13 January when GBRf's 66754 arrived as 0Z71 from Hams Hall to collect a set of wagons destined for the Crossrail site at Plumstead Yard. The locomotive arrived about 15 minutes early having been allowed over 30 minutes for the journey from Honeybourne and was soon waved into No. 1 road of the exchange sidings where a very long rake of boarded flat wagons was waiting for it. The sky was relatively clear although some cloud was evident to the South-West and this was moving towards the sun. The decent light hung on for long enough, albeit not in the best position, to allow an image to be taken just after the lights had been changed from the red to white on the locomotive. The departure time was 14.59 but it was just about an hour before this that 4Z71 moved onto the branch to Honeybourne just after the sunlight had faded a little making the scene look far more wintry and cold.
As soon as 4Z71 had gone a little way onto the Honeybourne line I went to Honeybourne itself to await its arrival. The light had collapsed entirely during the 10 minute journey and I was resigned to a dull record shot. In the event it was about 45 minutes later when 66754 was heard rattling along the branch before appearing in the distance. In the intervening period the sun had found a long but quite narrow patch of clear sky and the 4 of on the roadbridge were lucky enough to score a nicely lit shot as the train of flats passed us before going into Honeybourne station where it stood for a minute or two as an up FGW class 166 cleared the junction. A large new housing estate is under construction to off the picture to the right and the roofs are, at this time of the year, just about casting shadows across the tracks but it was possible to find some clear patches.
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.
The second attempt to run a Besccot to Long Marston and return train took place on 14 April 2016, the schedule shown for the previous week having been cancelled. The light engine working from Bescot, 0Z01, arrived at Long Marston as expected about 30 minutes early and here is 66151 passing the foot crossing at the end of the path amidst the first of this year's hawthorn blossom. The weather was quite dull and misty alhough a little brightness did appear just as 0Z01 apeared in the distance. The outward load consisted of 3 VTG TDAs which can be seen here just after 66151 had been coupled up and already, some 90 minutes early, preparing to leave. The resident shunter is on th eright-hand of the picture , its front end pointing directly at the camera. The misty conditions are even more evident in this image although several rows of what I think are D Stock ex-LUL trains can be made out in the sidings behind the rows of tanks. I wonder if these will ever be converted to class 230 DMUs and used on the main line network?
With just 3 tanks forming 6Z01 on 14 April 2016 I had decided to take another shot of the train from one of the crossings on the Pebworth road just around the corner from Long Marston. As I drove towards the one I had in mind it was evident that I should have to change my plan because a Network Rail van was parked on the side of the single track and would be all too prominent in the picture. I carried on to Honeybourne where there was only a short wait until 66152 came around the curve towards the staff hut running some 80 minutes early. As soon as the branch staff had been replaced in the hut the train pulled forward fortuitously running alongside an HST forming 1W02, the 10.22 from Paddington to Hereford. I assumed that 6Z01 would follow the HST as soon as the down line was clear but it was held to its booked time before being released. I've no idea why it had to wait but the early running at least allowed the staff at Long Marston site crew and the Network Rail man who had arrived in a van to deal with the staff at Honeybourne and the ground frame at Long Marston to avoid hanging around for over an hour.
It's not that frequently that trains run on consecutive days to Long Marston but this did happen on 14 and 15 April 2016. The latter train was 6Z66 from Wembley Freight Operations Centre conveying 26 JNA wagons hauled by GBRf's 66749, one of the fleet imported from the Dutch railway network. There was some early running before a planned layover at Worcester TC but it was held to time there presumably because a "man in a van" was due to meet the train at Honeybourne to operate the branch token equipment and the Long Marston ground frame. Some time is usually picked up between Evesham and Long Marston and this was the case for 6Z66 resulting in a 20 minute early arrival at about 17.10. I had considered taking a shot similar to this but decided against it for several reasons the main two being the murky background and the fact that a long train will straddle the public foot crossing for quite some time as the gates into the site are opened and before it is taken inside. The JNAs look brand new and appear still to be in grey primer so maybe they will emerge from here at a later date in some new colour scheme.
I noted from RTT that a Honeybourne Sidings (Freightliner-speak for Long Marston) to Southampton train was running on Thursday 21 April 2016 with a departure time of 12.06. I left my gym and swimming pool at about 10.45 and while driving along the road towards the Long Marston site saw that a Freightliner class 70 was standing in the exchange sidings with the front lights switched on and looking ready for departure. I soon parked and walked to the bridge where I took this shot as the very short train, 6O33, stood as the last few checks to the wagons were made.
It was only a few minutes before 70006 began to move from the sidings at Long Marston onto the branch to Honeybourne. It was a complete surprise to me that a class 70 had been allocated to this working and I had seen no posts to email groups suggesting that this was the case although this is far from unusual these days when most people seem happy to take information provided to lists but don't want to post anything themselves. As far as I am aware this is the first Freightliner 70 to have worked over the North Cotswold Line and thus the first to this site. The sun tried to come out for 6O33's departure and there was certainly a bit of brightness; enough to cast some shadow.
I'm not all that keen on short trains as they can look a bit silly in a lot of locations but I knew that this spot on a farm crossing on the Pebworth road would be just the job for 70006 with its modest load. Just before the train arrived two Network Rail vans drove towards me on the side of the trackbed behind the camera and I hoped that they would stop rather than park in the usual spot right by the gate on the right. They did and so my shot was still on where I was perching on a load of concrete blocks which gave just enough height to include the oilseed rape plants in the field on the other side of the track. I didn't bother with a chase to Honeybourne as this train was too small for such a wide view.
Having photographed 70006 on the first visit of the sub-class to the Long Marston branch I was keen to have another shot on the North Cotswold Line itself and preferably in a completely identifiable location. I therefore went to the Briar Close road bridge to include Evesham's recently refurbished signal box in the view. The light was poor but I would much rather have a first shot of the class in the area in the bag whatever the light than wait for a sunny day; it may not happen again for a long time or indeed ever again.
A schedule appeared in the system showing a GBRf light engine move on Thursday 26 May 2016 from Toton to Long Marston followed by a Long Marston to Wellingborough train of freight stock. The locomotive turned out to be 66757 and the stock a long rake of JNAs which had arrived here on 15 April. As usual, the locomotive arrived early having been allowed an unfeasibly generous time to travel from Honeybourne and it wasn't long before it and the JNAs were coupled together, the headlights switched on and the appropriate brake and other checks carried out. This is one of the few locations to which I carry my 200mm f2.8 lens as the compressed perspective it provides gives an idea of the variety of stock in storage.
While waiting for the main line train to move onto the Honeybourne branch at Long Marston on 26 May 2016 the VivaRail test unit, 230001, converted from a redundant D Stock LUL train, was having a run out around the inner circuit. This was the first time that I seen it moving and although a completely clear view was not possible this shot between the masses of blossom does give a decent idea of how the train looks. I don't know what the prospects are of seeing these units on the main line but I should have thought that there are branch lines suitable for them; perhaps including a reopened Honeybourne to Stratford-upon-Avon line should this happen.
The view of a train leaving Long Marston becomes tighter with each passing year as the undergrowth encroaches on the line. As a result of the blossom it wasn't too unattractive on 26 May 2015 as 66757 left the yard with its train of new JNAs running as 6Z66 to Wellingborough but once it has died down little more than a green tunnel will remain.
There is usually plenty of time to drive from Long Marston to Honeybourne when a train has left the former, particularly if the consist is as long as that forming 6Z66 to Wellingborough on 26 May 2017. There was no exception to this general rule on this occasion and it was quite a while before 66757 came into view in the distance. This delay did allow the light a chance to pick up slightly which brightened up the scene considerably as the train ran towards Honeybourne station which was passed non-stop under a green signal to allow 6Z66 to cross over onto the down main line. The wagons arrived in completely plain grey paint and it seems that the visit to Long Marston was to allow some decals and the statutory information to be applied.
A light engine ran from Bescot to Long Marston on Thursday 2 June 2106 from where a load was to be collected and returned to the West Midlands. The locomotive allocated to 0Z01 was 66125 and with an arrival time of shortly before 12.30 I arrived just in time to hear it rolling down the branch from Honeybourne. At the same time a helicopter employed by those responsible for the electricity grid was flying around and just as 66125 came into sight was checking the junction in the cables by the railway line, presumably for hot spots. Within a few seconds the aircraft had flown away so I was fortunate to have taken this image.
The load for which 66125 ran to Long Marston was a far from inspiring single VTG bogie oil tank. The only upside was that after a long wait in the yard with what appeared to be problems with the wagon's brakes the sun managed to come out as 6Z01 began its journey back to Bescot. Another locomotive, 66727, was on the way here from Toton to collect something destined for Wellingborough but wih no clue as to what the consist might be and with at least 90 minutes and possibly more to kill before anything was likely to happen I called it a day and went home. In the event it later transpired that 6Z20 was cancelled so for once I made the right move!
Another train providing exhibits for the Long Marston rail event ran during the morning of 20 June 2016. The time it was a Mobile Maintenance Train from the Plasser works at West Ealing topped and tailed by ROG's 47848 + 47812. This had worked north along the North Cotswold Line and being TnT was able to reverse at Honeybourne North Junction in order to gain the Long Marston branch thus obviating the need to run all the way to and from Worcester yard. Timekeeping was good for the whole journey, unlike the weather, and here is 6Z47 about to arrive at the gates protecting the site. It was perhaps good, given the dark and wet conditions, that the MMT is bright yellow to help it stand out against the murk. I had been tempted not to bother with this train but living so close by it seemed silly not to make the small effort for a record shot before heading off for my daily swim.
One of the biennial rail events is due to take place at Long Marston during the week commencing 19 June 2016 and the first rail-borne exhibits arrived on Saturday 20 June 2016. This was a railvac hauled from Derby by 31452 and was about 10 minutes early arriving at Honeybourne in poor light on an afternoon that saw intermittent breaks at, unfortunately, the wrong time. Running in front of 6Y31 was 1P51 from Great Malvern led by 43002 in a representation of its original colour scheme. I hadn't photographed this before so took a record shot although I do think that the admirable HSTs look best as designed; in a consistent overall livery.
The second train of stock to run on 20 JUne 2016 for the Long Marston rail exhibition provided a different challenge to the class 47 hauled move earlier in the day. This time it was some OTP from Scunthorpe in the hands of Colas's 56302 + 56087 which left its starting point 205 minutes late. This gave an arrival time at the destination of somewhere between 21.00 and 21.30 if it managed to gain some time after leaving the West Midlands conurbation. The evening was relatively sunny so, more in hope than expectation I made the short journey once RTT showed that 6X56 had passed Evesham. On leaving my car I heard the train on the branch and so had a couple of minutes to use the public footpath over the line to reach a spot where the line is relatively clear. The very last of the light was just disappearing behind a cow shed at Bridge Farm as the the pair of 56s with their short train passed a field of broad beans on the final few yards of the line.
The final train of stock from the Long Marston rail event was taken from the site on Wednesday 29 June 2016. Colas Rail's 47739 was sent from Washwood Heath to collect the rail-borne crane and associated bits and take them to Scunthorpe, running as 6X56. The weather just 7 miles Long Marston wasn't too bad so I decided to go over for a shot but by the time I had reached Welford on Avon rain was falling and on arrival at Long Marston, at the same time as 47739, it was hammering down with a strong wind blowing making the conditions very unpleasant, not to mention dark. It took only a few minutes to attach the locomotive to the stock and leave the yard which was partly obscured by the rain. I had no intention of hanging around any longer so, to misquote Sameul Pepys, " and so to swim"...
Other than a couple of OTP moves and an overnight visit by a weedkiller there has been nothing along the Long Marston branch since 29 June 2016. On 1 August a light engine, 66075, was sent from Bescot to Long Marston and after wondering if the move was cancelled after the locomotive stood at Castle Bromwich for over an hour I finally saw that it was on the move some 70 minutes late. A lot of time was gained by not having to be looped further into the journey and its eventual arrival was only in the region of 20 minutes behind schedule. The load for the return train, 6Z01, wasn't especially inspiring being just a brace of TEA tanks but it took very little time for 66075 to be coupled to them and the necessary checks completed. I took this picture during the short time that both the red and white lights were lit; something I don't recall having shot before.
Within a few minutes the train was ready to leave Long Marston and pulled out onto the branch to Honeybourne at 13.21, 24 minutes early. The length of the train and poor weather combined to disincline me from going either along the branch or to Honeybourne for another shot so I left for home. I later saw from RTT that 6Z01 appeared to have run via Kidderminster rather than Bromsgrove and it arrived at Bescot about 80 minutes early.
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.
Tuesday 18 October 2016 saw a second rake of TEA tanks taken for storage from Cardiff Greenergy to Long Marston. I wasn't able to to get out for the first movement but was free for this move so went to Honeybourne in the hope that the mostly blue sky would remain to enable a sunny shot to be taken. The train, 6E33, was hauled by GBRf's 66767 left South Wales about 45 minutes late but was close to right time when it appeared crossing over from the up main line to the Long Marston branch. The sun, unfortunately, was behind some thick cloud at the crucial moment and frustratingly came out as 6E33 waited for the ground crew to arrive and join the train for the run along the branch.
I didn't rush away from Honeybourne after photographing 66767 join the Long Marston branch but hung around for a while having a chat before walking the few hundred yards back to my car needed after finding the station car park full to overflowing. As I approached the road bridge at Long Marston it was clear that 6E33 hadn't arrived so I parked on the roadside and wandered to the bridge. The lighting was a challenge to say the least as the sky had now cleared but I quite like the impressionistic result which makes most of the tanks appear silver. They were actually quite colourful as this view of the first TEAs show as the train waits for permission to enter the site.
The bright and sunny morning of Tuesday 29 November 2016 saw a light engine move from Bescot to Long Marston scheduled along with a return loaded train. Just as I arrived on the road bridge over the end of the branch from Honeybourne I saw movement on the tracks in the background and within a few moments this appeared. I first thought that it was a single car "bubble" DMMU but it was in fact the driving and motor car of a 3 car set running around the complete circuit. It made a further 2 trips before the locomotive from Bescot arrived and stopped the exercise, presumably some testing after repair or maintenance work.
The locomotive that had run light from Bescot, 66148, arrived and was soon coupled to the set of 5 oil tanks at Long Marston on 29 November 2016. As soon as a brake test had been carried out it left an hour early and running as 6Z16 back to Bescot. The undergrowth here is becoming intrusive even in the winter but at least there is some colour from the myriad of berries on the bushes. Old and superstitious country lore would have us believe that this is a portent to a hard winter. Absolute nonsense of course, it is the result of a favourable Spring and a good growing season allowing the bushes to fruit prolifically.
Following the departure from Long Marston of 66148 with 6Z16 on 29 November 2016 I had a drive over to Honeybourne and walked onto the road bridge to await the train's arival. It wasn't many minutes before it came along the branch where the crew did the business with the single line token and moved towards Honeybourne station. The shadows from both the lineside hedges and the new housing estate were just about clear of the tracks and allowed a view of the blue tank on the back of the consist which, as the NR crewman told me a few minutes later, is one that was severely damaged at Kingsbury but has been repaired and making its first trip on this occasion.
A railvac was due to be taken from Leicester to Long Marston on Wednesday 4 January 2017. After a false start involving both changes to the locomotive allocated and the schedule the train set off and reached Worcester Shrub Hill in the late afternoon and due to reach its destination after dark. It was no surprise that it was cancelled at Worcester and allocated a new path in the light the following day. Thursday was cold but with cystal clear light so I went to Honeybourne because I feel that a short train looks better in a tight location than open countryside. I left home well before 6D67 led by ROG's 56081 was due to leave Worcester and arrived in the station car park with, as I thought, some 40 minutes to enjoy the sunshine. On arrival I checked RTT and saw that the train hadn't moved so had a look at whatever was due at Norton Junction only to find yet another schedule showing that it had left 18 minutes early and was past Evesham. There had luckily been a parking space right opposite the platform gate and footbridge so grabbed my camera bag and ran to the appropriate spot just as 56081 joined the Long Marston branch. I just had time to switch to the long lens necessary to avoid shadows cast by the footbridge and peeled off a few shots as the train passed through the station. I didn't bother with chasing it to Long Marston as the light there is useless at around midday with the sun shining straight down the lens while on the roadbridge.
Trains ran from Crewe to Long Marston both on 10 & 11 January 2017. The first which I was unable to photograph was 66513 with some large box wagons and the second 66585 with another set of JXAs. The booked arrival time for 6Z65 was around 10.00 but guessing that it could easily be 15 minutes early even after a right-time passing of Evesham I left home with time on hand. I had planned to go to foot crossing on the Broad Marston Road but paused for a look over the bridge at Long Marston and heard a horn just around the corner so stopped and had to make do with this slightly shadowed shot as 66585 arrived. There was a second train shown as running here later in the day with an after-dark arrival time of about 17.00. On the face of it this was of some interest being Colas Rail's 60002 with a load from Immingham but reports said that it was no more than a single ICA wagon being moved. Even in strong light I doubt that I would have bothered with covering such a short formation; one surely not worth the expense of running at all bearing in mind that there was no return load and that the locomotive was heading light engine to Washwood Heath.
On Saturday 4 February 2016 ROG's class 56s 56098 + 56104 ran light engine from Leicester to Bristol Temple Meads High Level Sidings. They didn't appear to move during the weekend but on the following Monday they ran to Long Marston; a long way round for reasons as yet unknown. What I did guess, correctly as it turned out, was that the purpose of the visit was to collect a Railvac taken there by 56081 on 5 January. I don't always bother with a shot of a light engine move but the combination of the bleak winter landscape and the trace of exhaust smoke made this one worthwhile.
The reason for the use of 2 locomotives became clear a few moments later. It was not, as I perhaps cynically thought, because of any unreliability on the part of old (I refuse to use the ridiculous epithet "heritage") engines but because the Railvac was to be taken to Doncaster in top and tail mode. In the event though the train reverted to double-heading in Kings Norton loop; I've no idea why. The use of a long lens for this shot has exacerbated the mistiness around Long Marston but it has also made visible the rows of D Class LUL stock in the sidings, some of which will hopefully be given a new lease of life in the coming months. Within a couple of minutes all the required checks had been carried out and 6Z23 moved onto the branch to Honeybourne now with 56104 leading.
I left Long Marston straight away and drove to Honeybourne, slightly more slowly than usual because of a blue Citroen Saxo the driver of which thought that 28mph was a suitable speed on roads suitable for twice that speed although with few overtaking opportunities. The train was standing at the Staff Hut when I walked up to the roadbridge and soon moved away towards the station. It stopped at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction and waited until a Paddington to Hereford train had gone past and cleared the section towards Evesham.
The first working on the Long Marston branch of a class 153 DMU took place on Saturday 11 February 2016 when FGW's 153305 ran as 5D67 from St. Phillips Marsh, Bristol to receive a repaint, presumably into FGW's green colour scheme. As it was a first for the line I had a drive over despite the very cold afternoon and filthy light with low cloud and mist predominating the scene. I don't think that anything other than a first run of something on the branch would have tempted me out and predictably enough I was alone for the few minutes spent on the road bridge largely because, of course, a locomotive wasn't involved... I arrived just as the gates into Long Marston were being opened so knew that 5D67 wasn't far away and took this shot from the north side of the line as such a short formation seems to fit better on the kink in the track. There was just time for me to cross the road for another view as 153305 paused for a few seconds while the single line token was placed in the ground frame to allow it into the exchange sidings.
First Great Western's 153305 has been in Long Marston since 11 February 2017 and the story was that it was having a repaint into the current corporate green colour scheme. A train from Long Marston to Bristol St. Phillips Marsh on Saturday 4 March 2017 appeared on RTT during Thursday 2 March and with a departure time of 08.07 was photographable given a reasonably bright morning. I arrived at 07.40 in case of some earliness and within a few minutes saw some movement in the distance as the single unit moved around the loop at the regulation 5mph. It was soon in the exchange sidings and ready for an on-time departure. Rumours of a repaint were correct although it seems that a bit more work will be needed before the train is ready for public use. The FGW green livery isn't the easiest to photograph in most lighting conditions but this light grey undercoat is a much easier prospect.
As soon as the single line token for the branch to Honeybourne was handed to the driver 153305, running as 5D657, left Long Marston and headed off on the first leg of its journey. I had planned to go to a foot crossing just around the corner but as the single line token was in the cab there was no need for a stop and thus no chance to drive half-a-mile or so and make the 2 minute walk to the crossing.
A number of class 319 EMUs have been scheduled for storage at Long Marston. A couple of trains have run, but under cover of darkness and although a shot of them passing Honeybourne station at night would be perfectly feasible I couldn't be bothered. On 20 and 21 March 2017 trains from Cricklewood were scheduled with much more sociable timings, due to pass Honeybourne at around 14.30. The path around Worcester Shrub Hill seemed invalid with a clash with at least one FGW service so it wasn't really a surprise that a delay of around 30 minutes was encountered. The motive power on 20 March was ROG's 47815 and the load consisted of 319452 and 319454 which I have shown separately as, after all, the locomotive hauling them was largely irrelevant other than to provide the horsepwer. The weather was considerably better than it had been an hour earlier when torrential rain was falling in the area although some 5 minutes before 5V67 arrived the sun was in a patch of clear blue sky...
As soon as 1P25 was clear 47813 with 319372 + 319373 in tow was released from Norton Junction with 5V67 from Cricklewood to Long Marston where the units are to be stored. I chose this spot because 1) it's completely recognisable and 2) it looked as if the sun might be out and this is probably the best piece of line in the area for a sunny shot at this time of day.
A DBC-operated train from Immingham to Long Marston ran on the morning of Monday 27 March 2016 but with cold, dull and misty weather and no idea of what comprised the load I didn't turn out. Later in the day I noticed from RTT that a very late addition to the schedule was a 5D67 from Bristol SPM to Long Marston with a correspong 5D81 return. These were, I guessed the class 153 moves that were arranged but then cancelled on the previous Saturday. The weather had improved so I made the short journey across to Long Marston arriving just as 153368 came around the curve in the background, still a bit misty but clearing quite quickly. The lineside blossom is beginning to show well so I made the shot a little unbalanced to include as much as possible.
I had hoped that the repainted unit would be waiting in the exchange sidings and that a quick changeover would be made but the crew of 153368 changed ends and set off, with a man walking in front, all the way round the inner loop to the workshops on the far side of the site. I hung around in the warm sunshine for nearly an hour with some light entertainment being provided by some local wildlife and a microlight buzzing around the area. At 17.09 I heard a horn in the distance and soon saw some movement, expecting this to be a class 153 in light grey paintwork as on the previous occasion. This time though the unit was in FGW green and I took this shot of it on the loop with 5 roe deer and 4 rooks feeding on the field.
The Long Marston site has an overall speed limit of 5mph so it took a while for 153318 to arrive at the exchange sidings but once there the crew soon changed ends and moved the unit onto the branch to Honeybourne. As the sun was now quite strong this was my clue to head off to the roadbridge adjacent to Honeybourne station for a final image.
The car park at Honeybourne on 27 March 2017 had plenty of spaces so I was able to park easily and made my way to the roadbridge where 153318 had just moved away from the hut containing the single line token thus giving me about 20 seconds to arrange my shot. All was fine and a nice sunny shot of the smart paintwork was achieved. This colour scheme isn't the easiest to photograph in some lighting conditions so it's good to have a decent one in the bag at an early stage.
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.
A light engine ran from Immingham Sorting Sidings to Long Marston on Tuesday 25 April 2017 with a loaded return showing to Lindsey Oil Refinery. No great brain power was needed to work out that the train would consist of oil tanks but the size of the train was a different matter as on many occasions only a single vehicle was due to be moved; not an especially interesting prospect. I arrived just before 66037 came into sight on the branch from Honeybourne and noted that a long rake of TEAs and TDAs was in No. 2 road so it seemed likely that this was the train to form 6Z28. The gates were still closed but a Long Marston shunter was on the way around the loop with a single ICA which it took to back of the consist and tacked onto the back.
The gate was soon opened and 66037 was coupled onto the tanks. A crew member walked the length of the checking that the handbrakes were released while an air brake test was carried out by the driver. Quite a variety of stock is visible in this long lens view including several lines of ex-underground stock some of which will hopefully be converted into class 230 DMUs or one of the varieties thereof planned by Vivarail. On the other hand what the future holds for some of the freight wagons, including steel "hoods" is probably less secure with just the scrappers torch awaiting them. As soon as the brake and other checks were completed 6Z28 was free to move out of the Long Marston site and onto the branch. The sun just managed to miss this movement and with the sky looking very doubtful in the Honeybourne direction I headed for home.
I went to Long Marston on the morning of 10 May 2017 because an MPV from Kings Norton was working a road learning special from Kings Norton, 6Z13, before the weedkilling season gets underway. While waiting for it to arrive I heard a whistle and saw that a single car from one of the trains of D Stock owned by Vivarail was running around the circuit. This picture won't win any prizes but it does show a battery powered version of a class 230 unit undergoing tests. The lighting at this time of day couldn't have been less favourable but here is another view as the car runs away from the camera along the exchange sidings.
An MPV weedkiller, 6Z13, on a crew training run from Kings Norton to Kings Norton via Long Marston and Moreton-in-Marsh arrived at Long Marston about 10 minutes early led by DR 98960. There have been far fewer MPV moves along the branch than locomotive hauled trains so I was more than happy to get a few shots in the warm sunshine of 10 May 2017 but predictably enough was alone on the road bridge.
The MPV from Kings Norton was due to stand at Long Marston's gate for nearly 2 hours on 10 May 2017 but one of the crew arranged with Evesham signalbox that 6Z13 would run back to Honeybourne to await its path to Moreton in Marsh. This shot was taken just before departure and also shows Vivarail's battery test unit in the far background in the exchange sidings.
I wanted to go to Honeybourne after visiting Long Marston on 10 May 2017 to photograph a test train so tied this in with a few more shots of 6Z13 as it stood behind the up platform while awaiting its path, via a crossover and reversal, to Moreton-in-Marsh. There was a pathing stop here of nearly 2 hours which must make life a bit boring for the crew but on this occasion at least the weather was perfect so some time could be spent soaking up some sun. This train has been scheduled to run several times but on each previosu occasion has returned to Kings Norton after covering just a few miles.
During the evening of 15 May 2017 a friend messaged me to say that ROG's 20205 + 20189 were to take a 6X64 from Leicester LIP to Long Marston. I didn't know what the consist would be but assumed that it would be a railvac. The train was routed via Derby and ran reasonably close to time until it reached Stoke Works Junction near Bromsgrove when some 30 minutes earliness was achieved although it was unlikely that this would continue all the way to Long Marston because of the need to wait for the single line between Evesham West Junction and Norton Junction to be free. In the event 6X64 left Worcester about 15 minutes early and stuck to this until arrival at its destination. RealTime Trains has recently had some issues with VSTPs but a bit of digging found an alternative source of live running details so I was able to leave home at a reasonable time without the need for a lot of hanging about. I went only to Long Marston because 1) the weather was dreadful with light rain beginning to fall and 2) such a short train doesn't inspire me to travel far. I believe that there's some sort of gala at the Severn Valley Railway during the coming weekend although as I have no interest in preserved lines I don't know any details, but this pair of 20s was due to go there after leaving Long Marston so I guess that they are due to make an appearance.
There is a Rail Live event at Long Marston during the third week of June 2017 in connection with which the former D class train, now 230001, is to run run a shuttle service for attendees between Honeybourne and Long Marston. On 12 June and for subsequent days RTT showed that some paths were available between Honeybourne, Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham to allow for main line acceptance and mileage accumualation runs. It's only a short drive for me so I went to Long Marston on the MOnday morning and as soon as I arrived I heard flanges squealing as the unit made its way around the loop in the site, running in a clockwise direction. As it went around the loop there was a gap just large enough to take this broadside view of the train as it left the heavily wooded area and passing the often-seen roe deer in the midground field. More wildlife was in evidence near the bridge in the form of a juvenile fox sniffing around for food.
One of the withdrawn single unit DMMUs, latterly 960011 Pandora is parked close to the road bridge at Long Marston. On 12 June 2017 I took this image of it looking a little the worse for wear compared to when I photogaphed it at Hatton North Junction on 4 September 2007.
It had become obvious by 10.30 that the main line runs for 230001 were not going to happen on 12 June 2017. The unit had made some clockwise runs around the circuit but switched to anti-clockwise which gave the chance for a slightly better image as it ran along the exchange sidings towards the camera. I imagine that the Vivarail staff and management are keen to ensure complete reliability before allowing 230001 onto the main line between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham and the mileage today would have provided some valuable data for the engineers.
My real reason for being at Honeybourne was to take some images of Vivarail's prototype class 230 DMU, 230001, which was due to make some runs over the North Cotswold Line before being used for Long Marston to Honeybourne shuttles during a RailLive event the following week. Running as 5Z23, the train came along the Long Marston branch towards Honeybourne at its booked time carrying a revised colour scheme which has been applied since its previous main line run.
Vivarail's 230001 ran non-stop along the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne using the calling-on lights on the signal to gain the up main line on 14 June 2017. During the RailLive event there is to be a temporary platform here, on the branch, to allow passengers to board and be transferred to Long Marston. There is no sign of it at the moment and I imagine that some work over the weekend will take place to put it in place.
It didn't take long for 230001 to reverse at Honeybourne North Junction before it ran up the main line towards Moreton-in-Marsh for another reversal. Although the sun was too high for good photography I was pleased to take another shot in a completely recognisable location; in my view important for a first run of anything.
Following the departure of 1W01 it wasn't long before 230001 entered Evesham and ran under clear signals to Evesham West Junction for another reversal. Since Long Marston reopened for traffic a lot of traffic never before seen on the North Cotswold Line has appeared but an ex-LUL train converted for main line use was probably never envisaged until Vivarail started their project to convert the former D Stock.
As soon as 230001's reversal at Evesham West Junction had taken place 5Z24 ran back past the signal box towards Moreton-in-Marsh. As this was not a locomotive-hauled train it generated relatively little interest with just a handful of photographers being around to witness the moves. I'll wager that a class 47, running light engine to Long Marston a little while earlier, passed more cameras than 230001... On the run to Moreton-in-Marsh to Evesham a problem was encountered which meant that the unit achieved only 15mph on Campden Bank and so, after leaving Evesham, it ran into Honeybourne Sidings and thence back to Long Marston. I was later told that the problem was no more than a slight issue with electrical mapping of the engine control software which was quickly rectified. The engineers felt that the runs had provided sufficient data and that would be no need for further running. This freed the Long Marston branch to allow the temporary platform to be built. Thanks to Steve Widdowson for the initial information regarding the termination of the train.
Following the test run of The Vivarail prototype DEMU 230001 over the North Cotswold Line on 14 June 2017 the unit was scheduled to provide a shuttle service for visitors to the Rail Live event between temporary platforms at Honeybourne and Long Marston. I had a rough idea of the shuttle times based on arrival times of FGW services at Honeybourne and arrived at Long Marston just in time to see 230001 running along the exchange sidings and out onto the branch. The early morning mist and murk hadn't dispersed completely but a bit of weak sun did manage to illuminate the train.
There was no point in chasing 230001 to Honeybourne as the light there would be all wrong at around 10.00 so I stayed at Long Marston to await the first arrival of the day and the unit's first ever run with members of the public on board. By the time it came back from Honeybourne the light was close to perfect with the lineside shadows having cleared the track. Some new sleepers have been installed in recent weeks along with other work having been carried out to ensure that the branch was up to standard for passenger use.
I don't very often take more than one image of an approaching train as in most cases there is an optimum spot for the best shot and any viewers will be bemused by one taken too far away with bare track in the foreground and a third taken with such a wide angle lens as to create distortion of the subject. Just now and again though a particular location can offer maybe two sufficiently different views and this one at Long Marston does that through having a slight kick in the track just before the road bridge.
Once the first shuttle was inside the Long Marston site I had a gentle drive to Honeybourne to see what sort of photographic opportunties were available as 230001 arrived and then stood at the temporary platform awaiting its second load of punters. Not many, as this image shows with some of the Vivarail staff ready to welcome passengers on board. The micro platform was close to the road bridge and as the train stopped with the first doors in the correct place the other end was on the other side of the bridge.
I waited at Honeybourne until the FGW turbo had dropped off its passengers, most of whom crossed the footbridge to board 230001. The branch to Long Marston isn't over-endowed with photographic locations but there are a few foot crossings where footpaths cross the line and this is about the best for a train heading towards the site. On the longest day of the year the sun is too high for really good images much after 11.00 so this was my last picture of the day as 230001 ran the last half-mile or so to the gates at Long Marston.
Normal service at Long Marston was resumed on Saturday 24 June 2017 with the running of a 6Z27 from Immingham Sorting Sidings. The train, led by 66140, consisted of about 15 bogie tank wagons destined either for storage or maintenance all of which left Immingham about 2 hours late. Arrival at its destination was down on the schedule by 75 minutes or so, arrivng at a convenient time for me as it fitted in nicely with some organ playing I had to do at nearby Welford-on-Avon at about 11.30. The light was improving after a dull start to the day but the sun was still quite weak as 6Z27 became audible as it ran along the branch from Honeybourne. There was no return load and 66140 went back to Immingham light engine later in the morning.
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 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 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.
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.
The TTA tanks that ran from Fawley to Bescot on 19 July 2017 were combined with another rake of similar vehicles which had arrived from Alexandra Dock Junction and were taken to Long Marston the following day. Just after arriving at Honeybourne to photograph 6Z30 headed by 66116 one of the others present noticed a barn owl flying close to the branch platform. It's unusual to see these birds in daylight and I can only assume that last night's rain had made hunting difficult and that some juveniles needed food. It landed close to the track but the combination of dense undergrowth and my not having a long lens with me made a decent image tricky and this was the best I could do until 6Z30 came onto the branch and pushed it towards the camera. For anyone interested the conventional view of the train is here. I did drop in at Long Marston on the way home but there was no sign of 6Z30 and I think that it may have been delayed by the lack of a Network Rail man in a van to take the staff for the single line out of the staff hut and conduct the train to its destination. There was another working along the line later in the day with 37884 taking 2 319s but this seemed to be no more than a severe case of deja-vu so I stayed at home.
There was another first for the Long Marston branch on Saturday 29 July 2017 when Arriva's 143606 ran there as 5D94 from Cardiff Canton. The unit ran early throughout and I was alerted that an early arrival at Long Marston might be on the cards when a booked stop at Gloucester was missed and departure from Worcester Shrub Hill was 96 minutes early. Unusally, 5D94 did not report at Norton Junction and didn't appear until it had passed Evesham. I made a quick exit from home and made it to the road bridge over the end of the branch just as 143606 came into view along with, to my surprise, 3 other photographers. Who would have thought we all had gone out for a Pacer; one of most derided trains on the network! The gate into the site was already open and the unit entered the facility within a few seconds. The reason for the visit is currently unknown, to me at least, but may be apparent when it leaves.
The third and possibly final train of TTA tanks from Fawley ran to Long Marston on Thursday 10 August 2017 after being taken from Hampshire to Bescot on the previous day. I was keen to take a shot of this as I had missed the 2nd run by no more than 10 seconds thanks to agricultural vehicles on a B road and a lengthy traffic light stop in Bidford on Avon. I went to Evesham so as to obtain a reasonably wide shot showing the tanks which, after all, are the reason for the train so a head-on shot seemed pointless. Because of largely unchecked lineside vegetation there are few decent locations on the North Cotswold LIne at the moment so Briar Close seemed the best bet. The train, 6Z30, headed by 66167 ran close to right time throughout but as usual picked up just over 10 minutes after leaving Worcester Traffic Centre.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Despite writing yesterday (13 September 2017) that I had little intention of photographing a short set of flats leaving Long Marston on 14 September I changed my mind when I saw that ROG's 47813 was allocated to 0Z94 from Leicester and 6Z86 to Eastleigh. I really hadn't fancied yet another class 37 shot here especially with such an unexciting load but the freshly painted 47 was a much more attractive proposition. It was close to the road bridge when I arrived and there was just had to line up this view of the locomotive which fitted nicely enough in a small gap, although I did have to stand in the middle of the road to achieve the correct angle! In common with the previous day the sun made some timely appearances and allowed a reasonable portrait in the few minutes before the gates into Long Marston were opened. This wasn't 47813's first appearance here as shown by this image taken on the early evening of 11 May 2005 when it appeared in its Cotswold Rail colours with 87027 and a set of Virgin Trains' coaching stock.
The set of 4 flats, TIPH 93488, 93477, 93323 & 93462, were well down the exchange sidings and once 47813 had been coupled to them it seemed ages, sitting under a clear sky, before 6Z86 moved away towards the branch line to Honeybourne. Some cloud did pass across the sun during that short journey but all was well as it approached the road bridge. On this occasion my usual but sometimes broken rule about the train being of more importance than the motive power wasn't applied and I was happy to take a sunny shot of 47813 in a good location with a satisfyingly black sky in the background. My thanks to The Flump for the headcode and stock details.
It looked as if the sun would last for a few more minutes after 47813 with 6Z86 moved away from Long Marston en-route to Honeybourne and Eastleigh. I just had time to drive around the corner to a farm crossing on the Broad Marston and Pebworth road but the sun didn't stay out quite long enough and the resulting shot wasn't quite as well lit as the earlier images.
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.
The Arriva class 143 DMU that went into Long Marston on 29 July 2017 left the rail facility on its return to Cardiff Canton on 27th September after a false start on the previous Saturday for when a schedule had appeared but was later cancelled. Despite the gloomy and misty weather I went across to take a few images as it left but thought, as the departure time, 09.20, came and went with no sign of movement that another cancellation was on the cards. However, at 09.30 there was a movement in the yard and 143606 soon appeared through the murk and made its way past Pandora before reversing and going into the exchange sidings. In this picture the train, 5Z78, is actually coming towards the camera despite the impression given by the red lights.
It was some 15 minutes later that 143606 made its ways onto the branch where it was stopped to await a member of the ground crew who brought the single line token to the driver so that he had the authority to travel to the staff hut at Honeybourne. I don't know the reason for the visit but there is a new vent and metal patch on the roof which may indicate that some new equipment has been fitted. A similar unit was due to leave Canton for Long Marston later the same day and this seems to indicate an odd railway practice. The driver for 5Z78 was presumably brought in to Long Marston by road to take the train out and another driver will bring the next unit in and then leave by road. Wouldn't it make more sense for the inward train to run first and for the same driver to take the outward working back and so avoid wasted money and road journeys? Maybe I'm missing something or is this just a case of railway dogma?
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...
Another VSTP for Long Marston was showing on RTT on the morning of 12 October 2017. This time it was a 6Z27 from Lindsey Oil Refinery and it seemed likely that some oil tanks were being taken for either storage or for purging prior to scrapping. There were no reports of sightings that I saw so had no idea what length of train that 66040 would be hauling; experience has shown that anything between 1 and 30 vehicles can turn up on this type of working. The weather was sunny after a misty start but I knew that there would be a lot of shadows across the line near the road bridge so took a long lens whch would allow a shot avoiding the worst of them and which would also compress the perspective and show the attractive Autumnal colours off to their best advantage. The train ran close to right time from a short layover at Worcester and was 2 or 3 minutes early when 66040 came into view on the final half-mile or so of the branch with its long set of TEAs and TDAs in tow.
One of the things I like about Long Marston is the frequent opportunity to photograph something unusual along with the intended target. On 12 October 2017 a single driving car of a former 3 vehicle DMMU in Network Rail yellow was running around the circuit and happened to present itself in just the right spot as 66040 with 6Z27 from Lindsey was waiting for the gate to be opened. It looked as if there were several devices on the roof of the unit and although I have no real idea about what they might be they did look a bit like GPS receivers. In this picture the unit looks slightly unsharp and this is a result of passing behind the heat haze and exhaust from 66040.
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.
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.
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.
A potentially interesting train appeared on RTT during the last week of January 2018 which was scheduled to run from Bescot to Honeybourne North Junction on Wednesday 31st. To my mind this could mean only an engineering train entering a possession on the Long Marston branch. It appeared to be locomotive hauled and was given the service code indicating that it was a Colas job. On Tuesday 30 January the only Colas locomotives at Bescot were 56094 and 70813 so they seemed likely for 6C99 the following day. It left about half-an-hour late and after a losing a path from Worcester to Evesham arrived at Honeybourne the thick end of an hour down. I heard a horn for one of the crossings and then the sound of a 56 accelerating away from a signal check a few moments before it arrived onto the Long Marston branch with 56094 leading its train tailed by 70813.
The PICOp at Honeybourne had told me that the train was to drop new rails at various locations along the branch and that the possession started at Honeybourne Staff Hut where he had earlier placed a "Stop" sign. The train ran slowly through the station and I took this shot of 70813 ticking over on the rear of 6C99. Most of the Long Marston is difficult to photograph and with no idea of the rail drop locations I left at this point.
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.
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 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...
A late addition to the schedules on Monday 20 March 2018 was a train of 5 tanks, ICAs, from Ribble Rail at Preston to Long Marston for either storage or deep cleaning. The locomotive allocated was Colas's 60095 and as the class is a rare visitor to the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch I had a run over. The train had run on a circuitous route via Warrington, Chester, Shrewsbury and Sutton Park but arrived at Honeybourne close to the right time. It, 6Z56, is seen here passing the platforms having joined the branch at Honeybourne North Junction which can be seen behind the last platform lamp on the up side.
If things had gone according to plan there should have been a GWR class 165/166 from Reading to Long Marston shortly after 60095 but I decided that I would on this occasion prefer another image of 6Z56 so drove straight over to the road bridge by the yard at Long Marston. I arrived just as 60095 appeared in the distance along with some veiled sun and it slowly ran to the gates where there was a short delay until the ground crew appeared to open up. Here is a reminder of how 60095 used to be be employed on coal traffic from Avonmouth to Didcot as it leaves the latter on 6 March 1997 in a wide angle and slightly distorted view.
The Long Marston shunter arrived and after reversing in the headshunt by the bridge moved forward and coupled to the tanks ready to draw them forward. The original plan had been for 60095 to spend the night here and then have an early departure on 21 March 2018 taking another set of tanks to Lindsey Oil Refinery but as the shunter pulled forward I could see that the white lights on the Colas locomotive had been switched on and then heard a brake test being carried out. I checked Liverail and RTT to find that a new schedule had been inputted showing a 6Z57 16.00 Long Marston to Toton. Having grabbed this image with my Canon G10 and pausing only to take a view of Pandora in the afternoon sunshine I hurried back to Honeybourne.
It doesn't take long to get to Honeybourne given some clear roads and I was soon on the road bridge adjacent to the station. With no way of knowing when or even if 6Z57 would actually run it was just a matter of hanging around until something happened. For the thick end of an hour all that did happen was an IEP coming down on 1W29 and the cloud becoming thicker and darker. There were though two glimmers of hope. The first was that the incoming GWR DMU appeared to have been recessed at Moreton in Marsh presumably to allow 60095 a path over the branch and second, as the sound of empty tanks rumbling over the jointed track of the branch became audible a crack appeared in the clouds which seemed to heading towards the sun. The light was never going to be perfect but it was a lot better as 60095 approached the bridge at 17.09 than it had been for for the past hour.
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.
A light engine move from Leicester to Long Marston on the morning of 11 April 2018 followed by a train to Eastleigh via Moreton-in-Marsh was shown in the schedules but the latter soon changed to show the loaded train running via Worcester and Birmingham. The powers that be really don't seem to like freight running south of Honeybourne on the North Cotswold Line - and come to think of it, trains of any sort given FGW's lamentable cancellation record in recent times. The completely accurate weather forecast had predicted low cloud, mist and light for the whole day and with, or so I thought, yet another visit of one of ROG's class 37/8s to Long Marston I wasn't inspired to go out. I've nothing in particular against 37/8s but they are getting a tad commonplace in the area. However, in the event I was pleased to see that 47812 was allocated to 0V94 so went over to see what the load going to Eastleigh might be. I arrived just after 47812 had been coupled to the rest of 6Z86 and it was pleasing to see that a rake of 13 JSA steel hoods was leaving the site. A 200mm lens isn't really the right lens on a misty morning but I still like the way that the persepctive is compressed to show the myriad of stored stock in the yard. Just out of sight in this view was a graffitied single car from a train of D Stock; maybe a candidate for conversion to part of a new class 230 unit.
It wasn't many minutes on 11 April 2018 before 47812 left Long Marston yard and joined the line to Honeybourne. I deliberately took this wide view to show both the early blackthorn blossom and the steam coming from an exhaust pipe in the background which I think is from a newly covered area used for safely removing flammable materials from oil tanks brought in either for re-use or scrapping. The poor light is demonstrated by the poor depth of field in this image - the class 319s being rendered in what I could call soft-focus...
Given the decent load behind 47812 a drive to Honeybourne on 11 April was in order and just as I was walking to the road bridge I could hear 6Z86 coming along the branch. Within 2 or 3 minutes the single line token had been returned to the hut and 47812 was coming slowly towards the station. There would have been plenty of time to go somewhere along the main line for another shot but the light was still dreadful and I decided that going home was a better option. Some of the woodland behind the train has been cleared and I have a horrible suspicion that yet another anodyne housing estate, one of several in the village, will soon form the backdrop to photographs taken from here.
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.
Class 165s and 166s are being sent on a regular basis from Reading Train Car Centre for some work or another the details of which I don't know. On 14 April 2018 166221 was the unit involved and this picture shows it shortly after joining the Long Marston branch. Just after I took this image 5Q66 stopped to wait, I think, for the single line staff to be delivered from Long Marston where it had gone with 37601 and 350258. The sun came out a few moments later and I did attempt a static shot but the angle wasn't especially favourable and a very wide angle lens was needed which inevitably created some distortion. As the train went past I noticed the nameplate which seemed appropriate given 5Q66's originating point.
Some paths between Long Marston, Moreton in Marsh and Evesham West Junction appeared on RTT on Friday 13 April 2018 and were, I guessed, some test runs for Vivarail's class 230 DMU. On Monday 16 April I went to Long Marston to see what, if anything, happened and arrived at 09.20 some 20 minutes before the departure time. Nothing was in sight and it stayed like that for some time until a van appeared and after a short break the driver unlocked the gates protecting the site. A bit of a clue there and 230001 soon came into sight, ran along no.1 road, and stopped by the ground frame just as the sun came out.
After a short pause 230001 moved onto the branch and given the amount of cloud blowing around I was lucky to take this image in a patch of good sunshine. The light was just about high enough to leave the majority of track unshadowed and the Spring blossom has begun to flower in the warmer temperatures of the past few days. The train, running as 5Z01, stopped under the road bridge while the single line token was collected from the ground frame and this was my cue to head for Honeybourne.
The usual simple drive from Long Marston to Honeybourne was more of a trial on 16 April 2018 as 1) I had a lengthy wait in Pebworth while a bin lorry negotiated a long line of parked cars and 2) the direct road was closed for resurfacing. After a lengthy diversion I arrived at Honeybourne and was surprised to find several parking parking spaces in the station car park. The train was just coming from the staff hut and stopped at the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction. Worryingly, some of the many staff on board alighted and appeared to be examining something adjacent to the front bogies.
While 230001 was standing around the back of Honeybourne station on 16 April 2018 an up passenger train arrived, this being 1P25, the 09.54 Great Malvern to Paddington formed of 800012 which picked up a solitary passenger. I have a feeling that this may be the first picture taken showing an IET with a class 230 in the background...
It soon became apparent that not all was well with 230001 and the lights were switched from red to white. At about the same time RTT showed that all the runs on 16 April 2018 were cancelled so the only option was for the train to return to Long Marston. This image was taken as its journey began and this one was taken from the down platform as it ran towards the staff hut.
A rare visitor in the form of 50008 went to the Long Marston branch on Monday 23 April 2018. While waiting for it to arrive the on-site shunter, 10547, was moving some withdrawn tram stock around and it came forward just enough for a long lens shot over the field. At first sight amongst the trees the vehicle looked a little similar to a GW observation car, if such a thing ever existed.
One of the occasional railvac moves from Toton to Long Marston took place on Monday 23 April 2018 and as has been usual in recent months 50008 was the motive power; a humble task for the former 100mph express locomotive. This notwithstanding it was very welcome to me as this was one of the classes of locomotive I was yet to photograph on the branch as the first visit took place before daylight one morning last Winter. Thankfully the light was a little better today and it wasn't far from right time when 6X50 appeared in the distance and soon came to the end of the branch amongst the blackthorn blossom. The rapeseed is coming into flower in the adjoining fields and whilst I am not especially keen on the sometimes overwhelming yellowness a bit of background wasn't unwelcome.
It didn't long for 50008 to be uncoupled from the railvac and run to the points at the far end of the exchange sidings before returning along No. 2 road. As the sun was shining and the background nicely filled with a variety of stock the chance for a shot or two was taken in view of the unusual locomotive for the yard at Long Marston.
Within a few minutes 50008 had left Long Marston yard on 23 April 2018 and stood in the sun while the gates were closed. I don't always take light engine shots but on this occasion I relented to take advantage of the sunshine and background panorama.
Some much-needed engineering work is, at the time of writing, taking place on the Long Marston branch following a few days of road learning by Freightliner drivers with several light engone runs having taken place the previous week. The first train to run on 30 April 2018 was a 6Q53 from Reading Triangle Sidings and althought this was inevitably going to be a track machine I thought it worth the short trip to Honeybourne to have a record shot. On arrival on the roadbridge I was pleased to see that a lot of clearance to the heavily overgrown trackside vegetation had taken place with the result that a shot of an up train from the south side was again available after a gap of many years. The tamper (or whatever it is) ran to time and is seen here approaching the end of its journey and will go through the station before a reversal to cross over to the up main line and then on to the Long Marston branch before another reversal to gain the sidings.
After the first reversal at Honeybourne on 30 April 2018 the OTP waited at the signal for the road to be set for the sidings by Evesham signal box. The driver was about to exit the cab and walk to the other end of the unit when I took this image and within a few moments the move was complete.
The first of the infrastructure trains to the Long Marston branch was 6X04 from Fairwater Yard at Taunton which ran during the afternoon of 30 April 2018. The arrival time at Honeybourne wa 19.52 and as the weather had improved from the poor forecast earlier in the week I had my second drive of the day across there for a shot. The sky had been consistently cloudy albeit with decent light levels and this was just the job for this time of time of day. Unfortunately, the sun dropped out of the cloud a few minutes before 66543 and 66526 appeared by which time it was too late to go to an alternative location a couple of miles further down the line where the sun would have perfect. That being so I went for a head-on view to minimize the impact of the sun's angle and compromised the composition a little to include the belt of dark cloud which I thought made for a better picture. The track machines were at the back of the train, these I think being the devices used for laying the new track.
On 2 May 2018, the day following the date of the shots shown above, I had a drive around the Long Marston and Honeybourne in my Morris Minor and took just a compact camera in case anything was around. I stopped at the roadbridge at Long Marston and could hear ballast being moved around with shovels. This shot shows a p-way gang levelling the ballast prior to tamping. Most of the branch is well away from roads so my next visit was to Honeybourne where a short ballast train, 6Y05 I think, was standing at the end of the possession. My compact's zoom was at full stretch and some cropping was done in post-processing to achieve this poor result showing 66507 and 66528 waiting for permission to return to Westbury. This was at about 11.30 and as far as I know the train didn't move until 16.00. The train booked for later in the day was cancelled as was that the next morning. Whether anything will run is at the moment unknown...
The engineering work on the Long Marston branch continued over 2 and 3 May 2018 with another 6X04 from Fairwater Yard on the Tuesday afternoon. Knowing that a lot of vegetation had been removed from the North Cotswold Line I went, in hope, to a spot near Mickleton where a clear shot would be available. The location had seen significant clearance work and I was hopeful of a decent outcome at shortly before 20.00. Running in front of 6X04 was 1W36, the 17.52 Paddington to Worcester Shrub Hill which was 2 or 3 minutes late when it passed me formed of 165109.
The shadows at Mickleton were becoming a bit intrusive on 2 May 2018 as I was waiting for 6X04, the 13.45 from Fairwater Yard to Honeybourne North Junction. The preceding passenger service didn't help matters by being 2 or 3 minutes late as the sun was sinking rapidly and the remaining lineside bushes' shadows were encroaching on the line. Nonetheless, freight of any description is as "rare as the stars upon a clouded night" (Louise Morgan Sill) along the North Cotswold Line south of Honeybourne so to take an image in mostly decent light was more than welcome. The locomotives were 66543 and 66526, the same as Monday's run and the train's consist looks to be much the same.
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...
Vivarail's 230001 was shown as running between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham on Tuesday 8 May 2018 and with what appeared to be guaranteed sunshine I went over to Evesham for the second of the day's runs. I arrived at Briar Close just in time to see 165113 forming the 10.39 Great Malvern to Paddington, 1P27, approach the signal box for a stop in the station where a class 800 was waiting to head north. The new GWR colour looks smart but it's not easy to achieve a good photographic result of it even in strong sunlight.
I'm always keen to take a photograph of Vivarail's 230001 on its various test runs and must admit that I find it a more interesting prospect than yet another 37 hauled stock drag. On Tuesday 8 May 2018 230001 made some runs on the North Cotswold Line and unusually it started from Honeybourne sidings where it had been stabled, for reasons of which I am not aware, since the previous weekend. I wasn't able to get out for the first run between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham but did make it to Evesham in plenty of time for the second. Here it is arriving at Evesham station as 5Z04 and after a short wait at the signal just on the other side of the bridge until a preceding class 800 had reached Norton Junction went down towards Evesham West Junction before crossing over to the up main line.
Now running as 5Z05 after its reversal at Evesham West Junction 230001 is about to pass non-stop through Evesham on the way back to Moreton-in-Marsh. It would reverse again there before the final journey of the day and its return to Honeybourne Sidings.
This was the train I went out to photograph near Mickleton on 16 May 2018. Vivarail's 230001 was making some more testing and mileage accumulation runs and had already gone from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh and then down to Evesham and I was here for 5Z03 from Evesham West Junction back to Moreton. RTT showed that it had arrived at Evesham but whichever system activates the train on the railway computer systems hadn't done so and until I saw it coming up Campden Bank wasn't sure that it was on its way. The next run due in about an hour would have been better for the light but I couldn't wait so was sort of relieved to see later that it had been cancelled with 230001 returning to Long Marston from Evesham.
During the late morning of 15 May 2018 a schedule appeared suggesting that a class 143 pacer, running as 5Z43, was on its way from Cardiff Canton to Long Marston. As the afternoon was clear and sunny and as my previous shots of 143s here had been in poor light I went across to Long Marston for a shot or two. This one taken as 143601 ran the final few yards along the branch from Honeybourne from the top of a pile of earth left in the field during works to update Pebworth's sewage facilities by taking the village's waste to the nearby Milcote sewage works.
The usual procedure for moving a class 143 at Long Marston ws followed on 15 May 2018 when 143601 entered the exchange sidings and immediately reversed to reach the workshop area by running anti-clockwise around the circuit. This shot was taken just as it began to move and against a backdrop of a variety of stored stock.
The prototype class 230, 230001 made some more runs from Long Marston on Thursday 17 May 2018. I had intended to take some pictures of all the trips but had a message before leaving home saying that something even more unusual was running on the line through Hatton a bit later on. I still went to Long Marston for the first part of 5Z01 and arrived a few minutes before 230001 came into sight as it ran along the exchange sidings. Within a vey short time the gates were opened and it started on the short journey to Honeybourne. Over to the right and out of shot the diesel shunter was on the loop moving a class 319 EMU around towards the exchange sidings in preparation for its journey to Wolverton during the afternoon.
Vivarail's 230001 paused on the Long Marston branch at Honeybourne for a few moments until the signal was cleared to allow it to go to Honeybourne North Junction and to reverse on the main line and head off to Moreton-in-Marsh, Honeybourne isn't the most attractive station in the area but it does at least have a GWR-Style piece of ironwork on some of the platform's benches. The sun was at full strength but still a little straight at this time of the morning, just on 10.00. There were some more moves during the rest of the day along with another Long Marston to Wolverton class 319 drag but I went home for some coffee before going to Hatton.
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.
On 19 June 2018 Network Rail sent a short-formation test train for display at Long Marston topped and tailed by 67027 + 67023. As far as as I know this was only the second time the class has been on the line and the first since 67016 hauled the first revenue earning train along the new formation at Honeybourne following the North Cotswold Line partial re-doubling. Here is 1Z05 arriving at Long Marston and again a few moments later as it entered the site.
It soon became clear that the 67s were not to be part of the exhibition as they were uncoupled from the stock and stabled at either end of road 3 where a variety of withdrawn or stored stock is kept.
The second arrival at Long Marston on 19 June 2018 was a first (and probably a last!) for the North Cotswold Line and the Long Marston branch. DRS sent a class 88 to Rail Live for display and this ran as 0Z76 from Crewe with an arrival time at Honeybourne of 13.42. This gave me more than enough for a drive there from Long Marston as 0Z76 had got caught up with the usual GWR late running arounf Worcester. I don't always bother with light engine moves but this one was just about unusual enough fot a shot or two.
I thought that a quick belt down to Long Marston would be required to take a second shot of 88004 on 19 June 2018 but in the event it took the locomotive much longer than expected to make the short journey, possibly the single line staff hadn't been taken back after 1Z01's arrival. Anyway, it did arrive and made a unusual sight as it approached the road bridge and soon went into number 2 road, making an interesting front-end contrast with the other stock, before going round the circuit into the exhibition.
The rail-mounted crane at Long Marston which has recently been stabled close to the road bridge was fired up on 20 June 2018. After some checks that was working properly it moved towards the main complex and began doing whatever it had to do.
On both days of the Rail Live event at Long Marston a special train was organised running from London Paddington directly to the platform within the site. The stock involved on 20 June 2018 was a 4TC set topped and tailed by 73963 + 73962 and this was a first for the Long Marston branch, if not the North Cotswold Line itself. Three of the class, 73006, 73138 and 73201 , have been dragged to and from Long Marston but there have been no examples of them visiting under their own power. I wanted a shot as the train, 1Z73 surprisingly enough, arrived so went no further than the road bridge at the site entrance. The sun was in and out but wasn't too bad as it approached.
The ground crew were keeping a careful eye on the points as 1Z73 moved along No. 1 road on its way to the small platform which is out of sight around to the right at the end of the exchange sidings. The train is passing 5 oil tanks which were due to be taken to Lindsey Oil Refinery by 70811 later in the day.
The return of 73962 + 73963 from Long Marston to Paddington was due to leave the latter at 14.54 and I arrived at Honeybourne with about 15 minutes to spare. There was some speculation that there was a problem with the brakes on 1Z74 and this was borne out when the arrival time came and went. Another train was due to run into Long Marston as 70811 was on its way with a single tank from Lindsey Oil Refinery but with the single line occupied there was a bit of confusion about what was going on as RTT showed that 6Z25 was in the Evesham area with nowhere for it to be looped. In the event 1Z74 came first and made for a decent enough image as it ran from the staff hut to the road around the back of the station. It ran ran straight through and was supposedly heading for the crossover just around the corner for a reversal and return via the up main line. It later transpired that the train ran straight to Evesham where the passengers were turfed off to use a scheduled service to Paddington while the 73s and stock went to Worcester Yard to see what could be done. There was nothing possible there and 5Z74 went to Eastleigh via Cheltenham and Bristol the locomotives by then double-heading the stock.
The class 73s and 4TC set shown above had only just gone around the corner to Honeybourne North Junction when 70811 appeared with its modest load heading for Long Marston. I'm not a fan of very short formations but this isn't too bad as the locomotive and tank fits quite nicely into the space between the bridge and signal. There was a return load for 70811 but I had had enough of hanging around by then and headed for home.
Following the problems with 4TC stock on 20 June 2018 I wasn't sure if the train would run as booked on the following morning. However, a quick check saw that at 5Z73 had run to Paddington P12 from Eastleigh, the stock being 4 carmine & cream Mk1s. I wanted to have a drive in my Morris Minor and somehow found myself at Honeybourne just in time to witness 1Z73 arriving at the station on the up main line in somewhat challenging lighting conditions. Reversal at Honeybourne North Junction didn't take many minutes and the train soon ran onto the Long Marston branch for its trip to the Rail Live exhibition.
For the final run of the class 73s from Long Marston to Paddington I went to a bridge between Honeybourne and Moreton-in-Marsh. This shot needs a relatively wide angle lens so that as much of the train as possible is clear of the shadows from lineside trees. This stretch of line sees few locomotive-hauled workings so it's always having a shot somewhere along here when the opportunity arises.
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.
A set of JSA steel hoods has been due to leave Long Marston for Eastleigh for a couple of weeks and the second attempt to shift them took place on 24 July 2018. The locomotive was 47813 which arrived a bit late and had to wait a long while inside the site while the stock was shunted out of a storage siding after more delay casued, I think, by brake problems. Even when coupled to 47813 the stock seemed to be causing problems and much examination of the wheel areas took place. Another light engine move, this time from Bescot, was due and RTT showed it having passed Evesham and I made the entirely wrong assumption that it had reached Honeybourne and had been put into the tamper sidings there. A drive down there showed that nothing was there so I turned around and went back towards Long Marston but saw 47813 with 6O86 some 90 minutes late heading along the branch where it runs parallel with the Broad Marston road. Not having taken a long lens with me on this occasion this picture giving a panoramic view of Long Marston yard was all I managed. Oh well, it gave my Morris Minor a good run around the lanes... I later discovered that a wagon had been shunted out of the rake and that whatever had come from Bescot had been turned round at Evesham.
D'oh, a deer; but not a female deer. A roe deer buck crosses the exchange sidings at Long Marston on Monday 13 August 2018 as 230001 approaches with 5Z01 to Moreton-in-Marsh. I saw from RTT that something was making some test runs between Moreton and Evesham and wondered if it might be one of the class 230s earmarked for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line. With that in mind I thought a shot or two would be in order so went across to Long Marston to see what was running. There was nothing in view until a few moments before the booked departure time, 09.40, when I saw some movement in the background before 230001 came around the curve in the background.
It didn't take many seconds for the gates to be opened and for 230001 to exit the Long Marston site and head for Honeybourne. I have many images of the this unit in good light and with little prospect of much sun in the short term I left and headed to my health club for a swim. Had one of the later units been in use I should have had a good chase around to get a few pictures in the bag but on this occasion... I later saw from RTT that 230001 ran to Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham West Junction but then returned to Long Marston with further runs for the day cancelled.
Vivarail's first production unit, 230003, made its debut on the main line on Monday 17 September 2018. It should have run the previous week but there was apparently a small problem with the fuel system found while on test within Long Marston. To avoid the possibility of a fruitless wait as happened when the run was aborted before, I waited at home until I saw from RTT that 5Z01 had actually moved. The original plan was for a run from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh, thence to Evesham before returning to Long Marston so I arrived at Honeybourne in good time for 5Z03 from Evesham and planned to take a shot as the train ran along the branch line but it struck me that it seemed to be taking an awfully long time to come the short distance from Evesham and wondered if it had stopped to arrange an alternative path back to Moreton. With this in mind I stood on the footbridge over the up main line just in case. This proved to be a good choice as 230003 came from Honeybourne North Junction on the main rather than the branch line. I waited on the platform for the return to Evesham, now 5Z04, but the sun came out at just the wrong time making for a poor result.
The next stage in 230003's test programme on 17 September 2018 was shown to be another trip from Evesham to Moreton in Marsh. As there wasn't time to move to another location I stayed at Honeybourne to take an image from the down platform as 5Z05 headed south. Once again though things went differently from the plan and the first thing I saw was 230003 moving slowly along the Long Marston branch rather than on the up main line. A quick sprint was needed to get up and over the enormous footbridge and I made it with no time at all to spare so this is very much a grab shot as it ran slowly towards its current home base. The unit is in its final livery ready for a new life on the Bedford to Bletchley line and here is some bodyside detail clearly showing this.
At the time of writing there is a severe speed restriction due to poor track condition over the whole of the Long Marston branch so there was no need for a high speed dash from Honeybourne to record 230003's arrival. The light stayed poor but I was more than content to have scored some reasonable shots on the train's first outing. I took another view as it entered the yard mostly to show 230003 with an unrestored example of the same original class in a siding.
There were a few trains of interest to me on Tuesday 18 September 2018 including 50008 taking a few flats from Long Marston to Wembley and Vivarail's 230003 going to its new home at Bletchley. As planned there would have been an inconveniently long gap between the two but 50008 was delayed for ages at Landor Street resulting in a very late arrival at Long Marston. This made things a bit easier so I went for the 50 which I probably wouldn't have if everything was on time and decided to go straight to Honeybourne for a shot as 4Z68 approached the station running about 90 minutes late. The light was pretty awful but a 50 on even a not very inspiring freight is worth a frame or two especially against a backdrop of foliage beginning to gain its Autumnal tints. I later saw that the lost time was made by the sensible expedient of running 4Z68 from Landor Street to Rugby and the WCML via Nuneaton rather than by the convoluted booked route through Sutton Park, Walsall, Bescot and some twiddly bits around Birmingham.
Following 50008's late departure from Long Marston there was a knock-on effect with a delay caused to 230003 running as 5Q13 to Bletchley. The Long Marston branch is a One Train Only line and after the token had been dropped at the Staff Hut it was necessary for it to be collected and driven back to Long Marston. A West Coast man was ready and waiting to do this to minimise any further delay. As the unit appeared in the distance a 5 car IET moved away from the Honeybourne stop giving the chance for a shot of the two very different trains; a shot that will be difficult to repeat!
There is currently a severe speed restriction over most of the branch but it wasn't long before 230003 appeared in the distance, dropped off the token and made its way into the station area ready for a reversal at Honeybourne North Junction. The light had picked up a little but wasn't strong enough to cast anything but the lightest shadow. Still, there is only once chance for these moves and one has to take what's available on the day.
I was keen to take my final shot of 230003 in a recognisable location and in any event there wouldn't have been enough time to drive to another decent location especially as I had gone over in my Morris Minor; not built for belting around country roads! I was happy enough to get a record shot as 5Q13 passed through Honeybourne station even though the light had collapsed altogether by that time.
The Indian Summer of 2018 continued on 10 October 2018 so when a light engine move from Doncaster to Long Marston showed up on RTT a quick trip during the afternoon seemed to be in order. I arrived at the latter a few moments before 66717 and watched it run into the exchange and couple up to the 6 large box wagons in road 2 ready for the run to Hexthorpe Yard. This view was taken as the crew prepare to leave with 6E31, and with some varied stock visible in the yard, including some D Stock hopefully awaiting conversion to class 230 in one of its guises.
It takes quite a while for anything to traverse the length of the Long Marston branch at the moment so it was necessary to wait at Honeybourne while 6E31 picked its way over the rotting trackwork on the parts of the line. There was no prospect of the sun going anywhere as there wasn't a cloud to be seen ion the sky over Honeybourne station as 66717 moved towards a green signal giving it the road onto the down main line. The GBRf man in the background had come by road to operate the ground frame equipment and walked back to his vehicle. What a ridiculously disjointed railway we have at the moment. Someone has to drive from heaven knows where for a simple operation like this on a branch line backwater. The worst I have seen here was when a man had to drive from Woking to operate the equipment for both inward and outward moves and then drive home. It could have been worse; it might have been a taxi as is the case all too often.
I saw over the weekend of 24/25 November 2018 that a DMU of some description was going from Etches Park at Derby to Long Marston on the following Monday and had it in the back of my mind to go over if it was convenient on the day. The arrival was showing as 12.37 but when I arrived home at 12.00 after a swim I saw that it was running 15 minutes early at Evesham so decided it would be a bit tight. I then saw a a solitary email about 5V94 from someone at Northfield saying that the unit was 156497 and as I wasn't aware that another of its class had been along the branch grabbed my camera and had a "sports mode" drive over. My arrival at 12.18 was just in time to see the unit on the long straight section of track alongside the Pebworth Road and it was only a few moments before the East Midlands liveried train slowly approached the gates into Long Marston.
The weather at Long Marston on 26 November 2018 was largely overcast but there was a bried glimmer of light as 156469 stood at the gates while the ground crew unlocked them. I understand that Chrysalis Rail are doing some work on 156s here so there will probably be more moves of this nature to come. Within a few minutes the gates were closed, the driver had switched ends and 156497 was ready for its trip around the loop to the workshop area.
It has been known for some time that the trackwork on the Long Marston branch has been a bit ropey, to say the least, and I've been keeping an eye open for any engineering trains scheduled to visit there. On Tuesday 11 December 2018 a Hinksey to Honeybourne was booked with a very user-friendly arrival time of 11.50. I had a gym class earlier in the morning (during which I saw two low-loaders taking class 319 trailers away from Long Marston) but had time to go home and collect my longest lens. This was needed because of the unforecast appearance of bright sunshine as I planned to go to Honeybourne station but knew that there would be a lot of shadow around at this time of year. I stopped briefly in Long Marston village to check on 6Y40's progress and saw that it had missed a lengthy stop at Charlbury (good old GWR timekeeping...) and was now 30 minutes early. There was still loads of time and I arrived well before 66585 + 66592 topping and tailing a very decent load came down from Moreton in Marsh. Before it could reverse, cross over and join the branch it had to wait while the the non-stop 1P27 from Great Malvern passed by. There is a short but steep gradient onto the branch and the sound of 66592 slipping a little as it lifted the heavy train up the bank was clear to the 3 of us taking photographs. The OTP also ready for use during the work is visible in Honeybourne sidings just above the autoballasters.
Once 6Y40 had partly passed by it was stopped for the train crew to be given instructions by the ground crew waiting alongside the staff hut. This gave me time for a walk to the road bridge to take a more panoramic view of it moving away along the branch and have a close-up of one of the more unusual vehicles in the consist. This wasn't 66585's first visit to the branch as it took some box wagons for storage at Long Marston in January 2017 and it is clear to see that the rusty patch under the cab window hasn't seen any attention in the intervening period.
The second train of 2019 to Long Marston ran on Wednesday 9th January when 66769 took a pair of bogie oil tanks from Cardiff Greenery to the site for, at a guess, deep cleaning. The first train of the year had run the previous day but I wasn't able to photograph it as I needed it to have been at least 20 minutes late leaving Worcester when it was actually about 40 early. The GBRf train left Worcester 25 early but bearing in mind the single track from Norton Junction to Evesham West Junction and an on-time down FGW service there was no way it was going to be more than a few minutes early leaving Norton. This was fortunate for me as I encountered 3 sets of temporary traffic lights and 2 diversions between Stratford-upon-Avon and Honeybourne! I wanted to try a shot from the far end of the newly extended up platform where I thought that there would be a clear patch in the undergrowth; just right for a short train such as 6Z31. The space was just right with a slightly wide-angle lens but once the vegetation has grown up in the Spring I doubt anything will be possible there. There was a return train, 4Z32 to Hams Hall, but I didn't feel like hanging about in the cold wind for what was likely to be no more than a few container flats.
There were two DMU moves at Long Marston on Monday 14 January 2019 with class 166s coming from and back to St Phillip's Marsh HSTD. I left home when I judged that the incoming train, 5Q94, was passing Evesham and arrived at Long Marston to find the on-site crane just about to move to wherever it was required to work. The driver was just climbing back on-board after changing the points just in front of the vehicle
It wasn't more than two or three minutes before 166213 came around the curve on the branch from Honeybourne on 14 January 2019 and moved slowly towards the bridge. This wasn't the unit's first visit here; indeed it was first of its type to work along the line when on 27 April 2015 and in much better weather it was sent here for work on the air conditioning system and before it was put into the slightly more bland GWR colour scheme. Once the gates had been opened 166213 reversed prior to its short journey around the circuit and is seen here just as it began to move.
The unit returning to Bristol from Long Marston on 14 January 2019 was ready and waiting in the workshop area and soon came around the loop at the required 5mph. This time it was 166215 which is still in the earlier and more colourful livery of its operator and it left about 15 early on the booked time, 11.15, and went straight off towards Honeybourne.
It was only a matter of time until some FGW HST stock was sent for storage at Long Marston. The first move took place on Wednesday 23 January 2019 when 5Z50, moving OC44, was sent from St Phillips Marsh, Bristol to the Warwickshire site. During the previous day there should have been an ROG locomotive with a couple of barrier coaches to Bristol from Leicester but this was cancelled and rumours were circulating that 50007 was to run from Eastleigh, where it was present for painting into GBRf colours, to SPM to drag the HST set. It all worked out well and the sunny morning saw 50007 run close to time to Worcester where it was scheduled to run round and reverse towards Evesham. I left my health club after a swim with the intention of going to Briar Close at Evesham but part-way through the drive saw that a lot of cloud was building up to the West so diverted to Honeybourne. The timings slipped a little and it about 10 minutes down on the booked time when I heard 50007 pull away from Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch. A medium telephoto lens was required because of the shadows cast by the footbridge but this does have the advantage of foreshortening the perspective and thus increasing the impact of the shot.
There were 2 trains from St Phillips Marsh to Long Marston on 23 January 2019 and it was generally assumed that the second path wouldn't be used. This assumption was wrong and 166216 followed 5Z50 along the Long Marston branch about an hour later. The unit ran to the staff hut where the single line token is kept but the cupboard was bare through the token being with the crew of 50007 a few miles along the branch. There are 2 options when this happens. 1) the token is brought to Honeybourne by road and then a man walking along the branch from Honeybourne or 2) the more pragmatic approach where the unit reverses into the CCE sidings where ii waits for the train to come along the branch from Long Marston. Surprisingly enough the second was chosen and here is 166216 returning from the staff hut prior to heading into the sidings.
The only trains to use Honeybourne Sidings are, in general, OTP machines in various guises. Occasional locomotives have been in but until 23 January 2019 I hadn't seen a passenger train, albeit running as ECS, there. Here is 166216 standing at the entrance to the sidings while it waits for 50007 with 5Z51 from Long Marston to Bristol to clear the single line and return the single line token to the staff hut.
The train returning the 2 barrier coaches from Long Marston to Bristol, 5Z51, took quite a while to arrive at Honeybourne becasue it clearly took a long time to sort out and shunt the 2 coaches from the incoming train and marshall them behind 50007. I wanted to take a different shot from my usual one from the road bridge at Honeybourne so stayed on the station to take an image framed by the rusty ironwork of the bridge. The sun had dipped while 5Z50 was at the staff hut but luckily picked up nicely as it moved away towards the station and the signal protecting Honeybourne North Junction.
The second class 230 DMU ordered by WMT for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line should have made some test runs over the North Cotswold Line on Friday 1 February 2019. These were cancelled but were due to be repeated on the following Monday so I went over after swimming to hopefully get a well-lit shot of 230004. The first movement was of 166216 leaving the site for St Phillips Marsh after modifications to allow them to work in the Bristol area. I took a few shots as the unit prepared to leave Long Marston but preferred this one, showing the moment that the single line staff was handed to the driver, to the others. The Vivarail unit was due to leave shortly after this and I saw it in the distance as it left the shed. That was where it stayed with a lot of activity going on around on around it which I later learned was the changing of some electrical equipment.
As I mentioned above 230004 was standing outside the shed at Long Marston on 4 February 2019 and it is just about visible in this general view of the yard I took showing some of the stock stored there.
Further or indeed first test runs for 230004 were showing in RTT for Tuesday 5 February 2019. I was busy with a gym class until 10.30 but checked to see if they were running as soon as I was able. There had been no movement so I went home and didn't have another look at my 'phone for about another 40 minutes or so. It was then clear that 5T01 from Long Marston to Moreton-in-Marsh had run so I legged it as fast as I could to Honeybourne; the best spot when one doesn't know if all the runs will happen because it is the location for the Long Marston branch. It wasn't long before 230004 now running as 5T03 came up from Evesham West Junction and ran through Honeybourne station on the way to Moreton. The light was dreadful but it's always good to get an early move of a "new" train early in its life.
It isn't far from Honeybourne to Moreton-in-Marsh so a return journey doesn't take long but as a cold wind was blowing I sat in the basic waiting shelter on the up platform wating for 5T04 to arrive. It was interesting to find a couple of small plastic bags on the ground with a distinctive logo visible and with some coarse brown contents. I wonder if the owners were disturbed and had to leave in a hurry?! I resisted the temptation to sample the contents of the bags and soon had another shot of 230004 in the bag as it passed a couple of workmen making some modifications to the newly extended down platform.
The light was getting worse at Honeybourne on 5 February 2019 and this was my final image of 230004 as it ran south to Moreton in Marsh before returning to base at Long Marston. It is, at the time of writing scheduled to run to Beltchley on 7 February and should go via Moreton and Oxford.
The third and final Vivarail class 230 DMU destined for use on the Bedford to Bletchley line made its first test runs on the North Cotswold Line on Wednesday 13 February 2019. Having been caught out by non-running of tests in the past I waited until RTT showed some movement before leaving home and eventually saw that 230005 had left Long Marston for Moreton in Marsh some 37 minutes late. This gave me plenty of time to go to a road bridge near Aldington to the south of Evesham where I arrived just in time to photograph 800004 with 1W19, the 09.21 London Paddington to Worcester Foregate Street. There was no sign of 230005 having reached Moreton and after a short while the next couple of its runs were cancelled. This being the case I left for home but stopped in a lay-by near Bidford on Avon to check for any updates. I saw straightaway that the unit had reached and left Moreton and was close to Evesham so headed straight for the nearest spot on the NCL.
I had no intention of going anywhere near Honeybourne on 13 February 2019 as I already have enough images of class 230s in and around the station there. As outlined above I had little choice on this occasion and after dumping my car in the car park took my camera from the boot just as I heard the distinctive whine of the unit's traction motors. I reached the platform as 230005 appeared on the curve in the background and peeled off a quickfire round of shots; this time, at least, in the sun.
It doesn't usually take long for a train to reach Moreton in Marsh, turn around and return to Honeybourne. This was the case on 13 Fenruary 2019 and 230005 was soon seen approaching the bridge at reduced speed, a sign that it was following the schedule and would cross over at Honeybourne North Junction and join the Long Marston branch.
One of the good things about Honeybourne is that there is no need to return to the station after taking an image of a down train for a second shot as it heads along the Long Marston. This was my choice on 13 February 2019 after 230005 had reversed at Honeybourne on the way back to the Vivarail facility after a couple of return test runs. On this occasion I used some differential focusing to try and make the subject stand out by deliberately make the background slightly blurred. There would have plenty of time to drive to Long Marston for an arrival shot but with largely clear skies this would have been a waste of time as the sun would be shining straight into lens so I made do with this shot as the unit receded from the camera towards the hut in which the single line staff is kept.
A complete HST set including power cars was sent for storage from Laira to Long Marston on Friday 15 February 2019. It has been a long time since such a train has worked over the Long Marston branch under its own power although a couple have recently been along there with locomotive haulage. Given the weather and the cult status afforded to HSTs at the moment I was really surprised to have been alone at Honeybourne for my photographs. I went there because 5Z43 was off the main line which made it far more interesting because HSTs have been up and down there for years. Compare the scene today with the view from the road bridge in 2006 when Cotswold Rail's power cars took some Virgin Trains' stock for storage. The view looking towards Long Marston from the road bridge has also changed in the intervening years.
There is currently a 5 mph speed restriction over parts of the Long Marston branch because of the poor state of the track. This gives the photographer plenty of time to get to the other end of the line from Honeybourne and I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. The light at this time of day, just before 14.00, is challenging to say the least but does give, to my eyes at least, a pleasingly impressionistic quality to the image.
As 43069 + 43052 arrived at Long Marston on 15 February 2019 the gates were opened and 5Z43 ran into number 1 road of the exchange sidings. It seems an absolute travesty that such high quality and above all comfortable stock is being set aside when its replacement, the 800s, are apparently so uncomfortable and the equuivalent trains on the Cross County routes are too short and almost universally unpopular.
My final shot of 5Z32 at Long Marston on 15 February 2019 was as it stood in the yard just before it was taken around the inner loop to the storage sidings. The other FGW stock stored here can just be made out in the background. Just for comparison here is the equuivalent view from 17 March 2005 as CR's Hornby liveried power car was about to couple up with its sister car after delivering some Virgin Trains' stock.
Vivarail's 230005 made what should be its final test runs over the North Cotswold Line on 19 February 2019 and after a slightly late start rectified by missing out the first trip from Honeybourne to Moreton in Marsh regained the scheduled paths. As I didn't have a shot of the unit anywhere but Honeybourne I went to Briar Close at Evesham arriving just as FGW's 165113 turned up for the stop there with 1P27, the 10.59 Great Malvern to Paddington. The sun was just appearing from some cloud as the unit passed the signal box and I hoped that this would bode well for a shot of 230005.
As soon as 165113 had left Evesham station for London 230005 ran straight through and headed for its reversal at Evesham West Junction. Within 3 or 4 minutes it was on the way back with 5T05 to Moreton in Marsh running a few minutes early and luckily in the last minute of so of clear sky. There are a couple options for here where one can take an image with a short telephoto as the train passes the 'box or a tighter view as it approaches the bridge. I went for the former on this occasion so as to have a wider view of the unit but taken with somne care to ensure that the radio mast on top of the box, hideous though it looks, is shown in full. I have a bit of a thing about cutting off part of any infrastructure if it's possible to avoid doing it (although have straightaway broken my rule by chopping signal E2457 in half!) so have cropped the image slightly to achieve some balance. I could easily have removed the mast altogether but... no. It might be of interest to some to see this picture from the excellent Warwickshire Railways site showing the same scene in the late 1950s just after construction of the signal box.
Going home from Evesham to Stratford-upon-Avon via Honeybourne isn't exactly the most direct route but I decided to call in there for a final shot of 230005 as it left the North Cotswold Line and joined the Long Marston branch. It was unfortunate that the sun went behind some thick cloud just before 5T06 ran through the platforms for its reversal but as I was there...
A rare Sunday train into Long Marston ran on 3 March 2019 when Chiltern's 165037 was sent from Aylesbury for some sort of modification. The weather was very poor with heavy showers and a gusty wind but as this was the first time that a Chiltern unit had been along the branch I went across to take a record shot, leaving home as 5Z56 reached Evesham. This usually gives plenty of time for me to arrive for an arrival shot but on this occasion I was caught out by the apparent removal of the severe speed restriction following the laying of new track and sleepers over the past week. I would have been in time had I not turned my car around before getting out so that I wouldn't have to step out onto a wet and muddy roadside! Not all was lost and I did get this view as 165037 moved into the yard just after the gate had been opened.
Even though it was pouring with rain I stayed on for a few minutes while the crew of 5Z56 changed ends and prepared to take 165037 around the loop at Long Marston to the area where the work on it will take place.
The only daylight movement other than OTP to the latest engineering work on the Long Marston branch ran on Wednesday 6 March 2019. Freightliner's 66587 topping and tailing 66509 operated 6Y43, the 15.41 from Hinksey Yard to Honeybourne and I was quite impressed to see from a mapping app that the train was given the green light from the yard spot on time. I wasn't quite as impressed with the weather which deteriorated rapidly on the drive to Honeybourne culminating in pouring rain by the time the train appeared in the distance. To makes things worse there was bright sky to the South-East (out of camera to the left) which made for a difficult bit of exposure calculation (guessing) as 6Y43 slowed for Honeybourne North Junction where it would reverse and join the branch.
It took 25 minutes for the reversal to take place, the delay not being helped by the heavy load of autoballasters and wet rails on the short but steep climb from the main line to the branch. Now at the front of the formation, 66509 could be seen and heard to struggle its way up the incline for several minutes before the bulk of the load was onto more level track. At least by the time 6Y43 reached the road bridge at Honeybourne the rain had stopped and the light picked up enough to enable me to reduce my ISO setting from 1600 to 400.
The second HST to traverse the Long Marston branch under its own power ran on Monday 11 March 2019 when off-lease 43197, 8 coaches and 43193 formed 5Z43 from Laira. The train arrived at Worcester Shrub Hill for reversal a few minutes late at which point I left home for what is usually a quick journey to Honeybourne where I intended to take a shot from the end of the up platform as it joined the branch. Because of heavy and slow traffic and 2 sets of temporary traffic lights on what are usually fast roads my arrival in the car park was timed just as 5Z43 could be heard climbing away from the main line. An undignified sprint followed which ended on the appropriate spot on the over-sized footbridge with 3 seconds to spare as the de-branded stock approached.