17th November 2020 · Double Header

A Winter Weekend in Crewe

Presenter: Andy Vernon

Presenting first was branch member Andy Vernon. Travelling by car from the Thames Valley on a Thursday afternoon in late January 2020, Crewe station beckoned late in the evening to see the northbound sleeper service at 23.45, hauled by a Cl 92.

Friday, the use of a Cheshire Day Ranger took Andy to Chester, Wirral, Liverpool Lime Street, Wallasey, Birkenhead, Manchester Victoria and returning to Crewe via Manchester Airport. Saturday another Ranger ticket was used, this time a Lancashire Day Ranger. The stations visited included Manchester Piccadilly), Lancaster, Preston, Wigan North Western, Liverpool, Kirkdale, Sandhills, Liverpool, Manchester Piccadilly and back to Crewe.

Observed during the weekend were 10 working loco’s, 6 different classes of which 3 were electrics. Also seen were 9 different classes of DMU’s or EMU’s.

The Chairman gave a big thank you to Andy for an excellent presentation and aided by some great photos taken in not the most brilliant of conditions. The new photos were interspersed with some from Andy’s own archives.

A view from the new Network Rail Central Route Director

Presenter: Dave Penney

The second half of the meeting the branch welcomed back an old friend and RCTS member, Dave Penney who since last December was appointed to the position of Network Rail, Central Route Director based in Birmingham. When Dave last presented to the branch, he was MD Chiltern Railways. The views expressed during the evening were Dave Penney’s personal views and not necessarily those of Network Rail.

He began with outlining his area of responsibility, the rail network across Birmingham and the West Midlands and the rail link into London Marylebone. It also covers the railway between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, onto Stafford as well as the key Birmingham New Street station rail hub. Then he described Birmingham New Street station, the fifth busiest in the UK, which he proudly told the meeting was busy than London Euston. Interestingly New Street comes under the same regulations/legislations an underground station. Next up was Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor street including what may happen with HS2. The Central area serves West Midland Railways, Chiltern Railways, Avanti, and Transport for Wales, overall, approximately some 3000 train movements per day plus freight movements of 400 to 500 per day. Birmingham New Street station pre Covid-19 had about 47m passengers per year but obviously greatly reduced due to the pandemic.

Responsibilities covered by the role includes all aspects of safety and security. Also included is the West Midlands Signaling Centre, Litchfield Trent Valley Junction lever box, Walsall Signalling Training Centre and Mobile Operations Managers. Day to day operation incident managers can include any or all of the following:- fallen trees, overhead line damage, embankment stability, drainage from land run off (development of adjacent land) causing track flooding often linked to heavy rainfall, embankment fires, bridge strikes and derailments.

Renewals and enhancements. Dave gave as examples, drainage replacement in Old Hill tunnel, Stourbridge line, The embankment slippage at Harbury, between Banbury and Leamington some, 5 years ago.

What of the future brought Dave’s talk to a conclusion. The introduction of the Cl 196, Tyseley extensions and HS2 – Curzon Street and Moor Street.

Dave’s talk was very well supported with lots of photographs to illustrate the points he was making.

Overall a wonderful evening with the Thames Valley giving both our speakers a huge vote of thanks.