On Shed…. Steam Tube’s Monthly Magazine. January 2016 Edition


” Preserving the steam locomotive legacy.. and more..on film”

 Fire and Steam (2008)

Front Page




Welcome…and news….

Editor’s Selection:

“Meet The Author (1): Andrew Martin”

“Meet The Author (2) Michael Williams”

100 Trains….the journey so far….

Steam Tube Photographic Highlights
Steam Tube Video Highlights
Steam Tube Blogs

Tornado…The Story so far…
New & ReBuild News.
B & O Railroad Museum TV
Mainline Steam Schedule
On This Day in History.
Radstock to Frome Railway Project
Christian Wolmar…
Around the World in 80 Railways (No 66: Extreme Railways with Chris Tarrant)
30742 Charters

Welcome..and news…

So, 2015 is now behind us…and 2016 stretches out before us! It is self evident that Steam Tube members have made good use of their time….and cameras… to provide us with an excellent array of videos and photographs showcasing the glories of steam locomotives and heritage railway activity. A huge “thank you” to all those who have gone the “extra mile” in bringing us such a delightful abundance of photographic (and videographic!) memories. The Steam Tube Highlights (Photographs and Videos) will endeavour to take a look back at 2015’s offerings.

No doubt, you will have a favourite moment from 2015. However, there were times when mainline steam activity came under threat. On 7th March 2015  a steam locomotive , 34067 ‘Tangmere‘,operated by WCRC, passed a signal (SN45) at danger near Wootton Bassett junction, Wiltshire. This extremely serious incident resulted in the train coming to a stop 550 metres after the signal, across a busy junction on the Great Western main line, directly in the path of high speed trains.(You can read the ORR decision to bring criminal proceedings, issued on 9th December 2015, here)

Then, on 24th November 2015, West Coast Railways steam services were suspended following an incident  near Doncaster on 2nd October 2015, which found that staff on-board locomotive 45231 had turned off its Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) isolation equipment, designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error. (ORR Report Here)

The effect on mainline activity remains to be seen.

On the bright side, though…..and after the huge expenditure involved…Flying Scotsman will be back on the mainline! And the NRM is planning a whole series of events to celebrate the life and times of this legendary locomotive.

And Steam Tube members can share in this too! Even, “Dining with Flying Scotsman”!

An Invitation To Dine With Flying Scotsman!

“Dear Steam Tube member,

You may already be aware of the programme offered by the National Railway Museum to celebrate the return of iconic locomotive “Flying Scotsman” to the mainline.

One such event is Dining with Flying Scotsman, and is available during the NRM’s Flying Scotsman season ( 25th March to 8th May 2016) The £85 per person (basic price… but expect to pay a little more to cover Steam Tube invited speakers)


  • Exclusive hire of the atmospheric Great Hall from 7pm to 11.30 pm
  • A welcome drink on arrival
  • A delicious Flying Scotsman-themed 3-course menu
  • Photo opportunities around the world’s most famous locomotive

This package is for a minimum of 50 guests and is subject to availability. Additional extras such as themed entertainment, special dining options and AV will be available to enhance this package further, contact our team to discuss your event enquiry. ”

We would like to know how many members would consider attending this event, if we at Steam Tube could arrange it..

Minimum number is 50…and since dates are going to be in short supply, and since this is a never to be repeated prestigious event, your earliest indication would be appreciated.

Please not that once we have the required minimum number of guests..( and the sooner we make our  desire known, the better!!) we would like to make full payment at the time of booking.

What a brilliant opportunity this is to be able to get up close and personal with the world’s most iconic locomotive….and what  a wonderful occasion this will be for Steam Tube members to get together to enjoy , not just the past history of the steam age, but to look forward to more of the same in the future.

In the first instance, if you could let us know soonest, then we can see whether this is a viable event for us to be involved with..

Kind regards,

Peter S Lewis and Andy Thompson

Co-founders and co-owners www.steamtu.be.”

Meet The Author .(1)…. Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin 2 August 2015


I first met Andrew Martin on TV… he presented a railway documentary in the BBC Timeshift series. “Between the Lines – Railways in Fiction and Film” in which he examined how the train and the railways came to shape the work of writers and film-makers….

Then there were cameo appearances in Great British Railway Journeys with Michael Portillo ..explaining the delights of London’s Necropolis Railway..and another appearance with the ubiquitous Mr Portillo on the BBC’s Great Continental Railway Journey Episode 1, when the joys of the channel crossing, before the days of Eurostar, were discussed.

It was at the Cheltenham Book Festival in October 2014 that I actually met Andrew face to face, albeit briefly. He was part of an eminent panel of railway writers discussing the theme” The Golden Age of Rail.” Under Paul Atterbury’s(Antiques Roadshow, “Lost Railway Journeys”) careful guidance , Andrew Roden(”Flying Scotsman”), Sean O’Brien (“Train Songs”), Andrew Martin(“Belles and Whistles”) and Christian Wolmar (“To The Edge of the World”) discussed their differing viewpoints.

On the day, Andrew Martin was not particularly impressed with his experience from London Paddington to Cheltenham via First Great Western…(since renamed and rebranded “Great Western Railway” to evoke memories of a legendary line)  …he abandoned the train because of serious delays…..and resumed his journey by car! More “Bronze Age of Rail” than “Golden Age”!

He had kindly consented to meet me at London Marylebone on 16th September 2015…essentially to talk about his latest book “Belles and Whistles” in which he  makes 5 (five) journeys  through time on Britain’s trains.

I asked him: If there was one journey you could revisit, which would it be?

His response? The Cornish Riviera…he had experienced this trip several times ..it was great fun!

But the Brighton Belle (which ran from London Victoria and Brighton between 1 January 1933 and 30 April 1972),  where the menu was not so much  “cordon bleu”… more “heart attack on a plate “  with a menu that included fried eggs, welsh rarebit, washed down with a G & T…now that would be a good way to spend an hour(or 4 minutes in the famous time lapse film!!!)

Jazz Age, Art deco, elaborate marquetry featuring the “sunburst “ motif then prevalent..these marked the “Belle” as something magical! Each of the 15 carriages’ furnishings were designed by a leading design house of the day ! And you had to be well dressed for 1st class on the “Belle” …attendants once turned away the actor Laurence Olivier…for not being properly dressed! Imagine!

(A clip from a recent BBC Timeshift episode “The Railways that Time Forgot”, giving an idea of the dress code of the day(!!) can be seen HERE at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p030z134

Andrew is unashamedly romantic.Not being known as a leading railway commentator…he feels that he should be allowed to be self indulgent and peddle the retrospective unabashedly romantic! Only Michael Williams ..who says a lot of things at the start of his book “The Trains Now Departed” that  he agrees with – such as why are there no dining cars,why are seats not  comfortable, and why the need for the terrible soundscape on modern railways – but he (Michael Williams) makes the point that he is not just a romantic. Nostalgia allows you to be romantic…

We moved on to the Jim Stringer books a few of which I have read, including the first “The Necropolis Railway” (2001).. and the latest in the series..the ninth “Last Train to Jamalpur”….

Available HERE

Accuracy is the bane of the railway writer…if you get a fact wrong, there are plenty of people who will tell you ! “Once upon a time” is not good enough! Andrew recalls  letters  from  an accountant in Kent.., usually beginning..”Dear Andrew, much enjoyed the latest Stringer outing. However..(then some criticism of the cover ..or for example ..an engine not about at the time!!)

Where is Jim Stringer now? Well, Jim is now in suspended animation…And the possibility of a TV series..?? The difficulty would be casting Jim as a 20-30 year old…since any actor of that age of good enough quality will probably be in Hollywood, or too expensive..or both!  We shall see!

And Andrew’s latest book? “Yellow Diamond” is the intriguing title ..and its not about the railways (although there is a 1st class journey to York included!)but about the international super rich in Mayfair who are policed by an imaginary unit of the Metropolitan Police, who happen to be based opposite the now  closed down “ Down Street  Tube Station”  ..See how Detective Inspector Blake Reynolds deals with a murderous conspiracy involving the super rich… HERE


Then we got onto liquorice….? I had read the expression “liquorice stick” somewhere… and the reason for the expression couldn’t have been simpler….The West Coast Mainline, what with all the industry surrounding the line, it’s gloominess, its pollution..so much more so than the East Coast Mainline…Well, the liquorice stick image came to mind….Or is it that its away from Yorkshire and alien territory?

Reference to the Night Mail, that iconic 1930s GPO Film Unit railway film…and associated with the “Liquorice Stick”( WCML) brought to mind how he used to play with his children, holding  out their coat, and they had to run past him and collect their coat as smoothly as the apparatus collected the hanging mail bags en route..as in the film…

WH Auden, author of “Night Mail”, romanticised about the railways and industry..they had an aesthetic appeal….the line “This is the night mail crossing the border” immediately summons up this nostalgic effect…unlike Wordsworth and Ruskin who were opposed to the railways, which, to them destroyed the environment. They would probably be at the forefront to oppose high speed rail today. “I wandered lonely as a cloud,  That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd,  A host, of golden daffodils;  Beside the lake, beneath the trees,  Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. ..HS2” (with apologies!)

But eventually, the Railways came to be viewed  as part of the landscape, and accepted…

Andrew and his wife did once consider buying a house near HS1..and whilst viewing the property, several trains passed, but they did not bother him particularly.Perhaps this had something to do with his early years in York, when he could hear the ghostly clanking sounds, during the night , of loose wagon shunting in the nearby Dringhouses marshalling yard ..almost comforting. As was crossing the St Helen’s bridge in York, and catching site of the men working there….

Writing a feature for the Telegraph….about people living near railways…He found that, generally, people didn’t mind. Rather,it was the sound of the horns that was the big issue, particularly with noise campaigners.

And speaking of York….his Dad (who sadly passed away early in 2015)worked for the railways…latterly at Hudson House, a 70s open plan designed office, and where a young Andrew was a cleaner, floor buffing. Flared trousers and  Zapatta moustaches were the order of the day amongst the railway office staff, but Dad’s offices were more sedate, as befits those working in the financial department,(for 35 years) where cutting costs was the important function engaged in..

Such a job could drive you to drink! Which , ironically is what the office became..! A drinking place…a Whiskey Bar in a 5* hotel. And we can’t shake off the drink reference…..his Dad had a lot to do with The Royal Train, and had to arrange for a large order of ice to be delivered, which seemed an excessive amount for gin & tonics….but which actually was intended for the air conditioning units….

So, now, to catch up with some reading……


“Meet The Author (2).. Michael Williams”

“Steaming to Victory..How Britain’s Railways Won The War”

I first met Michael Williams face to face at the British Library, next door to St Pancras and Kings Cross Stations on Wednesday 16th September 2015.

I had travelled up from Warwick Parkway, and arrived at London Marylebone at 1040 or thereabouts..(1 hour and 15 minutes!!) There are those who would say that this was a slow train, since HS2, when operational, will apparently be able to cover the entire Birmingham-London trip in a little less time than that….but it was fast enough for me…besides, HS2, if operational, would merely add to my travel time since I would have to get to Birmingham first… a small matter of about 1 hour and 15 minutes…!! Anyway, I digress!

But since I was meeting the author of “On The Slow Train”, and “On The Slow Train Again”, my travel choice seemed most appropriate….well, appropriate if comparing the journey time with the potential HS2 time!

When we met, we retired to the eaterie..,bought a couple of cups of coffee… and talked!

michael williams

It transpired that, only the day before we met (Tuesday 15th September 2015), Michael had been filming on Hungerford Bridge in connection with a new TV series for the History Channel (H2) ..”Combat Trains”… based on  his book “Steaming to Victory. How Britain’s Railways” Won The War”

Of course, I had to obtain a copy of this volume…and so I was able to read for myself the supporting facts for such a title….After all, my late father used to repeatedly say that it was himself and Churchill/Montgomery/Harris who was responsible for defeating Hitler!

It was E. M. Forster who famously said that “..they also served who bore no arms” (1946 film “Diary for Timothy”.. a government commissioned film) The statistics of railwaymen and railway women, whilst doing their best ( Bernard Darwin, Southern Railway’s official war historian , wrote that railway men and women were “entirely resolved not to be fussed or rattled”, and took everything that happened “as part of the day’s work” – “War on the Line” 1946.)..certainly bear this out.

Actually, for a good many, one day’s work was to be their last… Page 340 of the book lists deaths and injuries for the major railway companies… London Transport and mainline 395 staff killed, 2,444 injured; Southern – 130 killed, 796 injured; LNER- 115/702; GWR- 52/241; LMS- 51/561; London Transport 40/111.

And yet, despite the difficulties… keeping the services running, repairing damaged track and infrastructure, dealing with air raids… 1944 returned figures that bettered by far pre war year returns! 50% more passengers carried per train mile run, and ton-miles per train were 30% better!

O.S.Nock wrote (in “Britain’s Railways at War”) “When one recalls that this increase in output was secured despite all the incidental hazards of wartime, air- raid damage on the lines, and to railwaymen’s homes, one can only marvel at the result”

Notice the phrase … “incidental hazards”!!..All part of a usual day’s work!

There were some events recalled that could hardly be described as “incidental”. The following lists some of these horrific moments..

16th April 1941 (p 199) Hungerford Bridge…. Danger from unexploded landmine suspended from a girder , and fires from nearby station creeping along the bridge. (This is where Michael was filming the day before we met  …)

28th April 1941 (p 179) GWR locomotive No.4936 Kinlet Hall ran into a crater on the Cornish mainline between Menheniot and St. Germans, taking four days to recover…and still in use today on the West Somerset Railway…86 years since being built!

3rd March 1943 (p 240) 173 men, women and children crushed to death at Bethnal Green… and there wasn’t an air raid in progress……

2nd June 1944 (p 292) The Soham Explosion, and the heroic  actions of railwaymen  Gimbert, Nightall Bridges and Clarke…… June 2004: DB Schenker locomotives ( a German owned company, ironically) are named in their honour..66077 (Benjamin Gimbert G.C. ) and 66079 (James Nightall G.C.)

“Incidental hazards”, all.

Along with the acts of bravery and heroism, there were the more mundane supporting acts…..and these certainly would have been most welcome at the time, whilst all these “incidental hazards” were playing all around them..

For example, Preston Station buffet ..open 24/7, serving tea etc to uniformed personnel..and doing so to the tune of 12 million cups during the 1939-45 period. On Platform 3 and 4 , on the site of the old buffet, a commemorative plaque acknowledges the service offered.

And on page 188, we can read of Reg Coote’s   response to kindness showed him and his mother when they were bombed out in  May 1941…He set up a relief society for sick railwaymen…running it until the early 1990’s when, following the unwillingness of the newly  privatized railway companies to make the deductions through their payrolls, and his not having a computer, Reg was forced to give it up.

Shame! And that would only have been “incidental” for major corporations, surely.

And you may find the account on page 181 upsetting, given those who deserved some form of compensation, and those who received an honour. You make the judgement!

But there can be no doubting the overall contribution the railways….and the railwaymen and women made to the war effort on the home front.

Still, even given all the facts, it must have been heart breaking for railway people to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer Hugh Dalton, say in December 1946 , in the House of Commons..”..the railways are a disgrace to the country. The railway stations and their equipment are a disgrace to the nation” Of course, since compensation would be due the shareholders, his remarks were obviously designed to justify reduced payments…but what a kick in the teeth to those who gave their all, who coped with “incidental hazards”, many losing lives and livelihood  in the process.

Perhaps the History Channel series, based on  Michael William’s book, will address these issues, and help more to see that truly..”Britain’s Railways Won The War”


Michael Williams has also penned another railway book   “The Trains Now Departed. Sixteen Excursions Into The Lost Delights Of Britain’s Railways”

Whilst researching and writing this book, Michael contacted us..(Andy Thompson and I co-own www.steamtu.be, www.railtube.info  and www.smj.me..

SMJ….The Stratford-upon-Avon and Midland Junction Railway..

Andy set up the site(2008) after visiting his brother in Towcester   .. and chancing upon the information that the local Tesco supermarket was stood upon the site of the old railway station, he immediately set about  researching the line’s history.. and became something of an expert on the subject. He set up the website www.smj.me with the express aim of inviting contributions, photos, documents etc to further  knowledge of the line’s history…

There are now 291 members of the website…and many of these are really knowledgeable on the subject of the SMJ….the Slow, Mouldy and Jolting…. Save Me , Jesus (new to me!!) and more.

Michael did us the honour of showing us the chapter in the book dealing with the SMJ ..Chapter 7 “On The Slow, Mouldy and Jolting..the railway that time forgot”… and with some assistance from a well versed member, some edits were made….

And it is very pleasing to see that the book is doing extremely well on Amazon! So, the SMJ site can give itself a little pat on the back…. (We shall look out for an acknowledgement in future editions!!)

Michael is currently working on another book….and it will no doubt transport you back to the time..in the 1950s, particularly, when holidays to the seaside, by train, of course, were the order of the day.

We would like to thank Michael for his valuable time in talking/communicating with us at Steam Tube (www.steamtu.be) In due course, we hope to be able talk again, “incidental hazards” notwithstanding!


100 Trains….the journey so far….

100 Trains. THE global charity event of 2016.

Steam Tube and Rail Tube are pleased to give our support to Iain McGeachin’s train journey around the world…..for as long as his health and strength permits…and the more who can join him enroute, then this will surely serve to encourage him on his way!

The following is Iain’s own explanation of his project…….

What? A series of charity walks, and rolls (for wheelchair users), along the route of a 50,000km RTW train journey.

Why? To raise vital research funds for ataxia research, and as a vehicle to unite ataxia sufferers, supporters and charities worldwide

The journey will start on the 23rd of January next year(2016), with a Walk’n’Roll through Hyde Park in London (my 50th birthday & I can’t think of a better way of marking the occasion). Everyone, whether a London resident or visitor, ataxia sufferer or not, is invited to join me for a gentle stroll through London’s finest park.

Ataxia UK

Ataxia UK is the national charity for ataxia in the UK. They are working very hard to find a cure for one, or all, ataxias by 2020.

They are very confident that a cure will be found (their 2020 Vision). A wee bit too late for me personally perhaps? But I’ve met many people in wheelchairs (both adults and children) who are also affected by ataxia, and it breaks my heart to think that future generations will also suffer from a condition that could be totally preventable.

A cure WILL be found. Of that I am sure. Research funds just need to be found first.

So please support the 100 Trains Global Walk’n’Roll in any way that you can. Thank you!

Please sponsor this event

*Paypal will convert to your currency of choice.
Rail Tube also has a project related to this…a book of railway/ travel oriented  stories/essays/photographs ..An Anthology for Ataxia.
This is the invitation that has been sent out to carefully selected writers……please view this as YOUR invitation to donate an article/chapter……

“Dear Friend,

Thank you for opening this e-mail.

I wanted to speak with you about ATAXIA, and how together, we can make a contribution towards raising awareness of the condition, and help in the research towards effective treatment for the condition.

“ATAXIA is the name given to a group of neurological disorders that affect balance, coordination, and speech. There are many different types of ataxia that can affect people in different ways. Anyone of any age can get ataxia, but certain types are more common in certain age groups. The ataxias are rare conditions. Estimates from recent studies say that there are at least 10,000 adults and around 500 children in the UK with a progressive ataxia.” (ATAXIA.org)

You can imagine the distress this condition causes to individuals and families. Their lives can never be the same again. Activities that they previously engaged in, that we maybe take for granted, become a distant memory.

What can we do to help?

At this point, let me introduce Iain McGeachin.

A couple of years ago, Iain started out on a lifelong ambition to travel around the world by train.

He had reached India (travelling UK-Europe-India-etc) when he started to feel unwell, so returned home..underwent hospital visits etc. Felt better…started out again…didn’t get quite as far as the first time…unwell…returned  home… More visits to doctors and specialists…then the news…he had ATAXIA.

After recovering from the shock…(can you ever?) he determined in his 50th year, that he would complete this ambition…and simultaneously, raise awareness for ATAXIA. His trek starts in January 2016….

What can we do to help?

Iain will be doing what, in a few years time, given the degenerative nature of ATAXIA, he will be unable to do. Many sufferers, even now, cannot do much…but perhaps relive their past memories, or try to keep their senses of the wide world alive …by reading.

You, no doubt, would like to contribute..donate… a chapter (perhaps from one of your existing books/blogs) for an anthology of railway related literature.. perhaps with the odd picture or two…

The profits from this will be donated entirely to ATAXIA.

I am confident that you will want to lend your support.

Kind regards,

Peter S Lewis (peterlewis2@gmail.com)”

It has  been most heartwarming to see several writers already committing material for this volume. You could join them in lending support to this most worth while charity. Please reply with your contribution and necessary permissions to peterlewis2@gmail.com. Thank you.


Latest Update from Iain McGeachin…(1st January 2016)

To raise funds for the continuation of my wee rail journey, I ran a “Xmas Giveaway” competition of donated prizes. The woman who won, Mrs. Wendy Weller of Maidstone, has agreed to “re-donate” most of the prizes – so that I can raffle these off to raise additional funds. And one of the prizes may just interest anyone with an interest in trains! I have been in contact with the people behind the Blue Train in South Africa since my original journey in 2013. And as a result of our conversations, they donated a rather amazing prize for me to use. You can’t buy this stuff, you need to travel on the train. So it is rather unique. Have a look:


Also, if any of your members are London-based, or plan to be in London on Saturday 23 January. It’s my 50th birthday on that day (50? So soon?). And to celebrate, I’ll be walking in Hyde Park. All to raise money for Ataxia UK. To encourage participation, the very generous Urban Meadow Cafe have kindly given me a £50 “lunch for 2” voucher – which I will hand out, randomly, on the day:




Steam Tube Photographic Highlights

By the end of the year, nearly 7 years since Steam Tube’s arrival, 31,989 photographs have been uploaded! And what an excellent chronicle of events are displayed! Not just heritage railways, but some serious mainline steam action..most notably involving the then new “Tornado”(2009) Thank you to all who go to the trouble of sharing their work with the Steam Tube community, now numbering 1,548 world wide members. Thank you.

This representative selection takes one shot per month over the past year……

January – April 2015

WSR-Charter-OdneyManor-30No777 Sir Lamielbress1023IMG_3208 SCOTS GAURDSMAN

May – August 2015

Leaving Bolton Abbey'44814' at Quorn2006123022210760163 Tornado heads the Torbay express

September – December 2015

Italian Engine FS 625.017, Castel Gandolfo (Roman Hills), sept, 11 2015West Somerset Railway Steam Gala 2015Blaenavon Steam Gala 2015 1QJ STEAM LOCOMOTIVE'S


Steam Tube Video Highlights

As of today, 31st December 2015, there are available to view 7,200 films….some brief, some positively epic! Again, many thanks to those who regularly brave the elements to get these video clips to us at Steam Tube! Here is a selection, one per month, from 2015.

January to April 2015

ELR Winter Steam Gala 2015.Time Travel with Pendon Museum’s Outstanding Model Railways.Steel, Steam and Stars 4. 3205 At Garth y DwrWilmington & Western - Easter Bunny Express 2015

May to August 2015

MALDEGEM 2015. Stoomfestival Rail-Road to Victory (1/2) - 01, 02 et 03/05/2015A Steam Train from Porthmadog to Caernarfon on the Welsh Highland Railway 04/06/2015 (Part 1)6029 - Blu-ray/DVD previewPrvní sraz Pětasedem 475.101 a 475.1142 v muzeu Lužná u Rakovníka v roce 2001 (Archivní materiál)

September – December 2015

LMS 45699 works hard in the sun on the Waverley 6/9/15.SRPS Fort William exc. return to Polmont.Steam on the Oberalp Pass (Switzerland) – Part 1Pacific 01 150 on the ramps of the Ruhr-Sieg line | 05.12.2015

Another fantastic Steam Tube year…!! And what a variety of steam action Steam Tube members have captured on film..Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, France, Czech Republic, Italy, Belgium, England, USA. The list is growing!

Thank you to all those who have made regular contributions over the past year!

2016 looks to be another promising year, steam wise, what with Flying Scotsman’s return to the mainline. Let’s hope all footplate crew conduct themselves well… it would be disappointing, to say the least, if careless actions (or inactions) reduced steam traction to just heritage railways (in the UK, that is). And speaking of heritage railways, a big “Thank You” to all those volunteers on the over 100 heritage railways throughout the UK…and the hundreds elsewhere around the globe. It is to be hoped that our filming and photographing of your lines and locomotives helps to keep footfall to your railway at a good level, and helps to sustain a sector in the leisure market that will keep us all happy in the years to come!


Steam Tube Blogs

There are now 494 blogs in the Steam Tube library! Prolific blogger Dave Wilson has uploaded a few more…One of the most recent to share here is

“Down in the woods something stirred”


It was the Sunday before Christmas, down in Causey woods, and not a snowflake in sight. However, No.2 and Sir Cecil A. Cochrane were doing their very best to bring a little festive magic – attacking the climb from East Tanfield to the ‘North Pole’ with some gusto. Five fully laden coaches of excited children enjoying the trip to see Santa on board their very own ‘North Pole Express’.

The crackers now have all been cracked, the pudding has all been eaten and the left over turkey is in the dog, maybe a moment to thank all those volunteers who worked long and hard in the run up to Christmas. A big thank you to the ones wrapping the presents, dressing as elves, pixies, or Santa, the ones on car park duty or washing dishes in the buffet, all those behind the scenes carriage cleaners, ticket clerks and we mustn’t forget the signalmen, firemen, drivers and guards.

And finally a big shout for those who turned out to get their lines open after the dreadful flooding, especially the K&WVR and East Lancashire. Fantastic effort all of you, take a bow. You’ve earned it.

For any of you wanting to know more, or who enjoy reading my blogs and the photographs in them, why not buy yourselves a copy of my book, “Gricing” 30,000+  words and more than 100 photographs.

The following are totally unsolicited comments from people who have read  Gricing: ‘I’m enjoying your book. It’s a real page-turner, thought provoking and great photos, to boot’ – ‘ I bought and enjoyed “Gricing” etc and would heartily recommend it to readers’. – and from another ‘satisfied’ reader’ – ‘ I was given what I believe to be your book called Gricing the other night.  Very much enjoyed the book if it is yours!’

This is the link to my book “Gricing: The Real Story of the Railway Children.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gricing-Real-story-Railway-Children/dp/1514885751


Tornado…The Story so far…

12th December – Christmas Lunch – Belmond British Pullman

[HD] 60163 Tornado on the "Belmond British Pullman" at West Byfleet - 12/12/2015IMG_1851 tornadoIMG_1851 tornadoIMG_1851 tornado

Forthcoming tours:

14th February – ‘The Red Rose’ – Paddington to Worcester and return – bookings through UK Railtours

  • 2nd April – ‘The Devon Belle’ – Waterloo to Exeter and return – bookings through UK Railtours


New & ReBuild News.

Hengist: Latest news at http://www.72010-hengist.org/

Latest progress on P2’s Facebook page…..

Latest News Here

Project Miller 41001 Returns!.

US Union Pacific Big Boy 4014
Latest News..and Video..HERE





The Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) T1 Steam Locomotive Trust

More information at:http://prrt1steamlocomotivetrust.org/news.php

Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2

Photo courtesy B & O Museum

Latest News on Facebook..HERE


Project 6029 (Beyer Garratt 6029 ex-NSWGR) Up to date information regarding steam locomotive 6029 in Canberra, ACT Australia. Beyer Garratt 6029 is an EX NSWGR locomotive and was a member of the largest, and most powerful class in Australia. The restoration to full working order has been  undertaken by volunteers in Canberra.

Latest News…HERE

Claud Hamilton:

Fund our Frames!
Donate just £5 to help to get this project started. We are starting with the buffer beam, We have been quoted a cost of £1300. Thats if 260 people donate just £5, we will be able to see the first part of a Claud for over 50 years.

We aim to build and operate the Great Eastern Railways legendary 4-4-0 D16/2 “Claud Hamilton” steam locomotive, No.8783 to be named “Phoenix”.

The Claud Hamilton group is now linked to the Whitwell and Reepham Railway, Providing expert help and a home base for the locomotive in the future.


To read about the “Ground Up Club”, and the latest news about the V499 project, go to


1498 Preservation Group

As you are all aware we have finally got agreement in order to be able to secure 1498s future however there is still a long way to go, we need to find her a secure long term home and to this end we are currently in talks with heritage railways more details on this will be released as and when known. However before this can happen we need your help we need to raise an awful lot of money in order to purchase the unit and then move it off the E O R, so please folks consider helping us to secure 1498’s future. We need your help so please donate to us the address for donations is on this page so please help us and remeber everything you donate large or small helps us to secure her future everything goes to buy move and restore 1498. Please help us please donate today. Many thanks 1498 Preservation Group.

1498 Preservation Group

You can now donate to the group through this Facebook page by visiting the DONATE tab above and then clicking donate or via this link



B & O Railroad Museum TV:

Each month the B&O TV Network, starring actor Michael Gross, spotlights a moment in B&O Railroad history. Take a journey into the past and view one or all of these episodes posted on YouTube.


Mainline Steam Schedule

This listing is offered in good faith, so there is no guarantee offered or implied.
Please confirm running with the relevant tour operator.
And adhere, please, to Network Rail’s photographic guidelines…..HERE
The tour schedule for September 2015..and beyond..can be found  at  Railway Herald


On This Day In History


2012   In  January 2012, the then Secretary of State for Transport announced that the creation of a new high speed rail network for the UK would go ahead, providing vital infrastructure links and boosting the economy for generations to come.


Opening to traffic of the Gotthard Tunnel (15 km (9 mi)), completing the Gotthardbahn in Switzerland


First of an eventual 863 Great Western Railway 5700 Class 0-6-0 pannier tank steam locomotives to C. B. Collett’s design completed at its Swindon Works, England


All major railways in Great Britain are amalgamated into the “Big Four” companies, the Great Western Railway, London and North Eastern Railway, London, Midland and Scottish Railway and Southern Railway, under terms of Railways Act 1921

01/01/1948     The UK’s railways were nationalised.

01/01/1905     The Trans-Siberian Railway officially opens..allowing travel from Paris to Vladivostock in 21 days

??/01/2003 The electrification of the Trans-Siberian Railway, a project begun in 1929, is completed.

CW To-the-Edge-of-the-World

Get your copy here

01/01/1915       The Ilford rail crash in England kills 10.

01/01/1932       William Stanier appointed CME of the LMS succeeding Ernest Lemon


The national railway operator in the Republic of Ireland, Great Southern Railways, with responsibility for the southern part of the Irish railway network is merged into a new national transport operator, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIÉ).


A CIE loco hauled service arriving Cobh, Co Cork. May 1980


British Railways adopts a new corporate identity including the name British Rail and the ‘double arrow’ symbol.


First Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0ST steamed, earliest of 377 built for war service to British Ministry of Supply order


Creation of SNCF (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), bringing the principal railway companies of France together under government   control.

??/01/1933       London Underground diagram designed by Harry Beck introduced to public.

03/01/1917       The Ratho rail crash in Scotland kills 12 people.

05/01/1997   Further British train operating companies begin operation of their passenger service franchises as part of the privatisation of British Rail: Anglia Railways (GB Railways); Great Eastern (First Group); Virgin CrossCountry; and WAGN (Prism Rail).

Cross Country at Dawlish August 2013

A Cross Country service at Dawlish. August 2013


Full freight and passenger service is restored through the Channel Tunnel, just short of two months after a devastating fire.


The Hixon rail crash occurs when a low-loader road transporter is struck by an express train on an automatic half-barrier level crossing at Hixon, Staffordshire, England. 11 people are killed. This has repercussions on the arrangements for automating level crossings on British Rail.

09/01/1900         The first through passenger train goes from Cairo to Khartoum

05/01/1969      Last trains over the Waverley Route from Edinburgh in Scotland to Carlisle.

09/01/1886       The first GWR coal train runs through the 4 ½ mile Severn Tunnel

11/01/1864     The South Eastern Railway opens Charing Cross Station. Sir John Hawkshaw  designed the station.

12/01/2009    Official opening of Docklands Light Railway London City Airport branch extension under the River Thames to Woolwich Arsenal

16/01/1961     Eastern Region of British Railways takes delivery of D9001, the first production “Deltic” class diesel locomotive

19/01/1918     The Little Salkeld rail accident in England kills 7 people

19/01/1993   The British Coal and British Rail (Transfer Proposals) Act is passed. allowing the Secretary of State to issue directives to boards – such as the British Railways Board – as to the disposal of holdings ,previously prevented by earlier Transport and Railways Acts. One of the first directions issued under the law by a Secretary of State was the creation of Railtrack PLC, thus paving the way for the Railways Act 1993, which privatised British Rail.

20/01/1838   The Grand Junction Railway introduces the first ever travelling post office

21/01/1905     O. S. Nock, English railway author and signalling engineer (d. 1994)

??/01/1865   The first train departed to Nice from St. Petersburg.

23/01/1955     Sutton Coldfield train disaster, England: a passenger train rounds a sharp curve too fast and derails; 17 people die as a result.

23/01/1911   The Pontypridd railway accident in South Wales kills 11 people

24/01/1955     British Transport Commission produces a report on Modernisation and Re-Equipment of British Railways which proposes the large-scale replacement of the steam locomotive by diesel and electrification together with major resignalling projects

26/01/1921   The Abermule train collision was a head-on collision which occurred at Abermule,     Montgomeryshire, Wales on 26 January 1921, killing 17 people. The crash arose from misunderstandings between staff which effectively over-rode the safe operation of the Electric Train Tablet system protecting the single line. A train departed carrying the wrong tablet for the section it was entering and collided with a train coming the other way.

26/01/1998   The Konkan Railway , India opens. This 741-kilometre line connects Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka States, from Mumbai to Mangalore.     59 stations, 91 tunnels, 179 major bridges, 1,819 minor bridges.( Longest Bridge : Across Sharavati river in Honnavar (2065.8 m) Tallest Viaduct : Panval Nadi (64m. high). The project was completed in 7 years.

Courtesy: Konkan Railway website.

27/01/1911  James Joseph Allport was born. In 1850  appointed General Manager of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, and took up the same post in the Midland Railway in 1853. Apart from three years when he was managing director to Palmer’s Shipbuilding Company (1857-1860), he retained this post until 1880. Oversaw the development and growth in importance of the Midland Railway, and was instrumental in the building of the company’s Main Line to London (to St. Pancras) and the Settle to Carlisle Line. He retired in 1880, at which point he joined by board, and died in 1892.

29/01/1959:     Fog brings transport chaosDense fog – the worst for seven years – has brought road, rail and air transport in many parts of England and Wales to a virtual standstill. Many long-distance trains from London were cancelled. Suburban services were also seriously disrupted.

Radstock to Frome Railway Project

Latest News from this group can be found HERE

Christian Wolmar…

Book review: The English Railway Station

Rail 788: Shaw sets out problems, but solutions will be harder to find

Nicola Shaw is one of those highly intelligent people who does not have to show it on every occasion. She is widely respected and liked within the industry and has an impressive CV , having  moving seamlessly from the public sector with the Strategic Rail Authority through to FirstGroup and now to the recently privatised High Speed One.

She will need all those brains and all that experience in order to produce a coherent and workable structure for the rail industry, the rather onerous task set for her by the Government. The scoping report (The Future Shape and Financing of Network Rail) which she has just published accurately reflects the challenge on several fronts but it is money that poses the greatest one. That is all too clear to see from a little table on page 56 (it is often tables on page 56 or 94 or whatever that are the most revealing in such documents) which shows the growth of the debt owed by Network Rail (which will be a tad below £50bn by 2019, the end of the current five year investment period known as Control Period 5) and of the Regulated Asset Base (the RAB which is the notional value of Network Rail’s assets used as a basis for calculating its income from track access charges which will reach about £70bn in 2019).

Savour, for a moment, that £50bn figure. First, this means that, broadly, the government has allowed Network Rail (or its predecessor Railtrack which started with a few billion as debt) to borrow more than £2bn annually in the two decades since it was privatised. In a way, that represents a hidden subsidy for the company since we know that the money will never be repaid (about which more later) that means in reality the taxpayer has been putting about £6bn into the railways annually rather than the oft quoted £4bn.

Secondly, it means that the interest which the railway has to pay annually is becoming an intolerable burden. By 2019, assuming an average of 5 per cent interest, a not unreasonable assumption, every year the railway will be paying £2.5bn before a single train wheel moves. This crazy state of affairs is a result of the game of Faux Capitalism that I have written about before. It is the result of trying to pretend that the rail industry is just like Coca Cola or Nike where the normal rules of capitalism apply.

Well it’s not the same for many reasons, but principally because it is a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure, it is dependent on state subsidies and it requires very lumpy amounts of investment to support very costly schemes ranging from station rebuilds to track renewals. It does not fit into the capitalist model.

In a rational world, we would simply accept that, cough up what politicians or regulators feel is a reasonable amount to sustain the industry, and let the rail managers get on with it. Instead, because of the regular crises in the industry, caused largely by its byzantine and bizarre structure, poor Nicola Shaw is having to look at all kinds of alternative ways of funding and financing the industry.

The reclassification of Network Rail as a government agency has blown a hole in the industry’s finances. Under the old system, it there was a cost overrun, it could be covered by what is esoterically known as the ‘risk buffer’ – in other words, extra money generated through track access charges. ‘Put it on the credit card’ was the tacit solution for when things went wrong. Now of course, as she points out in her scoping report, there is no risk buffer and, instead, the government has capped Network Rail’s borrowing. So if it does turn out that the cost of electrification of the Great Western has jumped from £800m to £2,800m, no one has any idea where that money is coming from and what its impact will be on the rest of the industry’s investment programme.

So Shaw’s report looks at the potential alternatives to conventional government funding. This, of course, is the section that attracted the most coverage of her report, with city editors getting overexcited about the prospect of seeing the infrastructure company back in the private sector. Well my advice to them would be ‘calm down chaps’. I think a full privatisation of Network Rail is about as likely as seeing Pacifics replacing 125s on the East Coast. Not only would it be very difficult to work out a structure that protected investors since they would remember that they got their fingers burnt last time, but the public would just not tolerate the idea. It would make the row over Tax Credits look like the typical handbag battles we see on the football pitches every weekend.

Her second option is giving Network Rail the right to borrow money on the capital markets with, or possibly without, government guarantee. All this would do is push up the cost of borrowing, merely in the hope of no longer having the Treasury sanction every bit of new investment. Frankly getting the Treasury out of the rail industry is rather like those pre privatisation promises about getting government out of the rail industry. Never happened – and indeed the opposite did.

The rest of Shaw’s proposals to involve the private sector are pretty thin gruel. Selling off a few non-core assets like car parks or vacant property is hardly going to bridge any substantial financial gap, and nor is handing out concessions for new bits of infrastructure. And to suggest that devolved governments are going to be happy to shell out for railway infrastructure at a time when their budgets are being cut to the bone is pure fantasy. And then there’s the usual suggestions about getting businesses to part fund schemes (remember how hard it was to get Gatwick Airport to shell out a few bob for the station improvement) and securitisation (i.e. raise capital to pay for a scheme against future income streams from fares).  All this comes up against Bowker’s Law – that there are only two possible sources of money for the industry, the taxpayer and the passenger. No manner of the dark arts of Faux Capitalism will get round that fact.  Therefore I expect the city editors will be less excited about Shaw Mark II than they have been about the scoping study.

In respect of the structure of the industry, she has asked a lot of pertinent questions. How, for example, does Network Rail fit in with the devolution agenda? And how does it cope with the aspirations for growth that at the moment seems unending? And she asks the age old question of who, precisely, are Network Rail’s customers – the operators or the public?

It is all good stuff and after 20 years of privatisation, it is the right time to ask these questions. But what if, despite the perennial crises (the electrification cost overruns, the West Coast debacle, the collapse of Railtrack, the post privatisation accidents and so on), she finds when she reports in the spring that we have, just as with democracy, the least worse option?  Apart from reintegration and renationalisation which is not really on the agenda. Then what will the politicians do?

This article first appeared in Rail magazine 14th December 2015

Christian Wolmar On The Wrong LineChristian Wolmar Down the TubeChristian Wolmar Broken Rails


Around the World in 80 Railways.(No 66..Extreme Railways with Chris Tarrant)

 Chris Tarrant's Extreme Railways [DVD]

Get your copy here


On his journey across Japan, Chris visits a railway in the little visited prefecture of Wakayama which was about to go bankrupt before the arrival a few years ago of an orphaned calico cat called Tama. Courtesy: The Gamma Project



David Morgan outlines WATTRAIN’s objectives….

Direction of travel

When Quique Diaz first suggested to me that we needed a world organisation for the owners and operators of steam trains, heritage and tourist railways, museums and other vintage transport on rails, I told him I thought he was crazy as there would be no demand for it. Admittedly this conversation took place when we first met at a conference on the island of Cuba in 1999.

He riposted that he thought there was a need and invited me down to Argentina to see his operation in Tierra del Fuego, which I accepted. I soon realised he was right, not because he needed my advice but because I needed his.

It took some time to get off the ground, with well attended conferences being held in Switzerland (2003), Argentina (2006), Australia (2009),United Kingdom (2012) and now in Tokyo. Fortunately during that time the globe has shrunk, thanks to the Internet, Skype and cheaper airfares.

WATTRAIN was incorporated in 2010 and a Strategic Plan was formulated by Chris Le Marshall in 2011 and adopted by the Board the following year.

So how far have we come since the early days?

Continue reading here


Visit our website for news updates http://www.aphtro.org/

These are some of the projects which APHTRO is currently supporting:

Transforming former Taipei Railway Workshop into Railway Museum in Taiwan.
Steam train revival plan by Manila Railroad Club in The Philippines.
Steam locomotive mechanical inspection at Royal Railways in Cambodia.

Reaching the third year of APHTRO. (Kyoichi Oda, President)

“We started activities a couple years ago, now are reaching the third year, 2016. Looking back this year, we have been incorporated in Queensland, Australia, and started discussion on our Forum on Facebook. Our last Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, was very successful thanks to great help and support by State Railway of Thailand. We are also happy to welcome State Railway of Thailand as our new full member. APHTRO Bangkok Charter, for all Asia – Pacific railway heritage activities,has been adopted at our last Conference.

Some parts of our activities are yet to start: committees, mainly finance and marketing committees, are the most expected two. These consist of experts in each sphere to give advice and consultation to the members – an important part of the APHTRO role. I would ask all those who have appropriate experience and knowledge to join as members of these committees to support our railway heritage activities. The progress of our Railway Heritage Site Database is still slow, needing more volunteers to propel it.

We face exciting events in next year. Our next Conference in India would be one of the best thanks to the brilliant efforts of our vice president Rajesh Agrawal and friends at the Indian Steam Railway Society. We will attend Conference of FRONZ, Federation of Rail Organisations of New Zealand and visit the Workshop Rail Museum in Queensland, Australia in June.

I hope next year is fruitful for your heritage railways, and that APHTRO activities can help you.”


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