Tangmere the star in Norfolk ‘Super Saturday’
‘Super Thursday’ – that’s what journalists called May 3 when elections were held all over the UK. But for local enthusiasts May 5 was ‘Super Saturday’, when no less than three railtours, one steam-hauled, ran through Norfolk.
At 07.40 Battle of Britain 4-6-2 no. 34067 Tangmere set off with around 300 passengers from the Mid-Norfolk Railway's Dereham station, the first main line steam engine in almost 50 years to visit the town. The East Anglian charter to Liverpool Street, organised by The Railway Touring Company, was to have been pulled by the NRM’s Green Arrow, but it had failed a boiler test. The MNR had a bonus the next day when it was able to use Tangmere to operate its regular Dereham – Wymondham service.
Meanwhile those nostalgic for the 1980s were delighted to see Cargo D’s refurbished blue-and-grey Mark 3 coaching stock make its Norfolk debut. The set, top-and-tailed by nos. 47815 and 47847, formed Compass Tours’ Eastern Fensman from Blackburn to Great Yarmouth.
The day’s third special was a ‘Northern Belle’ circular luncheon tour. ‘Royal’ locos nos. 67005 and 67006 hauled a ten-coach train from Ipswich and Norwich to Peterborough and back.
Two-car dmu promotes Norwich shopping
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ll just have to get used to all-over advertising on rolling stock. On June 4 unit no. 156402 was put on display at Norwich station in a fully-wrapped livery promoting Norwich’s Chapelfield shopping centre. The 2-car set had previously received new carpets and re-trimmed seats.
The blue and white ‘Love Shopping, Love Chapelfield’ wrap, unveiled by the Lord Mayor of Norwich, Councillor Roy Blower, is thought to be the first of several units which will be given the ‘all-over ad’ treatment.
First ‘refreshed’ Class 365 train unveiled
Last December First Capital Connect (FCC) announced a £2.7 million investment in ‘refreshing’ its GN-line fleet.
FCC’s units on the Peterborough and King’s Lynn routes, the 40-strong class 365s, are now are going through the refresh programme. In each carriage carpets and upholstery are renewed, dado panels replaced, interior trims replaced where necessary and toilets given new fittings. The unit also receives a new coat of paint. At the beginning of June six units had been completed.
No class 365 units now remain in the old Network SouthEast livery. The last was 365538, and its final working was on May 21 as part of the 0705 Peterborough - King’s Cross.
After the class 365s, it will be the turn of classes 313 and 317. The programme is scheduled so as not to affect the availability of trains for service.
Day Explorer ticket launched to mark CRP success
one and the local Community Rail Partnerships celebrated the 2007 Community Rail Week with nine days of activity from May 19 to 27 – and a new ‘Rover’-type ticket. Special events included information stands at shopping centres and a programme of guided walks.
The new Day Explorer ticket was available initially from May 19 to June 3. It’s valid for travel across the entire one network outside the London ‘One Day Travelcard’ boundary. Costing £18 (£2 for each accompanied child), it will also be on sale from July 4 until September 9.
Community Rail Week celebrates the achievements of the Community Rail Partnerships (CRPs) where support from local authorities and other partners is leading to passenger growth, more trains and station improvements. The seven CRPs on one’s network – all of which can be experienced using the Day Explorer – include the Bittern, Wherry and East Suffolk Lines.
Ignore your sat-nav, motorists are told
Suffolk County Council has erected warning signs telling drivers to ignore their in-vehicle satellite navigation systems.
Drivers of tall vehicles have become stuck as they went under a low bridge at Needham Market “Some sat-nav systems show it as a level crossing not a bridge, so lorry drivers think they can get across,” said a Suffolk County Council spokeswoman.
After a string of complaints, the council has put up a bold sign reading ”No high loads over 8’3”. Do not follow Sat Nav” each side of the railway bridge.
Punctuality ‘best since the start of the franchise’
The four weeks to April 28 were one’s most punctual since the start of the franchise in April 2004, with 92.4pc of services running on time. On the Norwich – London main line timings were the best for seven years, with 90.4% of services arriving within 10 minutes of the advertised time. On rural lines, where 5 minutes is the leeway allowed, the figure was 93.3%
Test role for ex-GEML DBSOs
Four DBSOs which worked Norwich - London services until retirement last year are to be brought back into use.
Nos. 9702/3/8/14 have been bought from HSBC Rail. Railway Vehicle Engineering Ltd is converting them at its Derby works for use on Network Rail’s infrastructure test trains. They will work in push-pull mode, saving the need for a second loco.
Victa Westlink staffing postpones Wensleydale excursion
Just months after being appointed, Victa Westlink had staffing problems which caused Nenta Traintours to cancel its May 19 excursion to the Wensleydale Railway. Sickness and holidays meant that not enough drivers and train crew could be mustered. The tour, due to start from Sudbury, will be rescheduled.
Boatmen fume as Reedham bridge stays shut
Masted boats found themselves unable to pass under Reedham swing bridge in late May. In a re-run of the conflict at Trowse bridge in late 2003 (NRS Newsletter Dec 2003) NR locked the bridge in the ‘closed to river’ position and placed barges and scaffolding below it while it carried out inspection and repair work. Trains continued to cross the bridge at slow speeds.
Most boats, said the Broads Authority could still pass under the bridge. It hoped the problem would soon be resolved.
Network Rail plans for decade of growth in East Anglia
In a draft Route Utilisation Strategy (RUS) announced on April 18, Network Rail set out its ten-year plan to ensure that East Anglia’s rail network can meet the growing passenger and freight traffic in the region.
Already 120 million passengers each year use Liverpool Street, Britain's busiest station. By 2016 peak-time passenger journeys in the region are projected to grow by 17%. The RUS illustrates the forecast growth in population, employment and housing, and estimates rail usage over the next decade. The set of options which could help meet the demand include longer platforms and trains, additional tracks, better station facilities and greater freight capacity.
Specifically, the RUS suggests:
* Forming peak services between Cambridge and Stansted Airport to Liverpool Street with 12-car trains
* Increasing freight gauge and capacity between Felixstowe and Nuneaton
* Removing freight speed restrictions between Ipswich and Peterborough
* Improving car parks at key stations
* Altering more stations to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Following a 12-week consultation period the RUS will be delivered to the Office of Rail Regulation in the autumn.
Leaflet drop aims to build Felixstowe rail journeys
To raise awareness of the Felixstowe – Ipswich rail link, one, Passenger Focus and the East Suffolk Travellers’ Association joined forces in a house-to-house leafleting exercise on June 9. Every domestic property within walking distance of the station received a leaflet which emphasised the 25min average journey time and included a timetable and fare information.
Norfolk railtour firm becomes less ‘steamy’ for a while
Motive power for a ‘steam-hauled’ railtour was altered at short notice after a Norfolk charter train company changed owners.
At the end of February, Steamy Affairs, whose headquarters are in Terrington St Clement near King’s Lynn, was bought by the Cotswold Rail Group. Announcing the purchase, Richard Clark; Cotswold Rail’s Head of Commercial said, ‘Steamy Affairs for the past 11 years has been quietly growing its comprehensive database of premier travellers and its reputation for high quality, destination of choice, charter trains.’
A Steamy Affairs railtour on March 24 should have featured LMS no.6201 Princess Elizabeth from Preston to Carlisle and back via Shap, but, to the disappointment of many would-be passengers, Cotswold – reported to have no safety case for steam operation – replaced ‘Lizzie’ with Class 47s. However the new owners are likely to organise staff training and re-start steam-hauled trips later in the year. They also plan to run more trains to the South West and Scotland.
Heritage, Narrow-Gauge and Miniature
After the false dawns: the Steam Dream at last?
The North Norfolk’s Railway’s wish to see all three of its ex-GER-designed locomotives working together could at last be realised on the weekend of June 30/Jul 1. If all goes well, the Great Eastern Steam Dream will be the first time three GER-designed engines – B12 4-6-0 no. 61572, J15 0-6-0 no.65462 and N7 0-6-2 no. 69621 – have worked together in preservation. Sharing duties with them will be SR BoB 4-6-2 no. 34081 92 Squadron.
Protracted repairs to the B1 put paid to the last Steam Dream attempt during the NNR’s New Year Mini-Gala.
Dennis’s pannier makes a welcome return
Last spring the Mid-Norfolk Railway’s much-heralded return to steam came in the form of Dennis Howells’s BR(W) 0-6-0PT no. 9466. The popular loco was hired for for a repeat performance this year. It began MNR services on May 12 and was due to work each weekend until July 1.
WWLR celebrates 25 years as Norfolk Hero returns to steam
In April the Wells & Walsingham Light Railway celebrated its Silver Jubilee. It was in 1979 that Lt Cdr Roy Francis took over four miles of disused trackbed and began building a new 101/4” gauge railway, culminating in an opening ceremony in April 1982. Chair of the railway’s support group, Benedict Cadbury commented, "we must be unique in having the founder and constructor still at the helm...25 years on!”.
The new boiler for 2-6-0 + 0-6-2 Garratt Norfolk Hero arrived on March 12 from Mervyn Mayes’ Yaxham workshops. Volunteers had just nine days to fit it in the frame, lag and clad it, fit the chimney, superheater, steam pipes and dome; and finally give it a coat of paint – but their work was rewarded when the boiler passed its inspection on March 21.
47367 stars in NNR Diesel Weekend
The North Norfolk Railway’s Diesel Weekend on June 9-10 featured the the Stratford 47 Group’s no. 47367 hauling its first passenger trains in preservation. This was a second celebration for the Stratford Group, whose other Norfolk-based loco, no. 47 596 Aldeburgh Festival, made its passenger debut at the Mid-Norfolk Railway’s gala in March.
Also appearing at the NNR weekend was recently out-shopped Class 25, repainted as 25057 in BR blue with full yellow ends. The timetable included non-stop express trains, shuttle services and loco double-heading.
GWR 0-6-2T visits Sheringham
Visiting the North Norfolk Railway for a short spell at the end of April was GWR 56xx class 0-6-2T no. 6619. Built for the GWR by Armstrong Whitworth in 1928, no 6619 was rescued from Barry scrapyard in 1974 and taken to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway where, after restoration, it returned to steam ten years later.
Brockford volunteers to get better workshop facilities
Having lengthened its running line through the woods last year, the Mid-Suffolk Light Railway has turned its attention to setting up a workshop in a leased industrial unit by Brockford station. This development will be welcomed by the restoration teams who will be able to carry on their work in all weather conditions.
Away from the tracks
Rail artists’ work on show at Bressingham
The prestigious Guild of Railway Artists, which exhibits its members’ work at railway locations around the country, is holding its first ever East Anglian exhibition at Bressingham Steam and Gardens.
Among the 64 paintings and drawings on display are several with a local theme. There’s an acrylic by Stephen Warnes entitled Norfolk Bound (£249),and two water-colours – East Anglian Departure (£450) and East Anglian Steam (£130) – by John Wigston. Peter Green has an intriguing oil on display: Southwold no.1 c.1890 at the Heronry (£600), while Norfolk artist Nick Hardcastle is showing five pen-and-ink works including Claud Hamilton class no. 62613 at Kimberley (£495) and ‘The Broadsman’ at Norwich Thorpe (£200).
The exhibition runs until Sunday July 1.
Montana heads south for a new life
Until recently Pullman car Montana was a gradually-decaying lineside feature near Cambridge. Now the 1923-built coach has left East Anglia to become luxury ‘hotel’ accommodation.
Put up for sale last year (NRS Newsletter May/June 2006), Montana was moved by road from its home at Barnwell Junction to the Old Railway Station at Petworth, Sussex where, on May 9, it joined fellow Pullmans Flora, Mimosa and Alicante After restoration by owner Gudmund Olafsson, it will provide two additional rooms.
Old station for sale in north-east Norfolk
After the Cromer – Mundesley branch closed in 1953, trains merely shuttled up and down between North Walsham and Mundesley. There was just one intermediate station, Paston & Knapton. Once that five-mile section of line had closed too in 1964, converting Paston & Knapton to a private house was probably an easier project than many, as it had always looked more like a rectory or guest house than a railway station.
The old station, now a four-bedroomed property in 1.5 acres of land, is to change hands again. Handling the sale is Fine and Country (01603 221888), which has set a guide price of £485,000.
Wroxham box ‘on the slide’ at last!
Redundant for the last seven years, the signal box at Hoveton & Wroxham has been the cause of a speed restriction because it impedes the view of a signal. Now at last it is to be ‘slid’ from its present position the few yards on to land belonging to the Bure Valley Railway.
Work to move the box is due to begin on September 3, and the actual ‘slide', under Network Rail track possession conditions, is due to begin on October 6.
East Anglian memorabilia under the hammer in Warwickshire
At their Stoneleigh Park sale on April 28, Great Central Auctions offered several choice railwayana items from Norfolk and Suffolk.
Causing a stir with a final price of £500 were a pair of ceramic nameplates, no more than 9.5cm long. Marked ‘Hilgay Fen’ and ‘Downham’, they originated from GER signalboxes on the Ely – King’s Lynn line, where they would have been fitted to block instruments.
Among the 500 lots were three totem signs from our region. £1,200 was paid for Leiston (despite some damage), £700 for Downham and £660 for Burston.. A M&GN coat-of-arms transfer, mounted on a ‘golden gorse’ panel, made £70, while a chromed steel ‘Cromer Beach - Sheringham’ key token was knocked down for £270.