Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Blog 2019

January 2019

No railway journeys made this month.


February 2019

GBRF Class 66 No 66779, Evening Star in unusual khaki green livery at Coleshill Parkway station on 2/2/19

1/2/2019 Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street. London Marylebone to Haddenham and Thame Parkway. Haddenham & Thame Parkway to Oxford Parkway. Oxford Parkway to Oxford. Oxford to Banbury. Banbury to Warkwick Parkway. Warwick Parkway to Birmingham Snow Hill.

I went up to Birmingham to see King King in concert and stayed overnight in the city. On the way I was able to visit some Parkway stations to get some photographs for a book I am bringing out later in the year. There was no snow when I left home, but once we were  out of the tunnel north of Marylebone I was quite surprised to see plenty of it in North London for a change. In fact there was plenty of snow all the way as far as Banbury, then it disappeared. Luckily all the trains ran on time and there were no cancellations. the only train that I got that was full was the Cross Country service between Oxford and Banbury.


2/2/2019  Birmingham New Street to Tame Bridge Parkway and return via Witton. Birmingham New Street to Coleshill Parkway and return. Birmingham Moor Street to Dorridge. Dorridge to Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway. Stratford-upon-Avon Parkway to Leamington Spa. Leamington Spa to London Marylebone. London Fencurch Street to Leigh-on-Sea. 

The next day I bought a West Midlands Day Ranger ticket for £18 and travelled round the West Midlands for a few hours before coming back to Essex. At Coleshill Parkway I was intrigued to see a driver change over of a freight train on the station. The two drivers had a chat before the train departed - see photo. Then at Dorridge I was able to sit out on the platform with a coffee and croissant at a table by the cafe in spite of the cold, as the bright sun made it quite pleasant. I then caught one of the through trains to Stratford-upon-Avon, a Class 172, over a small piece of new track for me between Hatton West Junction and Hatton South Junction. Again all the trains ran on time with no delays and there was plenty of seating, apart from when we stopped at wembley Stadium on the way back, where many Spurs fans got on, leading to standing room only. By the way all the snow had melted in London. 


7/2/2019 Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street. London Blackfriars to London Bridge. West Ham to Leigh-on-Sea

Went up to London for the evening whilst my wife went to a concert at the 02. Met up with her afterwards.

18/2/2019 Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street. Farringdon to Greenwich. West Ham to Leigh-on-Sea

Went with a friend up to London to pay a visit to the Post Offce Mail Rail train. We had a ride on the very small train which was quite cramped for me, though it was an interesting ride with films beamed to the side of the tunnel at different stops and an exhibition of the mail trains form a bygone era. Then took a Thameslink train from Farringdon across the river to Greenwich, where my friend was able to ride on a DLR train for the first time.


March 2019

East Midlands Trains Class 222 DMU 222 at East Midlands Parkway on 23/3/2019

23/3/2019 - Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street and return vis Grays. London St Pancras to East Midlands Parkway. East Midlands Parkway to Leicester. Leicester to Luton Airport Parkway. Luton Airport Parkway to Farringdon.

Went up the Midland Mainline to visit two more parkway railway stations for a book I am working on. The day went well with clear blus sky which helped with the photographs. East Midlands Parkway station is a bit in the middle of nowhere apart from being right next to a coal fired power station with large cooling towers dominating the skyline. I was there for almost an hour due to the train times and at one point I reckon I was the sole passenger in the whole station. Gradually various passengers did start to arrive mainly on the shuttle bus from East Midlands Airport. 

At Leicester Yard it was like a scene from the 70s with so many diesel locomotives stabled there inlcuding Class 37's, Class 47s, Class 57's and a lone Class 33.

This was the only railway trip I made this month.


April 2019

Peak Class 44 D8 Penyghent at Matlock station on 9/4/2019

4/4/2019 Leigh-on-Sea to London Fenchurch Street. London Paddington to Bodmin Parkway. Bodmin Parkway to Plymouth. Plymouth to Totnes.

Went down to Devon for the funeral of a relative, but went into Cornwall to visit Bodmin Parkway to take pictures for my upcoming book on Parkway stations. The train was delayed around Taunton do was running about eight minutes late by the time we left Plymouth so it was touch and go that I would be able to catch my scheduled train back from Bodmin Parkway. In the end the driver managed to catch up some time through Cornwall and I had about eight minutes as opposed to the scheduled fifteen.

Going down there I was on one of the "newish" Class 800s. I think this is the first time that I have ever been on one and to be honest I wasn't that impressed. Although they look all sleek and futuristic on the outside, it is on the inside where the problem lies. Quite frankly the seats suck! There is no padding, or very little, so the result is like sitting on a wooden board! By the time we got to Devon I had a back ache which isn't a good way to sell Great Western Railways to customers. If I was travelling on them everyday I would have to take a cushion or two with me. Coming back from Bodmin Parkway it was a crappy old two car Class 150, yet inside it was so much more comfy. Then from Plymouth to Totnes it was a good old HST. So much better inside. Whoever designed them ought to take a ride in a 800 and feel fir themselves how uncomfortable a train ride is in one of them.?


5/4/2019 Paignton to Newton Abbot. Newton Abbot to Tiverton Parkway. Tiverton Parkway to London Paddington. London Fenchurch Street to Leigh-on-Sea.

Coming back it was another 2 car Class 150 from Paignton to Newton Abbot, though I could see a 800 waiting in the sidings to form the next train. So I had a lucky escape. Then it was another HST from Newton Abbot to Tiverton Parkway, so a lovely ride along the sea wall by Dawlish. Not so from Tiverton Parkway to Paddington. I tried sleeping but it was impossible with no bit sticking out to hold your head into the seat. So yet again my back was aching after only half an hour. It was even worse between Reading and Paddington with lots of buffeting and no cushioned seats to protect your body. I love going to the West Country but these new trains are putting me off from future journeys down there.



9/4/2019 Matlock to Rowsley South and return.?

Had a few days away in Matlock for an Easter break and visited the Peak Rail preseved line from Matlock to Rowlsey South. It was a new presreved line for me and although it is only four miles long it was still enjoyable. I got on at the Matlock end and although there is a peak Rail shop at Matlock network railway station you can't actually buy your tickets there. Instead you have to buy them on the train and so they don't accept credit/debit cards. Apart fom this it was nice to be hauled by a proper "Peak" for the first time in my life. Although I had been hauled by Peak Class 45s and 46s from Birminghma to Bristol and York in the past, these Class 44 were mainly used on freight in their hey day.