High winds batter region’s railways
Winds gusting up to 70mph shut parts of the local rail network on Thursday January 18.
With Network Rail having imposed a 50mph limit on the entire Anglia Region, trains between Liverpool Street and Norwich were reduced to an hourly service. When a conservatory was blown on to the track at Tivetshall St Margaret and a tree was brought down nearby, passengers transferred to buses between Diss and Norwich. The 13.00 Norwich – Liverpool Street was stranded at Flordon when the OHL came down and hauled back to Norwich ‘wrong road’ by no. 47813.
For a time all services on both routes between Liverpool Street and Cambridge were suspended. Trees on the line closed the Marks Tey – Sudbury branch, and part of Huntingdon station’s roof blew off, shutting the station for several hours.
OHL renewal to begin this year
A multi-million pound project aimed at replacing overhead line and improving reliability on the Norwich – London line has been brought forward.
OHL problems caused three days of disruptions last year. Network Rail had been due to start OHL renewal in 2009, but has now decided that the scheme will begin in December 2007. The company revealed the changed plans during a recent public ‘grilling’ by Norfolk MPs.
Community rail status - but no cash - for Wherry Lines
Train services on the Wherry Lines, which link Norwich with Great Yarmouth (via Acle and Berney Arms) and Lowestoft, have been granted ‘Community Rail’ status. Rail minister Tom Harris made the announcement on February 1.
The new designation should allow one to adopt a more flexible approach and manage the services with greater emphasis on meeting local needs. But does it bring more funding? “Unfortunately not”, said NRS member Peter Lawrence who chairs the Wherry Lines CRP.
360s are putting something back
one‘s fleet of Class 360 Desiro emus, which run between Liverpool Street and destinations including Colchester and Ipswich, has begun to use its energy-efficient regenerative braking system – ‘Regen’.
Energy created when the trains brake is converted to electricity, which then passes back to the supply system. It’s estimated that Regen could save as much as 16% of the 360s’ energy use. The 21 4-car sets were designed for Regen, but only after recent infrastructure upgrades has it been possible to use the feature.
Sunday opening confirmed at Buckenham and Lakenheath
It has been confirmed that Sunday request stops at Buckenham and Lakenheath will be inserted into the timetable from May 20 so that bird-watchers and country-lovers can use these remote halts.
RSPB Buckenham Marshes is adjacent to Buckenham station and RSPB Strumpshaw Fen is a short walk away. On Sundays the 0936, 1136, 1536 Norwich - Great Yarmouth trains,as well as the 1657 Norwich - Lowestoft, will call there. Stops in the reverse direction will be made by the 0950 Lowestoft – Norwich and the 1018, 1218 and 1620 Great Yarmouth – Norwich. Visitors arriving by train will be admitted free to Strumpshaw Fen.
RSPB Lakenheath Fen lies alongside the railway, with its visitor centre not far from Lakenheath station. On Sundays the 0915, 1115 and 1515 Norwich – Cambridge trains will call there, as will the 1044, 1246 and 1538 from Cambridge to Norwich.
Oyster creeping closer
First buy a ticket, then get on the train. We do it without thinking – but for how much longer? Oyster Pay As You Go (PAYG) cards are becoming more popular and the areas where they can be used is soon to be expanded.
First Capital Connect is working with Transport for London to accept Oyster PAYG across its network from 2009. “We know that accepting Oyster PAYG is something our customers want, and we have considered TfL’s offer and believe we can make this work,” said Elaine Holt, FCC’s Managing Director.
On one, Oyster PAYG – already available between Liverpool Street and Stratford, Seven Sisters, Tottenham Hale and Walthamstow Central – will be extended from Spring 2008 to include intermediate stations such as Bethnal Green, Cambridge Heath and London Fields. There are plans to extend it on the West Anglia and Metro (to Shenfield) routes from Spring 2009.
Londonlines’ Chivers to lead one
National Express has appointed Andrew Chivers as managing director of one. He previously held the same role at Londonlines, NatEx’s umbrella company for its London commuter TOCs. On January 1 Andrew succeeded Dominic Booth, who leaves to head up NedRailways UK Ltd, the overseas arm of Dutch national railways.
Commenting on his appointment, Andrew said he hoped to build on the organisation’s positive progress, “providing the first rate service our passengers expect and we intend to deliver.”
Matthew restarts apprentice tradition
Crown Point depot has seen the completion of its first apprenticeship since BR days.
Matthew Hall, 33, began as a cleaner with Anglia Railways, and applied for an apprenticeship in 2002. Now a qualified fitter/electrician, he was presented with his NVQ3 in Engineering Maintenance and Advanced Modern Apprenticeship in Engineering by James Abbott, Editor of Modern Railways. Matthew carries out maintenance, fault finding and repairs on one’s main line and rural trains at Crown Point.
Matthew‘s father Steve also works at Crown Point, and his grandfather Alan Brady is a retired railwayman.
Meanwhile Modern Railways journal has awarded one’s Crown Point maintenance team a coveted ‘Golden Spanner’ for making its fleet of Class 156s the most improved dmu in 2006. Over the course of a year the 156s’ average mileage between mechanical defects has increased from 3,169 to 5,894.
Suffolk CC to examine Aldeburgh branch reopening
Will nuclear flask trains between Saxmundham and Leiston have to be slotted into a passenger service? Suffolk's draft rail strategy suggests commissioning a study to examine reopening the stub of the Aldeburgh branch to passengers, and creating a new Leiston station.
The strategy document establishes how the Council will work to shape rail travel in Suffolk to 2011 and beyond. It wants to see the Ipswich – Cambridge service improved in both quality and journey times – and then marketed as ‘InterCity’. It will continue to lobby for an hourly train service on the Ipswich – Lowestoft and Ipswich – Peterborough routes.
CT brought to standstill by conductors
Central Trains services over Christmas and New Year were disrupted by strike action after the collapse of last-ditch talks between CT and the RMT over senior conductors' bonus pay and rotas. On December 24 all CT trains were cancelled. A 48-hour walkout over New Year’s Eve and New Year's Day saw some services run, although not on the Norwich route.
On your bike – it’s free!
one has abolished its remaining charges for carrying bicycles.
Previously it cost £3 per single journey to take a cycle on InterCity trains into London and £1 on local services, but from January 2 these charges were removed. Reservations (free) are still required for InterCity services, and encouraged for local journeys in Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Each local dmu has space for up to 4 cycles.
Bah! Humbug! at Lowestoft
Lowestoft station was visited on December 12 by Scrooge himself – as played by entertainer and magician Paul Daniels, then starring in A Christmas Carol at Lowestoft’s Marina Theatre. The occasion was the launch of a new TheatreRail brochure.
The TheatreRail scheme encourages theatregoers to travel by rail to four local theatres – at Lowestoft, Great Yarmouth, Sheringham and Cromer – and is part of the Wherry and Bittern CRPs’ strategy to encourage more people to take the train.
Free trip for Felixstowe fans
one made a goodwill gesture, reports John Yelverton, to compensate for an advertised football special failing to run (see Felixstowe fiasco leaves football fans fuming, NRS Newsletter Nov/Dec 2006). When Ipswich Town FC played Birmingham City on January 1, no fares were collected on the 3-car 13.33 Felixstowe – Ipswich and the 17.04 return trip. Departure of the latter was delayed for a few minutes to allow supporters time to catch it after the game finished.
More to eat and drink in refurbished coaching stock
With one’s fleet of refurbished catering vehicles – 9 restaurant vehicles and 6 buffet ‘café bars’ – now in service, the company is increasing its range of food and drink. Every catering vehicle now serves ‘bean-to-cup’ coffee and a wider range of snacks.
Since January 2 five afternoon and evening departures in each direction have offered first and standard class passengers an additional at-seat trolley service of drinks and light refreshments, supplementing the buffet service. In addition, the experimental at-seat light breakfast service for first class passengers has proved successful and has been introduced on ten early morning trains – five from Norwich to London and five in the opposite direction.
To offer these extras one is employing nine more on-board stewards and stewardesses.
Heritage, Narrow-Gauge and Miniature
Green Arrow to star in Norfolk steam weekend
The planned motive power for this Spring's main line steam departure from Dereham has moved up a notch. Instead of B1 4-6-0 no. 61264, which the MNR had previously announced, the Railway Touring Company’s East Anglian on May 5 will now be hauledd by none other than the NRM’s prestigious V2 2-6-2 no. 4771 (60800) Green Arrow.
Two days later, on Monday May 7, Green Arrow will again be in action locally. At around 08.00 it will head The Scarborough Flyer out of Norwich, making for York and Scarborough. Passengers can also join the train at Wymondham, Attleborough, Thetford and Brandon. The return journey south from York will be diesel-hauled.
More details of both excursions from the Railway Touring Company, tel. 01553 661500 or www.railwaytouring.co.uk
Carriage shed taking shape
Work has begun on the North Norfolk Railway’s carriage sheds at Holt. Concrete has been poured on the levelled site and the steel framework is expected shortly. The sidings will be formed of bullhead-rail track panels from the Bittern Line which were replaced during Network Rail’s recent renewal programme. It’s hoped that the shed will be completed and the rails laid in time for the return of the Gresley quad-art coach set later this year.
Three-day thrash at the Mid-Norfolk
This year’s Mid-Norfolk Railway diesel gala will for the first time be a three-day event, running, from Friday 16 - Sunday 18 March. Recent arrival no. 47 596 will be launched into traffic , and a big attraction will be visiting. ‘Crompton’ no. 33 063.
Funds required for EATM’s Chapel Road
One of the East Anglia Transport Museum’s attractions is the 2ft-gauge East Suffolk Light Railway. Its life-expired Chapel Road station building has been demolished as it stood in the way of redevelopment work at the Museum, and the EATM hopes to raise £10,000 for a ready-made replacement as well as a signal box.
New firebox for Bill Harvey
The boiler of Bressingham’s Hunslet 0-4-0ST, formerly George Sholto but latterly named after the NRS’s late president Bill Harvey, is having a new firebox fitted by Peter Williams Engineering at its works close to Wymondham station. Gwynedd, Bressingham’s other ex-Penrhyn quarries Hunslet 0-4-0ST, will have similar treatment next year.
Steam Dream triple back ‘on hold’
It was something all GER enthusiasts were holding their breath for. Would the North Norfolk Railway’s New Year Steam Mini-Gala see the ‘Great Eastern Steam Dream’ materialise at last? Would J15 0-6-0 no. 65462 and N7 0-6-2T no.69621 be joined by recently re-wheeled B12 4-6-0 no. 61572 – and the three steam together?
Alas, it wasn’t to be. With repairs continuing to the B12, the railway announced that visiting ex-US Army S160 2-8-0 no. 5197 would take its place. However the replacement blew a superheater element, and so the J15 and N7 ran the steam services between them. No. 5197 subsequently returned to the Churnet Valley Railway.
The timetable included ‘Mince Pie Specials’, on which adults received a free mince pie and glass of sherry.
Away from the tracks
Trains through City’s streets?
Trains may trundle through the streets of Norwich this summer – but not trains as we know them. On January 11 Highways Committe councillors approved the idea of tourist ‘road trains’ operating for the benefit of sightseers. However the ‘trains’ may be banned from some busy or pedestrianised areas of the City.
Scarce M&GN sign surfaces
A rare enamel M&GN sign went under the hammer at Sheffield Railwayana Auctions on December 9. Lettered MIDLAND & GT. NORTHERN JOINT RAILWAY in red on white and reputed to be from the Traffic Manager’s Office at Austin Street, King’s Lynn, the 28” long sign was knocked down for £170.