Meeting Reports

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.

Thursday 17th November 2016
Doncaster Station (old, not so old and the present)
Brian Longbone

On 17 November the guest at our afternoon meeting was Bryan Longbone to present Doncaster Station. The origins of the station, built by the Great Northern Railway from 1850, were described with the gradual increase of routes converging on the station from all directions featuring a variety of steam loco classes.
The conflict between mainline services on the north-south route and those from the east wishing to access the Sheffield area and beyond was also shown, a situation which still exists today.

   Gresley A3 60091 "Captain Cuttle" heads an up express train through Doncaster Station in 1952   W Oliver
We saw early BW images of the station interior and exterior, showing the then main buildings including the station masters house, the station public dining room and also a mass of advertising posters on all the platforms. Also when opened it was named Doncaster Central, as opposed to a smaller station to the south at St James Bridge where most excursion traffic for Doncaster Races was handled.
Extensive rebuilding was undertaken in the late thirties with the current facade being developed and the now Platform One incorporated in a redesigned layout.
Post war the whole of the station area was resignaled with relevant track alterations and then again in the mid seventies when the current power box was opened.
The area was primarily a freight centre with numerous services being shown, but recent contraction in the industry has reduced the flow of these through the station.
Motive power has evolved over the period from the Gresley Pacifics, then the Deltic and HST era, through to present electric service operations. The loco spotters shown on the images from the fifties etc. in their school uniforms could well be the same enthusiasts seen at the station today!
A new Platform Zero should open soon to relieve congestion at the station for terminating services from the east.
A fascinating insight in to the background of a well known station.

Monday 14th November 2016
The Last 50 Years of Scottish Railways
David McLean

On November 14 our guest was David McLean to present The last fifty years of Scottish Railways.
David, a retired railway senior signalling engineer, showed scenes from the Fife coalfield area, including the numerous colliery lines and exchange sidings at Methil Docks, from where coal was exported, together with traction, both industrial and mainline, used over the period covered. A wide variety of loco classes at Thornton and Dunfermline depots were seen, including the ill fated Class 17 diesels, and also passenger workings in the area with steam hauled specials on soon to be closed routes. A notable landmark in the area was Rothes colliery, which had a working life of under ten years owing to extensive underground flooding.

   Gresley A3 60037 "Hyperion" heads an up Dundee Tay Bridge to Edinburgh Waverley stopping service and is on the incline approaching North Queensferry Tunnel and the Forth Bridge. At this time the A3 was allocated to Edinburgh Haymarket MPD (64B).   David McLean
We then ventured south towards Inverkeithing and the Forth Bridge, showing trains on the northern approaches, with both steam and diesel operations in the Markinch area, including local and long distance workings. He also ventured to the top and track side of the bridge for more services including the Class 47/7 operated push pull trains, and also trains to the nearby Rosyth naval dockyard.
The Grand Scottish Steam farewell tour was featured, with both double headed steam and diesel traction employed, together with many images of the three hour Glasgow to Aberdeen express trains, hauled by the surviving Class A4 Pacifics, giving enthusiasts a final opportunity to ride behind these iconic locos.
Finally it was a return north to Perth via Stirling to see the steam and diesel eras, and also to visit the loco depot, where both ex LMS and LNER steam power was seen together with an ex GWR pannier tank.
Many anecdotes accompanied the presentation and this was an excellent evenings viewing of a somewhat under recorded area.
Highly recommended.

Monday 10th October 2016
The Last Decade of BR Steam 1958 - 1968
Gavin Morrison

On October 10 our guest was Gavin Morrison to present The last decade of BR Steam.
Gavin started in 1959 with a Hunt Class Loco at Darlington and even a GWR lettered Pannier Tank at the old Blaenau Ffestiniog station, both classes now being withdrawn from the network. Some early steam operated railtours were shown, especially in the Scottish highlands, although requests for repositioning of locomotives for photos at depots such as Mallaig was not always forthcoming.
As the decline of steam continued, many former front line express classes such as the Duchess Pacifics were relegated to secondary duties, and the Leeds to Morecambe route witnessed the final workings of the unrebuilt Patriot class amongst others. Favourite locations included the WCML at Tebay and Shap with a Princess Pacific on the Royal Scot, and his local West Yorkshire area where steam was gradually being replaced on many local and long distance services. Local contacts with various rail staff ensured the recording of many unusual steam workings.
The Somerset and Dorset route was also seen together with images from depot bashes on the former GWR network, and also many steam hauled tours using soon to be closed routes.
The pioneer A4 Pacific Silver Link awaiting scrapping at Doncaster Works was shown, as was the Highland Railway Jones goods on Leeds Holbeck depot, returning from a film shoot near Bedford.
Steam hauled services in the snow at Dent on the S & C, together with the Tyne Dock to Consett ore trains were also shown.

Unfortunately the meeting closed having only reached to the end of 1964. Such was the quality of imagery seen, that we hope Gavin will return to complete the programme.

Monday 12th September 2016
The Somerset & Dorset Railway
John Day (Ipswich)

On 12th September the booked speaker, Society President The Rev Canon Brian Arman, was unable to attend, so John Day stepped in to present The Somerset and Dorset Railway.
Using images from the Rail Photoprints website, he presented a pictorial description of the route commencing at Bath Green Park and heading south towards Bournemouth, a subject which he admitted he knew very little about. A mix of both B&W and colour images, depicted the route from the early fifties to closure in March 1966 and showed scenes of both local and long distance passenger services, such as Cleethorpes to Exmouth and the Manchester to Bournemouth Pines Express, with many of the latter requiring pilot assistance over the Mendips.
In addition many specials that operated prior to closure were seen, some of which were re-run owing to the original closure date being postponed!
Some freight services were also shown with cattle wagons being marshalled in the consist of passenger services, which were sometimes formed of somewhat elderly stock.
Motive power was steam to the end, with most types of the period represented and there were many scenes at Bath Green Park Loco (82F) showing both resident and visiting types.
We also diverted to Highbridge, Bridgwater and Glastonbury on the various branch lines.
The final scene was Johns image of GBRF Loco 66779 Evening Star recorded locally on an intermodal service from Felixstowe the previous Friday, the loco bearing an 82F shed plate!

Monday 9th May 2016
On The Route of The Norfolkman
Richard Crane (Bedford)

On May 9 our guest was Richard Crane who presented On the route of The Norfolkman.
Using both personal and Colour Rail slides, he described the route history of The Norfolkman between Liverpool Street and Norwich, introduced in the early 50s using the new Standard Britannia Pacifics for haulage, and being extended to serve Cromer during the summer months.
Some of the major infrastructure improvements were highlighted, such as the Ilford Flyover, Shenfield electrification and Colchester station layout, which had all been delayed in completion owing to World War Two.
In addition to the wide variety of motive power shown, we also viewed some of the station buildings from the outside, which have so far escaped the modernisation trend, and also many of the branch services such as Witham to Braintree, which was under threat of closure, but now boasts 12 car EMUs in the peak! The route suffered from neglect in the 70s and 80s until Chris Green`s Network South East revolution transformed all aspects of the service as far as Manningtree, but not to Norwich which remained with Inter City for future years.
The Shenfield to Liverpool Street section is now being upgraded for Cross Rail services in 2018, and this section is now at virtually full capacity with many passenger and freight services also having to be pathed over the bottleneck two track section between Colchester and Shenfield which can cause operating problems at times.

A well-researched historical record of our local major route.

last updated: 14/04/17