MARCH 2016 NEWS : 


A date has finally been set for the removal/ refurbishment of the former Taunton Avoider railway bridge in Station Road. After lengthy and embarrassing delays (which prompted a gagging clause from Somerset County Council should even an MP want to know why the Taunton NIDR project had taken so long), the first phase of works to remove the bridge will take place between the 23rd and 27th May. The two sides of the bridge will be removed and sent away for refubishment, the main deck will be removed and a new frame installed. During this period Station Road will be completely closed to all vehciles, however a pedestiran route will be kept open for those needing to access the town centre. The bridge sides will be returned later in the year to be refitted which will result in further closures to local roads.

 

DB Schenkers' Class 60 No.60039 enjoyed its visit to Devon so much on the 16th March it did it again on the 17th. The locomotive is pictured climbing Whiteball Bank from Devon heading for the Somerset border with its lengthy rake of empty wagons in tow. (Photo: Russell Ayre)
As 'Mad March' reached its mid point, DB Schenker jumped on the bandwagon to add a 11th different locomotive type in 16 days to pass through Taunton's Platforms. Already this month Classes 31, 33, 45, 47, 37, 56, 57, 59, 66 & 70 have all passed through Taunton. While some of these locomotive types were not operating under their own power it just goes to show Taunton can be a diverse railway location. On the 16th March DB Schenker Class 60 No.60039 'Dove Holes' joined the ranks while working the 7C28 13:45 Exeter Riverside - Whatley empty stone. The lengthy train is pictured passing Oath on the Somerset Levels heading for Whatley. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)
From time to time we include an image from loading facility at Brigwater Yard, with 'Mad March' very much in full swing we couldn't turn down the 'Executive' haulage used for the 6M63 Bridgwater - Crewe flask on the 16th March. Northern Belle liveried Class 57/3 (normally akin to hauling pullman dining passengers around the North of England) was selected for a visit to the metropolis of Bridgwater with DRS liveried Class 37/4 No.37419. The pair are seen in Bridgwater Yard before departing back to Crewe. (Photo: Robert Latham)

 

Mad March continues with seemingly madder workings by the day, this one being a contender for 'working of the year'. Monday 14th March saw Direct Rail Services arrive in Taunton to test the Network Rail snow ploughs which are now kept at Taunton. No.57306 'Her Majesty's Inspectorate 175' and No.66431 (wearing plain DRS Blue) were dispatched from Crewe to work the 7Z75 09:20 Fairwater Yard - Fairwater Yard via Highbridge Loop. With snowplough ZZA ADB 965231 leading, and ZZA ADB 965209 trailing, the pair exit from Fairwater Yard at 09:06 in search of snow after the mildest Winter on record! (Photo: Nathan Williamson)
Snowploughs ZZA ADB 965231 & 965209 were once kept at Bristol Barton Hill depot and were normally tested once a year under the cover of darkness by EWS/ DB Schenker. After a change of ownership at Bristol Barton Hill the snowploughs were moved to Network Rail's Yard at Fairwater on the 26th February 2015. One plough is now kept on the far end of each yard head shunt. On the 14th March DRS Class 66/4 No.66431 returns from Highbridge Loop to Taunton with their fruitless search of snow now over. Having depositing the snowploughs back in their relevant positions the pair of locomotives returned to stable in Bridgwater Yard for the night. (Photo: Tony Christie)
Video: (Nathan Williamson)

 

The nations favorite and much loved steam locomotive 60103 (4472) 'Flying Scotsman' is set to visit Taunton and Bishops Lydeard on the 28th May 2016 with a tour originating from London Paddington. The locomotive will haul 'The Cathedrals Express' from London through to Bristol, where a special afternoon trip from Bristol to Taunton & Bishops Lydeard 'The Somerset Cream Tea' will be operated. After its highly publicized restoration and return to the mainline, we are sure that every bridge and station platform will be packed to the gunnels with people waning to get a view of the iconic locomotive. The loco will be turned on the Norton Fitzwarren triangle before being serviced ready for the return trip to London. Flying Scotsman is seen on a previous visit to Taunton in 2002, hauling a London Victoria to Plymouth charter. (Photo: Brian Garrett)
Colas Rail Freight operated their last first and last log train of 2016 on Thursday 10th March. Having loaded a substantial amount of timber from Exeter Riverside Yard, Class 70/8 No.70804 is pictured passing the Network Rail MOBC set on the approach to Taunton with the 6M51 loaded 'logs' to Chick. (Photo: S A Ginn)

 

Video: Nathan Williamson
The Taunton Locofest continued on March 9th when Rail Operations Group 'Rog' provided a pair of Class 56 locomotives for the return First Great Western stock move, having deposited their stock at Laira the pair called in to Exeter Riverside Yard to collect long term stored Network Rail Class 31 No.31285. The super power threesome is seen passing Taunton Station as the 0Z31 12:00 Exeter Riverside to Burton on Trent. (Photo: Paul Clarke)
The reverse view taken from 40 Steps shows Class 56's No.56081 & No.56104 moving towards photographer Paul Clarke at Taunton. The Class 31 had been stored at Exeter Riverside Yard having failed on a test train back in April 2015. Its not currently known if its intended for the Class 31 to be stripped for spares or perhaps repaired at Burton on Trent but it could be some time (if ever) that it's seen passing Taunton under it's own power again. (Photo: Chay Farzaneh)
Freightliner Heavy Haul Class 66/5 No.66585 is pictured shunting the Network Rail MOBC wagons into Fairwater Yard at 40 Steps having arrived from unloading on the Norton Fitzwarren triangle. (Photo: Chay Farzaneh)
Colas Rail Freight operated their first log train of 2016 on Wednesday March 9th, Class 70 No.70804 was provided for the 6V54 05:54 Chirk - Exeter Riverside 'empties'. The train will be loaded during the 10th March and return to Chirk as a fully loaded train. (Photo: Paul Wilkins)

 

 

While we often bring you offerings from above Taunton Station, we thought this image from below the railway was newsworthy enough for inclusion. During the morning rush hour a Sparks Transport Artic became wedged under the station bridge after ignoring the 'Low Bridge' sign and destroying his trailer. There are over 1500 bridge strikes each year on the UK roads, mainly caused by large goods or oversized vehicles, costing Network Rail and UK passengers fines and delays. Members of staff from Taunton Station assisted for a short period by helping direct traffic around the stricken vehicle, while Network Rail and the Emergency services investigated. Video of the damaged lorry being removed from the underside of the bridge can be found on Tone FM's Facebook Page (Photo: Nathan Williamson)

 

The first weekend of the West Somerset Railway 2016 Spring Steam Gala took place on the 5th and 6th March coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Somerset and Dorset route. The S&D theme for the gala rejuvenated the memories of the line by using locomotive types which once operated over the route. No less than six visiting locomotives were bought in to boost the variety of traction on offer. The lineup will featured the return of the Somerset and Dorset 7F No.53808 fresh from overhaul which will joined with sister locomotive No.53809. Also visiting the line will be BR Standard 4MT Tank No. 80072 (which operated as 80043), SR West Country No. 34070 'Manston', SR Rebuilt West Country No. 34053 'Sir Keith Park' & British Railways 9F No. 92214 and LMS 4F No.44422 (which is now part of the WSR home fleet). The first two days of the event also featured a much improved timetable which allowed for a more interesting operating pattern. The use of terminating trains, through trains and goods trains in the middle of the day offered some much missed operational diversity. The special working of Class 35 Hymek on Sunday 6th March operating a demolition train was also well received and thought through. The S&D memories continue next week starting on Wednesday 9th March through to Sunday 12th March. With plenty steam traction on offer there will be plenty to see and do. To record the first weekend of the S&D Gala we have featured three images from each of the following photographers: Cameron Walker, Adam Snow, Brian Garrett, Philip Izzard, Robert Lathem & Thomas Courtney

 

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the closure of the Somerset & Dorset Railway from Bath to Bournemouth. It was therefore fitting that the 2016 Spring Steam Gala should have a Somerset and Dorset themed event. With six visiting engines befitting of locomotives which traversed the S&D the first weekend of steam operations provided some stunning scenes for everyone who attended the event. On the 5th March LMS 4F No.44422 & BR 7F No.53808 lead the 10:30 Norton Fitzwarren to Minehead or as the headcode would have you believe W196 10:35 Manchester - Bournemouth. Further images from the WSR S&D Weekends will be added in due course, due to the volume of images this may take a short period to be arranged on the website. (Photo: Adam Snow)

 

DB Schenker Class 59/2 No.59202 completed the 7th locomotive type of the week to pass through Taunton's platforms. Although seen here returning north through Taunton on the 6th March, the loco worked south under the cover of darkness on Saturday 5th March. No.59202 was involved in engineering work taking place at Teignmouth Station over the weekend and is pictured here returning to Westbury with point carrier wagons in tow. (Photo: Paul Clarke)
To end the first week of March and the Taunton Traction Bonanza we bring you two former British Rail Type 5 heavy freight locomotives climbing to Whiteball Tunnel. Rail Operations Group operated No.56104 and No.56081 on a stock move for First Great Western transferring a rake of Mk3 HST stock from Laira (Plymouth) to Kilmarnock (Scotland). The pair are pictured shortly before leaving Devon and crossing the border into Somerset with the 5S56. It's been an unprecedented week with veteran Classes' 31, 33, 37, 45, 47, and 56's all passing through Taunton. (Photo: Russell Ayre)
Having passed through Taunton Station, Rail Operations Group Class 56 No.56104 leads No.56081 through Bathpool heading north to Kilmarnock in Scotland. The pair were then booked to pick up a second rake of coaching stock and return to Plymouth early on Monday 7th March. (Photo: Lee Robbins)

 

Some images deserve to be displayed larger and this shot of SPRS Class 37/0 No.37025 'Inverness TMD' at Taunton on Thursday 3rd March is one such image. Who would of thought in 2016 we would of been featuring one of the countries oldest and original Class 37's in classic BR Large Logo working a revenue earning freight train through Taunton. 37025 is pictured at Taunton working the Colas Rail Freight 6C25 10:50 Tavistock Junction - Westbury returning six Osprey wagons. (Photo: Paul Clarke)

37025 was released from English Electric Vulcan Foundry on the 31 August 1961 as D6725. Having spent the first 20 years of operation in British Rail's Eastern Region, before being moved north to Scotland in June 1981. During this time it became the first locomotive to carry the BR Large Logo livery and, later, the Departmental Grey livery. It was also named 'Inverness TMD' in March 1994 having been repainted into BR Large Logo livery from Civil Engineers 'Dutch' livery. In 1995, 37025 moved south for the last three years of its working career. It was withdrawn in 1998. Purchased in 2000 by the Scottish Thirty-Seven Group, 37025 “Inverness TMD” made a successful return to traffic in September 2007 following an extensive restoration. In April 2011, 37025 was once again withdrawn from traffic in order to prepare the locomotive for work on the mainline.

While not filmed in the Taunton area this Youtube clip from 'Devon Rail' shows the Class 37 climbing Hemerdon shortly after departure from Tavistock Junction. We suggest volume settings are turned up for the best enjoyment.

After a lengthy pathing stop at Taunton Station No.37025 'Inverness TMD' rounds the curve at Bathpool with its train in tow heading for Westbury with the six Osprey wagons from the previous weekend engineering blockade. (Photo: Lee Robbins)
Split Headcode Class 37 No.37025 climbs to Whiteball Tunnel leaving its English Electric sound echoing around the hills of Devon as it crosses the border into Somerset hauling the 6C25 from Tavistock Junction to Westbury. (Photo: Russell Ayre)

 

Traction highlight of the week (for those who missed the loco on Sunday 28th February), was the visit of veteran stalwart Class 37/0 No.37025 'Inverness TMD' which is owned by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society but on a rolling hire contract with Colas Rail Freight. The fifty year split headcode scottish veteran operated light engine from Westbury - Tavistock Junction on the 2nd March. The loco is pictured on the approach to Taunton. The loco is expected to return from Tavistock on Thursday. (Photo: Chay Farzaneh)
Before being returned to the mainline 37025 underwent an lengthy and extensive overhaul by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society, the loco has been restored to an exceptional standard and now carries full British Rail 'Large Logo' complete with the Highland Stag motive. For those who would like to view the works which were carried out on the locomotive the SPRS still have a gallery online for anyone who wishes to take a look. (Photo: Paul Clarke)
First Great Western operated a back to back power car move on the 2nd March between Plymouth and London. No.43002 & No.43127 are seen at 40 Steps, Taunton operating the 0Z70 09:30 Laira to Old Oak Common. No.43127 also carries the nameplate 'Sir Peter Parker 1924-2002 Cotswold 150' on the body side. (Photo: Chay Farzaneh)
Colas Rail Freight Class 70 No.70806 is pictured passing Taunton on Wednesday 2nd March hauling the 6C25 Tavistock Junction - Westbury, returning wagons from the previous weekend's engineering works. (Photo: Paul Clarke)
When is the TRT not the Network Rail TRT? Answer - when it's forgotten the TRT!
On the 1st March 2016, Freightliner Class 66/5 No.66585 top & tailed with No.66536 head east through Taunton operating the 6X04 18:32 Fairwater to Worting Junction, however the formation was only four Seacow wagons and two Network Rail Falcon wagons without the usual TRT in tow. Despite this the service still kept it's 6X04 headcode. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)

 

It was inevitable that Great Western Railway powercars would eventually be split from their full green HST set. On the 1st March No.43187 and No.43188 were paired up on a standard First Great Western rake of coaching stock while operating the 1A12 08:06 Newton Abbot - London Paddington service. The colourful combination is pictured at Platform 5, Taunton. (Photos: Paul Clarke & Nathan Williamson)

 

Veteran Class 31 No.31452 ventured to deepest Devon on the 1st March to collect a plethora of locomotives from the Dartmoor Railway, the equally 'veteran status' locomotives had resided at the Dartmoor Railway since the Christmas 2015 'Polar Express' services which operated on the line. The DCR Green Class 31 is seen passing slowly through Taunton with Class 45/0 No.45060 'Sherwood Forester', Class 33 No.33103 'Swordfish' and Class 47/7 No.47710 'Waverley'. The 0Z36 16:50 from Okehampton was heading for its destination of Derby. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)
The unorthodox Class 47/7 No.47710 'Waverely' is now part of the Nemesis Rail fleet and carries non standard BR two tone green livery, and is seen on the rear of the ensemble as the Class 31 leads through to Taunton East Junction where the train was held for a pathing stop. (Photo: Nathan Williamson)
Running approximately 111 minutes ahead of schedule Class 31 No.31452 is seen on the climb to Whiteball Tunnel with Class's 45, 33 and 47 in tow returning to Derby from Okehampton. Both the Class 45 and 33 look like they require a bit of 'spit and polish' to bring their faded paintwork back following a winter out in the open on the edge of Dartmoor. (Photo: S A Ginn)

 

Next weekend March 5th and 6th will see the start of the two weekend Somerset and Dorset Gala on the West Somerset Railway. Locomotives are already beginning to arrive on the line and will no doubt be seen on the line during this coming week. The lineup will feature the return of the Somerset and Dorset 7F No.53808 fresh from overhaul which will join with sister locomotive No.53809. Also visiting the line will be BR Standard 4MT Tank No. 80072, SR West Country No. 34070 'Manston', SR Rebuilt West Country No. 34053 'Sir Keith Park' & British Railways 9F No. 92214. LMS 4F No.44422 (which is now part of the WSR home fleet) will also take part. A demolition/ permenant way train hauled by Class 35 'Hymek' No.D7017 will also operate on March 6th departing Minehead at 14:00. Further details, and provisional timetables can be found on both the WSR's own website.

 

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