Wednesday 15th March 2017
'Organising an historic railway'
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'
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'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'
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.
Wednesday 18th May 2016
Highlands & Islands in a clyde Puffer
Robin Higgs OBE
To close our season Robin Higgs presented his talk on a holiday on a Clyde puffer.
During WW2 over 100 Victualling Inshore Craft were built to service naval installations around the west coast of Scotland. VIC32 is the last such operating craft (although another is under restoration).
Robin and his wife joined 10 other passengers on the cruise starting from Crinan. His slides showed scenes on the craft, the communities visited and the scenery. Some times the vessel had to moor offshore and the intrepid travellers climbed down a rope ladder into a rowing boat. Apparently it took a while to get the knack of the ladder.
Calls included Craighouse on Jura, where the party used a minibus to get to Islay, and Robin the school bus, which took a handful of pupils towards home on the remote (even by Jura standards) northern part of the island.
Following from the VIC32 holiday, Robin spent time in Oban, where we saw his visits to the slate islands of Seil and Luing as well as our only railway slides of the evening, Mull Rail.
It was a pity only 16 of us were there and we do hope our absent friends will return in September.
last updated: 18/03/17