News Archive May - June 2011 Back to News Archive index
Bridge bash brings emergency diesel special
At around 08.15 on Saturday Apr 30, a lorry laden with chemicals hit rail bridge no.292 at Bacton, north of Haughley Junction. With GEML through services prevented from using the bridge, trains were turned at Diss and Stowmarket.
To help move passengers between Norwich and London, DRS no.47712 and a set of Mk 3 stock were summoned at short notice to work a 10.15 Norwich to Cambridge and 11.45 return train, both running non-stop.
Once the lorry had been removed and the bridge declared safe, normal running south of Diss resumed just before 11.00.
Drags to the coast
To the delight of traction fans, the Saturday Norwich - Great Yarmouth 'drags' – main line electric sets hauled by Class 47s – again feature in this summer's timetable. By courtesy of KL47576, here is the booked diagram:
Saturdays May 28 – September 24
· 5V33 09:19 Norwich Crown Point to Great Yarmouth arr. 09:51 (via Reedham)
· 1V33 10:40 Great Yarmouth to Norwich arr. 11:10 (via Acle)
· 1V18 12:03 Norwich to Great Yarmouth arr. 12:36 (via Reedham)
· 1V43 13:10 Great Yarmouth to Norwich arr. 13:44 (via Reedham)
· 1V28 14:50 Norwich to Great Yarmouth arr. 15:24 (via Acle)
· 5V28 16:25 Great Yarmouth to Norwich Crown Point arr. 16:57 (via Reedham)
On June 4 poor loadings and the requirement for a hauled set elsewhere saw the drags replaced by a dmu, but DRS no.47802 was back in action the following Saturday.
New glass flow for Freightliner
On April 7 Freightliner Heavy Haul ran its first sand train from the Sibelco UK Middleton Towers quarry to an unloading facility at Ellesmere Port.
The sand is used by Quinn Glass in the manufacture of glass food and drink containers at their plant at Elton, Cheshire. This is the start of a long term contract between Quinn Group and Freightliner. To begin with, three trains a week will deliver sand to Ellesmere Port, but in November the operation is to transfer to a dedicated terminal and unloading facility at the Quinn factory.
Soaring cost of cable theft in Anglia region
Cable thieves are interrupting the journeys of millions of passengers and costing the railway industry some £15m a year. In their hunt for metal to sell as scrap, criminals target cables which control signals and points, causing delays to tens of thousands of trains and millions of people.
In May Network Rail revealed that this crime cost £43m over the past three years. During this period NR's Anglia region saw:
· 179 incidents of cable theft
· 6,193 delayed trains
· 603 cancelled trains
· 1,232 hours’ delay
· £4.5m lost through compensation costs
A dedicated BTP task force has been set up to deter or catch the culprits, with cable theft second only to terrorism as a priority issue. Other measures include the use of the Network Rail helicopter, CCTV, forensic marking, trembler alarms and other protective devices, and the introduction new cable that is easier to identify and harder to steal
Anyone with any information about cable theft should contact British Transport Police (0800 405040) or Crimestoppers (0800 555111).
Barrington Quarry link to reopen
Cambridgeshire County Council’s planners have agreed to allow Cemex UK to bring 1.2 million cubic metres of building waste over the next five years by rail into Barrington quarry. The Barrington Light Railway, which serves the quarry from a junction with the Cambridge – Hitchin line at Foxton, could see up to three return trips a day on Monday to Friday.
Three years ago Cemex mothballed the quarry, but hopes to win a contract to dispose of tunnelling waste from the Crossrail scheme.
Warning flashing lights and new signs will be installed at Foxton and Haslingfield Road, Barrington. Residents have expressed concerns about noise from the trains, but a company spokesman said the link would be relaid with welded rail and ballast mats would reduce vibration.
NR fined over Potters Bar derailment
Network Rail has been fined £3m for safety failings over the Potters Bar train crash, which killed seven people. The rail infrastructure company admitted that its predecessor, Railtrack, breached safety regulations over the accident in May 2002.
Faulty points were blamed for the crash, in which four-car unit no. 365526 forming the 12.45 WAGN King's Cross – King's Lynn derailed near Potters Bar station. As the rear coach travelled over the points, they moved and derailed the rear bogie. One end of the coach hit a bridge parapet and showered the road below with debris. It then slid along the platform before coming to rest jammed under the canopy. The front three coaches remained upright.
Six passengers, and a pedestrian hit by masonry from the rail bridge, were killed. 76 others suffered injuries.
Use the road crossing, NR tells passengers
Network Rail has advised passengers who use Downham Market station to allow a few minutes extra for their journey. On May 9 NR closed the controversial barrow crossing between the station’s two platforms, forcing passengers to use the adjacent level crossing on Station Road. This has manually-controlled full barriers which prevent pedestrians and motorists from crossing the railway when it is unsafe.
Misuse of the barrow crossing has long been a problem at Downham Market and NR's move is supported by First Capital Connect and the ORR. However West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: “I think that it is disgraceful after many years of proposing solutions that people in Downham Market didn’t want, Network Rail have imposed their plans on the station. It was made very clear that local residents wanted to see the barrow crossing made safe, rather than closed."
A contrary view was expressed by Colin Sampson, chairman of the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA): “Just the other week, two girls were narrowly missed by a train on the crossing and that I think was the final straw for Network Rail. It’s unfortunate but in the circumstances I fully back what Network Rail has done. It’s the best they can do because we can’t have an underpass or a footbridge."
Heritage, Narrow-gauge and Miniature
‘King’ arrives - minus its valve bonnet
The Mid-Norfolk Railway's prestige summer visitor, ex-GWR 'King' 4-6-0 no.6023 King Edward II, arrived at Dereham on June 1. However on its journey by road from Didcot Railway Centre the brass safety-valve bonnet disappeared. A low tree branch near Swaffham was thought to be to blame.
King Edward II was withdrawn from service in 1962 and later rescued from Woodhams' Barry scrapyard where its middle driving wheels had been cut in half. Restoration by volunteers at Didcot has cost in the region of £700,000 and taken over twenty years. The mileage accumulated in hauling MNR services are a necessary step in gaining certification for for main line running.
The 'King', painted in experimental 1948 BR blue, made a trial return journey to Wymondham on June 2. Following a special for the press and volunteers the following evening, the loco entered MNR service on June 4.
Also visiting the MNR is the historic LNER 'Beavertail' observation coach owned by Railway Vehicle Preservations, a historic carriage group based at the GCR. Coach E1719 is a streamlined observation car originally built for the rear of the Coronation train sets. MNR return journeys in this coach are subject to a £5 supplementary fare.
HST stars in MNR 'Rescue' event
Visitors to the Mid-Norfolk Railway were treated to the unprecedented spectacle of a High-Speed Train operating between Wymondham and Dereham on May 14.
As part of the MNR's 'Drags and Rescues' weekend on May 14/15, UK Railtours and East Midlands Trains ran an excursion from St Pancras via Leicester with ticket sales being donated to the Railway Children charity. Gleaming nos. 43075 and 43082 Railway Children: the voice for street children worldwide ran as 1Z43 07:42 London St Pancras to Dereham and 1Z44 15:35 Dereham to London St Pancras (via Norwich). The train also made a return shuttle between Dereham and Wymondham in the guise of being 'rescued' by no. 50019 Ramillies.
Celebrating the use of out-of-the-ordinary haulage when things go wrong, the 'Drags and Rescues' event saw many surprising combinations of MNR-based and visiting locos: from class 37-hauled DMUs to a class 73 'rescuing' a failed SR EMU. Visiting for the weekend were no.86101 (the first occasion that a class 86 has been dragged in preservation) and electro-diesel no.73109 Battle of Britain: 50th Anniversary, which spent many years as the SWT rescue engine. The pair had arrived on the MNR from Willesden via the GEML on May 12.
No.73109 remained at the MNR to take part in a 'South London' event the following weekend.
Annie to go south in September?
Contrary to a Railway Magazine story, Whitwell & Reepham Railway's 0-4-0ST Annie did not go to the Lavender Line in May for its 20th anniversary celebrations. The W&RR's Mike Urry told the NRS Newsletter that the Lavender Line may instead invite Annie later in the year, possibly in September. Annie worked at the Lavender Line in its early days as a preservation centre.
LMS pair pencilled in for Sheringham gala
Two ex-LMS locos should be among the visitors to the North Norfolk Railway's Steam Gala on September 2 - 4. They are Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0 no.43106 and Black Five 4-6-0 no.45305 Alderman A E Draper.
Along with other visitors yet to be announced, the LMS pair will share services with NNR-based BR 9F 2-10-0 no.92203 Black Prince and GER J15 0-6-0 no.65462.
M&GN devotees will extend a warm welcome to no. 43106. 'Flying Pigs', as the 4MTs were affectionately known, were a common sight on the M&GN in the 1950s, and no. 43106, the only one of the class to survive, was shedded at South Lynn.
The Gresley Quad-Art set is likely to see service during the Gala, and a demonstration goods train will operate.
Four diesel classes at NNR
The last weekend of June will see the return of a diesel gala to the North Norfolk Railway. Current plans envisage five locos from four different classes operating to an intensive timetable, with two types of railcar for good measure.
Pencilled in for the June 25/6 event are: Class 20 no.20118 Saltburn-by-the-Sea; Class 25 no.25057 (subject to completion of repairs); Class 37 no.D6737 and another hired from DRS; Class 47 no. 47367; Leyland Experimental Vehicle no.LEV1; and Class 101 DMU nos.51228 and 56062.
The 1962-built Saltburn-by-the-Sea, now part of the Harry Needle fleet, was conveyed by road from the South Devon Railway's Buckfastleigh site to Sheringham on a Heanor Haulage vehicle. It is being used on occasional NNR services before it participates in the gala.
SECR brake rolls again
The SECR goods brake which spent eight years on static display alongside Wymondham station (NRS NL 55/5) has entered service at its new home. In mid-April the van (SECR no.11902, later SR no.55466) emerged from the engine shed at Whitwell & Reepham station where it had been restored, and formed part of a demonstration freight train.
Major overhaul for Mark Timothy
The Bure Valley Railway's no. 9 2-6-4T Mark Timothy has been sent to Alan Keef's Herefordshire works for an overhaul and other modifications.
No. 9 was designed and built in 1999 by Winson Engineering as an oil-fired locomotive with a 'County Donegal' outline, but Alan Keef Limited subsequently converted it to a coal-burner and rebuilt it to resemble a Leek & Manifold 2-6-4T, with a mechanical chassis similar to BVR nos. 6 7, & 8. It is on long-term loan to the railway.
Everything Goes...off the track
Bure Valley Railway services came to an abrupt halt on May 30 when an afternoon train derailed at Brampton. The derailment caused a bogie of the train's second carriage to penetrate the carriage floor. Many of the 50 or so passengers, none of whom suffered injury, walked the two miles back to Aylsham.
The accident occurred on the final day of Everything Goes, a three-day event when all available BVR locos and stock ran to an intensive timetable.
New layout at Sheringham?
It is reported that the North Norfolk Railway intends to change the layout at Sheringham station in a scheme which will see platform 3 returned to use.
Progress on Bressingham's Hunslets
Having been fitted with a new boiler, Hunslet 0-4-0ST George Sholto should, after a three-year absence, return to duty at Bressingham later this year. Unfortunately the Bill Harvey name it carried has been dropped and the loco will once more be known by its original name (George Sholto was a director of Penrhyn Quarries).
Bressingham's other 2-ft gauge Hunslet-built loco, 0-4-0ST Gwynedd is also out of service. Funds are being raised to allow an overhaul – which may include a new boiler – to proceed.
Away from the Tracks
Cash grants to save Vauxhall bridge
The project to preserve and improve the Grade II-listed railway bridge over the River Bure at Yarmouth Vauxhall (NRS NL 54/5, 55/1, 55/6) is well on the way to raising the funds needed for the first phase: restoring the steelwork and replacing the wooden decking of the eastern section. Following a £295,000 grant from the Fair Share Trust, the project has received two further donations: £30,000 from Asda, which has a store nearby, and £50,000 from the Railway Heritage Trust.
Subject to Broads Authority agreement, it is hoped that work on the 1852 bridge could begin later this year.
Muted council support for Bramley Line
Cambridgeshire County Council adopted a new Local Transport Plan for 2011 to 2026 at its meeting on March 29. Support for the struggling Bramley Line pressure group was limited to the statement:
We will...support the further investigation of the re-opening of the March to Wisbech line as identified by the Association of Train Operating Companies' report ‘Connecting Communities’.
Wroxham box opens its doors
The renovated signal box at Hoveton and Wroxham railway station opened to visitors on Sunday May 1.
The Wroxham Signalbox Trust leases the box from Network Rail for a peppercorn rent. To improve drivers' view of a colour-light signal, the box was shifted away from the running line to its current location in November 2007 (NRS NL Sep/Oct 2009). Over the last year volunteers have refurbished it and turned it into a museum. Chairman of the Trust, Peter Bower, said: “We are near to completing the first phase of our project and we think this is a good opportunity to invite people to come and see what we’ve been doing."
Restoration has been funded principally through grants, with the Railway Heritage Trust providing £72,000.
Norwich City sees the light once more
Remnants of a Norwich terminus have been exposed to view after lying undisturbed for many years.
Norwich City station, the M&GN's gateway to Norwich, closed to passengers in 1959 and its goods traffic ceased a decade later. Part of the site became a trading estate, other portions were used to create a ring road and the Marriott's Way footpath, and the station gradually became forgotten by most residents. Now the Friends of Norwich City Station (FONCS) aims to secure the station's place in history. The group has cleared earth and undergrowth near the Halfords store to reveal around 150ft of Platform 1's wall as well as two shorter platforms and an inspection pit.
FONCS plan to build a seated area and memorial garden on what they believe to be public land. On April 29th, the day of the Royal Wedding, a 'royal dig' took place, unearthing yet more of the wall.
West Norfolk meeting ponders Hunstanton reopening
A meeting has been organised in Heacham to consider the prospects of reviving the Hunstanton branch. The line once carried holidaymakers north from King's Lynn, but closed in 1969.
On April 11 local people gathered in Church Hall, in Heacham to discuss the prospects. The meeting was organised by retired civil engineer Colin Abbiss who said “The track bed is largely still there. We understand there’s a good case for getting the traffic off the A149.”
However Network Rail has dismissed plans to bring the line back into use.