New company’s name and livery unveiled
Stagecoach has announced details of its subsidiary which has been awarded the East Midlands franchise.
The company will be known as East Midlands Trains. Its rolling-stock livery of red, orange, off-white and blue will closely resemble that of Stagecoach’s other TOC, South Western Trains.
On November 11 EMT will take over certain main line and regional services, the latter to include the Norwich – Liverpool route. The company intends to invest heavily in train and station refurbishment, CCTV cameras, extra car park spaces and improved journey times. Managing Director of EMT will be Tim Shovelle, aged 34, who comes from Virgin, and has also worked for Midland Mainline and Eurostar.
New Ely rail bridge takes shape
Network Rail has begun to rebuild the River Ouse rail bridge at Ely which was damaged when a freight train derailed in June (NRS Newsletter July/Aug).
Contractor Kier Rail will build a new steel-decked bridge. The bridge, costing around £9m, will continue to carry a single track across the river but have the capacity to be dualled. It is hoped that it will be open for passenger and freight services by the year end, but this depends on the weather. High winds could prevent the use of cranes lifting the new steel deck.
The river will not have to close to boats during construction. Instead, a pontoon will act like a swing bridge to allow plant to be transported across the river, and let boats pass through.
Leaf-fall season brings forward peak-hour departures
As the Autumn leaves began to fall, four Rail-Head Treatment Trains started daily trips in our region. Based at Stowmarket for the leaf-fall season are DRS locos nos. 20307/08/12/13/14/15, 57009/11. The first train to Norwich ran on the evening of Sunday October 7, powered by nos. 20315 and 20308.
A by-product of the season is that, from Monday October 15 until Friday December 7, five early morning trains from Norwich are being retimed to run slightly earlier as far as Manningtree. The 06:10 will leave at 06.05; likewise the departure times of the 06:25, 06:40, 06:55 and 07:10 are brought forward five minutes. By the time they reach Colchester, they are back to the ‘normal’ times. Weekend services are unchanged.
Minister unveils driving simulators
Two new train driving simulators are now in use at one’s Customer Service Academy in Stratford, East London. They were unveiled on October 4 by David Lammy MP, Minister for Skills.
The simulators, manufactured by German firm KMW at a cost of £1.2m, replicate the cab operation of a Class 315 electric and a Class 170 Turbostar diesel. New recruits will use them to complement practical training, while the company’s 720 existing drivers will also use them for ongoing training.
Four for the price of two!
From September 9, one extended its GroupSave ticket – previously available only in the London, Essex, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire areas – to its entire network. GroupSave allows three or four passengers to travel for the price of two adults on selected tickets including: Savers, some Off-Peak Day Travelcards and Cheap Day singles and returns. It’s valid for journeys that include travel with two or more operators as long as they all offer GroupSave, which many do.
Said Rachel Dawson, one’s Sales & Marketing Director: “We hope GroupSave will encourage new customers to travel by train and leave the car at home.”
Two more awards for Brandon
The work of the Friends of Brandon Station (FOBS) has been recognised with a brace of awards.
At a ceremony at Norwich station on 21 September, FOBS were ‘Commended’ in the Best Adopted Station category. A week later Brandon came second in ACoRP’s Best Station Award Group (after Whaley Bridge in Yorkshire). ACoRP has overseen the development of station adoption schemes, and the well-attended awards ceremony held in Bexhill showed how much volunteers are involved in today’s railway industry.
Owned by Network Rail, Brandon station building stands empty and is advertised 'To Let'. Given appropriate funding, FOBS would like to restore and re-open it, to provide better passenger facilities as well as a mixture of small business and community uses.
Staffing at rural stations wins prize
At this year’s National Rail Awards one was presented with the ‘Putting Passengers First’ award for bringing back staff at rural stations which had been unmanned for over 40 years.
Last year part-time staff were employed on a trial basis at Wymondham, North Walsham and Brundall. They man a ticket booth during the morning peak and at other busy times, such as Norwich City FC home games. So effective has the scheme been in offering a better service to passengers, increasing revenue and reducing vandalism that it’s been made permanent. It's also been introduced at Attleborough and Hoveton & Wroxham.
Strike over sacked guard called off
Two days of disrupted rail services in Norfolk were averted at the last minute. 800 RMT members employed by one planned to walk out on September 15 and 17 in support of a guard who was sacked following an incident with a violent fare dodger. Two days of similar action involving one staff in Essex had already taken place in August.
The strike would have stopped all local trains from Norwich as well as disrupting the Norwich to London route. It was called off after the RMT announced that a settlement acceptable to both sides had been reached.
ScotRail loco’s fleeting visit
A surprise visitor to the Norwich - London line in late August was First ScotRail-liveried Class 90 no. 90024 - but its stay was a brief one.
With hired-in classmate no. 90036 needing to go to Crewe for exam, the replacement, which normally hauls Scottish sleeper trains, arrived on August 31. It worked a tyre-turning trip to Ilford depot that evening, but returned to Crewe for repairs on September 6 – behind no. 90036! – before it had a chance to appear on a passenger service.
Fallen tree and blazing van halt main line services
‘External forces’ have closed the GE main line twice in the last two months.
On the morning of August 22 a large tree fell on to the line near Ardleigh, bringing down overhead lines and causing a small fire. DVT no. 82131 working a down service hit the tree. It suffered only minor damage, but loco no. 90002’s pantograph was smashed. The line was closed and a replacement bus service introduced between Colchester and Ipswich. Network Rail worked to clear the area, and up trains from Ipswich resumed at 10.15.
On October 5 travellers suffered more delays when a van carrying an oxyacetylene cylinder caught fire on the A12 road near Colchester. The road was closed and, as the railway runs close by at that point, trains were halted too. Bus replacements were laid on, but some took up to three hours between Witham and Colchester because of congestion on the A12. To ease the evening rush a special London – Norwich train ran via Cambridge, formed unusually of three 3-car 170s: nos. 170206, 170201 and 170205. Network Rail re-opened the line in both directions at 18.15.
Nenta forced to change plans after Ely derailment
Uncertainty over a reopening date for the Bury St Edmunds – Ely line after the freight train derailment over the river Ouse caused Nenta Traintours to postpone two of its Great Days Out railtours.
Scrubbed from this year’s programme were The Lakes, Lancaster & Blackpool Explorer from Norwich to Preston (for Blackpool, Lancaster, Oxenholme or Carlisle) on October 6, and The Wensleydale Rambler on October 27. The latter excursion had already been postponed once from May.
However the Christmas excursion to York, Keighley and Skipton on December 1 will run, probably via Ipswich, Stowmarket, Norwich, Thetford and Ely.
Nenta's Ray Davies hoped to re-route tours via Newmarket and Cambridge but NR declined because of capacity between Chippenham Junction and Cambridge. This single-line section already handles hourly one Ipswich – Cambridge trains as well as diverted freights.
Protests postpone Lowestoft rail maintenance
Lowestoft residents and businesses have been relieved to learn that the town will not be ‘cut off’ by simultaneous road and rail closures.
Network Rail intended to carry out maintenance on the Norwich – Lowestoft line from October 27 to November 12, but was slated by Waveney MP Bob Blizzard as the closure would have coincided with two 58-hour closures of Lowestoft’s Bascule Bridge. “Lowestoft will be cut off from any transport system at all,” he said. After a meeting with the Highways Agency, NR agreed to shut the line only over the weekend of October 27/28.
Work on Oulton Broad swing bridge, which would have shut the East Suffolk line line between October 27 and early November, has also been postponed. The planned closure of the Norwich – Yarmouth line will still take place between October 27 and November 11.
Heritage, Narrow-Gauge and Miniature
B12 boiler appeal launched
Ex-LNER B1 no. 61572, the UK’s only working inside-cylinder 4-6-0, underwent a major restoration programme in the early 1990s. Since then it’s been a regular performer, both on its NNR home patch as well as on other preserved lines. However it was withdrawn from service in September as some small boiler tubes had started to leak. With just six months remaining on the boiler ticket, it was deemed uneconomic to repair them.
At the M&GNJRS AGM details of the loco’s impending overhaul were announced. Most of the work will be carried out at Weybourne and will centre around the boiler. About half the overall cost of £200,000 has been raised through hire fees and supporters’ subscriptions, but the remaining £100,000 needs to be raised soon to allow the overhaul to be completed in time for the B12 to take a starring role in the M&GN 50th anniversary celebrations.
Donations and enquiries should be addressed to
M&GNJRS, c/o The Station, Sheringham, Norfolk NR26 8RA (or email: Boilerappeal@mandgn.co.uk)
BVR’s September record
The Bure Valley Railway reports that during September a record 16,461 passengers travelled between Aylsham and Wroxham. This is the highest-ever September figure since the 15”-gauge railway opened in 1990.
NNR welcomes two visitors for gala
The North Norfolk Railway's steam gala on Aug 31 – Sept 2 featured no less than six locos: four from the 'home fleet' and two visitors.
Heading the bill was David Shepherd's BR 9F 92203 Black Prince. The 2-10-0 arrived from the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway on August 16 and entered regular service three days later. One of five preserved 9Fs, it’s the most powerful loco ever to run on the NNR. The other visitor was the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway’s GWR 56XX 0-6-2T no. 5643, which had been at the NNR since August 8.
Resident locos participating in the Gala – the NNR’s “best ever” according to reports – were SR BoB no. 34057 Biggin Hill (no. 34081 92 Squadron in disguise), BR WD 2-10-0 no. 90775, GER J15 0-6-0 no. 67462 and LNER N7 0-6-2 no. 69621.
Brake van ‘shed’ arrives at Weybourne
The North Norfolk Railway’s Weybourne depot has taken delivery of yet another historic goods vehicle.
The truncated body of M&GN Brake has been used for many years as a shed in a Thursford garden. Built in 1881 by the Birmingham RC&W for the Lynn & Fakenham Railway, predecessor of the M&GN, the vehicle, which had a distinctive tool box at one end, formed part of the Melton Constable breakdown train. On September 14 it made the short journey from Thursford to Weybourne. A separate underframe will be converted to the brake van’s length, a new floor will be constructed and the brake van body fitted along with a replacement veranda and tool box.
EATM sells signs in aid of new station
Earlier this year the East Anglian Transport Museum launched an appeal for funds to pay for a new station building and signal box. As the amount raised so far falls short of the £10,000 required, the museum hopes to fund the balance by selling duplicates from its collection of road signs and enamel advertisements.
Steady progress on Wissington’s rebuild
This year’s NRS ‘good cause’ is the repair and restoration programme on Wissington, the M&GNJRS’s 0-6-0ST. Built by Hunslet in 1938, the loco worked at the British Sugar Corporation’s Wissington beet factory. Repairs are taking place at Mervyn Mayes’ Yaxham workshop and at the NNR’s Weybourne depot.
The Friends of Wissington report that the steam turret on the outer firebox has been repaired, the holes drilled in the outer wrapper and fitted permanently with rivets. Girder stays have been fitted to the inside of the wrapper and the expansion brackets drilled and fitted. Meanwhile work continues on the pistons, ashpans and injectors. The missing steam brake valve has been found, repaired and reunited with its original handle.
New S&D life for ex-NNR shunter
A diesel shunter has left the North Norfolk Railway for a new career in Somerset & Dorset territory.
1962-built Ruston & Hornsby 4wD no. 466629 has been bought from the NNR “for over £1,500” by the North Dorset Railway Trust, which runs the Shillingstone Station Project and hopes to lay half-a-mile of track. The loco had been a Weybourne resident for many years, working on shunting duties and p-way trains. It arrived at Shillingstone on August 23 and will be used for crew training and hauling p-way equipment.
The Trust’s goal is to recreate the S&D's old Highbridge works, where it can carry out engineering contracts.
Gleaming DRS pair headline MNR gala
On the weekend of September 22/23, DRS provided two guest locos for the Mid-Norfolk Railway's Autumn diesel gala: Class 37/5 No. 37688 Kingmoor TMD and Class 57/0 No. 57011. The pair, recent additions to the DRS fleet, had been turned out in spotless condition for the event, and for many modern traction fans the highlight came on the Sunday, when they double-headed one of the afternoon trains.
Also on duty at the gala were home-based locos nos. 47596 and 20069.
Away from the tracks
Extra protection for ‘a special place’
Often described as the Crewe of north Norfolk, the village of Melton Constable may get its planning status updated to protect its special character.
In the 1880s Melton Constable developed to keep pace with the growth of the Eastern & Midlands Railway, later to become the M&GN. Its station was a key railway junction until the M&GN’s almost-total closure in 1959, and Melton Constable’s slate-roofed terraces of railway housing, and its community buildings such as the school and Railway Institute reflect the late Victorian era. A North Norfolk District Council Planning Department report describes Melton Constable, which received conservation area status several years ago, as a unique village in the context of north Norfolk. “The railway heritage and general form and pattern of development”, it states, “ make it a very special place”.
A ‘character appraisal’, suggesting approaches to the area’s boundaries and management, and possible enhancements, is to go to public exhibition and could be adopted later this year.
Norwich loco emblems on the market
A ‘Norwich’ nameplate which graced a loco for less than a year has been sold.
The name Joseph Chamberlain was originally bestowed on Class 86 25kv electric loco No E3165/ 86215, but when it transferred to the Great Eastern section, it was renamed Norwich Cathedral. The naming ceremony, which marked the 900th anniversary of the Cathedral, was performed at Norwich station on February 2 1996 by the Rt. Revd. Peter Nott, Bishop of Norwich to. However on December 16 the same year, an official ‘de-naming ceremony’ was held at Norwich.
One of the short-lived Norwich Cathedral plates – just over 6ft long – fetched £1,400 (+premium) at a Great Central Railwayana Auction on October 6.
Accompanying the nameplate was another piece of local memorabilia: the badge carried by sister engine No 86223 Norwich Union. The image of the Cathedral was at the time the insurance giant’s logo, before being replaced in 1997 by a new design to mark the 200th anniversary.
Rescue at last for Whitwell & Reepham?
The derelict Whitwell & Reepham station and goods shed, which failed to find a buyer at auction recently (see No alpacas at Whitwell, NRS Newsletter Jul/Aug) has a new owner.
Buyer of the ex-M&GN station is enthusiast Mike Urry. Mike aims to restore it, lay track and establish a working museum. Details can be found on www.whitwellstation.com (N.B. not www.whitwellstation.co.uk which will direct you to the Isle of Wight)
Wensleydale home for GER box
A decaying ex-GER signal box is to have a new future – 162 miles away in the Yorkshire Dales.
The old North Wootton signalbox from the closed Hunstanton branch was the headquarters of the 14th King’s Lynn Woottons Scouts since 1975, but, rundown and expensive to insure, it fell into disuse five years ago. After examining a number of suggestions, the troop eventually agreed to donate it to the Wensleydale Railway Association. The WRA plans to restore it to full working order at Leeming Bar station.
On September 3 a team from the WRA carefully cut the timber box, thought to date from around 1895, from its base and lifted it by crane on to a low-loader ready for the journey north. Scout troop leader David Smith said that they could have given it away as a shed or knocked it down and burnt it “but it just wouldn’t have been the right thing to do”. The gift came on two conditions: that it didn’t cost the scouts anything, and that they would be invited to see it after it is rebuilt.
Mugs mark miniature line’s 25 years
It was way back in 1982 when services began on the Wells & Walsingham Railway, and to celebrate the 101/4” gauge line’s Silver Jubilee a run of commemorative mugs has been produced. They feature 2-6-0+0-6-2 loco Norfolk Hero on one side and the railway’s emblem on the other. “The mugs are a single-order limited edition”, said chair of the WWLR supporters’ group, Benedict Cadbury, “and with the recent closure of Holkham Pottery they will surely become collectors’ items.”
Priced at £7.50 each, the mugs can be bought from the WWLR shop at Wells station – but note the railway stops running after October 28.
‘Garden shed’ destined for Wymondham station
A decrepit potting shed came up for sale at Durrants’ auction at Beccles on August 17 - and David Turner, operator of the ‘Brief Encounter’ restaurant at Wymondham station, paid £250 for it.
In fact the 'shed' was once a portable ticket office at Norwich station. It was fitted with iron wheels and would be hauled at weekends to platforms 5 or 6 and used to issue tickets to take the pressure off the booking hall. Later on it became a postmen’s office at the station. When it was no longer needed, postman Peter Willis bought it and put it in his garden at Horsham St Faith
with the hut, Mr Willis sold his model railway
collection, which included a 1930s Bowman LNER loco in its original pine box
and a Bassett-