Train fares to fall? TOCs running scared BRITAIN’S slide into recession could mean regulated train fares being lowered from January as fare changes are governed by the retail price index. This is set to turn negative, leading to fares reductions. Train companies have asked the Government to freeze fares but this is unlikely. Several train companies have already made cutbacks in staffing and a further reduction in income would, they say, hit them hard. As we closed for press, Transport Minister Lord Adonis reminded TOCs that if a company ‘handed back the keys’ on one franchise, then it would be stripped of all franchises. Full story next month.
Haulage ‘bashers’ warned by Network Rail and WCR DIESEL haulage ‘bashers’ who lean out of the windows of railtours hauled by classic traction and hurl drunken abuse while passing through stations, have been warned by West Coast Railways and Network Rail that such trains will be cancelled unless they moderate their “anti-social behaviour”. The act of one individual in placing the whole of his upper body outside the train and making Nazi-style salutes caused NR to lodge a formal complaint to operators earlier this year.
Poacher Line music trains link up with Batemans Brewery MUSIC trains are back on the Poacher Line – on March 26, April 23 (a special event for St George’s Day), May 28 and June 30. The music trains depart Sleaford at 19.00, Heckington 19.10 and Boston 19.25, returning from Wainfleet at 21.15. Batemans Brewery is continuing its association with the music trains and the visitor centre at Wainfleet will be open.
Spitfire flies to rescue SPITFIRE Railtours has stepped in to offer two tickets on its May 23 railtour from Crewe to Eastleigh and The RMbacked ‘Eastleigh 100’ event following Kingfisher’s cessation of activities (see pages 14-15). The tickets were originally offered by Kingfisher Railtours as a raffle prize from last year’s Carnforth open weekend.
Alycidon gangways ‘split’ opinion
ARGUMENT is raging among ‘Deltic’ enthusiasts over a decision to fit gangway connections and ‘split-box’ headcode panels to Class 55 No. D9009 Alycidon. The modification shows how Deltics might have looked if BR had accepted proposals made at the design stage 50 years ago. “It gives us an opportunity to create a new British record for non-stop running by a single diesel loco and also enable passengers to have a cab-ride on main line tours,” said a spokesman for the owners. Two gangway options were proposed by English Electric in the late-1950s. One was a ‘Pullman’ type, as used on A4 tenders, requiring a raised central section on the loco’s nose. The other was a ‘locomotive’ gangway, as fitted to EE Types 4, 3 and 2 (the latter ‘Baby Deltics’). Alycidon will use ex-Class 37 gangway doors and headcode boxes donated by the Doncaster-based Profal Oil company. Emphasising changing times, the HSE has insisted on the passageway being fitted with aircraft-style emergency floor lighting, and crew members and others must wear eardefenders and hard hats because headroom is below the EU minimum.
62,000 trains cancelled
A TOTAL of 62,640 train services were cancelled last year, the Association of Train Operating Companies has revealed. The worst performing operators were London Midland and Virgin, which lost about 1.7 per cent of their services – but their results were both largely affected by continuing upgrade work on the West Coast Main Line. An ATOC spokesman said the 62,000 figure might look high but was less than one per cent of the 6.5million scheduled services. He also pointed out that it represented an 18 per cent fall compared with the previous year, when there were 76,127 cancellations.
Below: Restoration of the old slow line at the site of Finedon station, south of Kettering, on February 14 as an EMT 222 heads for London on the Midland Main Line. P.E.B. BUTLER
£11m boost for Midland Main Line as tracks reinstated MORE than 20 years after two of the four tracks on the Midland Main Line between Kettering Junction and Harroden Junction were ripped out by British Rail, Network Rail has begun reinstating the metals. The cuts were made during the Leicester re-signalling project of 1986, but heavier volumes of passenger and freight over the intervening years has created a bottleneck, particularly with increased numbers of trains carrying aggregates to East London for the 2012 Olympics. NR has now decided to spend £11.5m rectifying the problem. Four bridges are to be strengthened and the line
will be bi-directionally signalled. ■ Elsewhere, there is more good news. Twenty miles of the Cotswold Line between Charlbury and Evesham are to be re-doubled this summer, rectifying economy cutbacks made by BR some three decades ago. To enable the necessary slewing and resignalling work to be carried out, services between Oxford and Worcester are to be suspended at various times in July and August, meaning that the actual tracklaying can be carried out later without disruption to existing services. ■ Axminster redoubling and North London widening: See Network News.
TransPennine Express marks 5th birthday
FIRST TransPennine Express marked five years of operation on February 2 with the cutting of a special Class 185style cake on the new third platform at Manchester Airport station, writes Tony Miles. The eight-year franchise started on February 1, 2004 and in the first halfdecade, FTPE has increased passenger numbers from 13.5 million in 2004/5 to an estimated 22.8 million in 2008/9. Performance figures are also mostly ahead of target.
Despite that, it is thought unlikely that DfT Rail will take up the option to extend the franchise by five years from 2012 as it believes the exceptional growth in passenger numbers means the franchise can be re-let on terms more favourable to the DfT than the current arrangement, in which the Government provides some 50 per cent of FTPE’s income in the form of subsidy. ■ DfT has told TPE that the plan to lengthen some Class 185s to four cars has had to be dropped for cost reasons.
Frames for B17 tender project A SET of ex-LNER tender frames, which ended their days as a sludge carrier at Sheerness, have been acquired from the M&GNR Society by the North British Locomotive Group, which plans to use them with its proposed B17 class 4-6-0 replica.
SVR reopening boosts economy THE importance of the Severn Valley Railway to the local community has been borne out by the owners of Stanmore Hall tourist park at Bridgnorth, who say bookings have soared since the line reopened in 2008 following enforced closure due to flood damage.
Friends of GCR on the up MEMBERSHIP of the Friends of the Great Central Railway has risen to more than 3,500.
Monorail to Mecca A MONORAIL is to be built to carry pilgrims around the holy city of Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.
OBITUARY: Brian Perren IT is with great sadness that we report the death on February 10 of railway writer and author Brian Perren at the age of 80. Known fondly as the ‘Gourmet Gricer’ to his many friends, Brian was a contributor to The Railway Magazine and Modern Railways and wrote a number of books. He had an infectious enthusiasm for railways and was blessed with an amazing sense of humour, which enlivened many a press trip. He also refused to be impressed by ‘spin’ and ‘management speak’, yet his irrepressible sense of fun concealed a professionalism in research and a respect within the industry. Brian was born on September 23, 1928, and his first published article appeared in the July 1954 issue of Trains Illustrated. He was still busy
writing until a few days before his death. A memorial service was due to be held near his Hertfordshire home on February 26.
Souter takes control at SWT STAGECOACH Group chief executive Brian Souter is to take direct control of the company’s South West Trains subsidiary. In a management shake-up, rail division chief executive Ian Dobbs leaves the company and group finance director Martin Griffiths will oversee the East Midlands Trains franchise as well as Sheffield Supertram, Manchester Metrolink and Stagecoach’s interests in the Virgin Trains franchise. The news came as SWT announced a further 180 job losses – just weeks after axing 480 staff. The proposed redundancies include revenue protection and ticket office staff. Admitted Mr Souter: “In common with other transport groups, we have started an extensive reduction of our cost base across all our UK rail operations.”
12 • The Railway Magazine • April 2009 Have you got a story for us? Email: email@example.com or fax 020 3148 8521
Apple green Peppercorn Pacifics for Barrow Hill’s LNER extravaganza
A SIGHT not seen for six decades – the pairing of two apple green Peppercorn Pacifics – will be one of the highlights of a huge extravaganza being staged at Barrow Hill Roundhouse on April 4/5. The other will be the first meeting of an A1, an A2 and two A4s for the first time since 1965. “Whoever would have thought when we first got the madcap idea of trying to save the roundhouse 20 years ago – before anyone had even heard of an A1 rebuild – that such things would one day be possible?” Barrow Hill saviour Mervyn Allcock told The RM in February. “This is what preservation is all about,” he said. “When I was in the depths of despair wondering whether we’d ever overcome the obstacles to save this unique locoshed, I was driven on by thoughts that one day we might be able to stage events like this. Now
my dream’s about to come true.” Mervyn believes the roundhouse’s ‘LNER II gala’ will be “the greatest gathering of restored LNER motive power ever assembled since the end of BR steam.” “Bringing the four big locos together will re-create the heyday of the East Coast Pacifics for a new generation of steam fans,” he enthused. “I felt that last August’s ‘Rail Power’ event would be impossible to beat, but, although financially risky, the chance to secure a visit by Tornado in apple green was irresistible.” In addition to the A1 and A2 Pacifics, there will be A4s No. 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley and 60009 Union of South Africa. Locos in steam will therefore comprise the two ‘Streaks’, the newlybuilt No. 60163 Tornado, NRM-owned Great Central-based Robinson 04 2-8-0 No. 63601, GER N7 0-6-2T No. 69621
from the North Norfolk Railway and Andy Booth’s Peckett 0-6-0ST No. 2000. Other LNER locos present will be A2 No. 60532 Blue Peter, ex-GC ‘Director’ 4-4-0 No. 506 Butler-Henderson and ex-GE J17 0-6-0 No. 8217. For good measure, the organisers are also throwing in ‘Black Five’ No. 45110 and MR 1F 0-6-0T No. 41708. A bonus will be the sight of a large number of preserved and stored main line diesel locomotives in the yards at Barrow Hill. Talks in progress as we closed for press were expected to result in yet another LNER loco joining the operational visitors. The repainting of Blue Peter in 1948style apple green was only announced shortly before The RM closed for press and is exciting for two reasons – firstly because that’s the livery it was delivered in by BR when brand new, and secondly because it will provide nostalgia for
many younger steam enthusiasts who remember it in that colour at Dinting shed in the 1970 (although then it was as LNER No. 532 whereas this year it will be the more authentic BR No. 60532 to match the A1). The visit of Tornado also provides the opportunity to spend a day firing and driving the new Peppercorn masterpiece. Dates available are between March 30 and April 2, the cost being £550. For latest event news, see www.barrowhill.org
Top left: Apple green Pacific – 1: The A1 storms towards Stoke tunnel, south of Grantham, on its historic first journey from Darlington to King’s Cross on February 7. PAUL WRIGHT
Top right: Apple green Pacific – 2: How the A2 looked last time it was in apple green. Note the difference in shades.
Harrington gets the hump A NEW type of temporary platform has been devised to save the expense of raising platform heights permanently at little-used halts and stations. The innovation, nicknamed ‘the hump’, is made of reinforced glass-reinforced plastic. It is built off-site in sections and can be adjusted to suit height and length. A prototype is pictured in use at Harrington station, Cumbria, and if the trial is successful, other stations could be ‘getting the hump’.
Virgin bids for Shrewsbury service By Tony Miles
VIRGIN Trains has submitted proposals to Network Rail and the Office of Rail Regulation for a new direct service between Shrewsbury and London Euston. If approved, the TOC plans to introduce a twice-daily service on weekdays and Saturdays with one train on Sundays. The proposal was submitted to NR on the last day for bids for paths in the December 2009 timetable. An additional proposal would see the first and last leg of the diagram running as a passenger train
from and to Crewe via Wrexham. The plan is to operate the service with a four-car Class 221 ‘Super Voyager’ via Wellington, Telford Central, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Coleshill Parkway and Nuneaton, using the Sutton Park line, which is currently freight-only. This would go some way to making up for some of the off-peak Pendolino services Nuneaton lost in the casting of the VHF timetable. Virgin is also proposing to start calling at Nantwich, Whitchurch and Wem, subject to verification of platform lengths at Wem and Whitchurch. The
two additional services via Wrexham would also call at Gobowen. The unit would stable overnight at the L&NWR depot at Crewe. The proposals are subject to ORR approval. Should permission be granted by the ORR, and also if Arriva Trains Wales is given permission to introduce its proposed service between Aberystwyth and Euston, then three operators are likely to end up offering a spread of nine trains a day between Shrewsbury and the capital. For much of the present decade, there were none!
Station kissing ban is ‘tongue in cheek’ A NATIONAL media story about ‘no kissing’ zones at Virgin Trains’ Warrington Bank Quay station ended up being reported around the world. The idea of the smooching ban was to prevent morning peak hold-ups as husbands dropped wives off at the station, and vice versa. It was intended as a bit of fun by the
local Chamber of Commerce and Virgin entered into the spirit of it by erecting signs (see picture). What the world’s press failed to report is that the perpetrators of the ban weren’t being killjoys, for they had also established a special ‘kissing zone’ in the short-stay car park, away from the drop-off area,
where the canoodling won’t hold up traffic. “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story,” as tabloid journalists would say! VT press office Steven Knight said. “Our passengers can still create the romance of the railways with a long lingering kiss. It seems some of them have been ‘kissing and telling!’” he joked. The ‘no kissing’ zone sign erected at Warrington. PA
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