Railways Blog

A blog about trains, covering photography, railway history, transport politics and modelling, in no particular order.

Vivarail in Action

A short video clip of Vivarail’s “D-Train”, now designated the Class 230, in action.

It’s rebuild of redundant London Underground D78 stock, replaced by new trains on the District Line. Their aluminium bodies and relatively new running gear and traction equipment give them quite a few more years of useful life, and the D-Train concept aims to make use of it.

It’s a diesel-electric, using new underfloor engine and generator sets to power the existing traction motors. The trains are intended for regional and commuter use, perhaps as a replacement for the unloved Pacers. Their only weakness is their top speed of only 60mph, which will render them unsuitable for some routes; even the Pacers can allegedly do 75.

It’s an interesting concept, which provides additional DMUs at far less cost than brand-new stock, and seems like an ideal short-term option for routes scheduled for electrification in the longer term.

But does anyone else read Vivarail, and think Vivarais, which is a preserved metre-gauge line in southern France? Or is it just me?

Posted in Travel & Transport | Tagged | Leave a comment

Gerry Anderson tech moves from Russia to China

There ought to be a prize for rediculously “out there” engineering ideas. This one’s described as as a ‘straddling bus’ design to beat traffic jams though since it runs on rails it’s technically a tram rather than a bus.

All it needs is for International Rescue to save the day when something goes horribly wrong.

Click in the link to watch the video on the Guardian site.

Posted in Science Fiction, Travel & Transport | Tagged | Leave a comment

More new trains for TransPennine Express

First Trans-Pennine have announced more new trains for the North and Scotland. In keeping with their new image as an inter-city operator, the new rolling stock will be inter-city style rather than the regional type trains in use on their routes at the moment.

Half of the new trains will be 125mph EMUs for their Anglo-Scottish services from Liverpool and Manchester that run up the west coast main line. More interesting is that the other half, for the Manchester-Newcastle route, will be locomotive-hauled stock using class 68 locomovives. Some of these locomotives are already in use with Chiltern Trains hauling extensively refurbished  Mk3 stock, but Trans-Pennine’s order represents the first new loco-hauled daytime stock since the ECML Mk4 fleet in the 1980s.

It may well be that the decision to go for loco-hauled trains is a consequence of the postponed electrification of the route. Separating the traction from the coaching stock means that when the wires finally go up over Standedge, it will be a matter of swapping electric locomotives for the diesels, with the same coaches.

Posted in Travel & Transport | Tagged | Leave a comment

Farewell to Banbury’s Semaphores

A few photos of Banbury, which despite being on a very busy main line still retains semaphore signalling controlled from two magnificent Great Western signalboxes. All this is due to be swept away in August when the whole area is resignalled. Here’s the North box, photographed from the end of the platform under the road bridge.

Banbury has unusual signalling in that the two main lines are fully signalled with modern multiple aspect colour light signalling, but the bay platforms and goods loops retain WR lower-quadrant semphores.

South Box is the smaller of the two, and it’s location makes it harder to get close-up photos. Passing it is freightliner’s 66552 on a lengthy engineers’s train, and some of the “Orange Army” engaged in preparatory work for the resignalling.

68010 at Banbury

One of Chiltern Trains’ locomotive-hauled push-pull trains, with 68010 propelling the train towards London Marylebone. Chiltern’s loco-hauled services began with EWS class 67s and refurbished former west coast main line Mk3 coaches. More recently brand new class 68s have replaced the 67s. These locomotives are the first mixed-traffic diesel locomotives to be delivered in Britain since the class 50s in 1967.

Posted in Railway Photography | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Happy St.Pancras Day, celebrated with either a Eurostar, a Peak or a Midland compound, depending on your preferred era.

Posted on by Tim Hall | Leave a comment

Virgin Trains East Coast

Virgin Trains East Coast HST at York

I know I take a lot of photos from this vantage point, but here/s another one; An HST set led by power car 43239 in the new (ish) Virgin Trains East Coast livery.

Posted in Railway Photography | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Swiss Cheese at Plymouth

On the third of April there was a low-speed collision between two passenger trains at Plymouth station. A local train from Cornwall ran into the back of a stationary London-bound express. Though nobody was killed, thirty-five people were injured, a couple of them seriously.

The preliminary report makes it sound like an archetypal “Swiss cheese” incident.

If you imagine safety represented by several layered slices of Emmental cheese; each hole in the cheese represent an opportunity for human error to creep in, but an accident can only get through when all the holes line up. The more layers of safety the better.

This was what seems to have happened at Plymouth.

The normal pattern of operation was disrupted due to scheduled maintenance on the lifts, causing trains to be diverted away from their regular platforms. The signaller wrongly estimated the amount of space in the platform behind the express, and thought the local train would fit in behind it. The driver of the local train wasn’t expecting the platform to be part-occupied by another train. And because the approach at the western end of the station is on a very sharp curve, the driver didn’t realise the express was on the same track until it was too late to stop.

Posted in Testing & Software, Travel & Transport | Tagged | 2 Comments

Manchester Oxford Road

Manchester Oxford Road is a strange place. The cramped inner-city location hemmed in by buildings on all sides makes it look like a full-sized model railway rather than a real station. Here a Trans-Pennine Express emerges from the fiddle yard between the two buildings that hide the hole in the sky
Continue reading

Posted in Railway Photography | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Revolution Trains announce Tiphook PFA/KFA container flat

pfaThe next model from Revolution Trains, announced at the York show over the Easter weekend will be the Tiphook PFA/KFA container flat.

Revolution Trains next model will portray the single unit PFA/KFA container flats built for Tiphook from 1987-88.

240 of these wagons were built by Rautaruukki of Finland: the first 40 numbered TIPH93242-81 and delivered with Gloucester GPS bogies, the remainder numbered TIPH93290-489 and fitted with Sambre & Meuse VNH-1 bogies. (The VNH-1 bogies look very similar to cast-frame Y25 bogies but have some structural differences.)

The first wagons were used to carry contaminated spoil from Chatham Dockyard to Stewartby in Bedfordshire; over the years they have been used for domestic refuse, containerised paper from Fort William, gypsum, MOD traffic and intermodal services.

They’re taking pre-orders now; the early bird price is £22 for a single wagon and £66 for pack of three; after June the prices will rise to £25 and £75.

Posted in Modelling News | Tagged | 2 Comments

Douglas horse trams to run for 2016 season

Reported in Isle of Man Today.

The Isle of Man’s horse trams will be back in action this summer after being given a temporary reprieve from closure.

The Department of Infrastructure will operate the historic attraction for the 2016 season, maintaining a reduced service using existing staff.

After approval from from the Council of Ministers and a deal with Douglas Borough Council to use the trams and horses at no cost, the trams will run between May and October.

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK told iomtoday: ‘I’m delighted that we’ve been able to offer the horse trams a temporary reprieve, but beyond the summer we will have to have a major rethink about their future.’

At the moment it’s only a temporary reprieve, but it’s a step in the right direction. Let’s hope it’s more than a brief stay of execution.

Posted in Travel & Transport | Tagged | Comments Off