Archive for March, 2010


Gordon Brown saves world economy again!

Monday, March 29 2010

Admirals and Generals banned from first class carriages. World saved!

Standing room only. Glasgow to London train. Photo Moira.

(Click image to see original on Photos from I’ve sat on the floor of a Virgin Train because i could not get a seat… Facebook group.)

Scene a first floor room in No. 10 Downing Street.

Sitting by his desk: James Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Labour Party.

Enter: Peter Benjamin Mandelson, Baron Mandelson PC, First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade and Lord President of the Council.

PM: Your spells work well. Cameron’s camp is in disarray. His star is dimming.

Aside to audience

See how the necromancer now turns my way, no longer sinning.

Turns to BM

And yet I would have more. The love of the common people I greet,

I will scorn my car, and walk from Parliament to Downing Street.


Debts mount, the people become more common than before,

They want Britain’s Got Talent not Oh, What a Lovely War!

Cancel rail warrants. Make Admirals and Generals go second class

Show your authority is unchallenged, then your Bentley will surely pass.

PM: The army and navy top brass grumble and plot, so do your worst,

May your devilry tarnish their their medals till their fat egos burst.



Time to clip the wings of the jobsworths

Friday, March 19 2010

With an election on the way, what better time to write to your prospective parliamentary candidates to ask demand that if they get elected they take urgent action to stop the harassment of railway enthusiasts.

Marylebone Station from Rossmore Road Bridge. The flying saucer building has encroached upon the site of the original western platform. If Sir Edward Watkin’s plans had succeeded the whole of the area occupied by this building would have become part of Marylebone Station and the station may even have served trains from the continent arriving via the original Channel Tunnel.

Guest editorial by Mike Pease, the founder and vice chairman of the British-Polish Railway and Industrial Heritage Partnership.

A few days ago, I was walking up platforms 3-4 at Marylebone, looking at work that had recently been completed on the station.  A voice behind me suddenly barked, Get back! I turned to see an irate figure in a hi-vis vest glaring at me from the end of platform 1.

I had passed no signs forbidding me to proceed further.  I was nowhere near the end of the platform; nor was I anywhere near either of the edges.  No trains were about to leave, and I was not engaged in any activity that could remotely have been construed as a distraction to a driver or an obstruction of a signal.  Furthermore, I was carrying neither a camera nor a notebook.  Accordingly, I took my time and completed my walk, despite further bellowing.  Nobody stopped me when I returned to the station concourse.

Today (18/03/10 ) I alighted from a Bristol train at Paddington at 12.40p.m., to be greeted by a harshly-delivered Tannoy announcement that all photography was forbidden ‘on and around’ the station.  No information was given on the exact limitations of ‘around’, nor on how the ban was to be enforced.

Clear statements have been made, to date, by the Chief Constable of the British Transport Police, by the Chief Executive of Network Rail, in response to questions in the House of Commons and by several of the train operating companies to the effect that the public are free to take photographs on stations provided that they do not obstruct normal working.  Commercial photographers are required to obtain a permit from the Station Manager.

Nevertheless, the number of incidents of ordinary enthusiasts being stopped, bullied into deleting photographs and generally treated in a rude and officious manner by ‘officials’ is steadily increasing.

In America, far from being treated as terrorist suspects, enthusiasts are encouraged by the railroad authorities to act as extra pairs of eyes and ears and to report any suspicious activities.  Why is it that they are harassed in Britain for no good reason?


Street View gives a good rail view

Wednesday, March 17 2010

DMU departs Swanage Station, perhaps in 2009?
Photo Google Street View

We have already used the Google Street View feature to illustrate our article on the Sheringham level crossing. However, the extension of Street View on March 11, 2010 to 99% of the UK’s roads, approximately 238,000 miles, is worth an article in its own right.

The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum in Tywyn is housed in the building on the left while historic Talyllyn Railway goods vehicles are displayed on the former slate transshipment siding parallel to the main line.

Street View is a boon to railway enthusiasts. It is amazing how many of the photos include pictures of trains!

Junction on a mystery railway

However, there are some places that the Google Street View camera cannot go and for these we have to rely on the Google Maps satellite view. Now many of our readers love a mystery. So who, dear friends, is going to be the first person to tell me the location of the railway in the picture above?


TV becomes ‘englishrail blog’

Tuesday, March 16 2010

There has been a change to our masthead ‘englishrail blog’ replaces ‘Tunnel Vision’ as our name. Now I was very fond of ‘Tunnel Vision’, there was a Shakespearian grandeur in the title which ‘englishrail blog’ definitely does not posses.

Scene 1. A cavern under Marsham Street

DfT official

Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble


Beeching, Croucher, Haythornthwaite
Turn iron to tarmac way, it’s second rate
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Enter Lord Adonis

How now, ye hags with tunnel vision!
What is’t you do?

Sadly there is no longer a place for literary merit. In today’s world search engine optimisation rules. The good news is that ‘Behind The Water Tower’ is safe, enjoying top ranking when fed into Google. However, ‘Tunnel Vision’ was going nowhere fast and appeared on page 4 after a Google search. Miraculously ‘englishrail blog’ which was neither our title nor our URL when keyed into Google gave us a No 4 positioning.

The senior management agreed amongst themselves that the title switch was a no-brainer. Half an hour ago we switched and ‘englishrail blog’ when keyed into Google now lists this blog at No. 1.

To all our dear friends (and enemies) who kindly linked to TV – your hyperlinks will still work – but next time you give your website a polish you might wish to update your links to ‘TV’. (Sorry I mean ‘eb’, of course!)

Tunnel Vision is dead, long live ENGLISHRAIL BLOG!


Good news from the CAA!

Monday, March 15 2010

Residents from London and Manchester (at both ends of HS2) join forces to campaign against airport expansion. Photo Plane Stupid.

(Click on image to see original and for details of licensing.)

I must not steal any more material from Railway Eye
I must not steal any more material from Railway Eye
I must not…

What the hell. This story is so good it has to be cross posted. Dear Fact Compiler, a grovelling apology is in the post.

This from the Civil Aviation Authority…

CAA STATISTICS show last year’s fall in passenger numbers was biggest since the Second World War

  • UK airports handled 17 million (7.3 per cent) fewer passengers in 2009 than in 2008, the largest annual decline for sixty-five years.
  • It is the first time numbers have fallen consecutively for two years, reducing passenger numbers to levels not seen since 2004.
  • Traffic declined the most in the first quarter of 2009, with the rate of decline easing as the year progressed.

UK airports handled 218 million passengers during the 2009 calendar year according to figures published today by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a fall of 7.3 percent (17 million) on 2008, the biggest decline in passenger numbers at UK airports since records began.

Yet another nail in the coffin for Heathrow’s third runway?

(Posted by The Fact Compiler at 09:43 on Railway Eye today and pinched by me in its entirety.)



Marylebone – then and now

Sunday, March 14 2010

‘Black 5’ 4-6-0 44984 dumped at Marylebone Station circa 1965.
Photo BTWT archive.

Note Rossmore Road overbridge behind, built to accommodate the throat of a westward extension of Marylebone Station which was never built. Some of the necessary land was actually purchased by the Great Central Railway Company. It was taken over by the British Transport Commission, and was then used for building flats and the HQ of the British Waterways Board. Subsequent property development has further encroached the station from the West. The new platforms constructed by Chiltern Rail had to be situated to the  North, considerably extending the distance passengers have to walk to reach the station concourse.

A view taken underneath Rossmore Road looking towards the former turntable pit near where the ‘Black 5’ was dumped. From a much larger picture by the Fact Compiler taken on 13.03.2010.

(Click on the image to see the original on the Railway Eye blog.)

I wonder how long a small boy would be left alone to wander around here with a camera before being stopped under the Terrorism Act?

The land necessary to accommodate an extended station throat can be clearly seen on this Google Maps satellite image. The raised land to the West of the throat area was the site of Marylebone Goods yard.

Subsequent property development has further encroached the station from the West. The new platforms constructed by Chiltern Rail had to be situated to the  North, considerably extending the distance passengers have to walk to reach the station concourse.


1st through train to Holt in 46 years!

Sunday, March 14 2010

Britannia class pacific Oliver Cromwell brings the first passenger train from the national railway network for 46 years onto North Norfolk Railway tracks on Thursday March 11, 2010. Frame captured from BBC Norfolk video.

(Click image to see the news item and video on on the BBC Norfolk website.)

The inauguration of the North Norfolk Railway’s new level crossing at Sheringham marks the permanent reconnection of the NNR to the mainline railway network after a break of some 38 years. In April 1964, passenger services from Sheringham to Melton Constable were suspended and British Railways services from Norwich via Cromer were truncated at Sheringham Station. Freight services to Melton Constable lingered on for a little longer. From January 1967, BR trains used a small halt to the East of the level crossing.

Although British Railways planned to sell the Sheringham Station site to property development the North Norfolk Railway Company successfully managed to purchase the railway line between Sheringham and Weybourne. Following some delays in the granting of the necessary Light Railway Orders, in 1968, the North Norfolk Railway Company was the first heritage railway in Britain to raise funds through a public share issue.

The level crossing connecting the heritage railway and BR remained in place until circa 1972. The line was used a few time for the purpose of delivering rolling stock.  Finally the level crossing was lifted and the area between the two railways was landscaped it seemed unlikely that trains from the national railway network would ever run on NNR metals again.

In 2007, the idea of reinstating the railway crossing came up in a discussion between NNR directors and senior officials from Network Rail. During follow up discussions with Network Rail, County Highways and HM Railway Inspectorate. All parties agreed that the scheme was possible, but the Railways Inspectorate representative laid down the stipulation that unless the road traffic can be managed better a full crossing would not be possible. However, there would be no HM RI objections to an ‘occasional use’ tramway type crossing.

This is one of these strange occasions where the HM RI seems to be exceeding its safety brief and making ‘political’ decisions which lie properly within the competence of the local authority. So we will have to wait a few more years for officials to retire before we can expect regular NNR trains running into Cromer Station – the most logical place for a NNR / NR interchange.

Till then BTWT applauds the new connection a small step forward in the ultimate dream – the Norfolk Orbital Railway!

Looking towards the NNR headshunt (the NR station is behind the viewer) before work began on the level crossing. Plenty of flowers, but where is the railway? Picture Google Maps, Street View.