|As Halloween approaches passengers should be on the look out for Ghost Trains! One such image was captured on the 23rd October 2014 as Cross Country Voyager No.220026 seemingly blending into the station......was it even there, and did it even call at Taunton? No one will ever know!! The photographer should be commended on his photographic skills to produce such a unique image! (Photo: Wayne Potter)|
|With Platform 1 having been out of use for some time, it was fantastic to see the Platform back in use on the 29th October when the second Network Rail test train of the week arrived in Taunton. Class 37/4 No.37405 arrived on the 29th October from Didcot at 07:30 before stabling in Platform 1 for the day and later departing during the evening of the same day. While we wouldn't normally include an image such as this, it does illustrate the further reduction of 'safe' photographic locations in the Taunton area. Clearly it's now deemed far too unsafe for people to venture any further. These white fences have now been erected at several platform ends at Taunton, and no doubt will spread to other stations in due course. (Photo: Jeff Treece)|
|For some 8 years now Network Rail has operated its South West track renewals from Taunton's Fairwater Yard. But many of the public have little idea what those 'big yellow trains' do which pass through the station every evening. Almost every night an army of High Output operatives dressed in orange venture out to parts of the UK railway network repairing the track while passengers sleep in their beds. By daybreak the trains, equipment and men are normally safely back in their respective yards while passenger services begin their daily diagrams. The above video produced for AmeyColas and Network Rail gives an interesting look behind the scenes of the Network Rail High Output equipment/ systems in operation.|
|As the Halloween Season draws closer they often say that the Goyles come out to play, well on the 27th October 2014, Network Rail provided one of their very own Gargoyles on the Structure Gauging Train. Veteran Class 31 No.31285 operated the 3Q23 13:43 Derby RTC - Bristol Temple Meads via Taunton. Despite departing from Derby over three hours late, the train still arrived into Taunton early and was held for a right time departure. The Class 31 is pictured in Platform 4 waiting for the road north back to Bristol Temple Meads. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|In addition to the locomotive/ train image, we thought it would be a great idea to highlight some of the history and purpose of the Network Rail SGT2 (Structure Gauging Train 2). The train is always in constant development both in terms of the technology on board but also with regards to its external appearance.|
|The first coach in the train formation behind the locomotive is No.977986 this was originally built as Mk2d FO No.3189 then converted into exhibition coach No.99664 before coming part of Network Rail's structure gauging train (SGT2) and renumbered No.977986. The coach sports a modified coupling system at one end to create space for the Structure Gauging Equipment which is housed between the coaches. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)|
|The second coach in the train formation is No.977985 this was built as Mk2f TSO No.6019 then converted into Gatwick Express Coach No.72715 before coming part of Network Rail's structure gauging train (SGT2) and renumbered No.977985. This coach is fitted with laser equipment on one of the corridor ends. (In layman's terms it looks similar to a dustbin glued onto the corridor between the coaches). (Photo: Nathan Williamson & Brian Garrett)|
|The third coach in the train formation is No.62384 "Network Rail Ultrasonic Test Unit 1 (UTU1)", this was originally a 4CIG Motor Brake Second (Set 1393) and was preserved on the GCR and painted in Southern Green for a time. It was sold to Network Rail in September 2011 and entered traffic May 2012. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)|
|The forth coach is in fact a Driving Brake Standard Open (DBSO) and operates as a driving trailer meaning the train can operate in either direction without the need to a locomotive run round (or two locomotives in top and tail formation). These coaches originally started their lives in Scotland operating between Glasgow and Edinburgh, before moving to the Eastern region operating push pull services between Norwich and London Liverpool Street. No.9708 is permanently formed with SGT2 because of the specialist equipment fitted to the body side. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|It's not often you get to photograph a Class 09 doing something other than shunting on West Somerset Railway, but on the 26th October Class 09 No.09019 was used by the Branchline Society to traverse the entire Norton Triangle complex. The rare combination of a Mainline Blue liveried Class 09 and 3 brake vans is pictured on the Norton Triangle traversing the myriad of lines with it's interesting load. (Photo: Sclub)|
|Former Mainline Railfreight Class 09 No.09019 is pictured at Longlands Farm returning to Bishops Lydeard from Norton Fitzwarren on Sunday 26th October, complete with 'The Branchline Society' headboard in place. (Photo: Sclub)|
|Oakwood Visuals have released the first of a five DVD series at the Taunton 'Railex' this weekend. Priced at £17.95 for a limited period. The DVD named 'My Generation' charts the return of D1015 to the mainline in BR Maroon, with exclusive behind the scenes footage. The DVD is presented by DTG Chairman 'Tom Sawyer' and culminates nearly 10 years worth of work by Oakwood Visuals since the original idea was discussed. The DVD also draws a parallel with music of time, with each release taking it's name from tracks which were in the charts at the time, and being produced in unique '8 track' DVD cases and printed DVD's to look like vinyl records. Copies are available at this weekends Railex event at Taunton School or direct from Oakwood Visuals.|
|Steam returned to Taunton on the mainline on the 18th October, with The Railway Touring Companies 'The Dartmouth Express'. The charter operated from Poole to Bristol with a Class 47 Diesel (47237) before BR Britannia Class 7P No.70013 'Oliver Cromwell' took over for the run to Kingswear. The southbound timings for the charter were only entered into the system overnight. The locomotive is pictured running slightly ahead of schedule passing Creech St Michael leading the 1Z82 06:50 from Poole to Kingswear. (Photo: Brian Garrett)|
|The 16th October 2014, saw two veteran Class 31's venture into Devon on a rescue/ extraction mission. The two DCR locomotives operated light engine from Eastleigh to Meldon Quarry where the pair extracted long term stored Class 47/7 No.47701 'Waverley'. The locomotive had previously been preserved on the Dartmoor Railway but hasn't operated on the line in many years. The loco has now been purchased, and will be overhauled before being exported to Hungary. Class 31's No.31452 and No.31601 are pictured passing Taunton on route to Meldon. (Photo: Jeff Treece)|
|As Meldon to Burton on Trent convoy arrived and departed Taunton under the cover of darkness, so we have jumped 30 miles south to Exeter in order to view the rather tired looking 47/7. The loco had been painted in a non authentic and graish version of two tone green livery by it's previous owners, Rest assured it's new livery will give the loco a complete new look. (It's expected to resemble something close to the former Pennsylvinia Railroad colours). 47701 will soon be operating in Hungary for Continental Railway Solution, currently 47701, 47703, 47488, 47375 and 47744 are eremarked for export. (Photo: Tony Christie)|
|Captured on the 11th October 2014, BR Green Class 33 No.D6575 passes Churchlands on the West Somerset Railway while working a Driver Experience Special with the WSR's freight set in tow. The loco was operating between Bishops Lydeard and Williton. For those who wish to try their hand at the seat of a heritage diesel locomotive, the DEPG based at Williton operate a number of driver experience specials throughout the year. Further details can be found on the West Somerset Railway website. (Photo: Adam Snow)|
|With the Berks and Hants route closed for two weeks allowing Network Rail to carry out a series of drainage and flooding repairs, a large amount of engineering trains visited the Taunton area. On the 9th October, Colas Rail Freight provided this colorful movement moving locomotives back to Westbury from Exeter. Colas Class 70 No.70803 hauls Class 66/8's No.66850, 66848 & 66846 on the 11:00 Exeter Riverside - Westbury Yard via Bath north bound up through 40 Steps, Taunton. (Photo: Jeff Treece)|
The 2nd - 5th October saw the West Somerset Railway hold their annual Autumn Steam Gala, the theme of the 2014 event was the 50th Anniversary of the closure of Taunton Shed (83B). During Friday afternoon a special train operated to Minehead conveying former members of Taunton Shed to the Beach Hotel in Minehead. The train also carried a wreath to mark the occasion of the closure of the shed, which happened at 14:45 on the 3rd October, 50 Years previously. Many of the visiting steam locomotives were also renumbered to become former locomotives which were previously based at Taunton.
There were plenty of visiting Steam Locomotives for the event. The Autotank No.1450 represented the Taunton 14xx used on Tiverton - Tiverton Jn shuttles while other guests included 2-6-2 45xx No.4566, BR Manor No.7820 'Dinmore Manor' (standing in for a 38xx that was based at Taunton), 0-6-0 Pannier No.4612 (renumbered as No.9670 on the cabs only), 4-6-0 BR Hall No.4936 'Kinlet Hall' (running as No.4932 'Hatherton Hall'), 2-6-2 55xx No.5542, 2-6-2 No.4160 (renumbered as No.4131), 4-8-0 No.3850 became No.3863, while BR Hall No.6960 'Raveningham Hall' became 7909 'Heveningham Hall', and finally BR Manor No.7828 'Odney Manor' stayed as it was.
Particular note should be made to the regular shuttle services (7 round trips) performed by the 14XX and Autocoach in-between the normal service trains on Thursday and Friday. The popular train operated shuttles between Bishops Lydeard and Crowcombe Heathfield. This provided much more interest for passengers and customers rather than the lengthy hourly periods between train departures. With every trip the Autotrain operated being full, we hope that in the future more workings like this will operate to create more diverse and interesting operations slowley reducing the reliance of the same hourly departure timetable for every gala weekend.
Below are a selection of images taken during the event by Cameron Walker and Phil Izzard.
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