Meeting Reports

Wednesday 17th May 2017
'Gloucester to Gloucester via Bristol and the Somerset & Dorset Railway'
Brian Arman, RCTS President

To round off our winter season Brian Arman gave his slide presentation Gloucester to Gloucester. One thing your scribe remembers is the large number of pre-war or early post-war colour slides which Brian has tracked down. An ex-works Brighton Pacific tank and an immaculate M7 being two such slides.
Arriving in our area on the Somerset and Dorset line we had scenes at both Bournemouth West and Central. Coming to Brockenhurst , we saw an M7 on a motor train, then to Southampton for Pacifics and on to Eastleigh. Inside the works we found locos under repair as well as the Leader awaiting a test run. Brian reminded us these locos of class 4 were to replace M7s.

In London we were reminded of the loco preparation pits below the taxi road at Liverpool Street and the compartment EMUs at Euston. Returning via a gloomy Birmingham New Street we descended Lickey to see Big Bertha banking a freight. And so to Gloucester arriving five minutes ahead of target time.

Brian, we thank you for the show and hope you got back to Bristol without any trouble.

Wednesday 15th March 2017
'Organising an historic railway'
Liam Kenchenton

Liam Kenchenton's presentation in March looked behind the scenes on the Mid Hants Railway.
/ Having shown a track diagram of the line Liam pointed out the restrictions on trains such as maximum length at individual stations and in loops. For a basic one train service we now know that one train crew is needed but may overlook the three signalman (for Alresford, Ropley and Medstead; Alton is remotely controlled).
Gala events take much organising. More than three months in advance a theme is decided upon. This can be a chicken and egg problem. Do you source visiting locos and build an event round them or decide on a theme and then source the visitors? Both ways can work but Liam mentioned that a good relationship with other railways is essential. If we can borrow your ‘X’ loco you can have our ‘Y’ loco next year. As the event date approaches the working timetables and staff rosters are prepared and distributed. All well and good until a visitor fails to arrive or a loco fails. Revised instructions have to be rapidly distributed.
A question and answer session covered most areas of the Railway.

By the end of the evening we were more aware of what goes on behind the scenes and the logic for what we see and, possibly, question.

Wednesday 15th February 2017
'Three Rivers Partnership - an update'
Mark Miller

After a number of years Mark Miller returned to update us on the Three Rivers Partnership, the Community Rail Partnership covering our patch. There has been an increase in the area covered with stations to Bursledon now being covered. Shawford and Winchester are likely to be included before long.
One wish of the partnership is to improve the environment of the stations. Surplus land has been turned into gardens and litter regularly cleared. On the disused platform at Chandlers Ford a planter in the form of an engine has appeared. This wooden planter had been constructed by a group of retired men who get together for a natter and cup of tea. The planter was a secondary issue, but requests have been made for similar planters at other stations!
Whilst the TOCs may have the will to double deck major car parks there is no incentive to find four or five spaces at a rural station. The partnership looked at these stations, Dean and Mottisfont & Dunbridge being two locations where residents would like a few extra spaces. Only partial success at these stations at present.
With station usage statistics having been released a few days earlier, discussion surrounded the changes in patronage. Mark admitted he was surprised by some changes. Swaythling patronage had declined but the feeling at the station was that it was higher than ever. The increase at Redbridge was unexplained until a member suggested that a loophole in break of journey rules could be the cause. We refrain from further comment other than to observe that this affects passengers from the Bournemouth direction.
Looking to the future, Mark believes the priority must be at least half hourly services to local stations.

Our thanks to Mark for an informative update.

Wednesday 25th January 2017
Branch Annual General Meeting

At the Branch AGM in January the existing Committee was re-elected en bloc.
The Branch desperately needs new blood, particularly someone to arrange the monthly meetings. Will someone please put their head above the parapet and come forward to help us.

Wednesday 18th January 2017
'Railways around the World'
Mike Clements

Mike Clements's worldwide travels usually take the form of organised visits.
In January his films included China, South Africa and Germany. One quarry line filmed in China utilised ancient cauldron wagons to convey limestone from quarry to crushing plant. With decrepit track it was hardly surprising that a wagon derailed. With employees standing on one end of the under-frame the opposite end rose enough to be pushed back on to the track. Obviously not the first such incident.
Elsewhere, we found QJ 2-10-2s on coal trains and on shed. One lengthy sequence had a couple of QJs rounding a horseshoe curve at little more than walking pace.
South Africa proved a disappointment for participants as an electric pilot loco was often provided on a nominally steam tour. Where run pasts were allowed the locos gave an impressive performance.
Heading into Zimbabwe we visited Bulawayo shed with its “garratts” before reaching the Victoria Falls.
Britain was not overlooked, as a film on turntables included a light pacific at Yeovil and somewhat smaller pacifics on the RHDR at Hythe.
An evening of contrasts.

Wednesday 16th November 2016
'The Regional Railways Story'
Chris Green

In November an increased audience welcomed Chris Green who presented the Regional Railways story.
In 1982 the railways were at a low; patronage was declining and many self opinionated experts considered rail travel to be in terminal decline. The BRB Chairman, Bob Reid, declared a fight back with a fundamental change of structure; sectors not regions. With inter city services and south east services into their own sectors, what remained became 'other provincial services', not an inspired title. With cast off stock and uncared for stations the outlook remained dismal. But an ex-Senior Civil Servant started talking to Transport department officials in their own language. He convinced them to authorise some new diesel trains. They had to be cheap and cheerful and so the pacers were born. Their downside was soon apparent and better units were authorised, the 150s. The aluminium bodied 151s were too advanced for the time and never became a contender. Becoming more confident the Sector moved into the longer distance 156 then the top of the range 158. With recession came a need to cut back plans for new services and the final 158s could not be justified. Thank you very much said Network Southeast and so the 159 was born!
As services improved, so patronage increased and stations were renovated and made more attractive. New stations and reopened lines followed. The old sector name had been discarded and it was now Regional Railways. Privatisation has seen further changes with the top services now becoming Intercity in their own right. How things change!

An informative question and answer session concluded the evening and we are grateful to Chris coming down to give this very informative presentation.

last updated: 22/05/17