A selection of January news from heritage railways.
The crew of Turkish 8F No. 45160 hauling the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway’s 13.00 service from Winchcombe to Cheltenham on December 31 had to make an emergency brake application on seeing an upturned car on the tracks at Southam Lane bridge. The car had collided with a vehicle turning out of Kayte Lane on the approach to the bridge at about 13.20 and crashed through the timber fence beside the road. It fell about 20ft into the cutting, landing nose-first on the track and overturned, coming to rest on its roof partly over the line. The occupants escaped from the vehicle and were taken to Cheltenham General Hospital.
The approaching train was halted about 90 yards short of the car, subsequently being propelled back to Winchcombe from where buses took passengers back to Cheltenham Racecourse station. After the car was lifted from the line G-WR engineers checked the track for damage and the railway ran its New Year services as advertised.
This is the fourth time a car has crashed on to G-WR tracks and the third time at this location. The railway is renewing its request for installation of a crash barrier at the site.
As the Epping Ongar Railway builds up to reopening later this year it has acquired three coaches from the North Norfolk Railway for a longer term post-reopening project. The vehicles, all requiring extensive restoration, are 1960s-built non-corridor vehicles which will form a heritage suburban branch line set for use during galas and special occasions.
THE Isle of Wight Steam Railway’s A1X ‘Terrier’ No. W8 Freshwater is expected to be repainted in Southern Railway ‘sunshine’ black livery at some point in the coming months. A repaint to freshen up the loco’s appearance has been on the cards for a while and in the IOWSR’s budget, but is not yet in the work schedule at Havenstreet. You can take it the new look will be SR black though, and not a BR black livery.
The Bluebell Railway-based ‘Standard Class 2 Project’ to recreate a BR standard 2-6-2T took a huge step forward just before Christmas when a newly built rear extension frame module was welded to the frames of ex-Barry BR Standard class 2 Mogul No. 78059 at Sheffield Park. This produces a complete chassis for the recreated loco (it is not quite the same as being a new-build project) which will be known as No. 84030.
The War Office Locomotive Society has transferred ownership of ex-WDLR Hunslet 4-6-0T No. 303 (HE 1215/16) to The War Office Locomotive Trust, a charitable trust which has been managing the interests of the locomotive for the past year. The society repatriated the WW1 loco from Australia in 2006 and all society funds are being transferred to the trust. The change of ownership is expected to assist the seeking of grants towards restoration by the target date of 2014.
Meanwhile, some investigative dismantling of the 4-6-0T has commenced at the Moseley Railway Trust’s Apedale Valley Railway. Part of the component condition assessment includes removal of the cast iron smokebox saddle since the damaged casting will need to be stitch welded by a specialist contractor.
Details for donations and sales items can be found at www.wols.org.uk.
A 'Hayling Billy 50' project has been set up to ensure the 50th anniversary of the Havant to Hayling Island branch being closed is commemorated during 2013. The last BR service train over the line ran on November 3 1963 (hauled by ‘Terrier’ No. 32650) although a special, worked by ‘Terriers’ Nos. 32636 and 32670 was the final train to work over the branch.
The initial step has been the launch of a website at www.haylingbilly50.co.uk. There are also proposals to restore the surviving semaphore signal on the southern abutments of Langston Viaduct and upgrade the ‘Hayling Billy Trail’, a footpath/cycleway on the alignment of the old line. A commemorative exhibition is also on the cards.
THE Lynton & Barnstaple Railway Trust’s ambitions to extend its one mile line between Woody Bay station and Killington Lane by three miles to Blackmoor Gate have been boosted by the award of a £36,000 grant by Exmoor National Park Authority's Discretionary Budget Sub-Committee. The money, from the Exmoor National Park Partnership Fund, will help finance surveys and investigations required in order to secure planning permission and a Transport & Works Act Order to cover the extended line.
Extending the railway to Blackmoor Gate on the edge of Exmoor National Park will enable operation of a park and ride service. The L&BR says that depending on funding, this extension could be opened in five years on the basis of allowing two years to cover the legal and planning stages followed by another three years for actual construction work.
A £40,000 appeal has been launched by the GCR Rolling Stock Trust to finance completion of the roof and concrete floor of a new building at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre. What will be known as ‘The Barnum Building’ is located between two existing buildings and will provide covered accommodation for four GCR carriages. The foundations have already been done and steelwork is being prepared for erection to form the frame of the structure.
The GCR Rolling Stock Trust has nine vehicles at the Great Central Railway (Nottingham)’s Ruddington base of which three are in covered accommodation. Restoration is progressing on 1880-built GCR/MSLR six-wheel carriage No. 946 and vehicles from the 1910 Barnum rake. Placing the historic vehicles under cover in the new building is viewed as an important step on the road to securing grants towards further restoration work.
The appeal is backed by the GCR 567 Locomotive Group, which aims to recreate Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Class 2 4-4-0 No. 567. This loco - a 10-year £450,000 project also based at the GCR(N) - and the trust’s carriages are aimed at achieving a shared vision - recreation of an Edwardian main line GCR passenger train from circa 1900.
The Ffestiniog Railway Society wants to return 1863-vintage George England 0-4-0STT Prince to operation in time for the 150th anniversary of steam being introduced on the FR, in 2013. This was the first successful application of steam on such a narrow gauge. As if this were not a sufficiently auspicious anniversary, Prince was also the first steam loco to operate when the FR was revived by preservationists in 1963 - and became the first preserved locomotive to celebrate its centenary in regular service on its own railway.
Prince, currently out of ticket and displayed in the Severn Valley Railway’s Engine House at Highley since July 2010, is the oldest FR locomotive capable of working.
Donations towards the fundraising campaign (cheques payable to Ffestiniog Railway Society) can be sent to Dave Charlton, Ffestiniog Railway Society, Freepost NATE 1232, Haltwhistle NE49 9BR.
The Dean Forest Railway’s new station at Whitecroft is approaching completion and appears in the line’s 2012 timetable. Contractors have built a four-coach platform (only the ramp survived from the original station) and a building in original Seven & Wye style. Painting and fitting out of the latter will be undertaken by volunteers. The station should be in use around March for the start of the new season with an official opening to follow later in the year.
The DFR’s Hunslet 0-6-0ST Wilbert is also expected to return to service this spring. Although the loco (named after the late Rev Wilbert Awdry, who wrote a book starring the ‘Forest Engine’ and was the DFR’s president ) was rededicated in August 2010 during a ‘Thomas’ event it had only been cosmetically completed. Further attention has been given to the boiler and big ends and it is now pretty well ready to enter traffic.
The Great Western Society has bought Hunslet 0-6-0ST King George (HE2409/1942) from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway. The out-of ticket loco was delivered to Didcot Railway Centre just prior to Christmas and will enter the works for completion of an overhaul started by the G-WR at Toddington, although some non-ferrous parts were stolen in the big metal raid suffered by the G-WR last July.
Why does Didcot want an ex-industrial loco? The plan is to convert the Hunslet 0-6-0ST into a ‘Thomas’ character loco, including fitting side tanks in much the same way as the Llangollen Railway has converted Hunslet 0-6-0ST Jessie (HE1873/37) into a ‘Thomas’ look-alike. The original components (saddle tank etc.) will be retained, enabling back conversion to its correct appearance in the future if no longer required in character form. The loco should be available for ‘Thomas’ event bookings in 2013.
From the G-WR viewpoint, the proceeds from the sale will go towards its Emergency Appeal to help finance reinstatement of the landslip at Chicken Curve. Moreover, the G-WR has progressed well beyond the stage of needing and using industrial motive power.
The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway has started putting in a passing loop at Shottle station and plans to open the station in June. Having managed to open the line from Wirksworth right through to Duffield in early 2011 (the ‘Race to Duffield’) commissioning a loop at Shottle will enable the EVR to introduce a two-train service over its main line.
Other projects set to achieve fruition during this year are repainting the EVR’s Gatwick Express unit in Pullman livery and upgrades to Duffield station, including building a new booking office and installing better toilet facilities.
Opening the EVR from Wirksworth through to Duffield last year brought a 400% increase in visitor numbers. Prior to this, the EVR only operated from Wirksworth up the branch to Idridgehay, the opposite direction from Duffield.
Work to widen the Cob embankment at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway's Porthmadog station has commenced following the appointment of Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK to undertake the first phase of major alterations at the Harbour station site. Some 25,000 tonnes of rock will come from Minffordd Quarry to be used in widening the westernmost 260 metres of the Cob. This will create room to completely revise the station layout in a £500,000 improvement plan incorporating construction of a new platform for WHR trains.
Work on the Cob embankment is scheduled for completion by early spring. Track and new platforms should be complete for the main 2013 operating season.
The Great Western Railway Preservation Group has put its GWR 2-8-0 No. 2885 – a static exhibit at Birmingham Moor Street station for several years - up for sale. Although not publicised, the decision to sell was made last year amid concerns over the group’s continued tenure at Southall.
In recent times the group has struggled to maintain a presence at Southall and it looked as though much of the siding space at the site was going to be required for operational use by licensed main line train operator, The West Coast Railway Company. As things stand, it seems likely the group will be able to rent the siding space it currently occupies from WCRC, although reopening to the public appears unlikely.
Another factor in GWRPG’s decision to sell the Collett ‘2884’ Class is raising cash for the restoration of the group’s GWR Prairie No. 4110 which is presently at Tyseley waiting for work to start. The Prairie is a higher priority for being returned to steam.
The group’s Pannier No. 9682 is in the latter stages of being overhauled at Southall, while RSH 0-4-0ST Birkenhead (7386/1948) has been moved to Buckfastleigh (South Devon Railway) pending investigation of the boiler problem which prevented it operating Santa trains at the Cholsey & Wallingford Railway as planned.
The Weardale Railway is switching its passenger traffic focus to the heritage market after surveys revealed very few passengers are interested in using the Stanhope to Bishop Auckland line as a commuter service. Timetables are being redesigned to expand and improve services to cater for the leisure and heritage market with details of the revised services to be announced over the coming months.
Although the community service schedules operated since British American Railway Services took over the line ceased on December 31, such trains might be reinstated if a particular need is identified and if financial support for such a renewed service were available.
The Weardale line retains a commercial aspect in that it is also used to convey coal from a terminal at Wolsingham to the national network via Bishop Auckland.
The Severn Valley Railway is now in the midst of a £250,000 renovation project in Bewdley Tunnel. Track has been cleared from the tunnel (temporarily severing the SVR) enabling life expired drainage to be replaced. The line will be reinstated using new ballast, sleepers and rail. The work is being undertaken by a contractor and the SVR’s in-house permanent way and S&T teams with finance coming by way of a bank loan and support from the SVR Guarantee Company.
Although the tunnel lining is basically sound, needing little more than rectification to damaged refuges and re-pointing of both portals, the old drainage systems inside the bore have failed. Working inside the tunnel brings a number of specific problems, including the need for forced ventilation (to clear exhaust fumes), lighting and inability to use cranes to lift pre-assembled track panels. The difficulties surrounding the work location have led to the observation that the project makes that major work undertaken at the SVR’s Arley station a year ago, “seem like a walk in the park”!
In the run-up to starting the full project, the SVR’s permanent way gang relaid the track between the Bewdley down distant signal and Bewdley tunnel portal. This was done on an ‘emergency’ basis after problems were found during October (which resulted in a Temporary Speed Restriction being imposed) to ensure it could be used by SVR Santa trains.
The full project started on January 3 when the tunnel came under a full engineering possession, which is scheduled to continue until February 10. This will be followed by Monday to Friday possessions between February 20 and March 16 to enable the work to be completed before the Spring Steam Gala.
Northern Ireland’s Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Railway has received planning permission to extend south from its present terminus on the outskirts of Bushmills. The extension will help the line link the Giant’s Causeway (close to its northern terminus) with the world famous whiskey distillery in Bushmills.