Meeting Reports

Monday 13th November 2017
'Railways of the Isle of Man (1974 - date)'
Geoff Brockett

On November 13th our guest was Geoff Brockett to present Railways of the Isle of Man (1974-date). Geoff has visited the island almost annually since 1974 and showed us the variety of railway lines still operating there. Most are now nationalised and operate between April and October under heritage status with costs significantly outweighed by the economic benefits of tourism although numbers are now on the decline.
From the Manx Electric route between Douglas and Ramsey, The Snaefell Mountain Electric Railway which operates to the highest point on the island and the Manx railway between Douglas and Port Erin, which is principally steam operated, we journeyed over the networks and saw many changes over the period including some of the historic rolling stock used and stations served.
The Snaefell and Manx routes also have an interchange at Maxey station and the islands airport at Ronaldsway is claimed to be the first with its own dedicated railway station.

   Beyer Peacock Isle of Man Loco No 12 at Keristal on the1620 Douglas to Port Erin train   Bev Steele
Many open days, centenary celebrations and also the running of mixed trains on some routes were seen together with enthusiast specials featuring unusual traction including small simplex diesel engines and steam locomotives running on the electrified networks.
Some rationalisation at the original stations has taken place including at Douglas and Port Erin where buses now have a presence.
Other networks shown included the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway which covers just under two miles along the promenade and was threatened with closure until reprieved in 2015.
Also The Groudle Glen Railway which until its first closure in 1939 featured a zoo with polar bears and sea lions in residence and has now reopened but animals no longer feature there.

A fascinating insight on such a varied rail network virtually on our doorstep.

Monday 9th October 2017
'Railway Photography 1947 - 1979'
Colin Boocock

On October 9th our guest was Colin Boocock who presented Railway Photography 1947 to 1979.
He recorded his first image, aged 9, of a King Arthur class 4-6-0 at Bournemouth Central in 1947 and much of his early work was recorded in that area and also Colne Lancashire whilst visiting relatives and travelling on the Black 5 hauled Pines Express via Bath to Manchester, the journey seemingly never to end.
The merits and limitations of the various cameras used were discussed and early travels included Cambridge showing a Class B1 in pre nationalisation livery, the ACE at Salisbury, LMS diesels on the SR and The Liverpool Overhead Railway, commenting how the city could perhaps benefit from something similar today.
Ireland was visited many times during the period including the GNR route from Dublin to Cork featuring steam and diesel power and also The Isle of Wight network where the Ryde Pier Head Tramway was still operating.

   Wuppertal suspended overhead city railway   Colin Boocock
Visits to Europe included a RCTS steam operated tour in Austria, The Schwebebahn at Wuppertal, colour images on the Jungfrau network and also the steam hauled boat trains from Paris to Le Havre.
Photography in East Germany could be somewhat difficult, but Class 01 Pacifics on cross border services from Leipzig to Cologne were seen.
   Ex-LNER O2 2-8-0 63955 hauling a light freight train into Grantham station.   Colin Boocock
Colour images included Grantham with a Class A3 Pacific, Monsal Dale viaduct in Derbyshire a route that he hoped will reopen, and the iconic entrance to Inverness steam depot.
The Industrial steam network in the Scottish and South Wales coalfields was shown including an ex BR Pannier Tank commenting was the air was safe to breathe in that environment. The last image was of blue liveried Class 87 awaiting departure on blue/grey liveried stock at Glasgow Central.

A thoroughly enjoyable presentation.

Monday 8th May 2017
Greater Anglia Franchise
Jamie Burles (MD Greater Anglia)

On May 8th our guest was Jamie Burles, MD of Greater Anglia to outline the new nine year franchise which commenced last October.
The major announcement was regarding the rolling stock with a complete fleet replacement strategy over the next three years including 12 car EMUs to replace Class 90/Mk3 Inter City sets on the Norwich to London route, replacement of relatively new Class 379 EMUs on Stansted Airport services, new 3 and 4 car bi-mode units for all local services and a new fleet of 5 and 10 car EMUs for the outer suburban network. Over 1,000 carriages will be built by Stadler in Switzerland and Bombardier at Derby. There will be capacity enhancements at Norwich Crown Point and a new depot for the bi-mode units constructed at Brantham near Manningtree.
The timescale for introduction of the new trains is tight and with the promised service improvements, much will depend on Network Rail to deliver the necessary upgrades required, especially on the main routes to Liverpool Street and also the cross country route from Ipswich to Peterborough, where an hourly service is planned with competition from freight operators for available pathing slots.
The current hourly Norwich to Cambridge service will be extended to Stansted Airport from 2019 and surplus Class 317/321 units from Great Northern have been acquired to increase current capacity on the outer suburban network.
The various improvements regarding service frequency, station enhancements, ticketing etc. were described and planning for the new 2020 timetable is already underway. Greater Anglia will pay a premium of £3.7 billion to operate the franchise with severe financial penalties for any shortcomings within their control.
The evening concluded with a Q& A session with many questions from an above average attendance.

Monday 10th April 2017
Northern East Anglia 1980 - 1985
Richard Adderson

On 10 April we welcomed Richard Adderson to present Northern East Anglia 1980-1985.
The programme featured many of the rural routes in Norfolk, some of which were partially or totally closed and now form part of the Heritage Railway preservation network. We saw many special loco hauled and DMU trains operating on these routes, including part of the former M&GN route via Wroxham and Aylsham, the line to Dereham from Wymondham and the Kings Lynn harbour branch network.
Many summer Saturday holiday extras from the Midlands to Yarmouth were shown, hauled by what would now be heritage traction and also trains such as football specials to Wembley, The Royal Train, a Class 47 adorned with postage stamps to Cromer for the launch of a new lifeboat and rail enthusiast specials. Even Sir William McAlpine`s private saloon coach was seen at Yarmouth station.

   08250 at Norwich Victoria on 13th June 1985   R.J.Adderson

  Much of the infrastructure shown has now gone, including the closed station at Fakenham and the Yarmouth Vauxhall     steam depot and the contrast of Norwich station in the period compared to the present is quite startling, with a marked transformation prior to electrification.
We travelled from Norwich to Yarmouth/Lowestoft visiting many remote stations including Buckenham and Berney Arms and both termini, with converted Class 31 train heating units seen at Yarmouth carriage sidings, and a little used Class 08 pilot at Lowestoft .
   Class 37 loco at Beccles on the final working of the 0717 Lowestoft to Lverpool Street on 12th May 1984   R.J.Adderson

  Our final sequence was the East Suffolk route from Lowestoft to Ipswich before it was rationalised, and showed the final through loco hauled service to Liverpool Street before its withdrawal in May 1984. Also shown was the yellow liveried Leyland Experimental Vehicle (LEV-1) undergoing passenger trials.
The mechanical signalling shown would soon be replaced by RETB based at Saxmundham, with the route also being partially singled.

A very nostalgic evening highlighting how it was back then.

Thursday 23rd March 2017
Signals, Stations and Structures
Robert Warburton

On 23 March our guest was Robert Warburton to present “Signals, Stations and Structures”.
Using a mix of personal and Colour Rail slides, we toured the UK rail network with the train not always the focus of attention. From the unusual bracket signal at Hove featuring semaphore arms and colour lights on the same post, the art deco signal box at Woking and the Arnside and Barmouth viaducts, we saw many subject images throughout the country.
Long forgotten stations such as Dover Marine, Holborn Viaduct and Yeovil Town were shown together with a Class 40 picking up water on Bushey troughs and also the semaphore signal gantries at both Farnborough and Aberdeen.
The Harringworth viaduct over the Welland valley was featured and the Severn Bridge signal box at Shrewsbury, now the largest single manned box on the network.
We saw the Bed Pan units in the Old St Pancras station, the semaphores at Leicester and also the swing bridge and box at Clachnaharry near Inverness.
The Leaderfoot viaduct, which carried the Borders Railway over the River Tweed, was shown and is still extant despite the line closing nearly seventy years ago.
Also shown were the bridges over the Forth and Tay estuaries, the Royal Border bridge at Berwick, the stations at Wick and Thurso and the semaphore signals at Stirling.
The listed box at Eastfield near Peterborough, now the only one on the ECML controlling semaphores, was seen together with Knaresborough box which is located in a terraced house.
The now abolished semaphores at Barnetby and the Retford dive-under were shown together with the eastern portals of the Woodhead Tunnels on the closed trans- Pennine route.

This was a very nostalgic view on our railway heritage.

Monday 13th March 2017
Freightliner - The Inside Story
Peter Graham, Rail Strategy Manager - Freightliner

On March 13th Peter Graham, Rail Strategy Manager presented ‘The Story of Freightliner’.
The company was launched in 1965 following recommendations in the Beeching report and privatised in 1996, being currently part of The Genesee & Wyoming group. In addition to the UK it also has operations in parts of Europe, Australia and the Middle East.
There are two business divisions in the UK with Freightliner Ltd operating about 100 daily intermodal services mainly based at the ports of Felixstowe, Southampton and The Isle of Grain, with Heavy Haul for bulk operations on behalf of private customers and Network Rail.
The majority of trunk and diversionary routes are now cleared for intermodal services conveying the standard nine foot six containers, although the Heavy Haul division has suffered a downturn with the move away from coal for electricity generation.
Although there are fewer intermodal services since 2003, traffic volumes have grown owing to an increase in train service length and domestic intermodal services have been identified as a potential growth area, with Network Rail forecasting that total rail freight volumes could double by 2043.
The Heavy Haul division also operates the Trans Pennine Express passenger services between Manchester and Glasgow/Edinburgh.
Locally, capacity enhancements are underway on the Felixstowe route in order to increase the number of services beyond the 34 currently operated. With capacity constraints on the GE mainline towards London, any extra services will have to use the cross country route to Nuneaton via Peterborough. The list of capacity and re-signalling improvements required on this route were discussed and hopefully will come to fruition in the next control period, including the removal of bottlenecks at Haughley Junction, Ely and Leicester.

The meeting concluded with a Q and A session and we would like to thank Peter for a most informative and enjoyable presentation.

Monday 13th February 2017
A Glimpse of Swiss Railways
Paul Russenberger

On February 13th our guest was Paul Russenberger of the Swiss Railway Society to present ‘A glimpse of Swiss Railways’.
After an outline of the history of the country founded in 1291 he showed maps of the development of the rail network in the nineteenth century, culminating in nationalisation in 1902.

   Swiss Federal RABDe 500.030 "Louis Chevrolet" tilting unit emerges from Wattinger spiral tunnel with a northbound express on the Gotthard High Level route. It has already passed above and through the village of Wassen and is about to make its third pass below the village. Long distance passenger workings no longer use this line since the opening of the new Gotthard Base Tunnel in December 2016.   Paul Russenberger
We visited all the major rail traffic centres in the country starting in Zurich and continuing to Bern, Geneva , Lausanne and the major tourist centre of Interlaken before moving to the Goschenen area to view traffic via the 9 mile long Gotthard tunnel. This has now been supplemented by the new 35 mile long base tunnel from Erstfeld which opened in 2016, both of which carry rail traffic to and from Italy. We saw a mixture of international, domestic and suburban passenger services and also freight piggy-back operations conveying heavy goods vehicles transiting the country, many taken in stunning locations highlighting the scenic and weather contrasts the country is renowned for. Traction varied from Pendolino style EMUs, Loco haulage services by new RE460s and double deck stock for international and domestic services. A regular interval timetable operates across the country with standard connection times of 2 minutes and many of the major stations have been modernised and extended, integrating with the local tram and bus networks.
Amongst the many private railways shown were the operations on the Jungfrau metre gauge system based on Interlaken and Grindlewald, featuring stations within the Eiger mountain, The Glacier Express based on St Moritz and Zermatt, the Paddle Steamer operations on Lake Lucern and The Rhatische Bahn network.
We also saw some of the privately operated narrow gauge rack railways with some still using steam locomotives.

This was a high quality, informative and enjoyable presentation.

Thursday 19th January 2017
East Anglian Video Miscellany 1990 - 1996
David Clough (Hacheston)

At our afternoon meeting on January 19th the speaker was branch member David Clough to present East Anglian video films 1990 to 1996. The programme was dedicated to the late Dave Swale, a long standing Society member who passed away in 2013.
The first showed the operations of 70000 Britannia between Ely and Kings Lynn in 1991 prior to electrification and then together with 71000 Duke of Gloucester between Ely and Bishops Stortford in 1992 and 1993, including a special from Liverpool Street to Norwich via Ely. Numerous line-side views were shown, many of which are not possible today owing to vegetation growth, with even views from over-bridges now somewhat restricted. It concluded with views of Britannia operating between Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds in 1996 on local EUR150 celebrations.
This was followed by a film of Colchester Open Day in 1991, held in the carriage sidings, featuring static displays including what would now be termed modern and heritage traction, together with the preserved ex GE N7 tank engine hauling a Class 101 DMU in NSE livery working a shuttle between the station and yard. A new Stansted Express Class 322 EMU was also seen, together with a special to Clacton powered by 2 Class 37s. Attitudes to Health and Safety appeared to be more liberal then!
The final film showed operations on the Ipswich to Felixstowe branch, including the 2003 visit of steam locomotives 76079 and 45407 top and tailing “The Lifeboat Express” and also shunting operations at the long closed Felixstowe Beach station featuring the local celebrity diesel shunter D3489 “Colonel Tomline”. We also saw both pre- and Class 66 freightliner haulage services with line-side views today somewhat limited as indicated above.

We would like to thank David for a purely nostalgic presentation.

Monday 9th January 2017
Digital Railway - the Future of Train Control
Steve Ashling

On January 9th our guest was Steve Ashling to talk on The Digital Railway.
Steve, a former railway signalling manager, outlined a brief history of railway signalling over the past two hundred years from a man with a red flag, to block operations and mechanical interlocking, through to current and future operations of signalling and train control using computer based systems.
The new Regional Operating Centres (ROCs) being commissioned by Network Rail will be equipped with the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) as well as conventional technology controlling line side signals. ERTMS incorporates many aspects including train control, incident recovery and moving block, which displays information from valises and axle counters about the route, on a dedicated screen in the drivers cab with updates in real time from the ROC. It will also permit an increase in line capacity on heavily used routes, and line side signals as we know them, will disappear on those equipped.
There are five levels of development which will eventually culminate in automatic train working, and trials of manufacturers systems are being undertaken by a converted Class 313 EMU on the Hertford loop, from a dedicated control at Hitchin.
The current system has been in use on the Cambrian lines based on Machynlleth since 2010, and we saw a video of its practical application. Such has been the interest it has attracted, visits have been made from many overseas rail operators.
Older rolling stock will have to be retrofitted with the relevant black boxes, although new stock under construction will hopefully have the necessary wiring incorporated.
The problem regarding heritage stock operators will have to be resolved as the equipment is expensive.

An interesting glimpse of the future as regards railway operations in the UK, and is highly recommended to other branches.

Monday 12th December 2016
Branch AGM followed by Crossrail Project Update
Dave Hepper

On December 12th the branch held its AGM and with no contentious issues to be discussed and the present committee being re elected en bloc it was on to our speaker for the evening.

This was a presentation by Dave Hepper, Resource Planning Manager for The Crossrail Project across London, on the progress made so far. He outlined the background to the organisation and the huge cost, nearly £15 billion, and many of the planning, engineering and timetabling challenges involved, and in particular how it affected our region.
Much of the finance for the route is being supplied by institutions based in Canary Wharf as it will give them fast access to Heathrow Airport. There is a major engineering blockade at Shenfield this Christmas and the electric(slow) lines will then be closed from there to Brentwood until May 2017.
Ilford depot is being rebuilt with the demolition of the old B Shop, enabling numerous stabling sidings to be laid. All stations are being rebuilt with extended platforms and upgraded passenger information systems, as well as new stations under construction in the central section.
There are three different signalling systems along the route with new technology incorporated, including an auto reverse option near Paddington.
The unit maintenance depot will be at Old Oak Common for servicing the sixty-six Class 345 units, which are now being delivered from Bombardier at Derby.
Several schematic diagrams showed the proposed peak and off peak timetables for all sections of the route and Dave explained the various constraints involved as regards pathing of the numerous freight services on the east and west sections as well as the Heathrow Express services from Paddington.
The route will open in five stages from May 2017 through to being fully operational by Dec 2019.

last updated: 22/11/17