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40 Years Ago

(Photo: Adrian Wetton)

Published on 18th February 2018

This amazing image taken by Adrian Wetton has been restored to its former glory and we would like to thank Adrian for allowing this image to be hosted on Taunton Trains.

40 years ago BR Blue Class 50 No. 50023 'Howe' was captured at Taunton in the heavy snow and freezing conditions of 1978. The locomotive was battling through the conditions while working the 1B10 16:53 London Paddington - Plymouth service on Saturday 18th February 1978. No. 50023 'Howe' remained in service until October 1990, but did survive until March 2004 where some restoration work had been started on the loco at Barrow Hill. It was later cut up as a source of spares for many of the other Class 50's which had made it into preservation.

To view the gallery, please click here.

GWR Class 800's Teething Problems

Published on 17th February 2018

As with the introduction of any new Class of train, deadlines for introduction often lead to faults needing to be ironed out in service.

The 15th February 2018 saw Class 800's No.800015 and No.80009 arrive at Taunton from London with just two out of eight engines working on the ten car set. While the new Intercity trains are claimed to have faster acceleration than a HST, they certainly do not provide this pace when operating with two engines. The rather 'sedate' departure of the 5C22 19:37 Taunton - Stioke Gifford empty stock move was recorded on Thursday 15th February 2018. (Video: Nathan Williamson)

To view the gallery, please click here.

Recent Freightliner Action

Published on 17th February 2018

Freightliner Heavy Haul provide a great deal of operational interest with their track renewals contact for Network Rail each week, their locomotives provide haulage for the High Output Ballast Cleaners and Track Renewals Trains operating from Fairwater Yard.

The company has operated these trains for twelve years since Fairwater Yard was first reactivated for the purpose in 2006. We have included a selection of images taken this week of the just some movements captured in the Taunton area.

The Network Rail HOBC made a rare daylight Saturday appearance on the 17th February 2018. The set (hauled by Freightliner Class 66 No.66953) passes Cogload Junction hauling the 6Y15 15:22 Fairwater Yard - Filnton West Junction, ready for overnight ballast cleaning duties. Freightliner powerhaul Class 66/5 No.66504 was also on the rear of the set, out of sight in this image.

Freightliner Class 66 No.66953 passes Oath on the Somerset Levels returning from loading its HOBC portion at Westbury on the 15th February 2018. The 6C73 12:12 Westbury - Fairwater Yard nears Taunton as it passes Oath.

Freightliner powerhaul liveried Class 66/5 No.66504 passes through Taunton Station hauling the 6Y15 19:05 Fairwater to Severn Tunnel Junction for overnight ballast cleaning on the South Wales mainline.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Eddy)

(Photo: Nathan Williamson)

Class 150/1's nearly at an end

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Published on 17th February 2018

With most of the Class 150/1 Units now transferred to Northern Trains, there is one hybrid unit still in circulation.

Class 150/9 No.150926 is made up from Class 150/1 (No.150126) and a half of a 150/2 (No.150212) as such the Hybrid combination is numbered No.150926, the set is pictured passing Cogload Junction working the 2U22 15:07 Taunton - Newport stopping service on the Saturday 17th February 2018.

 Colas Light Engine

Published on 17th February 2018

Long distance Light Engine movements are not all that common through Taunton as they often mean whichever company is operating such a move is probably unlikely to be making money without a payload in tow.

Friday 16th February provided the sight of a Colas Rail Freight Class 70/8 No.70808 passing Taunton. The locomotive had been route learning in Cornwall the previous day. After receiving a B Exam at Tavistock Junction the locomotive then departed operating the 10:47 Tavistock Junction - Westbury light engine move, it's seen here about to exit Devon and enter Somerset on the approaches to Whiteball Tunnel.

(Photo: Simon Harling)

 Ready Teddy Go!

(Photo: Taunton Trains)

by Jeff Treece & Mike Pollard

Published on 14th February 2018

In the Winter of 1987 British Rail ran a 'Ready Teddy Go' weekend offer in conjunction with the Family Railcard.

Jeff Treece and Mike Pollard remember what a weekend offer this was back in January/February 1987.
Holders of a Family Railcard could travel almost anywhere in a day providing they were accompanied by at least one child and a Teddy Bear. The latter could be a real toy bear or an image of a bear. The promotional leaflet itself was sufficient and our boys unsurprisingly went for the image option! Cost of the Adult ticket was £5 whilst children travelled free. This was an offer far too good to resist so we planned some interesting trips from Taunton with our Sons. On Saturdays the 17th January we travelled 448 miles, 568 miles on the 24th, 464 miles on the 31st and 345 miles on 7th February. Because of the snowy weather, which caused some disruption to services, the offer was extended to include Saturday the 14th and 21st of February when we travelled a further 493 and 420 miles respectively.

To illustrate the flexibility of the offer, the trip on 24th January took us from Taunton to Paddington and then from St Pancras to Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester Piccadilly, Birmingham New Street, Bristol Temple Meads and then back to Taunton. That works out at under 1p a mile! Other stations visited on the other dates included Stafford, Crewe, Liverpool Lime Street, Derby, Leicester, Bescot, Willesden, Clapham Junction, Gatwick, Ashford and London Victoria & Euston. Many stations were visited several times over the six Saturdays. To summarise our sightings, the number of diesel/electric locomotives recorded on each Saturday were 126, 114, 167, 44, 165 & 69 giving an amazing total of 685. Units of various types and HST PCs are not included in these totals but the number was high especially in the London area.

We think the intention was to encourage families to travel at weekends in the post-Christmas/New Year period when passenger numbers tend to fall off. However, the offer was so successful that there were some complaints from other non-teddy passengers about overcrowding. What a way though for British Railways (as it was then) to encourage people to travel.
All this happened 31 years ago and we don’t think such a bargain fare has ever been repeated on the railways. I think the Boys enjoyed their jaunts around the country - we certainly did. Incidentally, £5 then is now equivalent to about £13.25 today.
If anyone else has memories of using this offer or any other stories from past in relation to Taunton then please contact us. click here to email

Winter Sunshine

Published on 12th February 2018

The 'as required' flow of aggregate from Whatley Quarry to Exeter Riverside Yard to replenish local stock piles of construction materials restarted on Monday 2nd February 2018.

A Class 59 from the Mendip Rail fleet is often supplied for this working. Having been unloaded at Exeter via mechanical grab, Hanson Aggregates liveried Class 59/1 No. 59104 'Village of Great Elm' passes Broomhay Crossing (Bathpool) under localized clouds hauling the 7C28 13:44 Exeter Riverside - Westbury empties back to Wiltshire.

After light overnight snow had melted providing a clear crisp day Freightliner Class 66/5 No.66511 returns to Taunton passing Bathpool hauling the 6C73 12:22 Westbury - Fairwater Yard loaded HOBC portion on Monday 12th February 2018. The train operated via Bristol Temple Meads to turn the set so it was the correct way round for its next overnight ballast cleaning duty in South Wales.

(Photo: Thomas Courtney)

(Photo: Thomas Courtney)

HOBC at Dawn

Published on 7th February 2018

The Network Rail HOBC based at Fairwater Yard regularly spends most week nights out-based on the mainline cleaning ballast and improving the infrastructure.

The lengthy ballast cleaner is top and trailed by Freightliner Class 66's. On Tuesday 6th February 2018 the set was captured returning to Taunton as the early morning sun rose over Taunton. At 07:57 Freightliner Class 66/5 No.66559 lead the Network Rail HOBC back to Fairwater Yard working the 6Y15 04:37 Llanwern West Junction to Fairwater Yard having spent the night working on a section of track on the South Wales mainline.

(Video: Nathan Williamson)

2018 West Somerset Diesel Gala - Announcement

Published on 6th February 2018

The 2018 West Somerset Railway Diesel Gala is heading on the right track with the announcement of their event which will run from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th June 2018.

The theme of 'Vintage Diesels to the Seaside' is planned to celebrate the 1970s and 1980s when a great variety of diesel locos were called on to haul holiday trains to the seaside all over the UK. On the Friday and Saturday all services will be diesel hauled with a limited number of steam hauled trains booked for the Sunday along with the diesels.
Up to 5 guest locomotives are currently in discussion which will be brought to the WSR by GBRF These 5 locomotives will join the DEPG's home fleet of diesel hydraulic and diesel electric locomotives with the 'possibility' of Hymek D7018 making a reappearance after its 23 years out of traffic following a serious failure back in August 1995, the loco would join class mate D7017 to provide a pair of Hymeks operating in preservation for the first time in many years.

So far guest locomotives have been agreed are Class 45 No. 45041 'Royal Tank Regiment' from the Peak Locomotive Company at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley, and Class 50 No. 50035 'Ark Royal' from the Class 50 Alliance based at the Severn Valley Railway, both making their debut on the WSR. As many of 12 locos could be taking part in this year's event.The railway is also working on a plan to have a full Beer Festival at Williton Station for the weekend with some evening trains which will be operating to allow people to attend this as well as enjoying the sights and sounds of the diesels. So enter the 8th, 9th 10th June into your phones and enjoy whats looking to be one of the best WSR Diesel Galas yet.

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

(Photo: Brian Garrett)

Colas Engineers

Published on 4th February 2018

Sunday 4th February 2018 provided two afternoon engineers trains returning from weekend track replacement work in Devon.

Having then worked forward to St Blazey the two trains returned to Westbury during Sunday afternoon. Colas Class 66/ No. 66850 'David Maidment OBE' appeared first hauling the 6C25 10:46 St Blazey - Westbury. It's trailing load consisting of lifted track panels. General Electric Class 70 No.70809 hauled the 6C26 11:01 St Blazey - Westbury consisting of track panel wagons and empty ballast wagons. Both services passed Taunton within ten minutes of one another heading back to Westbury where their loads would be processed.

(Photo: Simon Harling)

(Photo: Sclub)

To view news stories from January 2018, click here, or for news from March 2018, click here.