This week, with some unpleasant weather, I put off my trips until Thursday and Friday. On both days I wanted to get photos of the Southern’s Class 455 units before they bow out on Saturday. Thursday’s target terminus was Caterham. Like a lot of branch lines, especially those that form part of the tangled web in South London, I have never been along these tracks before. It’s a plus that the project is making me explore👍

After travelling to London Bridge, I began the day with 455805 (working with 455815) on a stopping service to East Croydon. From there it was a case of waiting for a Caterham service. This was formed of 455802 & ‘804. I initially sat in the rear unit, unaware that at Purley, I would be asked to move to the front unit. This is because some platforms on the Caterham Branch are too short for an 8-coach train and the 455 units are too old to have station specific door locking. No problem for me as it meant I rode both units 🤣 Here’s 455802 at Caterham…

455802 at Caterham

I popped outside the station to take a quick look around. Unfortunately, I missed the chance to photograph one of the local Southdown buses – that would have made a change from the usual TfL red. However, I did get a truck for the collection 😎…

Jacksons GN15OHJ in Caterham

Back on the station I admired their meadow flowers in the centre of the platform…

Caterham Station Wild Garden

…Then I photographed 455819 arriving with ‘814…

455819 at Caterham_2

I rode 455814 back as far as Kenley station where I caught 455812 on camera with the next Caterham bound train…

455812 at Kenley

Kenley is an interesting station with a ‘blockhouse’ style ticket hall on the London bound platform…

Kenley Station

…while, on the other side there is a unique station house…

377601 at Kenley

5-coach Class 377, 377601 arrives en route to Caterham. The 455’s and 377’s share the branch but, from Sunday 14th May, the 377’s will have it all to themselves. After my photo-stop, 455837 took me back to East Croydon.

While grabbing a quick bite of lunch, I was able to catch 66013 hauling a train of stone hoppers from Newhaven through East Croydon…

66013 at East Croydon

…The passengers seem blissfully unaware of what’s creeping up behind them – I wonder what would happen if the driver used the horn🤣

That was my trip to the Caterham Branch – I did some other rides in the afternoon but I think they’ll keep for another post😎👍

So, this is another trip for my Freedom Pass Project. Watford Junction qualifies on 2 counts, it’s a farthest point on the map and it’s also the terminus of the London Overground trains from Euston. It has been a long time since I came here but I actually know when I last visited Watford Junction to watch trains – August 1979…

…That’s when I photographed this Class 37 hauling a couple of Great Eastern units back from Wolverton Works to Stratford. Since then I believe I have got off at Watford Junction to attend work meetings in Leavesden on 2 occasions.

The station was rebuilt in 1984 but the slow-line platforms don’t look much different today. The bus shelter has gone and the platform buildings have been modernised. Stopping services are provided by London Northwestern Railway. Here’s one of their class 350 units on a London Euston bound service…

The main station building has become a large office block…

…with the station ‘concourse’ such as it is, hidden beneath. The unit in the photo is a Class 221 belonging to Avanti West Coast, operating a Birmingham to Euston service. It’s an interesting anomaly that the southbound express services that call here are for alighting passengers only – you’re not allowed to board them!

The station entrance on the street outside is half hidden by street furniture – the forecourt having been remodelled in 2013 to make it more pedestrian friendly…

…There is a bus station as well – also expanded in 2013, it still seems a bit small…

…and I noted that it can be a bit of a struggle for some vehicles to manoeuvre within its confines.

Back on the station and a quick mention of the Abbey Line – this route is operated by a single unit on the ‘one engine in steam’ principle and connects Watford to St Albans…

…Unfortunately, my Freedom Pass does not allow me to use this line😐 But perhaps I’ll take a trip out to Watford again in the summer and buy a return ticket to St Albans just to experience the route and visit the abbey.😎

Back to the trains and a shot of an Avanti West Coast Pendolino unit operating a London to Manchester Piccadilly service and not stopping at Watford Junction…

…These class 390 units – this is 390117 – form the backbone of the long distance services out of London Euston.

A lot of freight runs up this route and it’s difficult to find paths for everything that needs to run – it’s one of the main reasons why the HS2 link is so important. Shifting some passenger routings away from the West Coast main line will provide additional capacity for freight services. Here’s 66621 with a train of hoppers from Willesden to Tunstead Sidings…

…and if you take a look back at yesterday’s ‘spotting’ post you’ll see an example of an intermodal service from Lawley Street to Felixstowe North passing through.

Time to catch the train home – Here’s 710377 operating the London Overground service from Watford Junction to Euston…

…I’ll take that to Willesden Junction and pick up the North London Line from there😎

I always enjoy my days out and I usually get my photos mainly as I want them. Occasionally I have to straighten or crop to achieve what I want and I spoke about that in my post about my zoom lens. Sometimes though, I will do a special crop to emphasise a point. Here’s such a shot that I took at Watford Junction…

There’s a story behind this shot – the young man in the white t-shirt on the left is mentally ill and has been brought to the station to give him an enjoyable day out. The guy in the black gilet filming the trains is his nurse / minder. To hear the lad’s joy every time a freight train was approaching was great – he was clearly having a great day. I had a brief chat with the nurse – who’d clearly learnt to recognise a class 66 and hide any sense that this was not his preferred activity from the lad in his care. I’m full of admiration for this man!