|While the residents of Taunton sleep in their beds (well some of them!) Network Rail are often out repairing the railway infrastructure and operating track recording trains. After midnight on the 30th April former EWS Class 37 No.37402 stands at Taunton on the rear of the 3Z08 test train from Tyseley to Exeter Riverside Yard. The test train was formed of DBSO No. 9703 leading with 999602, 999626, and 37402 providing power from the rear. (Photo: Sean Mockridge)|
|Well done DB Schenker! One year on from the appalling state of locomotives provided for the VSOE, DB Schenker turned out two of their Royal Locomotives for the the annual visit of the Orient Express to Somerset, Devon and Cornwall. Having worked from Victoria to Truro on the 26th April, 67006 & 67026 provided a £310 'Luncheon' trip from Plymouth to Taunton and return on the 27th April. 67006 'Royal Sovereign' and 67026 'Diamond Jubilee' approach Taunton at Norton Fitzwarren. While passengers enjoyed a five course lunch, champagne and wine, photographer froze in the biting cold winds wishing for a cup of tea! (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|Great Western Steam also passed through Taunton on the 27th April. Vintage Trains operated their 'Cornishman' charter using Tyseley based Hall No.4965 'Rood Ashton Hall' and Castle No.5043 'Earl of Mount Edgcumbe'. The pair passed Taunton shortly after 11:30 working a Tyseley to Plymouth charter taking Great Western Steam back over the Devon Banks. They are pictured passing Creech St Michael on route to Plymouth (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|Having run round in Platform 2 at Taunton, and allowing passengers to have a short break on the station, the afternoon VSOE 'Luncheon' returned south to Devon. With Diamond Jubilee Class 67 No.67026 leading the pair are seen approaching Norton Fitzwarren heading back to Plymouth. The image was taken on a 500mm zoom lens, which shows the heat haze being thrown out of the two engines as they power back up to line speed. (Photo: Glenn Bowden)|
|A further image of the return charter has been added to Taunton Trains taken at Pugham Crossing just over boarder into Devon between Tiverton Parkway Station and Whiteball. Hall No.4962 & Castle No.5043 are seen making the climb to Whiteball having been released early from their booked water stop at Tiverton Parkway. (Photo: Peter Slater)|
|The return 'Cornishman' from Plymouth caught may people by surprise, after taking water at Tiverton Loop the tour was allowed to proceed 22 minutes early, only those who were already in position were able to catch a glimpse of the return charter in the Taunton area. Many enthusiasts missed out on the opportunity. We have provided a special 'photo shopped' version of the return charter to Tyseley passing Banklands (near Durston). (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
A proposed multi million pound re-development of Taunton Station will improve Taunton's image claims Network Rail. Talks are currently underway between Network Rail and Somerset County Council to improve Taunton Station and bring it into the 21st century by enhancing it's former 'Great Western' heritage mixed with modern materials such as glass, street furniture, planting and modern buildings.
Taunton Station has the rare accolade of having two entrances thanks to how the station was constructed by the Bristol and Exeter Railway in the 1800's.In 1842 the Bristol & Exeter Railway opened an extension of their mainline from Bridgwater to Taunton the line was later extended to Beambridge and on to Exeter in 1843. The station was built 'double sided' with separate stations (and entrances) for up and down passenger services.
The North side has long been neglected and is in bad need of redevelopment to improve the facilities for passengers using the station. More ticket desks, better parking, transport links, lighting and disabled access are required to bring the station into the 21st century. Inside the station the station roof, glazing and guttering are in bad need of repair. Passengers may not be aware, but although the station is operated by First Great Western, they only care for the station facilities, which is why when you look above the station columns, the paint stops and the roof / glazing is untreated....as the station roof is Network Rail's responsibility! (Another odd 'quirk' of privatisation!)
The former extension to the north side entrance (erected in the 1970's) has hidden the stations former entrance from clear view, it's hoped this will be exposed and used as the main feature of the redevelopment.
This image shows the former North Side entrance of Taunton Station in 1964 (Photo: Taunton Trains Collection)
This image shows the current South Side entrance of Taunton Station in 2012 (Photo: Taunton Trains Collection)
Improvements planned for Taunton Station include:
Network Rail continues to discuss planes with 'Project Taunton' and Somerset County Council with regards to regeneration and refurbishment of Taunton Station, although it's been confirmed that work will not start until after the current First Great Western franchise is let in 2014.
June 7th - 9th 2013 will feature the annual West Somerset Railway 'Mixed Traffic Gala' bringing the Quantock Hills alive to the sound of former British Rail Diesels. Initial hopes that Direct Rail Services would be able to supply a Class 20 and Class 37 for the weekend were dashed in early 2013, when a search for new attendees began. Subject to availability locomotives based at the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway will be attending. From 'The Growler Group' Class 37 No.37215 & from the '24081 Group' Class 24 No.24081. Neither locomotive has visited the West Somerset Railway before, although 37215 does have strong ties to Taunton as it was a regular mainline performer on the Fawley - Tavistock fuel tanks in the 1990's, clocking up an impressive 13 turns on the train!
The 2013 Mixed Traction event will feature the following locomotives (subject to the normal availability)
The Mixed Traction Gala at the West Somerset Railway will be the last time for enthusiasts to travel behind the DEPG Class 33 No.D6566 (33048) before the loco is officially withdrawn for a major over haul. The loco has not been overhauled since the 1980's when it was operated by British Rail. The plucky machine has given the WSR 18 years of good service,hauling all manner of passenger and freight trains along the 19 mile line. However following the restoration of sister locomotive D6575 (33057) 33048 has been allocated to become the next locomotive to receive some much needed care and attention.
Saturday and Sunday will see First Great Western providing a shuttle service between Taunton Station and Bishops Lydeard using a Class 150 unit, the normal fare of £5 will be charged on this service.
Further details of the event can be found on the West Somerset Railway Website
|LMS Black 5's No's.44871 & 45407 returned north through Taunton on Sunday 21st April, hauling 'The Great Britain VI' (Day 2) from Newquay to Cardiff Central. After taking their booked water stop at Tiverton Loop, the pair made a rare non stop pass through Taunton at speed. They are seen here passing 40 Steps, Taunton before whistling through the station. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|West Coast Railways provided a Class 47/0 as a support locomotive for the charter. The loco has been used to haul the charter and also provides a light engine support vehicle, running slightly ahead of the main tour. 47245 is seen passing 40 Steps, Taunton before recessing at Obridge to wait for the charter to catch up. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|Ex Direct Rail Services Class 66/4 No.66419 is still being operated by Freightliner Heavy Haul out of Fairwater Yard on various Network Rail operations. On Sunday 21st April 2013, 66419 returns through Banklands (near Cogload Junction) hauling the 6Y11 10:00 Ashchurch - Fairwater Yard HOBC set. Freightliner liveried Class 66/6 No.66604 was on the rear of the formation. The train was also routed via Weston-super-Mare station to allow a late running HST to overtake on the mainline before rejoining the mainline at Uphill Junction. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|Following 6Y11, was the 6Y12 11:00 Ashcurch - Fairwater Yard conveying spent ballast in Network Rail Falcon wagons. Freightliners own Class 66/5 No.66595 is seen passing Banklands running one hour behind 6Y11. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|Out of season stock movements on the West Somerset Railway are often covered by one of the DEPG Diesel Fleet based at Williton, On the 20th April a test run was organised for D7017 (with D6575 for insurance) inbetween services during the monring, but after D7017 suffered a coolent leak the loco was removed at Williton. D6575 is seen passing through Roebuck Crossing with the 13:20 Minehead - Bishops Lydeard stock move. The much elevated position now possible since the extensive cutting back over the winter period. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|In preparation to take over the next leg of 'The Great Britain' charter two LMS Black 5's worked south from Bristol St Philips Marsh to Exeter during Saturday 20th April. No.45407 & 44871 are seen passing 40 Steps, Taunton after a short pause in the Station. The pair would then take over from SR Westcountry No.34067 at Tangmere, which had worked the charter along the Southern. The two Black 5's will return the the charter to Cardiff on Sunday 21st at 16:10. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|With Spring finally on the horizon the light is drawing out allowing more evening photography. The Thursdays only 6C39 St Blazey - Newport ADJ (which conveys Scrap, China Clay and Fuel empties) is now easily possible to photograph. On the 12th April EWS liveried Class 66/0 No.66053 leads a lengthy mix of wagons down Whiteball Bank at Beambridge on route to South Wales. (Photo: Quentin Hawkes)|
|Having arrived into Fairwater Yard from the Somerton work site on the 16th April, Ex DRS Class 66/4 No.66419 is seen being unloaded at Norton Fitzwarren. One the train was empty it returned to Fairwater Yard. (Photo: Stuart Cowen) - Taken by trained and qualified personnel, please do not trespass on private property.|
|Network Rail continue the construction of the new Taunton stabling point located behind Platform 1, and prepare for the eventual shift of the head shunt to make way for the new Taunton Northern Inner Distributor Road (NIDR). The 40 Steps area is currently undergoing some of the biggest changes since the 1986 track rationalisation, we recommend you get your photos soon! (Photo: Jeff Treece)|
|Taunton continues it's colourful interludes with weekday engineering. With the mainline between Taunton and Castle Cary closed for essential engineering work, Taunton has been inundated with engineering trains operating to the work site. All passenger services meanwhile are operating via Bristol for London destinations. On the 16th April Freightliner Heavy Haul Class 66/5 No.66522 pulls out of Fairwater Yard with the 6Y84 09:27 Westbury - Cogload Junction (via Fairwater Yard). The 'celebrity' Class 66 is looking far past its best, and in much need of a wash! (Photo: Nathan Williamson)|
|Freightliner Heavy Haul Class 66/5 No.66526 'Drive Steve Dunn (George)' arrives into Taunton hauling the 6Y86 12:29 Westbury - Cogload Junction via Fairwater engineers. The train consisted of new drainage membranes and wagons loaded with sand, which will be laid prior to ballast and track being replaced at the work site. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)|
|Ex DRS Class 66/4 No.66419 is currently being operated by Freightliner Heavy Haul and provided a welcome splash of colour at Taunton. The loco is seen arriving into Fairwater hauling the 6C73 11:30 Westbury - Fairwater Yard. Adjacent a bulldozer levels ground in preparation for the movement of the Fairwater Yard head shunt and new NIDR Link Road which will soon be built. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)|
|After spending the night stabled in Plymouth, the Class 56 from DRC returned north light engine on Friday 12th April. The 0Z56 passes 40 Steps heading for Long Marston, where upon arrival the loco then moved a rake of stored FRA wagons to York. (Photo: Jeff Treece)|
|Taunton continued it's Class 56 renaissance on the 11th April, when Devon and Cornwall Railways (DCR) provided their Class 56 to move a single KFA wagon from Doncaster to Keyham (Plymouth) the machinery mounted on the wagon acts as a giant line side 'dyno rod' and is used in connection with lineside drainage issues. On the 11th Class 56/3 No.56303 passes Taunton with the 6Z57 09:47 Doncaster Decoy - Keyham (Photo: Wayne Potter)|
|Colas Rail Freight are clearly the colour of the month in Taunton. Wednesday 10th April provided the sight of the latest Colas mainline fleet returnee Class 56 No.56105. The locomotive has been returned to service after many months in storage and eventual purchase from DB Schenker. 56105 has been operating extensive tests in the Midlands, and has now been let out for solo operation. On the 10th April 56105 passes 40 Steps with the 6Z52 log empties to Teigngrace. (Photo: Jeff Treece)|
|Colas Rail Freight provided a colourful combination at Taunton on the 5th April. Having arrived the previous evening, Class 47/7 No.47727 'Rebecca' was used to transport a small rake of HOBC wagons from Fairwater Yard to Cardiff Canton for maintenance. The loco is seen exiting Fairwater Yard at 40 Steps hauling the 6Z47 to Cardiff. 47727 later returned with the single equipment wagon to Fairwater Yard before working light engine to Eastleigh. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)|
|Thursday 4th April saw Colas Rail Freight send one of their three Class 47's to Taunton's Fairwater Yard. No.47727 'Rebecca' arrived at Taunton at 15:20 as the 0V87 13:10 from Eastleigh. The loco stayed the night in Fairwater Yard before being booked to take a rake of 'crippled' HOBC wagons to Cardiff Canton for attention.The loco was booked to return to Taunton at 17:20 on the 5th April from Cardiff. 47727 is seen arriving into Fairwater Yard at 40 Steps on the 4th. (Photo: Adam Snow)|
2013 WSR Diesel Haulage:
The 2013 season will again see the DEPG Diesel Fleet working Friday and Saturday passenger services during the peak holiday season in July and August. The Diesel Diagram will depart Bishops Lydeard at 11:40 & 15:10 on each operational day, and Minehead at 13:20 & 17:35. A one Day Rover ticket on the WSR costs £17.00 (which has been frozen at the 2012 price) but if you book in advance you can get this ticket for £15.60 and provides 79 miles of haulage from two return trips between Bishops Lydeard and Minehead. Those with WSRA membership or local residents cards can also use their membership for half price travel.
In addition to the booked 'Diesel Diagram' a new venture this year will be the use of newly restored Class 33 (D6575) on a rare weekday 'Quantock Belle' service. The Class 33 will alternate with DEPG Class 14 D9526 on the following trains, it is possible to book on the Quantock Belle dining service by calling the following number: 01823 433856
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