I’m still not back on the tracks as we try to reduce the risk of spreading Corona Virus. So this response to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is archive shots from quite a while ago.

A couple of friends and I visited the railway lines on the Derby-Nottinghamshire border back in 1978. We were there to witness a dying industry though we didn’t know it at the time. The Coalfields in the area were a major industry and the main reason why the railways were built here in the first place. These images were taken near Tibshelf on the Erewash Valley line before the collieries closed in the 1980’s. In both photos we see Class 20’s being used as prime motive power for stock being moved back to Tibshelf sidings in preparation for the next week’s work. These locomotives, operating in pairs, formed the backbone of much of the freight traffic in the area at the time because their combined 2000HP and low axle weight meant they could go anywhere, even on poorly maintained tracks.

In this shot, 20173+20068 arrive at Tibshelf Sidings with a train of empty mineral wagons. They will continue under the bridge before setting back into the sidings which are visible on the right behind the semaphore signals. The tracks on the left are the main line from Sheffield. Tibshelf Sidings, along with Blackwell Sidings and Westhouses Depot served the many collieries in the area.

Here, another pair of 20’s come off the Alfreton-Sheffield main line as they approach Tibshelf Sidings with another rake of empty mineral wagons. The line to Blackwell Sidings from Blackwell South Junction is visible on the left. On the top left are wagons in the private siding of Alfreton Explosives’ Rough Close Works. With the closure of the collieries in the 1980’s the Blackwell Branch closed and the tracks have been lifted…

One of the ‘benefits’ of being told to get more active is – going trainspotting 🙂 I had originally intended to be doing a lot of my old hobby when I retired but a number of other things got in the way, including games and personal things. It actually feels good to get back out on the rails again!

On Friday last week I left home in freezing fog to walk down to the station and make my way to Ealing Broadway. It’s been at least 3 years since I last travelled out that way and there have been a lot of changes – hopefully I can talk about some of them with the photos in this post. Lets start with an unusual working and an amusing brief chat with a fellow enthusiast. It’s a fact of life that modern enthusiasts have it made when it comes to knowing what is coming through due to apps like Real Time Trains on their mobile phones. Maybe I should treat myself to a new phone so I can access that info while I’m out and about? But, there’s a part of me that still loves the thrill of something unexpected turning up when I go out spotting. So my fellow enthusiast with a camera says “The twenties should be through soon, they’ve just got the road from Plassers – an hour late!” To which my only possible response was “OK” My spotter speak is still pretty current so, to translate for those not in the loop, there’s a pair of class 20 locomotives that have been waiting in the Plasser & Theurer works sidings at West Ealing and are now cleared to enter the running lines and proceed east. And a couple of minutes later, here they are……working as the 0Z20 and running back to Leicester (almost 1 hour behind schedule). My colleague had made the trip to Ealing purely to catch these locomotives and having got his photo was off elsewhere. I was staying for as long as my fingers could handle the cold!

Ealing Broadway is served by Great Western Railway (GWR) and Transport for London (TfL) – the latter operate the London Underground services on the District and Central lines that clatter in and out in a sporadic fashion (compared with Barking which I visited a couple of weeks ago where the trains seem to to operate on a regular pattern). Here’s an arriving District Line service made up of S7 stock…

Since my last visit to the Great Western, electrification of the route has progressed to the point where almost all services are in the hands of class 387 electric units – ousting all but a few of the class 165 diesel units for service elsewhere. I’ll eschew showing a photo of one of the 387 electrostar’s as we’ll probably be looking at them or one of their cousin’s in another post. Instead, here’s a class 360 unit, 360204……and an example of a change of operator. This unit is running on the Heathrow – Paddington stopping service. The service was called Heathrow Connect and jointly operated by Heathrow express and GWR. Last year it was absorbed into TfL as part of the preparations for the opening of the crossrail link as the Elizabeth Line. That was supposed to happen this Autumn… Ahem! Originally planned for 2018, 2021 now looks to be the likely completion date! However, the units destined to run the services along the route have been coming on line. Designated Class 345, a pair of them pass at Ealing working services between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington……There are also members of the class operating suburban services in and out of Liverpool Street as they wait for the tunnel through the middle of London to open.

Another change and a slightly sad one has been the demise of the HST units that have served on the Western since 1976. These have been replaced by a fleet of Hitachi built electric and bi-mode (diesel and electric) units. Known on GWR as IET’s they are also taking over services on the routes operated by LNER out of Kings Cross where they are known as Azuma’s. Here’s one of the GWR’s Class 800 units – 800035 – running through on the fast lines…

There’s always a steady flow of freight through Ealing Broadway, making for Acton TC or continuing over the North London Line to destinations to the north, south or east of the capital. Here is Freightliner 66502 heading the 4M58 Southampton – Garston intermodal service……Container and Stone traffic form the bulk of freight operations through Ealing Broadway. Here’s 59104 ‘Village of Great Elm’ with a load of graded stone from the Mendip Hills……That’s the 7A09 from Merehead Quarry running nearly an hour late – next stop Acton TC where it will terminate.

Maintenance of the railway is important and usually happens overnight but some engineers services run during the day. Here is a stone-blower running from Woking to West Ealing……presumably it’s due some maintenance.

After around 2 hours at Ealing Broadway, my fingers were feeling the cold – time to head home…

After posting two shots of Class 20’s for Cee’s B&W Challenge yesterday with some basic notes about the type, I thought I would recreate a scene from the early 1960’s when Class 20’s or English Electric Type 1’s as they were then known, operated from Devons Road depot in Bow. In those days they worked as single units most of the time on trip freights between yards or on refuse trains – my first sighting of one as a child was on a refuse train passing through Hadley Wood. They also got roped in to work commuter services from time to time although the lack of a train heating boiler meant they were not ideal in the winter. I set up a train of vans in Railworks based on a photo from 1962 which depicts D8044 passing through Kensal Green. By some weird quirk of fate the computer chose to depict D8008 – 20008 of yesterday’s pair! Because the North London Line on Railworks is depicted in the modern era I chose to do a screenshot of the train passing Brentford Road Junction at Gunnersbury. So, imagine if you will, standing in the apex of Brentford Road Junction watching and listening to the distinctive burbling whistle as D8008 takes the line towards Bollo Lane Junction and on towards Willesden Junction with a Feltham to Temple Mills freight in the autumn of 1962…
D8008 at Gunnersbury